Hand-Pollinating Pumpkins

I learned how to hand-pollinate pumpkins!

The bees have been increasing but we’re not the sort to leave anything to chance, and when you’re looking for a reason to play in the dirt, you take what you can get. Even if it means feeling a bit pervy.

Justin has been reading from Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners* about the pollination of pumpkins. It was something he had hoped to do but it seems our pumpkin flowers only open in the morning when he was at work. I’m not sure if this is normal or simply a result of our heat. This left the job to me.

Continue reading about hand-pollinating pumpkins here.


How to Hand-Pollinate Pumpkins: A How-To to Make You Blush, via SustainableBabySteps.com

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21 Comments. Leave new

Great post! This makes me want to go pollinate some pumpkins!

I hand pollinate out zuccini squash. Glad to know Im not the only that feels a bit pervy ha ha.

Oh my gosh, Tara! You can write! I so enjoyed reading this post. And your garden, BEAUTIFUL!

You’re a fertility goddess, Tara!

Thanks for this education. You learn something new everyday, I tell ya! I’m excited to go look at my pumpkin plant tomorrow!

ROFLOL. You are too funny!!! I haven’t checked out our pumpkin plants’, um… fertility, yet. Maybe I should go get myself an education. ;)

thanks for the reminder…all my squash do better with hand-pollination, but it hadn’t quite made it on my radar this year. and I think the girls will LOVE doing it with me.

I’ve been doing the same thing because there seem to be no bees around here. Last year, I only got two zucchini so I’m not leaving anything to chance. I showed my kids how to do it, too.

What excellent info.My two boys have been given a pumpkin plant to enter a competition at halloween for the largest grown.we were told we would probably have to self pollinate and had no idea and her it is.Gert cheers

hi all ,,, i’m having a bit of a problem with hand Pollinating my pumkins as i only have 1 flower open on both plant’s and it a female flower but no male flowers are open ,,,

so what do i do ?

July 9, 2009 10:19 am

Sam: Usually the male flowers open before the female flowers – my theory is to begin drawing beneficial insects before they are crucially needed. However, if you are short on flowers it could be a nitrogen problem – you can test the soil to find out. Organic fertilizers could be applied as a side dressing if that is the case (cottonseed meal, bone meal, urea – purchased or from your own urine, believe it or not – manure or guano all help). Compost is always good to add, too. It might not help in time before your female flower closes, though. But if your plant is healthy and you amend the soil now to support its continued growth you should continue to get flowers. I suppose if the situation is really desperate you could go a local nursery or neighbor with a Qtip to take advantage of their male flowers (making sure they are of the same variety of course). But I’d stick with amending the soil and allowing the plant to continue producing more flowers.

thankyou for your reply ,,,i thought it was a bit strange that the female flower opened before any of the male flowers on both plants ! i just hope that a male flower opens tomorrow before the female flower die’s as that is the only female flower on the 2 plants so far but both plants are still only young and 100% healthy ,,,

anyway ill let you know how i get on with them thanks again sam

I hand pollinated a few of our pumpkins last night. But, I cut off the male flower at the base of the stem so I had a handle. I removed the flower from around the stamen and them kindly and gently spread the female flower and inserted the stamen into the stigma. I gave it some twisties and moved it all around. We’ll see how well it works. I mean….it works in the movies. ;)

My pumpkins started making baby (females) first this year, but I live in a rather cool climate, and we get started a little later in the season than most gardeners. With my Zucchinis…Males seem to flower first, but with the pumpkins, the females started first..the initial babies withering, dropping, or me culling them. Now, however, the males are ruling the planet, and the females are being nicely pollinated by bees, although I do hand polinate as well…(never felt “pervy” about it until today tho..) And the females seem to be taking off nicely, with many babies on each vine, (time to start pinching???) I was very surprised at the lily-like scent of the male blossoms…and started searching “pumpkin blossom” recipes yesterday! Take heart, it was hard in the beginning watching the baby pumpkins waste away, but it was worth it! Now I have a full patch!!! Any advice on how many pumpkins to leave, and how to discourage new vine growth would be appreciated!!

I love my growing Pumpkin and Zucchini! I have many, many pumpkins, with three mounds and four pumpkins on each mound. However, I have been searching to pollinate them, but there are absolutely NO female flowers. I find no bumps or anything from my twelve pumpkin plants…
My zucchini have the exact same problem with many shoots, around three plants on three mounds. I keep looking each day, to only find the blooming flowers…to all be male. Just so you know, they were all fertilized organically and had manure put in there…I’m confused?

Thanks so much, this is my first year with pumpkins and I have had so many questions, this was the first entertaining and comprehensive answer to hand pollination and identifying flowers.

So, once you pollinate one pumpkin, how many others need the same treatment? I guess I thought only one pumpkin had to be hand pollinated, but that doesn’t make sense, sounds like they all need the same treatment, right?

August 8, 2010 3:31 pm

Hi Kathy, yes each female needs to be pollinated. if you dont feel you have enough insects doing the job, then you’ll want to do them all by hand.

July 7, 2011 10:11 am

I have several fruit from my pumpkin plants that fall off or turn dark when the fruit is about the size of a small plum. I read it was probably because it wasn’t pollinated. I have decided to do it myself so I went out with a q-tip. The flowers had partially closed and I wiped the male flower and there was no visible pollen. Can you actually see the pollen? Should I do it while the flowers are first opened?

July 7, 2011 10:32 am

It could also be a nitrogen issue. Adding organic compost or manure will help in that case. It is a good idea to do them as soon as possible after the flowers open. I honestly can’t remember how much pollen I saw on mine (it’s been awhile since I’ve hand-pollinated!).

Hello, Thanks for the info. My questions: Do male and female pumpkins grow on the vines that spread out. I thought I read that female pumpkins grow close to the plant. I also read that if you do pollinate a pumpkin not to leave the flower, cover it up so that bees cannot get in the female part.

The other day I went to my patch and found a small pumpkin growing on a stem, when I went up the next day there was a bee in the flower, I am hoping that the bees are in the patch.


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