How to grow pumpkins for a successful harvest in time for Halloween

Gardening experts share an easy guide

Pumpkin growing in a garden
(Image credit: Getty Images/petrovval)

Most of us many not think about pumpkins outside of autumn, especially around Halloween. But the fact of the matter is that it takes a while for pumpkins to grow, so if you want your own crop of gourds come fall, then you need to start thinking about how to grow pumpkins right about now.

Right now is in fact the best time when to plant pumpkin seeds and start the growing process in order for your pumpkins to be ready in time. But first, there are a few things you need to have down.

So of course we asked our gardening experts to join us on creating a fool-proof guide to growing your pumpkins for a successful and abundant harvest.

A basket of harvested pumpkins and flowers on a garden bench

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

How to grow pumpkins

It’s no coincidence that pumpkins are associated with Halloween as the perfect time to harvest pumpkins generally falls on the spooky holiday, but it can actually vary from September to October.

Because of this you, need to be strategic with the timing you plant your seeds if you're hoping for a pre-Halloween harvest. But other than that, pumpkins are rather easy to grow.

‘Pumpkins are actually pretty easy to grow. They only require a warm and sunny spot, frequent watering and protection from cold temperatures,’ says Petar Ivanov, gardening expert at Fantastic Gardeners, in a nutshell.

But let’s dive a little deeper into it.

Petar Ivanov portrait
Petar Ivanov

Petar Ivanov is one of the company's top-performing experts and manages over six teams of gardeners, delivering stunning landscape results and fostering a deep connection with nature through his work.

Pumpkin growing in a garden

(Image credit: Getty Images/Irina Shatilova)

What you’ll need


When you plant your pumpkin seeds will depend largely on whether you’re starting them inside or planting directly in the ground outside. But doing the former is widely recommended by pros as it gives the seeds enough time to grow in time for autumn harvest season.

‘The best way to grow pumpkins is by seed, either opting for growing them inside from early to mid spring, or directly outside from slightly later on in the season,’ says John Clifford, gardening expert at Gardenstone. ‘Mid to late April is the ideal time for starting them indoors. You will need to leave them indoors for just under two months - around 6 weeks or so, which would take you up to the end of May-mid June - and then they can be moved outside into the ground.’

John Clifford
John Clifford

John Clifford is a director of Gardenstone, a leading garden landscaping retailer based in the UK. With over 30 years in the gardening industry and continual work alongside The National Trust, John has amassed an extensive range of gardening and planting knowledge. Alongside his younger son, John has built a strong reputation for Gardenstone as a trusted source for both high-quality garden products and expert gardening advice. 

A gardener tending to their growing pumpkins

(Image credit: Getty Images/Artur Debat)

If you’re starting your pumpkins indoors, then it’s best to plant them in biodegradable pots or seed trays which can be easily transplanted into the ground once the time comes – you can also DIY your own seedling pots from household materials like toilet roll tubes or newspapers. The pumpkin seedlings will also require a lot of sunlight to grow so a greenhouse would be an ideal place for them, or alternatively a sunny windowsill.

‘If you’re starting your pumpkins indoors, use biodegradable pots or seed-starting trays filled with a well-draining seed-starting mix and provide them with plenty of light. You can do that by placing them on a sunny windowsill,’ Petar says.

When planting outdoors, make sure that you provide them with enough space. ‘When you’re planting the seeds, dig their holes of around 30 centimetres in depth and height and leave enough space between the seeds of around one metre,’ Petar recommends.

Pumpkin growing in a garden

(Image credit: Getty Images/PhotoAlto, Jerome Gorin)

Mulching and fertilising

As well as potting them in well-draining nutrient-rich soil, pumpkins will benefit from an extra layer of mulch on top and regular fertilising to stimulate their growth.

‘Add mulch around the base of the plants to retain moisture and prevent weeds from coming through,’ John says. ‘And use a balanced fertiliser for healthy growth.’


In order to grow your own vegetables, you will need to water them regularly. But not too much so that the pumpkins don’t become waterlogged. It’s a fine balance that you’ll need to strike just right.

‘Even though pumpkins require regular watering and lots of moisture, you’ll still need to make sure not to waterlog them,’ Petar says.

John adds, ‘Overwatering can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases which will impact the health of the pumpkins.’

Pumpkins of all shapes, sizes and colours

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)


How long do pumpkins take to grow?

The exact time will depend on the pumpkin variety you’re growing, as well as the conditions. But the usual time frame is between 80 and 120 days.

‘Around 80-120 days is the expected time that it takes pumpkins to grow from seed,’ John says. ‘Planting them indoors earlier in the spring will allow them to be ready for early autumn, so the earlier they're planted (in the right conditions), the earlier you will get full pumpkins. If you want your pumpkins for Halloween, this is something to think about.’

There are things you can do to make their growth a little faster, such as using fertiliser and soaking your seeds before planting, which is not a necessary step but it will speed up the germination process.

‘You can also soak your pumpkin seeds overnight, which isn’t necessary, but will help speed up their germination. Soaking is beneficial especially if you want to give your pumpkins a fast start,’ Petar says.

Now with all that, you should be a pumpkin-growing pro!

News Writer

Sara Hesikova has been Ideal Home’s News Writer since July 2023, bringing the Ideal Home’s readership breaking news stories from the world of home decor and interiors, as well as trend-led pieces, shopping round-ups and more. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors, working with the likes of 91 Magazine and copywriting for luxury bed linen brand Yves Delorme among others. She feels that fashion and interiors are intrinsically connected – if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.