This is the second year I’ve been ‘attempting’ to grow pumpkins on my veggie plot. I say attempting because it really is trial and error.
The first year was an absolute disaster and I only managed to grow one pumpkin. I think you’ll agree that it was a whopper though!
The problem is that you get these lovely tiny fruits growing and then they just drop off! Very frustrating as I’m sure you’ll agree.
I was chatting to a friend at work and she said that the pollination of pumpkins, (and any other plant from the squash family), mostly does not happen automatically. Apparently, the problem is that, for some reason, the bees and other pollinating insects don’t really do the job, we’ve no idea why. It may be because the male and female flowers seem to not arrive at the same time – who knows. In addition, you need more than one plant so that there is more chance of the flowers arriving together at the same time.
The secret to success is to manually pollinate your pumpkins.
You do this by taking pollen from the male flowers and popping it on the stamen of the female flowers with a small paintbrush or cotton bud. I’ve discovered that the optimum time is first thing in the morning (honestly, I’m not making this up) I bet my neighbours think I’m bonkers as I’m often out first thing in my PJ’s pollinating my pumpkins by hand 🙂
Don’t worry if you get an abundance of male flowers before the female flowers, just be patient, they will arrive together at some point. And before you ask, you absolutely can tell which are male and which are female flowers (use your imagination).
This year I’ve actually got about 5 fruits growing, which I’m well chuffed with considering that at least 10 fruits just dropped off without ripening.