There’s hardly any vegetable more iconic and associated with fall than the pumpkin.
Whether it is being grown as the essential ingredient in pumpkin pie or used as a festive centerpiece decoration, or carved up into a jack-o’-lantern, pumpkins are among the most popular vegetables in North America.
However, most varieties grow very large, and accordingly they need a ton of nutrients and water. But, like most plants, too much water will harm them. So, how much water do pumpkins need?
Most pumpkin varieties need between 1.5 and 2 inches of water weekly, given to them in two or three deep soakings. Pumpkins shouldn’t be kept in soil that is too wet or too.
Pumpkins are big, and they have correspondingly big thirst most of the time, particularly if you live in a hotter region.
Pumpkins are easy to care for concerning their water schedule as long as you nail the basics. I’ll tell you everything you need to know in the rest of this article.
What’s the Best Time to Water Pumpkins?
Ideally, you will water pumpkins in the morning before the heat of the day sets in. This accomplishes a couple of things: first, it will prepare pumpkins for rising temperatures.
It will also minimize the amount of water lost to evaporation before the plant can make use of it, and it also handily avoids issues that tend to arise if you water during the heat of the day, namely fungal outbreaks and other diseases.
However, if your pumpkins need water badly, don’t hesitate to water them at any other time. Just make sure you follow the rest of the advice we’ll talk about below.
How Much Water Do Pumpkins Need Per Week?
Pumpkins are thirsty plants, and most cultivars will need between 1.5 and 2 inches of water weekly, though rarely more than that.
To accurately determine how much water your pumpkins are receiving, you can use a rain gauge although this isn’t advised as you should avoid watering pumpkins from above and getting moisture on their leaves and vines.
Instead, record how much water you give them at every watering, and then observe their progress. If they are doing well, keep on. If they look like they are struggling, increase the amount of water they get.
Alternatively, if you are using an automated drip or soaker system you can set it to meter out the right amount of water at each instance.
How Often Should You Water Pumpkins?
Pumpkins should not be watered every day. They don’t like to sit in soil that is soaking wet, but rather soil that is just consistently moist.
Dry soil is bad also, but you can’t avoid that by watering every day and not go too far in the other direction.
A good rule of thumb is to water your pumpkins deeply once every 3 days or so, though they might need to be watered every 2 days in very hot weather as they will need extra water and somewhat higher moisture levels to beat the heat.
Do Pumpkins Like Wet Soil?
No. Pumpkins like moist soil, neither too dry nor too wet. Pumpkins that are kept in wet soil will either have drowned roots or develop rot, and either is going to snuff out your poor pumpkins.
One of the quickest ways to lose a maturing pumpkin is to overwater it and kill the roots.
Can Pumpkins Be Overwatered?
Yes, definitely! Contrary to what some people assert, it is in fact possible to give pumpkins too much water.
Just because they tend to grow huge does not mean that they can absorb all that water quickly enough to either bounce back from heat stress, or to keep the roots of the plant from drowning.
Be aware of this, and don’t overreact if your pumpkins are looking a little dry or are drooping during hot weather.
Also keep in mind that the vines of young pumpkin plants are surprisingly delicate, and even if you’re careful to avoid getting water directly on them, it is possible for displaced soil to injure them. Always water carefully and space out your waterings…
What are Some Problems Associated with Overwatering Pumpkins?
Pumpkins are notorious for suffering from two things when overwatering occurs: root rot and root drowning.
The first can happen to pretty much any plant, and will typically result in loss of your pumpkin.
When rot takes hold, roots are no longer firm and supple but instead turn soft and almost gelatinous, dying off. This in turn will cause the rest of the plan to suffer or die.
Drowning is a major problem, and can strike very quickly if you aren’t paying attention to how much water is retained in the soil.
If the roots are submerged or stay in soil that is very wet for a long period of time, they will be unable to process oxygen that the rest of the plant needs. This can lead to the sudden death of developing fruits.
How Will You Know if Pumpkins Aren’t Getting Enough Water?
Inspect all parts of the pumpkin: like pretty much all plants, if the leaves are starting to yellow or wilt, that is almost always a sign that your pumpkin isn’t getting enough water.
Also, examine the stem closely, as flimsiness or limpness is another sign of inadequate watering.
Lastly, and know that it is not totally reliable, carefully pick up the fruit to feel the weight. If it seems light for its size, it is probably dehydrated.
And of course, don’t forget to check the soil. Feel the top inch or two of soil, or use a moisture meter. If it is dry, or seriously lacking and moisture, it’s time to water.
Remember to water your pumpkins deeply less often: don’t water them every day!
How Often Should You Water Pumpkins in Pots?
Pumpkins generally don’t do well in containers, but smaller varieties can be grown successfully in pots or other large containers.
If you are planting your pumpkins in a container, simply follow all of the guidelines above with just a couple of special rules: whatever container you choose, you must ensure that it drains properly so your pumpkin’s roots aren’t sitting in water.
Consider drilling more holes if you need to, and if you can afford such a large container pick some sort of unglazed clay or other earthware that will “sweat” and allow moisture to move through its walls. This can give you better overall control of soil moisture levels.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.