Hand-Pollinating Pumpkin Plants
This information is based on Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that are
regularly posted in rec.gardens
PROBLEM: My pumpkins keep flowering and setting fruit, but the fruits
(pumpkins) keep withering up when they are an inch or two long. I’vetried
putting wood under them, thinking they were rotting, but that hasn’t worked.
Now I am wondering about soils, too much water, insects? Any suggestions?
LIKELY ANSWER: Do you have bees (pollinators)? Sounds like pollination
failure. The symtoms are classic. You may need to get bees, or hand pollinate.
Your pumpkins are not getting pollinated! The female blossoms are only good for
a day or two before they wither. The fruit under the female blossom will start
to turn color before it opens.
TECHNIQUE: Find a male blossom (no fruit under the blossom) that is about to
open and at night put masking tape around the tip to seal it. Yes, you heard me
correctly, masking tape! The male will be ready to open the next day if you’ve
timed it right. The next morning, undo the tape, carefully remove the petals,
and touch to pollinators to the female plant. The reason for putting the tape
around the petals is to keep the pollen from blowing around or being spread to
a non-squash plant by insects (this probably won’t happen in your case as if
their were insect pollinating, I wouldn’t have to tell you this). Good luck.
TECHNIQUE: If you haven’t figured it out yet, I think your problem is lack
of pollination. Even under the best circumstances, some fruit failure are
enivitable. Are there bees floating around your flowers in the morning? There
should be. If there are not, you can hand-pollinate. This is a simple process
best done early in the morning. First, find a male flower that has freshly
opened and pick it off the vine. The Male flowers are the ones that DO NOT have
a small ball at the base of the flower. Male flowers usually concentrate
themselves near the base of the plant. Next, peel away the petals of the male
flower to expose the center. Find a newly opened female flower. You guessed it,
the ones with the little ball at the base that is the start of the pumpkin.
Commence to rub the male flower inside the female flower. Try to transer as
much pollen from the male flower onto ALL lobes of the center of the female
flower. Some people use more than one prepared male flower to do the job. Don’t
worry, female flower should continue to emerge the entire season. Good luck.
Last Updated: Sat Apr 20 10:30:00PM CST 1996