Pumpkin Problems and
How to Solve Them
fortunately suffer from very few problems. However, these problems
can mean an end to your pumpkin crop if you don’t identify
and treat your pumpkins quickly. Here is a list of the most
common pumpkin problems and how to solve them:
Cucumber beetles: These critters may attack
your pumpkins at any time. They will attack both the vines and
There are several organic options to avoid cucumber beetles
or get rid of them if they appear. Thick mulch can keep these
pests from laying their eggs and plastic mulches can also deter
their presence. Certain plants known as “trap crops”
work to pull pests away from valuable crops. See our Resources
section for websites related to trap crops. It’s also
important to pick up garden debris during and after the growing
season so that common pests don’t have a habitat to grow
Squash bugs: Squash bugs also go after pumpkins
at any stage in their development. They will affect both fruits
Companion planting works great to avoid squash bugs. Mint, catnip,
nasturtiums, and marigolds are proven companion plants that
help repel squash bugs. Squash bugs are generally easy to remove
by hand. Some gardeners put small wooden boards near the plants.
The squash bugs may eventually make their way to the boards
where they can be removed from the garden. Another unusual option
is to use the parasitic wasp Ooencyrtus (spp.) in your garden.
insects: Also keep on the lookout for the squash vine
borer, the pickleworm, and the seed corn maggot.
There are a variety of options to treat these pests. See this
site for more organic
pest control methods, or visit this organic
pest control site.
mildew: This disease attacks many plants among the
cucurbits. Downy mildew is a disease caused by the fungus Pseudoperonospora
cubensis. It usually appears when temperatures are cooler and
conditions are moist. Check for early signs such as yellowing
spots on the leaves. The spots may turn brown and fuzzy later
on. As the disease progresses, the patches will turn black.
This disease will eventually deteriorate the quality of your
pumpkins and can reduce your harvest.
Make sure you plant your pumpkins with plenty of space between
them so that the air can circulate. If you expect extended periods
of cold, wet weather, a compost tea can be very effective in
keeping the disease at bay. Purchasing disease-resistant varieties
is also critical.
Mildew: Look for a white mold on the leaves. It is
caused by several different kinds of fungi. This disease will
eventually kill the foliage and can affect the health of your
pumpkin fruit. In contrast to downy mildew, powdery mildew usually
occurs in warmer rather than colder conditions. High moisture
levels will make the problem worse.
Keep your pumpkin foliage dry by using a drip irrigation
system. Compost teas work well to treat this problem. Try mixing
baking soda and water to spray the foliage (Try mixing less
than an ounce of baking soda per gallon of water). Rotate your
crops frequently and remove garden debris after you harvest
all garden plants.
Stem Blight (Black Rot): This is a fungal disease that
affects the foliage of the pumpkin plant and may spread to the
Use drip irrigation and proper plant spacing. Crop rotation
can also help avoid this problem.
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