Gardeners are often intimidated by growing pumpkins. It may be because your previous attempts failed, or you think they are just difficult to grow.
Whether you desire small pumpkins for delicious pies or the large pumpkins to carve, growing pumpkins is simple but requires some upfront knowledge.
Some plants can thrive with little additional fertilizer. Pumpkins are not one of those plants. It is important for you to understand pumpkin fertilization requirements prior to you planting them.
They are very heavy feeders; they will devour most of what you give them. However, it is a great idea to understand the different nutrients and how they affect the growth of the pumpkins.
Things to Understand About Fertilizers for Pumpkins
Pumpkins love a rich environment; adding things such as manure and compost is a good idea. They will naturally enrich your soil. If you want larger pumpkins, you are going to want to add additional fertilizers beyond the compost and manure.
When you go to the store to purchase fertilizers, you are going to notice three numbers on the bag. It may look like: 5 – 10 – 5. This stands for: Nitrogen – Phosphorous – Potassium. Let’s take a look at what each of these chemicals do for your pumpkins.
The best time to apply nitrogen is in the early growth stages. It helps provide fuel to your pumpkin plant so the whole plant will grow. If you apply the right amount of nitrogen, you will get beautiful plants.
The problem with nitrogen is you must be careful to apply the right amount. While it is crucial for development, nitrogen can also cause damage; too much can burn your plants. Never apply direct contact to leaves and vines. It also can delay the time it takes for flowers and fruits to emerge.
If your plant overall looks wonderful, but flowers have yet to appear, don’t add anymore nitrogen for a week or two. This will cause the plant to direct energy to the development of fruit.
Now, you have reached the next stage in development. Phosphorous is needed when the flower and fruit begin to set.
At this time, you should switch to a fertilizer with a higher content of phosphorous (between 10 and 15 on the scale located on the bag). 5-10-5 is the most common fertilizer used, and it can be used the whole time.
Why is phosphorous important for pumpkins?
Phosphorous is needed for proper root growth, flowering and setting fruit. Luckily, phosphorous isn’t as damaging as nitrogen; you won’t burn your plant if you accidentally apply too much. This is because it doesn’t dissolve in water as easily.
3. Sufficient Potassium for Ultimate Growth
After pumpkins have set on the vine, potassium is needed for the next phase in growth. Potassium is needed for proper fruit growth and health. If you want large pumpkins, potassium is going to be an important factor.
At this time, either switch to a higher potassium level fertilizer or add a potassium supplement to your plants. Applying too much potassium won’t burn your plants. It can cause your plants to grow too rapidly. This can cause pumpkins to split open.
To stop this from happening, apply a smaller amount in the beginning. Gradually increase the amount of potassium so it doesn’t shock your plants.
4. Selecting the Right Blend of Soil for Pumpkins
When you make your purchase, it is important to select the right blend of chemicals. As stated before, 5-10-5 is one of the most common fertilizer. There are some other great selections as well. 5-15-5 or 8-24-24 fertilizers will work well for you. Notice that all of these don’t have too much nitrogen.
5. Granular vs. Water Soluble Fetilizer
You also have to decide which type of fertilizer you want to use. If you pick the granular fertilizer , you have to follow the instructions. Typically, you spread them along the ground around the plant. They require a heavy dose of water to get the granular bits to dissolve into the ground. It is important to not let them actually touch the plant.
Other gardeners prefer a water soluble fertilizer. There are some made specifically made for pumpkins. They are more expensive than the granular variety.
Growing and fertilizing pumpkins doesn’t have to be difficult, and you don’t need a science degree to understand the needed nutrients.
Wrapping Up the Best Pumpkin Fertilizer Tips for Biggest Yields
Here is what you need to remember. Nitrogen is most important in the beginning, but never apply too much. If you notice wilting or lack of fruit, scale back on the nitrogen.
Next comes phosphorous; this is important for the flower and fruit setting. Last comes potassium; if you want award winning pumpkins, potassium is your friend. Make sure to not apply too much too fast.
Do you have any great tips for fertilizing pumpkins? Let us know in the comments!