Sunday, April 22, 2012

How to Hand Pollinate a Pumpkin

Today I’m going to discuss something that many do not know how to do, and sometimes even fear doing, thinking that they won’t do it right. Let me assure you that you cannot fail in hand pollinating your pumpkins if you follow a few simple instructions. Once pumpkins start producing flowers, you may also notice that the plant will also start producing small pumpkins with flowers on them too. When the flower on the end of the pumpkin actually opens, it’s time to get started.
Take a pair of scissors and snip off one of the flowers on a long stem. This is one of the male flowers (Do not cut off the flower with the pumpkin attached, as these are the female flowers that actually produce the pumpkins). Before you cut it, make sure it is at least ‘just opening. Peel back the petals of this flower, exposing the male parts of the flower. DO NOT SET THIS FLOWER DOWN UNTIL YOU ARE FINISHED WITH THE ENTIRE PROCESS. Ask someone to help you if you are unable to do it all by yourself.
Once the petals are peeled back, select the female that you are going to pollinate. This would be a flower with a baby pumpkin on it; a flower just opening. Hold this female flower open with two fingers and your thumb, and lightly rub the stamen (male flower parts) onto the stigma (female flower parts).
Be gentle, as you do not want to break the female flower parts. When you have completed this part of the process, loosely wrap the female flower petals back together. This should help in keeping anything else from pollinating it. You are finished.
Wasn’t that easy? With a little practice, you can become a pro at making sure that your pumpkins always set fruit that grow into healthy pumpkins for the Thanksgiving season.

Now here's a photo of the same pumpkin as above, just 6 days later!


  1. Steven,

    Do I have to use one male to one female or can I use one male flower to pollinate more than one female?

    Thank you,

    Melissa - first time pollinator

  2. Melissa, typically, when you brush/rub the pollen onto the female organs, you must use another male flower to pollinate other female flowers. Usually, when you pollinate a flower, you've used up all of the pollen from one male flower, so you HAVE to use a new male flower to pollinate another female flower. I hope you have the same kind of success that I've had this season Melissa.

  3. Your blog and Facebook are such an inspiration. You will become a "rich" man through barter when our economy fails us. Thank you for your well organized, effective and efficient accounting of processes the rest of us can utilize. I have you linked on our Church Community Gardening Blog at
    Thanks again. Ms. Jackie of All Trades SpoolTeacher/

  4. I will share this post with my son. He is 17 and has just started a garden. He especially loves growing pumpkins. I know this is off topic, but he has found a lot of squash/stink bugs on his pumpkin plants. Can you suggest a way to get rid of them. Thanks you. I love your site!

  5. Steven,

    Love your articles and facebook page-- have learned so much. I have a question please: I transplanted a butternut squash in early June, it was growing ok but the vines haven't quite develop just leaves and a short plant. Then all of a sudden this weekend I noticed flowers on this very small plant (vine less literally) Why did that happen? Do I still have a chance to get it going?




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