En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - April 15, 2013

From: Dulutj, GA
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Pests
Title: Growing Giant Pumpkins in Georgia
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I have tried to grow giant pumpkins in the Atlanta, GA area. Each year I lose several strong plants to vine borers. I have tried tin foil wrapped around the stems, and I even painted the stems with Sevin dust in a paste. I still had borers. I slit the stems and remove them, but this severely stunts the pumpkin growth. How do the folks up north counter this terrible pest? They get huge pumpkins and they must have a secret. I am considering using a systemic poison. Will that make the seeds poison also? Any advice is appreciated.

ANSWER:

The pesky squash vine borer is quite a pervasive and destructive pest of giant pumpkins and other members of the squash/cucumber family. This is a bit out of the Mr. Smarty Plants field of native plants expertise, but there are some resources online that might help. Also there are many options to combat the vine borer as alternatives to using systemic pesticides.

Don H. Cooper from the University of Georgia has a very informative article on the Georgia FACES website. He describes the life cycle, using row covers and yellow sticky traps, and how he injects Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), an organic insecticide into the stems.

Another website that you will find informative is www.bigpumpkins.com. Paul Hollings has an article on that website about the dreaded vine borer and has some good advice on organic methods for avoiding it.He also recommends covering the entire plant during the vine borer’s active mating season with a lightweight row cover. In his area (Medford, MA) he covers the plants with the row cover from early June to late July. He sews several strips together so he has enough to unroll as the pumpkin grows. If borer damage does show up he injects beneficial nematodes into the stem when he sees a hole and frass showing.

An additional article on the www.bigpumpkins.com website, this time by Hugh Wilberg has a good description of the male and female adults, when they emerge and their habits. Beyond the vine borer, there are lots of tips for growing giant pumpkins on the website too.

Bill Foss also has some good growing instructions online for 500 pound (or larger) size pumpkins.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Eliminating non-native invasive Asian jasmine in Temple TX
February 06, 2010 - Hello, behind my backyard fence there is a large growth (about 300 to 400 sq feet) of Asian jasmine. It was planted by previous owners. It prevents growth of native plants like holly. What is the prac...
view the full question and answer

Strange produce from non-native lemon seed in Houma LA
April 03, 2010 - I grow a lemon tree from a seed. I grafted it from the same tree a year or so later. It is 15 years old and it only produce one year. The question is, the year it produce, the fruit was a pink grap...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Indian hawthorns in Lott TX
July 05, 2009 - My Indian Hawthornes have developed brown leaves. I planted them about four years ago and until now they have done very well. I bought some 3 in 1 garden spray for fungus, but I don't know if that ...
view the full question and answer

List of North American plants grown in other countries
August 17, 2008 - I am working on a childrens story and would like to let the teachers who read this book know where some of the native plants in my book grow throughout the world, or if they grow outside of the USA. p...
view the full question and answer

Non-native Bird of Paradise plant (Strelitzia reginae)
November 30, 2008 - I have two Bird of Paradise plants on my lanai (Marion County, FL) and they are both in large pots. Nobody but me seems to like them at my house and I have been asked if I could trim all the leaves o...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center