Pumpkins are among the most beloved fall vegetables, good for both for eating and decoration, and lots of folks like to take up the challenge of growing pumpkins themselves at home.
But for a gardener, pumpkins can be a huge commitment, quite literally! Most pumpkin varieties tend to be really large and they take up lots of room on the ground.
This means that you might have to commit to them instead of your other plants. But is it possible that pumpkins might be grown vertically like some other squashes? Can pumpkins grow vertically?
Yes, you can grow pumpkins vertically so long as they’re a smaller variety and supported with a sling on a sturdy structure.
You might be as surprised as I was to learn that particular bit of trivia. So long as you’re working with a variety of pumpkin that isn’t too big, it is actually possible to grow them vertically, although you’ll never be able to pull that off with the most massive varieties.
With a little bit of preparation and the right setup, your vertically-grown pumpkins can be just as nice as the ones that grow traditionally on the ground.
Keep reading and I’ll tell you everything you need to know about growing pumpkins vertically…
I Thought Pumpkins Were Too Large to Be Grown Vertically?
I can understand why you would think that, but many pumpkin varieties aren’t too big and not too heavy to be successfully grown vertically.
The trick, aside from all of the procedures I will tell you below, is to choose a variety that’s on the smaller or medium end of the size spectrum.
Most of your largest pumpkin cultivars are just going to be way too big to be grown vertically without intensive structural and equipment requirements, and even if you can craft a sturdy enough structure and a big enough sling, they will still struggle to develop properly.
A good rule of thumb is that you should only choose a pumpkin that is no bigger than about 15 pounds. In that weight range, or smaller, your pumpkins can grow vertically just fine…
Why Go to the Trouble of Growing Pumpkins Vertically?
It’s worth growing pumpkins vertically because it is going to save you a considerable amount of space on the ground in your garden, and also allow you a much easier time inspecting and tending to the pumpkins themselves.
Pumpkins that are grown vertically enjoy better airflow all around, and are much less susceptible to pests.
For folks that are already dealing with a smaller-sized garden, vertically growing pumpkins can allow you to devote more space to other plans or just grow more pumpkins overall compared to growing them on the ground.
Plus, growing pumpkins vertically can save your back: it’s a lot easier to harvest the hefty things when they’re already up off the ground!
If You Want to Grow Pumpkins Vertically, You Must Sling Them
The main thing to remember if you’re going to grow pumpkins vertically is that you must sling them. Many pumpkins get really heavy, and even the medium-sized varieties we’re dealing with will still weigh about 15 pounds when they are mature.
This is where the sling comes in, because it’s going to support the weight of that immense fruit as it develops and keep it from pulling down the vines or snapping off with disastrous results.
But you don’t have to use anything special to make a good garden sling for your pumpkins. Any breathable, durable fabric is just fine.
People use old strips of lightweight blankets or sheets, pillowcases, pantyhose, and more. There are also purpose-made slings you can buy from specialty gardening stores.
To sling a pumpkin, all you do is run the material underneath the pumpkin itself and then tie it off onto your structure so that it will support the fruit as it grows. Then just lengthen and readjust the sling as it develops.
The key is to make sure that the sling is not constricting the pumpkin, but is supporting it gently from beneath and wrapping up slightly around the sides.
Imagine how you come to rest in a hammock when you’re inside it; that’s how your pumpkin should be resting inside the sling at all times.
Remember! Your Structure Must Support the Total Weight of All Pumpkins!
One other important thing to think of it before you get to work: your structure must be capable of supporting the net weight of all the pumpkins on it! Fail to account for this and the whole structure can topple over and ruin your crop.
So, let’s say for instance that you have a trellis that isn’t really secured too well in to the wall and is not made of durable materials.
If you have five pumpkins growing on it, each of them weighing about 15 pounds when fully mature, that is a total of 75 pounds of weight or more hanging off of that thing!
As you will learn, you can use lots of things to grow pumpkins vertically but you must make sure they’re up to the task.
How Do You Start Pumpkins Growing Vertically?
It is simple to get this going. Plant them as you would normally, but place the seed at the base of whatever structure you’ll be using to support them.
Only plant as many seeds as you suspect the structure will be able to support when they’re fully mature.
Space them as usual, leaving about a foot between each one as best you can. Water as needed and then wait for them to sprout.
Once those tendrils and vines start sprouting, you’ll probably notice that they latch hold of your structure without any intervention from you, but as they lengthen, you should start wrapping them around any anchor points on the structure as they move upward.
Once you see the fruit start to develop, sling them right away and keep an eye on them so you can adjust them as required. That’s all there is to it… With this done, feed and fertilize as needed.
Can You Grow Pumpkins Vertically on a Trellis?
Yes, pumpkins do just fine when grown a trellis. As I said above, be sure that the trellis is securely anchored to the wall and ground (if applicable) and also sturdy enough to support the total weight of the pumpkins growing on it.
Be sure to verify that the fasteners securing it to the wall are also strong and tight!
Can You Grow Pumpkins Vertically on an Arch?
Yes, you can. Aside from being a truly beautiful look when the pumpkins are finished growing, arches are sturdy and easy to place as a standalone structure as long as you anchor them securely.
Can You Grow Pumpkins Vertically on a Fence?
Yes, you can. Do investigate to make sure that the fencing, either the run or the section, is strong enough to support the weight of your pumpkins. If you get this part wrong, expect your fence to sag or even topple over!
Can You Grow Pumpkins Vertically on an Arbor?
Yes. Any arbor that’s suitably sturdy and securely anchored will work wonderfully for growing your pumpkins vertically.
Can You Grow Pumpkins Vertically on Pallets?
Yes, you can, surprisingly enough! Clever gardeners on a budget, or just in a hurry, have long known that pallets make for wonderful improvised trellises.
There are certainly strong enough to support pumpkins structurally; the trick is making sure they won’t fall over! Give them an extra wide base or anchor them securely into the ground and they will work great!
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.