Whether you’re looking to start a massive pumpkin patch or just want a few homegrown pumpkins for carving, knowing how to care for them is crucial. When it comes to pumpkin care, properly watering pumpkin plants is at the top of the list in terms of importance.
If you’re new to pumpkin growing and don’t know the first thing about watering them, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn what it takes to be a pumpkin-watering guru!
How to Properly Water Your Pumpkins
While pumpkins are one of the focal points of fall, Halloween, and Thanksgiving, it’s also a competitive sport. Growers are constantly competing to have the biggest, best, and most appealing pumpkins.
To do that, you must understand your options when it comes to watering pumpkin plants. In general, there are four methods that people use.
Option 1: A Drip Irrigation System
Watering pumpkin plants with a drip irrigation system is one of the best and most efficient options. Drip irrigation systems get installed close to the ground and slowly drip or release water as needed.
Drip irrigation systems consist of a series of lines or tubes that water is constantly flowing through. These tubes have holes periodically poked into them wherever you have a pumpkin plant that needs water.
This type of system means you don’t have to physically water the pumpkins yourself because the system will do it for you. Drip irrigation systems also use much less water than sprinklers or hoses, and it gets water directly to the roots because of how the system is designed.
You also have the option of burying a drip irrigation system below the soil. Water leaks out of holes within the system tubing and oozes directly into the roots of your pumpkin plants.
For even more options, read about our top 4 Picks for Drip Irrigation Systems.
Option 2: A Sprinkler System
Another tried, and true method for watering pumpkin plants is to use a sprinkler system. As with drip irrigation systems, a sprinkler system removes the hands-on work of watering pumpkin plants.
A sprinkler system consists of a water hose hooked up to a spigot on one end and one or more sprinkler heads on the other. You have the option of installing your water lines below ground and connecting them to permanent sprinkler heads placed throughout your pumpkin patch.
Or, if you want flexibility and don’t have that many pumpkins, you can have a single water hose connected to a portable sprinkler head. You can then turn the water on manually or install an automatic timer so that the water turns on and off according to a schedule.
While sprinkler systems are a great hands-off option for watering pumpkin plants, they aren’t as efficient as drip irrigation systems. They also don’t get a concentration of water directly to the roots of your plants.
To browse other sprinklers for your watering needs, read our blog post on Best Sprinklers for Your Garden.
Option 3: A Spray Hose
If you don’t mind the extra work, watering your pumpkin plants with a garden hose is a good way to stay connected with the goings-on of your patch.
Using a spray hose isn’t complicated, but there’s a risk of overwatering your pumpkins. It’s easy to get carried away and concentrated your watering a specific area while neglecting the rest of the patch.
So remember to be extra vigilant if you do decide to use a garden hose to water your pumpkin patch.
Our article on Best Garden Hoses has even more hoses for all sorts of garden watering jobs.
Option 4: A Watering Can
Finally, you have the option of going old-school and watering your pumpkin plants with a watering can. Using a watering can is the most hands-on way to water pumpkins, and it’s also the best way to ensure they get as much water as you want them to.
However, using a watering can isn’t a good option for big pumpkin patches because, by the time you’re finished watering your last pumpkin, it will be time to start at the beginning again!
But if using a watering can is an option for you, we’ve got a great article about the Best Watering Cans to check out.
How Much Water do Pumpkins Need to Thrive?
A little-known fact about pumpkins is that they consist mainly of water. Between 80 and 90% of the internal composition of pumpkins is water.
Therefore, they need more water to grow and thrive than other fruits and vegetables. In measurement terms, each pumpkin plant needs roughly one inch of water per week, which equates to nearly sixteen gallons.
However, if you planted your pumpkins in dry ground or if they aren’t getting enough rain, you should water them more frequently. By keeping the soil constantly moist around your pumpkins, you can cut down on evaporation.
Because of how much water pumpkins need, it isn’t practical to water them by hand. Instead, it’s best to have a drip irrigation or sprinkler system that waters your pumpkins on a schedule so that you know exactly how much water your pumpkins are getting.
How Often Should You Water Pumpkins?
Simply put, you should water your pumpkins as often as necessary. On average, most pumpkin growers will water their pumpkins two to four times per week, but others will water them every day.
If you’re watering pumpkin plants daily, you should give them around 2.5 gallons of water each time. If you’re watering pumpkin plants two to four times per week, you’ll need to give them between four and eight gallons each time.
The downside of watering pumpkins every day is that you run the risk of oversaturating them. While they need plenty of water, pumpkin plants are prone to overwatering, which can result in disease and death.
When to Stop Watering Pumpkins
A good way to tell if your pumpkins need more water is to stick your finger directly into the soil near their roots. If you can feel the moisture in the soil that’s more than an inch deep, there’s no need to water your pumpkin plants.
It’s also important to cut back on the water as your pumpkins grow and mature. The bigger your pumpkin gets, the less water it needs because, as we said earlier, mature pumpkins consist of 80 to 90% water.
Therefore, the bigger your pumpkins are, the more water they already have inside them. While it’s still important to check on your pumpkins and water them as needed, they typically won’t require as much water when they’re older.
Finally, you should completely stop watering pumpkin plants within seven to ten days of when you plan to harvest them.
Diseases That Can Stem From Improperly Watering Pumpkins
Because of how much water pumpkins need, overwatering them is just as common as underwatering. In either case, the first sign that you’re improperly watering your pumpkins is if you notice the leaves turning yellow and then falling off the plant.
Here are some diseases that can result from improperly watering pumpkin plants.
- Yellow Vine Disease
- Fusarium Crown Rot
- Pythium Root Rot
- Verticillium Wilt
Because of the dangers involved with over and underwatering pumpkin plants, it’s important to water them properly and utilize automatic watering methods for scheduled waterings. For more information about specific pumpkin diseases, check out our page all about Pumpkin Diseases.
Pumpkin Varieties That Don’t Require As Much Water
If you live in a dry region where water isn’t readily available and comes at a premium, choosing a pumpkin variety that needs less water might be a good idea. As with all types of fruits and vegetables, not all pumpkins need the same amount of water.
Here are a few top pumpkin varieties that require less water than other pumpkins.
While these pumpkin plants need less water than others, it’s important to follow the instructions specific to each variety to avoid over or underwatering.
Tools to Make Watering Pumpkin Plants Easy!
While watering pumpkin plants isn’t an overly difficult process, it’s important to water them properly and avoid over and underwatering. However, watering pumpkins is only one aspect of ensuring their growth and health.
For more information about how to grow, care for, and harvest pumpkins, check out our Pumpkin Plants page, which digs into the various aspects of pumpkin plants.