Some pumpkins are perfect for pies, some for savory recipes, and others for decorative uses. With over a hundred different varieties of pumpkins out there, how do you decide which ones to grow in your garden?
Read on for a guide to pumpkin varieties, complete with examples of each type and links for where to buy high-quality seeds.
Traditional Orange Pumpkin Varieties
Also called classic orange pumpkins, traditional orange pumpkin cultivars are easy to identify by their appearance. They’re deep orange in color, round or oblong in shape, and medium to large in size.
Many traditional orange pumpkin varieties are big enough to carve and also have flesh and seeds suitable for eating. Some, though, have stringy, bitter flesh. If you intend to use traditional orange pumpkins for culinary purposes, make sure the variety you choose is identified as an “all-purpose” pumpkin.
Mustang PMR Pumpkin
Have limited space in your garden? Select a traditional orange pumpkin variety with a compact growth habit, like Mustang PMR.
These spherical, bright orange pumpkins grow to about twenty pounds and have a smooth texture perfect for carving. Mustang PMR pumpkins are known for large yields and fruits with reliably uniform size and appearance.
Connecticut Field pumpkins are a Halloween classic. These large, round, bright orange pumpkins have flattened bottoms and slightly ribbed exteriors that make for excellent jack-o’-lanterns. These heirloom pumpkins weigh about fifteen to twenty pounds when mature.
While Connecticut Field pumpkins are edible, their flesh isn’t very sweet or flavorful. Stick to using these pumpkins for carving or decorations.
The Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin is good for more than just the Halloween-time use its name implies! These bright orange, medium to large, round to oblong heirloom pumpkins are considered all-purpose. They’re perfect for carving, but their thick yellow flesh is also great for use in pies and soups.
Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins mature at about ten to twelve pounds. They grow on long vines, so be sure you have ample room for them to spread when planting in your garden.
Pie Pumpkin Varieties
Pie pumpkin or sugar pumpkin varieties are the best pumpkins for eating. As the category name suggests, these edible pumpkins have naturally sweet flesh on the inside that’s thick, flavorful, and perfect for cooking and baking.
A great choice for pie pumpkins to grow at home is the beautiful, pink-red Cinderella Carriage Pumpkin. These hybrid pumpkins are known for strong yields and resistance to powdery mildew.
Cinderella Carriage Pumpkins are on the larger side for pie pumpkins. They grow to about twenty-five to thirty-five pounds in maturity. Their yellow flesh has a sweet, nutty flavor, making them suitable for both savory and sweet pumpkin recipes.
Autumn Gold pumpkins are named for their unique golden color, which notably develops early in the season. Mature Autumn Gold pumpkins are golden-orange and weigh about seven to fifteen pounds. Their thick, rich, and sweet orange flesh is perfectly textured for whipping into pie or pumpkin bread recipes.
Jarrahdale pumpkins have a flattened shape and distinctive blue-gray skin that you may not expect to see on a pumpkin. But their sweet, pale orange flesh is absolutely delicious, even when eaten raw, making them a great choice for those growing pie pumpkins at home.
Baby Bear pumpkins are popular small pumpkins with a slightly flattened globe shape and deep orange exterior. The orange flesh of a Baby Bear pumpkin is dense and sweet for cooking and baking. What makes these mini pumpkins most unique, though, is their delicious hulless seeds.
Otherwise known as pepitas, hulless pumpkin seeds are great for roasting and snacking. But you can also use them as salad toppers or in place of pine nuts for a nut-free pesto. Try this simple recipe for Roasted Pumpkin Seeds with your Baby Bear pumpkin seeds.
Giant Pumpkin Varieties
Giant pumpkins are massive, fast-growing fruits that can weigh hundreds or even thousands of pounds when mature. Grown primarily for competitions, giant pumpkins are celebrated in local fairs and contests worldwide.
These pumpkin varieties have been selectively bred to produce gigantic pumpkins that start out round and flatten as they grow, simply due to the force of gravity.
The largest giant pumpkins you will see are Atlantic Giant pumpkins. These massive squashes are heavily ribbed and usually range in color from buff to bright orange.
A Minnesota farmer broke the world record in 2023 with a 2,749 pound Atlantic Giant pumpkin. Most growers, though, should expect their Atlantic Giants to mature at closer to 200 pounds.
Want to try your hand at growing your own giant pumpkins? Check out this how-to guide to learn how to get started!
Big Max pumpkins grow a bit smaller than Atlantic Giants. These bright orange giant pumpkins mature at around 100 pounds and maintain a rounded, slightly flattened shape.
Though Big Max is primarily used for carving and decoration, it can also be considered a pie pumpkin. Its thick, sweet, yellow-orange flesh is excellent for cooking and baking.
Decorative Pumpkin Varieties
Decorative pumpkin varieties are those cultivated primarily for ornamental use. Diverse, colorful, and sometimes showy decorative pumpkins are easy to use as simple, elegant fall and winter decorations. Smaller ones make perfect wedding or holiday table centerpieces, too.
Casperita pumpkins are half to one-pound mini pumpkins with snowy to off-white skin and sturdy green handles. These adorable pumpkins have slightly sweet white flesh with a similar taste to acorn squash. They’re also the perfect size for roasting in halves. Try this maple-roasted squash recipe with your Casperita pumpkins for a unique and beautiful, savory-sweet holiday side dish.
Looking for a show-stopping decorative pumpkin? Check out the Turk’s Turban pumpkin.
With their sculptural shapes and painterly displays of fall colors, these unique heirloom pumpkins are true works of art. Most are deep orange to red-orange around the base, with green, white, yellow, and silver striations on their distinctive blossom-end buttons.
Turk’s Turban pumpkins grow to about five to seven pounds. Their golden-orange flesh is also edible and best suited for savory squash recipes.
Wrapping Up Pumpkin Varieties
Now you know all about pumpkin varieties! Next, check out our guide to growing pumpkins for everything else you’ll need to know to start growing pumpkins like a pro.
- About the Author
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Ashley Lystne is a writer for Minneopa Orchards, a fiction author, and creator of interactive novel choice games. She has a bachelor’s degree in English and an MFA in Creative Writing. Ashley tried out living in just about every major city in America before settling down in Washington state, where she currently resides.
A lifelong vegetarian passionate about growing her own food, Ashley also has a local side hustle cultivating and selling ornamental house plants. She loves contributing to Minneopa Orchards, where she can share her passion for all things plants and gardening.