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7 Best Fertilizer For Pumpkins | When and How To Apply

Are you looking for the best pumpkin fertilizers? Growing vegetables at home is always an exciting challenge for beginner and experienced gardeners alike.

Not only is it exciting when you start to witness your first tomatoes, eggplants or beans form but growing vegetables really allow you to taste the fruit of your labor. Unfortunately, some vegetables are trickier to grow than others. 

Pumpkins are an absolute American staple. However, growing them in your garden may pose a greater challenge than you’d expect. Pumpkins have quite specific fertilization requirements, and if you want to harvest big, bulbous pumpkins, you’ll need to follow them. 

Follow our guide for everything you need to know about the best pumpkin fertilizer and what schedule to follow.

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Best Fertilizer For Pumpkins When and How To Apply

Best Pumpkin Fertilizers for 2022

Things To Understand About Growing Pumpkins

Best Pumpkin Fertilizer Reviews

If you’re growing pumpkins from seeds, you should be ready for harvest anywhere between 90 to 120 days. However, in that time, you’ll need to give your pumpkins plenty of love and attention to give you the result you’re hoping for. 

Pumpkins need full-sun and easy draining soil, as well as the right watering tactics. You’ll want to make sure you’re watering your pumpkins in the mornings, giving them a good soak at the base. 

Still, the most important consideration when it comes to growing pumpkins will be keeping up with their fertilization demands. Pumpkin fertilization requirements can be intimidating at first, but once you have the right knowledge it can be a breeze. 

Pumpkins are heavy feeders, they’ll devour as many nutrients as provided to them which most often results in a big and tasty pumpkin.

While fertilization will promote growth, which kind of fertilizer to use is dependent on which growth stage your pumpkin is at. So, here are our best pumpkin fertilizer tips: 

Pumpkin Fertilizer Requirements

Pumpkins thrive in a rich, organic environment. However, supplementing with manure and compost isn’t always enough. Before buying your fertilizer, you’ll need to ask yourself, “What nutrients do pumpkins need to grow?” 

Now, there are three very important chemicals to consider. Most bags of fertilizer will have three numbers. This would look like 5-10-5. These refer to the level of Nitrogen – Phosphorus – Potassium; in that order. 

So, why and when does your pumpkin need these chemicals?

What is the Best Fertilizer for Pumpkins

1. Nitrogen

Nitrogen is what is going to help your pumpkins green growth, and should be added in the early growth stages. Nitrogen will help produce plenty of strong vines and leaves – essential to fruit growth. 

Still, it’s important to keep in mind that you’ll need to balance the nitrogen levels just right. Too much nitrogen burns plant roots and will cause more damage than good. 

Avoid adding fertilizer directly onto the leaves and vines. Get to know more on how important nitrogen is for lawns in this ultimate guide

2. Phosphorous

Once your plant starts to bear flowers, it’s time to switch from a nitrogen-based fertilizer to a phosphorus-based one. You’ll need to pick a fertilizer that has a content count between 10 and 15. 

Phosphorus will help to promote root growth, flowering and push your plants to start developing fruits. You won’t need to worry about using too much phosphorus, the same way you’d need to with nitrogen. 

3. Potassium

Potassium is what is going to take your pumpkin right to that winning size. Once the fruit has begun to set on the vines, you can switch to a higher phosphorus fertilizer.

This will promote fruit growth and keep your plants happy and healthy. It’s best to start with a smaller dose of potassium and slowly work your way up. 

Applying too much potassium to start will cause your plants to grow too quickly causing pumpkins to split. You can either pick a high-potassium fertilizer or simply add a smaller potassium supplement. 

Best Pumpkin Fertilizer Reviews

So, now that you’ve answered what nutrients pumpkins need to grow, and how to apply them, it’s time to pick a fertilizer that suits the bill. 

Here are our picks for the best fertilizer for pumpkins:

Miracle-Gro Performance Organics Edibles Plant Nutrition Granules

Miracle-Gro is a well-known brand when it comes to planting fertilizers and supplements. Plus, they’ve recently started offering a range of organic products which are great for eco-conscious gardeners. 


The Miracle-Gro Organics Plant Granules are easy-to-apply and ideal for many kinds of vegetables, including cucumbers, tomatoes and of course, pumpkins. 


It has a compound breakdown of 7-6-9, which makes it a strong contender for early growth and fruiting stages. According to instructions, it’s best to add this fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks for the best results. 


Final Verdict: It’s organic, affordable and great to use throughout your vegetable garden. 


Burpee Organic Bone Meal Fertilizer

Another great organic option is Burpee’s Organic Bone Meal Fertilizer. It’s 100% safe to use and offers a high phosphorus content, perfectly suited to the blooming stage of your pumpkin’s growth.  


Bone meal breaks down very slowly, which means your plants will get a good level of nutrients over time. It’ll help to develop a strong root system and big, vibrant blooms. 


High in calcium too, this fertilizer is designed for bulb crops, so it’ll be perfect for your pumpkins and other plants in your veggie garden. It’s recommended to apply 1 cup per every 20 square feet of garden, then worked into the topsoil. 


Final Verdict: Perfect for the flowering stage, this organic fertilizer sends your pumpkins well on their way to fruiting. 


Dr Earth Organic Fertilizer

Formulated specifically for vegetables, this organic fertilizer from Dr Earth is filled with proteins, multi-minerals and all the ingredients that will encourage largely pumpkins throughout the growth cycle. 


It can be used regularly as a top dressing or a compost tea. 

100% Natural, this fertilizer is filled with soil-benefiting microbes which will also help to improve the soil. 


Final Verdict: Although it is known to have a pungent smell, it will show you visible results in a short matter of time. 


Pumpkin Juice 11-8-5 Foliar Liquid Pumpkin Fertilizer

Specifically designed for pumpkins, Pumpkin Juice 11-8-5 Foliar Liquid Pumpkin Fertilizer is filled with essential micronutrients that’ll help you get the results you're looking for. As it’s high in Nitrogen, it’s perfect for the first stage of growth.

 

This fertilizer feeds through the roots, meaning your plants get the best of what they need. As it’s a concentrate, it’s best to dilute 1-2 oz into a gallon of water which is used when watering. 


Final Verdict: Easy to measure, and easy to apply this fertilizer is a great choice to use for the first growth stage.


Organic Plant Magic - Super Premium Plant Food

If you’re worried about starting off with a fertilizer that’s too strong, you can consider starting with the Plant Magic Organic Fertilizer – perfect for first-time growers. 


With a ratio of 6-5-5, this fertilizer is a good choice for the early growing stages and can be added directly to the soil or diluted into some water. 1lb of this fertilizer is all you’ll need to feed 100sp feet of pumpkins. 


Final Verdict: It’s a great fertilizer with an organic formula. Plus, you’ll be able to use it for other plants including herbs, shrubs and flowers.


Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food

With a longer shelf-life than most, Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Foodis perfect for pumpkins, with an incredibly high ratio of 14-14-14. This fertilizer is an ideal choice for the first growth stage and right through to the flowering stage. 


Easy to use, this fertilizer will promote root growth and expansion. Plus, it’ll promote flowering better than most other fertilizers. 


Final Verdict: It’s a budget-friendly choice, perfectly suited to other veggies and fruits in your garden. 


MasterBlend 4-18-38 Vegetable Fertilizer

If extra strength with a slow start is what you’re after, then the MasterBlend Vegetable Fertilizer is a great choice. With a ratio of 4-18-38, it’s a water-soluble fertilizer perfect for big pumpkins.


Final Verdict: Super concentrated and easy to use, it’s a great choice for those with some pumpkin experience. 


Granular Or Water Soluble: What’s Better

When it comes to what is the best fertilizer for pumpkins, you’ll need to consider whether you want to go with a water-soluble fertilizer or a granular one. 

Many gardeners prefer to choose pumpkin-specific, water-soluble fertilizers that they can easily add to the water when they’re soaking their pumpkins.

Water-soluble fertilizer often gets absorbed faster as they are already dissolved into the water that roots are sucking up. Granular fertilizers will need some additional soaking after application to allow them to dissolve into the soil properly. 

Whichever you decide to choose, just keep an eye on your plants to track any changes and adjust accordingly. 

Organic or Non-Organic: What’s Better

Best Fertilizer for Pumpkins

In general, organic fertilizers are the better choice for gardeners. Organic fertilizers are a healthier option, especially for edible plants and they are far kinder to the environment. 

This is not to say that non-organic fertilizers are toxic, they just have certain pesticides and additives which can help to keep away bugs and pests that may feed on your crops. If you can, try organic first.

FAQ’s About Pumpkin Fertilization Requirements

How Often Should You Fertilize Pumpkins? 

You can fertilize your pumpkin plants on a 1 to 2 weeks cycle, depending on how they’re doing. In the first stage, a nitrogen-rich fertilizer can be added once every two weeks.

Once flowering has started, you can switch to potassium fertilizer every 2 weeks. Thereafter, phosphorus every 2 weeks. 

How Can I Increase Pumpkin Yields? 

The best way to ensure a bountiful yield is to make sure your pumpkins are getting enough sun, enough moisture and the right kind of fertilizer at the right time. 

Why Do Pumpkin Leaves Turn Yellow? 

Yellow leaves are usually a sign that your pumpkin plants are having an issue. This could be due to spells of extreme heat, lack of water, nutrient deficiency or a pest issue.

If young leaves are still green and healthy, your pumpkin plants are definitely in distress. 

How Often Should You Water Pumpkins? 

Especially when you’re using a granular fertilizer, giving your pumpkin plants enough to drink is essential. They’re thirsty plants so you can give them as much as one inch of water per week. 

How Many Pumpkins Will One Plant Produce? 

Depending on which variety you are growing, a single pumpkin plant can produce anywhere between 2 to 5 pumpkins. That’s why it’s essential to give your plants the nutrients they need to make each of the pumpkins big and healthy. 

What Month Should You Plant Pumpkins? 

Some varieties mature faster than others, so it’s a good idea to look into which pumpkin variety you are growing before planting.

Ones that need the 120 days should be planted earlier in the year. In general, pumpkins should be planted from early May through June.

Looking for other vegetables to add to the mix? Take a look at our vegetable growing guide

Wrapping Up Our Pumpkin Fertilizer Guide

So, there you have it. Our picks for the best fertilizer for pumpkins and a guide on how to use them effectively throughout your pumpkin growing stages. If you are looking for organic fertilizers for your other plants, be sure to check our organic fertilizer list here

In the first stage, be sure to pick a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, like the Pumpkin Juice foliar fertilizer. In the flowering stage, switch to a phosphorus-rich fertilizer, like Burpees Organic Bone Meal. In the final stage, switch to a potassium-rich fertilizer, like Miracle Gro’s plant granules. 

Of course, if you’re looking for an all-rounder you can always opt for the Osmocote plant food which will offer the most bang for your buck. 

About the Author Mabel Vasquez

Mabel has enjoyed a long career as a horticulturist, working in nurseries and greenhouses for many years. Although she loves all plants, Mabel has developed a particular passion over the years for herb gardens and indoor plants. Mabel has since retired from her horticulture career and loves sharing her many years of experience with our audience here at Sumo Gardener.

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