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Mr. Smarty Plants - Care and fruiting time of pumpkins

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Saturday - October 06, 2007

From: RoundRock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Vines
Title: Care and fruiting time of pumpkins
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

This is my first year growing pumpkin. I have a good vine with flowers now & then, but I still don't see a little pumpkin forming. What am I doing wrong?

ANSWER:

All things considered, it looks like you're going to have to buy your Halloween pumpkin this year. The Cucurbita pepo is generally considered to be the traditional pumpkin that you carve, and is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, which includes gourds, pumpkins, cucumbers and squash. We discovered that the pumpkin is botanically classified as a fruit (the ripened ovary of a flowering plant) but is widely regarded as a vegetable. Generally, this sort of plant is not in the area of expertise of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, as our focus is on the use and care of native plants. The pumpkin has been so hybridized, both naturally and artificially, that it's believed the original plant, which may have originated in Mexico and Central America, no longer exists.

Having said all that, we did try to find out why you were getting no pumpkins, which you should have long before now. We learned that pumpkins have male and female flowers, both on the same plant, and that bees are the carriers of pollen between them. There has been an ongoing problem in recent years with the disappearance of the honeybee population. So, it's a possibility there were no bees available to play the role of Cupid. Also, it didn't sound as though you had a lot of blossoms, which probably cut down the chances of producing viable pumpkins. One source said that pumpkins do appreciate some enrichment in their soil. They also need sun and lots of room and lots of sun.

Pumpkins are annuals, of course, so that vine isn't going to be around much longer in any case. If you want to have another go next year, read some of the material from the link above and see if you need to change the way you start out, plant earlier, fertilize, get it in the sun, etc.

 

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