Why Do Pumpkins Rot on the Vine?

Why Do Pumpkins Rot on the Vine

Pumpkins rot on the vine due to excess moisture, undernutrition, and pest attacks.

When it comes to pumpkin rot, there are three main culprits: excess moisture, undernutrition, and pest attacks. If you know how to fix these problems, most of them can be fixed. These problems can be caught early and pumpkins often saved.

Excess moisture is often the biggest problem when it comes to pumpkin rot. If the pumpkin is getting too much water, it will start to turn brown on the vine. The best way to fix this problem is to make sure that the pumpkin is getting enough drainage. If the soil is too wet, the pumpkin will not be able to get the oxygen it needs and will start to rot.

Undernutrition is another common problem that can cause pumpkins to rot on the vine. This can be caused by a lack of nutrients in the soil or by not enough water. If the pumpkin is not getting enough nutrients, it will start to turn brown on the vine. The best way to fix this problem is to make sure that the soil is rich in nutrients and that the pumpkin is getting enough water.

Pest attacks are another common problem that can cause pumpkins to rot on the vine. This can be caused by pests such as insects or animals eating the pumpkin. The best way to fix this problem is to make sure that the pumpkin is protected from pests.


Pumpkins and other squash (members of the gourd family) are susceptible to a number of diseases, many of which can cause the fruit to rot on the vine. The most common diseases that affect pumpkins are powdery mildew, downy mildew, Phytophthora blight, and stem and fruit rot. These diseases are often favored by warm, wet weather, which is why they are most commonly seen in late summer and early fall.

What Causes Pumpkins to Rot on the Vine?

Pumpkins need some specific conditions to grow properly, and if those conditions aren’t met, the pumpkin can start to rot on the vine. Temperature, water, and pests are all possible causes of pumpkin rot. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

Poorly Ventilated Storage Areas

Pumpkins are a type of fruit that belongs to the gourd family. They are typically grown in the summer and harvested in the fall. Pumpkins are often used as decoration, as well as for making pies and other treats.

Pumpkins can rot on the vine for several reasons, but one of the most common is poorly ventilated storage areas. When pumpkins are stored in an area that is not well-ventilated, they can start to rot. This is because the lack of ventilation prevents the pumpkin from getting the oxygen it needs to stay fresh.

Another reason pumpkins may rot on the vine is if they are not properly cured. Curing is a process that helps pumpkins last longer by allowing them to develop a thick rind. This rind protects the pumpkin from rot and other problems. Pumpkins that are not properly cured before being stored are more likely to rot on the vine.

rotten pumpkinUniversity of Illinois Extension: How Long Do Pumpkins Last?

Incorrect Storage Temperatures

Pumpkins are a warm weather crop, and prefer temperatures between 75 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit for proper growth. If temperatures drop below 55 degrees, the pumpkin’s growth will stop. If temperatures remain at freezing or below for more than two days, the pumpkin will rot.

Lack of Water

One of the leading causes of pumpkin rot is a lack of water. When the plant doesn’t receive enough water, it becomes stressed and is more susceptible to disease. Water stress can also cause the fruit to become smaller and less flavorful.

Pumpkins need about 1 to 2 inches of water per week, especially during the months when they are actively growing and producing fruit. It’s best to water pumpkins at the base of the plant, rather than from above, to minimize the risk of disease.

If you live in an area with heavy rainfall, you may not need to water your pumpkins as often. However, if you live in an area with little rainfall or drought conditions, you may need to water your pumpkins more frequently.

Too Much Water

Pumpkins need about an inch of water a week, and they should be watered at the base of the plant rather than from overhead. Overhead watering can cause the leaves to rot, which in turn can cause the pumpkins to rot on the vine. If your area has been receiving a lot of rain, you may need to take measures to ensure that your pumpkins don’t get too much water. One way to do this is to build a bermed area around the pumpkin plants. This will help to direct excess water away from the plants.

How to Prevent Pumpkins from Rotting on the Vine

Pumpkins rotting on the vine is a problem that can plague any pumpkin grower, big or small. The condition is caused by a variety of factors, but the most common is simply that the pumpkin was not harvested in time.

Store in a Well-Ventilated Area

Pumpkins are susceptible to rot if they are stored in a humid, poorly ventilated area. If you live in a humid climate, it’s best to store your pumpkins in a cool, dry place with good ventilation, such as a garage or shed. If you can’t store them in a well-ventilated area, be sure to check on them regularly and remove any that show signs of rotting.

Store at the Correct Temperature

Pumpkins are a warm weather crop, so they need to be stored in a cool, dry place. The ideal storage temperature for pumpkins is between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. If your pumpkins are stored at a temperature that’s too warm, they will rot. If the temperature is too cold, the pumpkins will freeze and the flesh will become mushy.

Pumpkins can also be stored in a cellar or basement. As long as the room is cool and has good ventilation, your pumpkins should stay fresh for several months. Just be sure to check on them every few weeks to make sure they’re not rotting or freezing.

Water Properly

Water is critical to pumpkins, especially when they are growing on the vine. You should water pumpkins at the base of the plant, making sure to keep the leaves dry. Wet leaves are more susceptible to disease and can rot. Water pumpkins deeply and regularly, especially during hot, dry weather. The soil should be moist but not soggy.


At the end of the day, rot is simply decay — in this case, the breakdown of pumpkin flesh by mold or bacteria. While it might be disheartening to find your prize pumpkin has turned to mush, remember that rot can strike even the healthiest plants. With a little knowledge and some basic preventative measures, you can keep your pumpkins looking great all season long.

Why are my pumpkins dying on the vine?

Overwatering, disease, and pests are all possible reasons why your pumpkins may be dying on the vine. Pumpkin plants can also be affected by competition from other nearby plants. Poor soil conditions, such as pH or low nutrient levels, can also lead to pumpkin death.

Here are some more specific details about each of these possible causes:

  • Overwatering: If you water your pumpkins too frequently or too deeply, the roots may start to rot. This can lead to death of the plant. You can tell if your pumpkins are overwatered if the leaves are wilting or if there is water pooling around the plant.
  • Disease: Pumpkin plants can be affected by several different diseases, including powdery mildew, mosaic virus, and cucurbit downy mildew. These diseases can cause leaves to yellow or brown and can ultimately kill the plant.
  • Pests: Several different types of pests can attack pumpkin plants, including aphids, cucumber beetles, and squash bugs. These pests can suck the sap from the leaves, leading to wilting and death of the plant.
  • Competition: If there are other plants growing nearby, they may compete with your pumpkins for resources like water and nutrients. This competition can stress the pumpkin plants and make them more susceptible to disease and pests.
  • Soil Conditions: Pumpkins prefer soils with a neutral pH (around 7) and high levels of nutrients. If the soil is too acidic or alkaline, or if it lacks essential nutrients, this can lead to problems with pumpkin growth and eventually death of the plant.

Why are my baby pumpkins turning yellow and falling off?

When growing pumpkins, it’s not uncommon for the leaves to turn yellow and eventually fall off. There are a few reasons why this might happen:

Lack of water: If the plant isn’t getting enough water, the leaves will start to turn yellow as a way of conserving energy. Make sure to keep an eye on the soil and water when necessary.

Excessive heat: If it’s too hot, the leaves will also start to turn yellow. This is a way of protecting the plant from further damage. It’s important to provide some shade if possible.

Disease: While yellow pumpkin leaves can be caused by a lack of water or excessive heat, sometimes it can be indicative of a disease. If you notice other symptoms, such as wilting or discoloration, it’s best to consult with a professional.

In most cases, yellow pumpkin leaves are nothing to worry about. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential causes so that you can take steps to prevent any further damage to the plant.

What causes a pumpkin to start rotting?

Pumpkins begin to rot when they are exposed to the air and lose water.

When pumpkins are exposed to the air, they gradually begin to rot. This process is called oxidation. When pumpkins lose water, they also begin to rot. These vegetables can rot when they are removed from their stems. A rotting pumpkin can be worsened by extreme heat or cold temperatures.

Pumpkins start to rot when they are exposed to oxygen in the air. This process is called oxidation and it happens to all fruits and vegetables when they are cut open and exposed to the air. Oxygen molecules in the air react with the molecules in the pumpkin’s flesh and cause it to break down.

Pumpkins also lose water when they start to rot. As the water evaporates, the pumpkin begins to shrink and its flesh gets harder. This makes it more difficult for oxygen to penetrate the pumpkin’s surface and speeds up the rotting process.

Temperature can also affect how quickly a pumpkin rots. If it is too cold, the water inside the pumpkin will freeze and expand, causing the cells to rupture. If it is too hot, the water will evaporate too quickly and the pumpkin will dry out. Either extreme temperature will make a pumpkin rot faster.

Pumpkins are usually at their peak in October, which is why they are associated with Halloween. But by November, many of them will have started to rot. You can prolong their life by storing them in a cool, dark place like a cellar or garage. But eventually, all pumpkins will rot – it’s just a matter of time.

Tammy Slater

Tammy Slater is the founder of arew.org, a home and garden blog that provides inspiration and resources for homeowners and renters alike. A self-taught DIYer, Tammy loves nothing more than tackling a new project in her own home. When she's not blogging or spending time with her family, you can usually find her rooting around in the garden or at the hardware store.

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