Have you ever cleaned out your pumpkin for Halloween only to look at the pile of seeds wondering what you should do with them?
If you’ve ever thought about planting them to grow your own pumpkins for next year, there’s good news: you can plant seeds from store-bought pumpkins.
All you need to do is remove the seeds from the pumpkin, rinse them off, and then plant them in the soil.
The pumpkin will grow into a big vine with even more pumpkins on it.
How to Harvest Pumpkin Seeds
The first step is to cut open your pumpkin and scoop out the guts.
You can use a spoon or your hands for this – just be careful not to cut yourself.
Once you’ve scooped out all the stringy insides, you’ll be left with a pile of seeds.
Separate the seeds from the pumpkin pulp by rinsing them in a colander.
You can either dry the seeds before planting or plant them right away.
To Dry the Seeds – Spread them out on a paper towel and let them sit for 24 hours. This will help them germinate faster once they’re planted.
How to Plant Pumpkin Seeds
From personal experience, I can tell you that pumpkins aren’t too fussy about where they are planted.
You may not even need to plant the seeds, and only leave a decomposing pumpkin on the ground and you’ll still have pumpkins growing in your backyard.
If you don’t want to grow accidental pumpkins, and you want to plan for them properly you can plant them in the ground, or a large pot.
Pumpkins need a lot of room to grow since they grow on a vine that produces multiple pumpkins:
- If you’re planting pumpkin seeds in the ground, you can add 3 seeds per hole, but the holes should be at least 4 feet apart from each other.
- If you’re planting them in pots, make sure the pot is at least 12 inches wide.
Fill the pot with potting soil and then make a small hole in the center of the soil.
Place two to three pumpkin seeds in the hole and then cover them with soil. Gently pat down the soil so that the seeds are snug.
If you live somewhere where the ground freezes during the winter months, you should start your pumpkin plants in pots to transfer outside after the last freeze.
Heads Up! Don’t plant the pumpkins outside until the ground reaches a temperature of at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit consistently.
How to Care for Pumpkin Plants
Now that the seeds are planted, they’ll need lots of care and time before you can pick a pumpkin for Halloween.
Pumpkins need lots of water, so make sure to water them regularly – especially during hot, dry periods.
Water the soil until it’s moist and then place the pot in a sunny spot.
The pumpkin seeds will take about 10 days to germinate. Once they’ve sprouted, thin out the seedlings so that only one plant remains per pot.
Thinning out the plants allows just the strongest plants to take nutrients and water from the soil, and it means that the plants won’t compete for light.
To Do This – Simply remove the extra plants by gently pulling them out of the soil or by cutting the weaker plants down to the ground.
Don’t worry – the remaining plant will be just fine.
Pumpkins also need lots of fertilizer.
They do nicely with a 10:10:10 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Each of those nutrients is crucial when developing the massive root system and the giant fruits.
3 pounds of fertilizer should be worked at least 3 inches into the soil in a 100 square foot area before planting seeds, and you can continue to add more fertilizer on a weekly or biweekly basis.
How Long Does It Take Pumpkins to Grow
The big question is whether or not you’ll have a pumpkin in time for Halloween.
It takes about 10 days for pumpkin seeds to germinate, and from there it will take around 80-110 days for the pumpkin to be ready to harvest.
The plant isn’t very developed at this point, so you may only get a few small pumpkins this year, but that’s still exciting when you remember it all started with a seed.
If you aren’t in a rush to pick your pumpkin, you can give it an extra 20 days and you’ll have a much larger pumpkin to carve.
How to Tell When a Pumpkin is Ready for Harvest
Pumpkins are ready to harvest when they’re a deep, rich color – usually orange, but sometimes they can be yellow or white.
The skin of the pumpkin should be hard so that it won’t dent when you touch it.
You’ll also want to make sure that the stem is at least 2-3 inches long.
If the stem is shorter than that, the pumpkin isn’t ready yet and it will rot before it has a chance to fully mature.
You can cut the pumpkin off the vine with a sharp knife, making sure to leave a long stem attached.
The stem acts as a handle and makes it easier to carry the pumpkin without dropping it.
If you want to keep your pumpkin to eat it, bring it inside and give it a good wash with a mild soap.
You don’t want to eat any of the pumpkins if it’s covered in dirt and bacteria.
Once It’s Clean: You can put it in a cool, dark place until you’re ready to use it. A pumpkin can last for several weeks as long as it’s stored properly.
In short, yes, you absolutely can plant pumpkin seeds from a store-bought pumpkin.
It’s a great way to engage the family and participate in growing your own for the next pumpkin carving or pumpkin pie-making.
Now that you know how to plant pumpkin seeds, care for the plants, and harvest pumpkins, it’s time to get started on your own pumpkin patch.