Whether carved into a jack-o’-lantern for Halloween fright and fun, used whole as the centerpiece of a front-porch seasonal tableau, or chopped up and baked into a Thanksgiving pie, nothing symbolizes the fall of the year better than a big round orange pumpkin.
It’s even more special if the pumpkins around your household come from your own backyard garden. But how can you grow a pumpkin worthy of a place in your fall celebrations? Read on for some guidance on one aspect of that question, namely, the best choices in fertilizer for pumpkins to ensure prodigious production.
Our Picks for the Best Pumpkin Fertilizers
Here are 6 choices we found as the best fertilizers for your pumpkin patch. Be sure to keep reading to get more details about each product!
Hoss All-In-One Fertilizer
Dr. Earth Liquid Fertilizer
Dr. Earth Premium Gold Fertilizer
Espoma Garden-Tone Fertilizer
Burpee Bone Meal Fertilizer
Hoss Premium Fertilizer
Ideal for getting pumpkins ready for the growing season! Provides N, P, K, plus calcium and other minerals.
An environmentally sustainable product with nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for strong, healthy plants.
Includes soil microbes, mycorrhizae, beneficial fungi, ocean plants, fish bones and other minerals to create nutrient-rich soil.
Produces strong pumpkin vines and fruit! Contains poultry manure and bone meal for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Contains nitrogen, phosphorus and calcium to support rapid root growth to establish pumpkin plants for the growing season.
Contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to encourage vegetative and root growth of plants during growing season.
Formulated for heavy-feeding crops like pumpkins
Human-grade ingredients recycled from supermarkets
Also good for other plants in your vegetable garden
Ready to use without mixing
Can be applied at any time prior to harvest
Just 1 to 2 pounds for every 1,000 sq ft of garden
Not specifically formulated as a pumpkin fertilizer
Liquid fertilizers don't have slow-release options.
Smell may be bothersome to some gardeners
Warm temperatures required for full effectiveness
Bone smell may attract dogs to dig up garden
Can burn plant foliage if not diluted per directions
What Do Pumpkins Need From Fertilizer?
When it comes to fertilizer for pumpkins, there are three things that your plants definitely will need to produce top-quality fruits. Nitrogen sets the stage for a bumper crop by promoting the growth of vines and leaves, phosphorous assists as the vines are flowering, and potassium is critical as your pumpkins form on the vine.
As a general rule for pumpkin fertilizer, you should recognize that moderation is a good approach, allowing you to gauge the performance of the fertilizer or fertilizers that you choose without unduly endangering your hoped-for pumpkin harvest.
As just a couple of cautionary notes, while nitrogen will promote growth in the pumpkin patch, using too much can burn the leaves from your vines and may also reduce the growth of flowers, a precursor to pumpkin production.
Likewise, applying too much potassium can speed growth to the point that you may find pumpkins literally bursting open on the vine.
Some Basics for Fertilizing Pumpkins
It’s also important to pay attention to the stage of growth of your patch before applying pumpkin fertilizer, to ensure that the nutrients you’re adding to the soil or to the plants themselves are optimal for where your plants are in terms of eventual pumpkin production.
The fertilizers you’ll learn about as you read further are designed for an array of circumstances in the pumpkin patch. But if you’re a pumpkin-growing novice, you might want to start out with a basic 5-10-5 fertilizer.
The numbers are a reference to the proportion of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium in the fertilizer mix, and a 5-10-5 fertilizer can be used — in moderation — throughout pumpkin-growing season.
Types of Pumpkin Fertilizer
There are a wide range of pumpkin fertilizers on the market, including liquid varieties which are quickly absorbed by plants through the soil, and granular options which offer a sustained uptake of fertilizer from the soil. And, of course, there’s always the choice of synthetic fertilizers versus organic fertilizers.
Organic Versus Synthetic Fertilizer
Whether you decide on an organic or a synthetic option for pumpkin fertilizer, there are pros and cons to consider. Organic fertilizers are environmentally friendly and safe for use among children and pets, but their nutrient ratios are less specific than synthetic fertilizers.
Synthetic fertilizers are less expensive than organic options, and they do ensure a specific ratio of nutrients. But, they may require multiple applications, and may also present the risk of building up toxic materials in the soil.
Best Overall Pumpkin Fertilizer
Hoss All-In-One Vegetable Fertilizer
Hoss All-In-One Vegetable Fertilizer, available from Hoss Tools, provides the classic mix of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous that is ideal for getting your pumpkin patch ready for the growing season.
But it is set apart by its special blend of other nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, sulfur, boron, manganese and zinc, which have important roles to play in boosting soil and plant health.
To get the most out of Hoss All-In-One Vegetable Fertilizer, Hoss Tools recommends applying it early in the growing season to heavy-feeding crops, which will definitely include your pumpkin patch.
- Can be applied throughout the growing season as needed
- Formulated for heavy-feeding crops like pumpkins
- Has a 10-10-10 ratio of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous, ideal for soil preparation
- Not specifically formulated as a pumpkin fertilizer
Best Fertilizer for Producing Large Pumpkins
Dr. Earth Organic & Natural Premium Gold All-Purpose Fertilizer
Designed specifically for home fruit and vegetable gardeners, Dr. Earth Organic & Natural Premium Gold All-Purpose Fertilizer includes a number of soil microbes and mycorrhizae, beneficial fungi that boost nutrient and water uptake by their host plant by expanding the soil volume available to the plant.
Dr. Earth is handcrafted, with organic nutrients derived from sources including ocean plants, fish bones and assorted mined minerals. The fertilizer is specifically formulated to produce nutrient-rich soil as a foundation for producing healthy plants.
- Also good for other plants in your vegetable garden
- Recognized by Organic Material Review Institute, Organic Input Materials, California Certified Organic Farmers and the National Organic Program.
- As with other organic fertilizers, release of nutrients is slow, necessitating some advance planning of application
- Smell may be bothersome to some gardeners
Best Organic Fertilizer for Pumpkins
Espoma Organic Garden-tone 3-4-4
A quick look at the list of ingredients for Espoma Organic Garden-tone 3-4-4 shows why it is the best choice for organically fertilizing your pumpkin patch. Among the top ingredients listed on the fertilizer bag are poultry manure and bone meal, both touted in their own rights as great organic fertilizers.
Bone meal, the ground-up animal bones produced in slaughterhouses, is rich in phosphorous and calcium, both of which are building blocks for effective fertilizers. Specifically, bone meal helps with root growth, which in turn will produce stronger pumpkin vines and fruits.
Poultry manure is a great addition to any organic fertilizer because it contains one of the highest concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium — critical ingredients in all fertilizers — of the various types of animal manure that can be used in organic fertilizer.
- Poultry manure, bone meal, feather meal, and alfalfa meal provide slow-release nitrogen, more efficiently used by growing fruits like pumpkins
- Can also be used on a variety of other crops, including tomatoes, squash, and various melons
- Ready to use without additional mixing
- As with all organic fertilizers, it may take some time to see results
- Also, like other organic fertilizers, warm temperatures may be required for full effectiveness
Best Early-Season Fertilizer for Pumpkins
Burpee Bone Meal Fertilizer
Most all of the planting and growing advice you’ll find for pumpkins stresses the importance of early-season use of high-nitrogen fertilizer. Nitrogen does two things for young plants, supporting their rapid growth and setting the stage for robust development of both foliage and fruit.
Put simply, young plants need to get established firmly and quickly in order to produce significant dividends in the pumpkin harvest, and Burpee Bone Meal Fertilizer is a great way to ensure that happens in your pumpkin patch by promoting strong root growth.
Additionally, the nitrogen in Burpee Bone Meal Fertilizer, along with the phosphorous and calcium it also contains, will help ensure that your pumpkin patch produces a healthy crop.
- Certified to be an organic product by the Organic Materials Review Institute
- Can be applied at any time prior to harvest
- Can help keep rabbits out of your garden
- Bone smell may attract dogs to dig up garden
- Not much help in alkaline soils
Best Liquid Fertilizer for Pumpkins
Dr. Earth Organic & Natural Pure Gold All-Purpose Liquid Plant Food 1-1-1
If you want to grow your pumpkins in an environmentally sustainable manner — and, of course, that’s the way you should want to bring in your crop — you can’t do any better than fertilizing them with Dr. Earth Organic & Natural Pure Gold All-Purpose Liquid Plant Food 1-1-1.
The 1-1-1 refers to the fertilizer’s balance of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, all of which are critical to producing healthy pumpkins. WIth regard to the Dr. Earth product, that balance is ideal in terms of preparing your pumpkin vines to flower, and to eventually produce a bumper crop of pumpkins.
Dr. Earth Organic & Natural Pure Gold All-Purpose Liquid Plant Food 1-1-1 is comprised of food waste gathered from grocery stores, an admirable full-circle approach to producing fertilizer.
- Available in a variety of sizes, from 8 ounces to 32 ounces.
- Nutrients obtained from human-grade ingredients recycled from supermarkets.
- 1-1-1 balance of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium is perfect for application in the middle of the growing season.
- As with all liquid fertilizers, close attention to application is required.
- Liquid fertilizers don’t have slow-release options.
- Some nutrients may be lost to evaporation.
Best All-Purpose Pumpkin Fertilizer
Hoss 20-20-20 Garden Fertilizer
The nutritive balance of Hoss 20-20-20 Garden Fertilizer makes it the very definition of an all-purpose fertilizer for your pumpkin patch, or anywhere else in your vegetable garden. With 20% each of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, the basic building blocks of vegetable plant nutrition, Hoss 20-20-20 Garden Fertilizer brings a balanced approach to the garden.
As Hoss Tools explains on its website, the nitrogen in its 20-20-20 garden fertilizer promotes vegetative growth, while phosphorous and potassium ensure root health. Additionally, Hoss 20-20-20 Garden Fertilizer can be used throughout your pumpkin plants’ growth cycle.
- Economic mixing ratio, using just 1 to 2 pounds of fertilizer for every 1,000 square feet of garden.
- Reasonable application schedule, routinely once every two or three weeks.
- Can be used in container gardens.
- Like all 20-20-20 fertilizers, can burn plant foliage if not diluted strictly according to directions.
- Like other fertilizers, can leach away from intended application site.
The Best Pumpkin Fertilizers for Massive Pumpkins!
We hope this post has provided you with everything you need to make the best decisions on pumpkin fertilizer for growing the biggest and best pumpkins you’ve ever produced.
For additional information on planting, growing, and harvesting pumpkins, visit our Pumpkin Plants page for even more blg posts and helpful guides!
Shopping for your garden can get overwhelming, fast. So if you’re looking for advice on tools and supplies, then you’re in the right place!