When to plant pumpkin seeds in time for a Halloween harvest

Gardening experts reveal whether this is the perfect time for pumpkin seed planting – or are we too early?

Pumpkins growing in the garden
(Image credit: Getty Images/swisshippo)

Pumpkins may be a typical autumn-time produce. But if you want to grow your own, then you need to start prepping way ahead and think about when to plant pumpkin seeds in time for Halloween pumpkin carving.

Given that October is the ideal time to harvest pumpkins, you need to be strategic with your planting to make it in time and avoid the frost and cold temperatures that could damage your pumpkin seedlings and plants.

That’s why we asked our gardening pros to offer their expert advice on when to plant pumpkin seeds for a timely Halloween harvest to fulfil those pumpkin decorating ideas and hearty autumnal recipes alike.

A gardener planting pumpkin seeds

(Image credit: Getty Images/karetoria)

When to plant pumpkin seeds

Getting the timing of planting your pumpkin seeds wrong could lead to your pumpkin not growing. And we don’t want that – we want thriving pumpkin plants bearing plump, abundant produce.

Firstly, stay clear of the frost as it’s your pumpkin’s worst enemy. 

‘It’s recommended to wait until after the last frost date in your area because planting too early can expose young pumpkin plants to frost damage,’ says Petar Ivanov, Fantastic Gardeners' gardening expert. And in the UK, the last frost date typically falls between late April and early June, depending on the region.’

That’s why this time of year is ideal for planting your pumpkin seeds. But the more specific timing also depends on how you’re sowing your seeds, whether you’re starting indoors or outdoors straight away.

A gardener tending to a vegetable patch with pumpkins

(Image credit: Getty Images/Artur Debat)
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.

‘If you're planting your pumpkin seeds indoors, then spring is the perfect time to sow them, around mid-April to early May,’ says Steve Chilton, garden expert at LeisureBench. ‘If you're planting them directly outdoors, you need to wait until it's warmed up a little bit more, and sowing between the end of May and beginning of June is the perfect time.’

But Petar actually recommends starting your seeds indoors before transplanting your pumpkin plant outside into the garden.

‘Starting your pumpkin seeds indoors around 2 to 4 weeks before the last frost date is another way to help give them a good start before transplanting them outdoors. If you're starting your pumpkin seeds indoors, you’ll allow the seedlings to develop better before transplanting them outdoors. You can transplant the seedlings outdoors once they’ve developed a few healthy leaves and the risk of frost has passed,’ he explains.

Pumpkins growing in the garden

(Image credit: Getty Images/Khanh Bui)
Steve Chilton portrait
Steve Chilton

Steve is a passionate and knowledgeable garden expert with several years of experience within the field. As the director of LeisureBench, an industry-leading garden furniture company, Steve has developed strong expertise for all things nature and plants. 

Where to buy pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin plants growing indoors in pots

(Image credit: Getty Images/Trudie Davidson)

FAQs

How long does it take for pumpkin seeds to grow?

‘It obviously depends on the variety of pumpkin, the quality of the seeds, the length of the germination process and how well cared for they are,’ Steve says. ‘But I would say that pumpkins generally take anywhere from 90 to 120 days to grow. This means that May/June is the perfect time for planting if you're wanting your pumpkins in time for Halloween in October.’

Pumpkin growing in the garden

(Image credit: Getty Images/Trudie Davidson)

Should you soak pumpkin seeds overnight before planting?

While soaking your pumpkin seeds before planting is not a necessity, it can be beneficial for speeding up the germination and growing process.

‘Soaking pumpkin seeds overnight before planting isn’t really necessary but it can help speed up their germination process. That’s because the outer seed coat of pumpkin seeds can be quite tough and soaking them will soften it, which will allow moisture to penetrate more easily and kick-start the germination process, making it quicker and more uniform,’ Petar explains.

Steve adds, ‘Some gardeners swear by it in order to encourage them to germinate quicker. Some soak them in a saltwater mix for up to 8 hours - no more, otherwise you risk your seeds rotting - in order to encourage them to germinate in a more timely manner.’

Sara Hesikova
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 and interiors. 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. She feels the two are intrinsically connected - if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.