If you’ve been growing pumpkins for any length of time, you know that they are creatures of habit and a creature that tend to put its feet where it can comfortably rest. While this does ensure they are in good shape when fall hits, it also means that over the course of the season, they will need watering and more care than they may have been accustomed to prior to moving into their new environment. With such a massive amount of attention required, you might think they would be better off just staying alive and changing their surroundings to match their new “home” down south.
What most people don’t realize is that the reason they’re turning yellow and yellowing off is actually due to the pollination process. Fall provides the ideal time for pumpkin planting because Mother Nature has provided them with the perfect flower and vegetable garden to call home. In this season, the leaves of the squash and pumpkin change colors as a result of the pollination process. This provides the necessary food source for both birds and other wildlife, meaning that less human interference is needed to maintain the natural balance.
To understand why are my pumpkins turning yellow and falling off, you must first know why they are orange in the first place. This fruit comes with a seed. When these seeds begin to mature in September or October, the outer skin of the fruit changes from orange to a golden color. These outer layers are what give the fruit its name.
The problem that many people run into when trying to understand why are my pumpkins turning yellow and falling off is that they tend to associate this poor pollination with a lack of garden soil. While it’s true that insects do affect plant health, most gardeners consider pests like aphids, ants, grubs, and mouse to be good pollinators. These animals do purchase the plant nutrients that the plant needs in order for them to grow, but the process is entirely indirect.
Aphids are able to obtain much water and nutrients by feeding on the female flowers of a pumpkin plant. The female flowers secrete a wet and waxy sap that attracts these predators, which then deposit their fecal matter on the female flowers and surrounding area. Without much water or sunlight, the aphid population soon begins to decline.
Grubs feed on the roots of a pumpkin and also secrete a sticky substance from their jaws that keeps the roots in the ground. This substance, often called “honeydew,” is actually what attracts birds to a plant. In addition, there is nothing that prevents grubs from eating the female flowers themselves, which will result in the plant’s blooms becoming severely distorted. If you notice that your plants are being eaten away slowly, perhaps it’s time to thin out the herd.
Mouse and other pests are another potential culprit in destroying a pumpkin crop. Many people mistakenly think that only pests attacking a fruit can destroy them, but in fact, even birds and mammals can do this harm. To eliminate common pests, plant fungicides may be necessary. However, if you are having trouble with mice, there are some suggestions that you may want to try in addition to using a natural pesticide.
One thing that’s commonly confused with poor pollination is fungal infections. Occasionally, diseases causing yellowing of pumpkin flowers can be identified as fungal infections – most commonly caused by a type of fungi called Urtica. To avoid spreading this disease to your other plants, you should make sure that the ones you’re tending to are properly maintained, and that your garden remains free of debris. If you find that your plants are starting to change color or are otherwise not looking right, it may be wise to contact a local grower to help determine the root cause. By working closely with your local grower, you may be able to save yourself thousands of dollars on costly pumpkins in the future.