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 Pests Questions

Why are there gnats in my houseplants?
July 22, 2009 - I have flying brown gnats in my house plants. Can you tell me why?
view the full question and answer

Tiny holes oozing sap from Austin
August 22, 2012 - My ash tree becomes loaded with butterflies on the trunk. At closer inspection, I see they are drinking sap which is coming from small holes in the trunk. Are the butterflies creating the holes? I ...
view the full question and answer

Oak tree with browning leaves in Brenham TX
August 16, 2011 - I have a large oak tree in my small back yard. I also have a sprinkler so the tree has been receiving some water. Nevertheless, some of the leaves are turning brown in patches. Would drip watering ...
view the full question and answer

Something dripping from red oak in Austin
July 30, 2012 - There is a large red oak outside my apartment. The leaves are shiny and covered with what appears to be oil. The ground underneath is coated with this also. When I parked under the tree my car beca...
view the full question and answer

Possible disease on Eastern Redbud
October 06, 2007 - Our Eastern Redbud appears to be suffering from our recent drought. The leaves are turning brown in July/August on a few branches. A few black spots appear on the leaves before they turn brown. Ot...
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