Growing pumpkins is such a fulfilling experience, especially with children! Plus, you get to have delicious pumpkins to use in many recipes, thanks to pumpkin plants that are fairly easy to grow.
Unfortunately, some of these pumpkins turn yellow and fall off, even before they have fully matured! I understand your frustration, and it’s quite confusing when you think you’ve done everything by the book! It would leave you wondering, ‘why are my pumpkins turning yellow and falling off?’
Read on to find out why this happens and how you can prevent it from happening again.
Why Are My Pumpkins Turning Yellow and Falling Off?
No one wants to see their pumpkins turn yellow and fall off before maturity, especially after working so hard on caring for them!
There are various reasons why this happens, and it can be difficult pinpointing the exact problem. We list down the common reasons why so you can identify the problem, along with the solutions to keep your plant thriving.
One of the main reasons why your pumpkins are yellow and fall is due to overwatering. But don’t plants need a lot of water?
Well, too much of a good thing exists, including giving too much water to plants. Think of it as killing your plant with kindness and giving it more than it needs.
When you give your plant too much water, the soil will stay wet for a long time, resulting in root rot. This happens especially in gardens with clay soil, as they have poor drainage.
When your pumpkin roots rot and die, the plant can’t absorb water from the soil. This results in your plant suffering from the similar symptoms it would experience if it didn’t receive enough water. Unfortunately, it means death to your pumpkins, or at least it yellows and falls off.
The solution here is to water your plants properly and avoid giving them too much or too little water. Also, if your garden has clay soil, then mix organic material into the soil before you plant. This will improve the soil drainage so it won’t stay wet for long.
You only need to keep the soil moist, but avoid allowing it to become soaking wet. Feel the first 2-3 inches of soil with your fingers. If it feels dry, it needs a watering session.
Pumpkin plants are prone to various diseases, even if watering them properly and giving them adequate nutrients. Such conditions result in your pumpkins yellowing and dying.
Here are the diseases to watch out for:
- Black Rot causes your pumpkins to blacken then rot on the vine. It starts when you find bronze patches on pumpkins or reddish-brown spots with bumps or black dots.
- Blossom End Rot starts with a brownish-black spot appearing on the bottom of your pumpkin, caused by calcium deficiency. This results in the blossoms dying off, taking the fruit with them.
- Fungal infections may attack the pumpkins significantly if the plants haven’t been watered deeply or are planted too close together. Common infections are Downey and Powdery mildew or gummy stem blight. These conditions lead to your pumpkins turning yellow and falling.
If ever you suspect your plant suffers from a particular disease, you can contact an expert for intervention. For plants with fungal infections, they may respond to fungicide treatments. Unfortunately, there are times when you will need to dispose of the plant properly to prevent the disease from spreading.
Pumpkin plants aren’t immune to pests. Here are the common pests you may find in your garden, eating away at your pumpkins and causing them to fall off.
- Aphids are tiny insects that suck the juice out of vines and leaves.
- Cucumber beetles skeletonize leaves
- Squash bugs are brown and oval-shaped, sucking juices out of leaves and stems
- Squash vine borers may disrupt water flow to the flowers, leaves, and pumpkins, causing vines to suddenly wilt
- Leafminers and whiteflies are other common pests that hinder the growth of your plant and the pumpkins
There are ways to remove the pests and prevent them from coming back. You can use store-bought or homemade pesticides or companion planting to deter pests.
4. The Competition
The way you plant your garden may impact your plant and pumpkin health. If you grow the pumpkins too close together or too close to other plants, they end up competing with one another for needed water and nutrients.
When they are overcrowded and competition becomes fierce, the plants drop a few fruits to conserve resources and concentrate on surviving. This ends up with plants growing even fewer pumpkins until maturity.
Make sure that every pumpkin plant has about 50 square feet of space if you grow it as a vine or 12 square feet for bushes. Plant pumpkins 5 feet apart so they won’t struggle to grow.
5. Poor Pollination
This is a principal reason why young pumpkins turn yellow and fall of the vine… They were never pollinated! This would happen when male flowers open and die before female flowers come along.
If your fruits turn yellow while female flowers are falling, then it shows poor pollination. You can solve this through hand pollinating. Take pollen from a male flower, then directly insert it in the female flower.
Pumpkin plants drop their fruit due to stress, usually caused by their environment. High humidity and high temperatures would mainly cause stress or due to poor nutrients.
Pumpkins love full sun and need 6-12 hours of sun exposure a day, but too much of it can also kill the pumpkins and plant itself. As much as possible, the ideal soil temperatures should be around 60-65 degrees F, and the evening air temperature needs to stay over 55 degrees F.
While you can’t completely control the weather, you can help make your plants more stress-resistant. Do this through adequate fertilization and regular irrigation. Place a layer of quality mulch to maintain moist and cool roots during hot days.
Make sure that your plants grow in the appropriate soil with pH levels remaining around 6.5. Also, focus on fertilizing your pumpkin plant as required, giving it the proper soil amendments and fertilizers to treat specific nutrient deficiencies. You can check if your pumpkin plant lacks certain nutrients through a soil test.
That said, avoid giving your plant TOO much fertilizer, especially nitrogen. Opt for low-nitrogen fertilizer for older plants.
Wrapping It Up
There are so many reasons why your pumpkins turn yellow and fall off or even die. It all boils down to your plants not receiving necessary nutrients or external factors such as poor weather or pests. Fortunately, there are preventative measures you can follow and solutions in case you notice some pumpkins have turned yellow!
I hope that this article answered your question about why your pumpkins turn yellow and fall off! Now that you know why pumpkins turn yellow and fall, take the proper preventative measures to ensure your pumpkins grow successfully. Happy gardening!