Climatic Considerations for Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Climatic Considerations for Winter Squash and Pumpkins, c. pepo, c. maxima, c. moschata, C. argyrosperma, C. mixta
Pumpkins Outdoors in Fall

Squash is a warm-season crop. It should not be planted until the danger of frost is past. In the list below, note the species from which each variety has been selected. Some do better in certain climates and have different growing season lengths.

  • C. argyrosperma and C. mixta grow best in hot arid climates like the Southwest United States
  • C. maxima grow best in cooler northern climates, especially along coastal areas of large lakes or oceans where the growing temperature may be more consistent
  • C. moschata are best grown in southern humid climates
  • C. pepo does best in areas in climates which provide even rainfalls and temperature ranges, such as, coastal regions and the midwestern United States.

Related References

Where are Pumpkins Native to?

A collection of pumpkins
A collection of pumpkins

The common species of squashes and pumpkins used by gardeners are native to the Western Hemisphere and wild varieties can occasionally be found in their native environments.

  • C. maxima – Represented by the Hubbard, Delicious, Marblehead, Boston Marrow, and Turks Turban are varieties thought to have originated in northern Argentina, near the Andes, or in certain Andean valleys. Maxima varieties like cooler climates with regular rainfall.
  • C. moschata – Represented by such varieties as butternut, Winter Crookneck Squashes, and Japanese Pie and Large Cheese Pumpkins are native to Mexico and Central America. This species prefers and tolerates hot growing conditions and longer growing seasons of the southern regions.
  • C.  pepo – Apparently originated in the same general area of Mexico and Central America as C. Maxima and is represented by Golden Acorn, Jack-Be-Little, Connecticut Field, and Delicata. Pepo varieties like cooler climates with regular rainfall.
  • C. argyrosperma –Includes many of the traditional winter squashes known as Cushaws, which have been grown since early times from Guatemala to the southwestern U.S. Members of this species are drought-tolerant and their flesh is generally paler, stringier and less sweet than other types of squash.

Winter Squash – Buttercup

Classification

Days To Maturity

Fruit Size

Weight

Skin Color Habit Notes
Squash 90 – 110 Small 3-5 pounds Dark-green skin, sometimes accented with lighter green streaks Vining A relatively early maturing winter squash having fine grained, slightly dry, orange flesh and a rich, sweet flavor. Buttercup Squash are part of the Turban squash family (hard shells with turban-like shapes) and are a popular variety of winter squash. Plants are bushy and fairly compact. This squash began as a cross between the “Quality” and “Essex” squashes.

Seed Depth

Seeds Per group

Seed Spacing

Space Between Hills

Day To Germination Thin To (Plants Per hill)
½ to ¾ inch

6 to 8

18 to 24 inches

3 to 4 feet

7 to 14 3
Species

Genus

Year Introduced Heirloom Resistance
Cucurbita

Maxima

1925 Yes Unknown
Usage Edible – Excellent food qualities and is one of the more highly regarded winter squashes for culinary purposes.
Storage Good Keeper. Sweetness will increase with proper storage.
Space Saver This squash is an excellent climber and is recommend for growing on a lattice or fence.

Winter Squash – Blue Hubbard

Blue Hubbard (C. Maxima)
Blue Hubbard (C. Maxima)

 

Classification

Days

To Maturity

Fruit Size

Weight

Skin Color Habit Features
Squash 95 -100 Medium to large 10 to 50 lbs Blue-gray-green fruits Large Vining

10 to 15 feet

Also, known as the New England Blue Hubbard. Usually bigger than the Golden and the Green Hubbard; the Blue Hubbard is an old time favorite. The thick yellow-orange flesh is dry, fine-grained, and very sweet.
Seed Depth

Seeds Per group

Seed Spacing

Space Between Hills

Day To Germination Thin To
(Plants Per hill)
½ – 1 6 – 8 4″ 3 -4′ 7 – 14 3
Species

Genus

Year Introduced Heirloom Resistance
Cucurbita

Maxima

1856 Yes Unknown
Usage Edible; Good food qualities.
Storage Good Keeper
Space Saver No suggestions

Pumpkin – Big Max

Classification

Days

To Maturity

Fruit Size

Weight

Skin Color Habit Notes
Pumpkin 100 – 120 days Extra-Large

18 to 20 X 24″

35 – 100 lbs Orange and relatively smooth Very Large Vines 10 to 15 feet The bright yellow-orange flesh is 3 to 4 inches thick. They will commonly grow to 50 to 70 pounds (perhaps larger with extra care). Big Max needs plenty of room to grow. This is a truly lovely pumpkin which I have raised consistently since the 1970’s.
Seed Depth

Seeds Per group

Seed Spacing

Space Between Hills

Day To Germination Thin To
(Plants Per hill)
1 -1½ “ 4-6 18″ 15 to 20 feet 6-10 1 or 2
Species

Genus

Year Introduced Heirloom Resistance
Cucurbita

Maxima

  Yes Unknown
Usage Edible, but also grown as a large carver or for novelty displays.
Storage Good Keeper
Space Saver No suggestions

Ask The Gardener: Is it too late to plant pumpkins (Halloween style), in hardiness Zone 8?

The Question

Is it too late to plant pumpkins (Halloween style), in hardiness Zone 8?

Answer

Yes, there is still time. However you will be racing the frost dates (about 15 November) and the squash vine borers.

Advice to help you beat the frost date

  • Keep in mind that the C. Pepo & C. Maxima (most of the Orange roundish varieties) of pumpkins are, generally, very susceptible to the squash vine borer.
  • Here is an accelerator approach to give yourself an added advantage on the frost date:
    • You may want to start the seeds indoors, they may not germinate with current ground temperatures.
    •  It would be best to get an early maturing variety (e.g. Montana Jack Pumpkin {90 days}).
    •  Soak your seeds overnight between two moisten towels, not overly wet, then plant them.
    •  When you plant your seedlings make sure your soil is rich and add a fertilizer stake near (large ones—not the minis), but not too close to the plant.
    •  Grow your pumpkin horizontally on the ground – not vertically.
    •  Bury the vines as soon as possible and a much as possible with loose dirt, until a couple of feet before you want the pumpkin to set.
    •  A couple of inches of loose, light, mulch on top and around the vines and plant base would be a good idea.
    •  Once the vine starts to grow side dress the leaf/vine joints with a slow-release fertilizer (before you cover with dirt).
    •  I would also add a fertilizer stack near each leaf/vine joint as well, again not to close (before you cover with dirt).
    •  Use drip irrigation aimed at the plant base and each of the leaf/vine joints and, then, deep water. You are after consistently moist soil and, hopefully, down to about 18 – 24 inches.
    •  You can, also, added some clay pot basins near the plant base to keep them full and covered.