Pumpkin Growing Companions: Learn About Companion Planting With Pumpkins
By: Teo Spengler
Plants that grow well with pumpkins are good pumpkin companion plants. Planting a pumpkin with companion plants isn’t intended to combat vegetable loneliness, but rather to help it grow better, either because companions meet the pumpkin plant’s needs in some way, or because the companions keep pumpkin pests away.
If you are planting pumpkins in your garden, it pays to learn something about companion planting with pumpkins. Read on for more information about plants that grow well with pumpkins.
Pumpkin Growing Companions
The first time you hear about pumpkin companion plants, you may feel confused about what companion planting means and how it can aid in the garden. Companion planting with pumpkins or other vegetables involves grouping together garden plants that help each other to grow.
Plants may be classified as good companions in the garden if they attract beneficial insects like pollinators into the area. Certain herbs and flowers attract beneficial insects, such as:
Other plants contain substances in their roots or foliage that repel insect pests. The strong odor of some plants, like garlic and onion, can disguise the odor of plants like roses, keeping insect pests away.
Companion Planting with Pumpkins
A variety of plants work well as pumpkin growing companions either because they help the pumpkin plant stay healthy and productive, or because the pumpkin plants aid them in some way, or both. One typical example of companion planting with pumpkins is interspersing corn, beans and pumpkins in the same bed. The beans can use the cornstalks as support structures to climb up, while the massed foliage of pumpkins keeps down the weeds. Melon and squash are also beneficial as pumpkin companion plants.
Some plants that grow well with pumpkins are beneficial because they enhance the vegetable’s flavor. Marjoram, if used as one of the pumpkin growing companions, is said to produce better tasting pumpkins. Nasturtiums keep bugs and beetles away. Marigold, oregano and dill all repel destructive insects, like the dreaded squash bug.
Plants to Exclude as Pumpkin Growing Companions
Not every plant will be good for companion planting with pumpkins. Intercropping the wrong species can cause your pumpkins growing problems. For example, experts tell gardeners not to plant pumpkin near potatoes.
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How to Plant Watermelons & Pumpkins Together
Watermelons and pumpkins belong to the plant family Cucurbitaceae, a group of plants commonly referred to as cucurbits. Since they share similar cultural requirements, cucurbits will grow harmoniously in the same bed if provided with plenty of sunshine, supplemental nutrients and water. The mature vines sometimes reach 20 feet in length, so planting watermelons and pumpkins together often proves challenging solely because they require such an abundance of space. However, with careful planning, it is possible to arrange the plants in a space-savvy and beneficial way by creating planting hills within the bed.
Plant watermelons and pumpkins in a bed with full sun exposure and excellent drainage. Avoid shaded, wet areas since the vines will not thrive. Wait until the soil warms to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Weed and amend the planting site with a 2-inch-thick layer of well-rotted manure to a depth of 8 inches. Mound the amended soil into hills measuring 8 to 10 inches high and 2 to 3 feet wide. Space the hills approximately 4 to 8 feet apart.
Sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons of low nitrogen, 6-10-10 ratio fertilizer onto each planting hill. Water each hill lightly to push the fertilizer deep into the soil, which will encourage fast root growth.
Plant three watermelon or pumpkin vines atop each hill. Plant them in an equilateral triangle arrangement to ensure each has equal access to nutrients, space and water. Feel free to mix the watermelon and pumpkin vines together, if desired.
Dig the planting holes slightly shallower than the vines' original pots. Gently slide the vines from their pots and nestle the root balls in the planting holes. Push soil in around the rootball and press down to firm it.
Spread a 2-inch-thick layer of mulch around the base of each plant to suppress weed growth and to hold moisture and warmth in the soil. Leave a 2-inch space between the mulch and the base of the vines to let moisture escape.
Water the watermelon and pumpkin vines deeply after planting them. Run the water at the base of the vines rather than spraying from above since excess moisture on the foliage causes angular leaf spot and blossom end rot, both of which will cause a low fruit yield.
What are Companion Plants?
Companion plants are plants that complement one another in terms of growth and production. For example, one plant may attract an insect that might protect a companion plant. Another plant may act as a repellent for a bug that might be harmful to the plant next to it.
It is also important to look at the nutrients individual plants need. A companion plant may need less of one specific nutrient while its neighbor desperately needs it to thrive. In this case, companion planting would eliminate the competition between the two plants.
3. Water and care for your pumpkin plants.
Most vegetable crops need a deep yet gentle soaking once per week — about an inch of water at a time. Adjust based on rainfall accordingly. Note: Pumpkin leaves can look wilted in the afternoon heat, even if the soil is still moist. Resist the temptation to douse the dirt even more if the foliage perks back up again in the evening or under cloud cover, as overwatering can contribute to root rot. Mulching your beds will help keep pumpkin plants more consistently hydrated and also tamp down weeds.
In general, you do not need to prune your vines. Big leaves help them produce more carbohydrates, which mean more pumpkins. Some people will thin their plants to one or two fruits each in order to grow giant prize pumpkins, but everyday backyard gardeners can skip this step.
- Harvest in 110-170 days
If left to their own devices pumpkins will happily scramble almost anywhere, and sometime even sprout up by themselves in the compost heap. Choose a sunny position to plant your pumpkins. If space is an issue, you can grow pumpkins in containers. Choose a smaller-grown variety and a large container and place it in a sunny position.
Pumpkins need a long growing season of approximately four to six months depending on where you live. Plant out as soon as frosts are over and keep well-watered while plant is establishing itself.
Popular pumpkin varieties include Butternut, Crown, Kumi Kumi, Queensland Blue and Triamble.
If growing from seed, germinate seeds in late winter or early spring in sheltered areas, or after the frosts have finished in cold areas. Allow 2 metres between each plant.
Refer to our Planting Calendar for when to plant in your region.
Like building a house a good foundation is the key to success in your garden. The better the soil, the better your plants will grow. Pumpkins enjoy a rich fertile soil. If you are starting with an existing garden bed dig in organic matter like Tui Sheep Pellets and Tui Compost to your soil. Then you can add a layer of Tui Vegetable Mix.
The best times to plant are early in the morning or late in the day, so the plants aren’t exposed to the hot sun straight away. Always water plants well before and after planting.
Pinch out the main stems once growth starts this will encourage more lateral stems and give you a heavier crop of fruit. To encourage large pumpkins, allow only two to three to develop on each plant.
Planting in garden beds
- Water plants thoroughly before planting and allow to drain.
- Dig a hole, approximately twice the depth and width of the root ball of your plant.
- Partly fill the hole with Tui Vegetable Mix.
- Gently loosen the root ball of your plant and position the plant in the centre of the hole.
- Fill in with Tui Vegetable Mix.
- Press soil gently around the base of the plant.
- Water your plant well.
Feed your plants and they will feed you. Plants use nutrients from the soil as they grow, so replenishing the nutrients ensures your plants grow to their full potential. Select a fertiliser specially blended for your crop like Tui Vegetable Food. Well watered, well nourished pumpkins will have a better chance of keeping insect pests and diseases at bay. Avoid getting the foliage wet when watering. Lift off the ground in some areas if the ground is cold and wet. Mildew can be an issue - control with a suitable fungicide if it becomes an issue.
While your pumpkins are growing regularly apply a dose of Tui Organic Seaweed Plant Tonic to give them a welcome boost.
Remove excess leaves to aid ripening, but don't be tempted to remove too many as this will reduce the amount of photosynthesis.
A general rule is to harvest pumpkins after the first frost. If you live in a mild climate, pick them once they have coloured up and sound hollow when you knock the shell. If the skin of the pumpkin is hard and doesn't leave a dent when knocked, it is ripe. Another indication they are ripe is when the leaves die away.
Cut pumpkins from the vine with a sharp knife, leaving the stem on the fruit. Place in a dark, dry place to store.
Be vigilant and stop unwanted insects and diseases from ruining your plants. Slugs and snails can be an issue - lay Tui Quash slug and snail control around young plants.