Despite the fact that pumpkin plants are large with an abundance of bright green leaves, the pumpkin vine is the most integral part of the pumpkin plant. Nurturing the vine is essential to a successful harvest.
Although you cannot see them immediately, the pumpkin vines begin to grow as soon as the first two or three leaves develop. As the sprouts grow more substantial, the vines become readily apparent, but initially, they look like nothing more than a tiny green thread.
Within several weeks, however, the pumpkin vines are thick and have started to spread. The vines can grow as much as six feet (1.8 meters) a day during their peak growing phase!
Controlling Pumpkin Vines
Because of their rapid growth and their tendency to take over every inch of space you allow them, it is essential to control the vines. This is especially true if you have planted numerous seeds. The vines can easily become entangled in one another and crowd each other so much that is is difficult for fruits to form. You can control vines with the following methods:
Using string or wire, train vines to grow away from each plant. Think of the vines as the spoke of a wheel with the plant serving as the hub.
Use a trellis to train vines to grow upward instead of the ground if space is limited.
Ruthlessly prune vines if they grow longer than 10 feet (3 meters) from the plant.
Pruning the Pumpkin Vines
In addition to preventing the pumpkin vines from becoming overgrown, pruning is necessary to keep the plant healthy and allow pumpkin fruits to develop to their optimal size. Unless you are growing miniature pumpkins, the fewer pumpkins per vine the better.
When pruning, cut off any vine that is longer than ten feet (3 meters) from the plant. Then, cut the secondary vines at about the same length.
Last, snip off all of the small vines that shoot off from the secondary vines. These are called tertiary vines and do nothing except rob nutrition from the pumpkin fruits.
Tip: Wearing heavy work gloves while pruning will save your hands from the prickly vines.
General Care of Pumpkin Vines
The vine of the pumpkin plant is the highway that all the nutrients travel on to get to their final destination, the actual pumpkin. To make sure there are no roadblocks on the nutrition highway, it is of utmost importance that you keep the vines healthy.
In addition to at least six hours of sunshine, pumpkin vines need copious amounts of water. As a general rule of thumb, water the vines as soon as you see the topsoil start to dry out. The ground underneath should be damp at all times.
Tip: For those more professional gardeners, pumpkin vines should get one inch (2.5 centimeters) of water every week.
How Long Do Vines Last?
The pumpkin vines stay green and fresh until it is nearly time to harvest. Then, they begin to wither and die off. This is not something to worry about; when this happens, it simply means that harvest is imminent.
As long as you have provided the care they need, the pumpkin vines will happily produce all the pumpkins you want.