A good average spacing for medium/large size pumpkins is to be 2′ apart in rows with rows spaced 8′ apart.
Depending on the variety of pumpkin being grown the correct spacing will vary. The size of the pumpkins and growth habits of the pumpkin plants are the differences that affect how far apart to plant them.
Pumpkin sizes range from mini that weigh less than 1 lb. to large pumpkins that average 30 lbs. to giant pumpkins that can weigh 1,000 lbs.
Growth habits of traditional pumpkin varieties are vining but there are also semi-bush varieties available now that take up less space and can be planted closer together.
Pumpkin Spacing vs Yields
In a study done by Cornell University’s Horticulture Department, pumpkin yields were studied with different plant spacings. Row spacings were 6′ and 12′ and intra-row spacings of 12″, 24″, and 48″ were used.
The tightest intra-row spacing of 12″ between pumpkin plants gave the best overall yields by weight.
The space between rows did not affect the overall yield by weight but 6′ in between rows produced more pumpkins that were a smaller size than the 12′ row spacings.
A spacing of 2′ apart compared to 4′ apart caused a 51% increase in pumpkin yield by weight.
A spacing of 12″ apart led to a 16% increase compared to plants spaced 24″‘ apart.
This study “Dependence of Pumpkin Yield on Plant Density and Variety” was done by the Horticulture Department of Suez Canal University in Egypt.
Three varieties of pumpkins were grown for two consecutive seasons at different plant densities: 4780, 7170, and 9560 pumpkin plants per hectare.
To make this more relatable 1 hectare equals 107,639 square feet. So these plant densities were about 4.5 pumpkin plants/100 square feet, 6.7 pumpkin plants/100 square feet, and 8.9 pumpkin plants/100 square feet.
The following is the pumpkin yield increase from the lowest plant density to the highest plant density in both seasons.
The pumpkin variety Frosty had a yield increase of 89% in season 1 and 127% season 2.
The pumpkin variety Dickinson had a yield increase of 96% in season 1 and 44% in season 2.
The pumpkin variety Pro-gold had yield increase of 40% in season 1 and 33% in season 2.
The study found that in both years all three varieties had increased yields with tighter plantings.
There was one minor variation where in the second season of the growth of the variety Pro-Gold yields went from 10.95 to 10.92 ton/hectare with the plant density going from 7170 to 9560 plants per hectare.
What Happens if Pumpkins Are Too Close Together?
Pumpkin plants planted too close together will produce smaller pumpkins and possibly fewer pumpkins than pumpkin plants given plenty of space.
But, you’ll make up for the number of pumpkins by having more plants.
The competition for water, sunlight, and nutrition will lead to the plants producing smaller pumpkins.
It is possible that pumpkin plants too close together will not produce pumpkins at all because there won’t be enough of these key elements for the plants to produce them.
I’ve never heard of this and would guess you’d need to plant pumpkin plants 6″ apart or closer for the plants not producing to become a real possibility.
Plant Spacing vs Production in General
In general, a plant will produce more fruit per plant that are bigger in size if given more space. However, this is not the most productive gardening strategy because you can get a higher yield by having more plants in the same space.
Take corn for example. Corn is an extremely important crop and farmers are constantly trying to increase yields and doing studies on the best way to grow the corn plants to make this happen.
Corn is commonly grown in fields with very tight spacing. So tight that the corn plants in a field will typically only produce one ear of corn per plant.
It’s also common that corn plants on the edges of fields will produce multiple ears because on the edge the plants have more access to sunlight, water, and nutrients.
Square Foot Gardening With Pumpkins
Square foot gardening is an intensive form of gardening that allows gardeners to get bigger yields from smaller spaces.
This is traditionally done in raised beds that are physically divided into square foot sections by wood trim, wire panel, or irrigation hose.
By having the garden bed or plot physically divided into square foot sections a gardener can easily look and see how much space is available and know what they can fill that space with.
Semi-bush pumpkin and miniature pumpkin varieties can grow in two square feet. Traditional varieties should be given four square feet. This will require some training and pruning of vines to keep things neat.
Because it’s an intensive form of gardening with plants spaced tightly proper care in the form of regular watering and fertilizing is essential to keep these tightly packed plants happy and producing well.
Square foot gardening also practices inter-planting where multiple plant types are planted in the same beds. This can help deter pest and disease.
How Far Apart To Plant Pumpkins in a Raised Bed
Plant pumpkin plants every 12″ along the 4′ wall of the bed. This will produce 4 pumpkin plants in a typical 4’x8′ bed and give each plant 8 square feet of growing space. You’ll need to prune secondary branches to keep the bed ruly.
If you’re growing bush variety pumpkins plant them every 12″ along the 8′ wall of the bed so that you have 8 plants per bed and each plant has 4 square feet of space.
Can You Plant Pumpkins in a Small Space?
Yes you can plant pumpkins in a small space! By growing pumpkins vertically up a trellis you can save a lot of space. There are also semi-bush varieties of pumpkins that grow only a few feet long and can be trained up a short trellis or take up just a small area on the ground of 2-3 square feet.
To grow pumpkins vertically you’ll need to use garden ties to secure the plant to the support. The tendrils are not strong enough to secure the plant on their own like they are on bean plants.
Mini pumpkins less than 3 lbs. will do fine without support and can hang from a vine grown over an arbor creating a neat view of hanging pumpkins.
If you’re growing bigger pumpkins once they begin to develop you’ll need to give them support. Use this netting or something breathable to form a hammock the pumpkins can rest in.
What you can use as support to grow a pumpkin plant up is endless. Whatever you can think of including just a regular old wire fence.
How Deep To Plant Pumpkin Seeds
Plant pumpkin seeds 1″ deep. Make a line with a stick or a tool where you want your row of pumpkins to be. Make holes spaced as far apart as you want along the line. You might also be interested in “When To Plant Pumpkin Seeds” and “How To Plant Pumpkin Seeds“.
Please comment below with your own thoughts on pumpkin plant spacing.