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Expert Tips for Growing Pumpkins Vertically

When creating a support structure for your pumpkin plant, you need to remember that pumpkins aren’t natural climbers. Therefore, you’ll have to guide the vines onto the support structure and tie them on.

If you’ve ever grown a pumpkin plant in your garden, you’ll know that the vine can get really large and take over your entire vegetable patch, leaving you no room to grow anything else.

I had a pumpkin self-seed in my vegetable patch just recently and the vine ended up spreading along the ground for quite some distance in all directions. Luckily I had the space for this as I managed to guide the vines into the spaces between my semi-raised beds. 

At the same time, I also encouraged some sections of the vine to climb over some strong supports that I have around the beds. While you can do this for most types of pumpkin varieties, it does work best with some of the smaller growing ones.

Growing Pumpkins Vertically 1 | Fruit & Vegetables

My pumpkin was the Jap variety as it grew from a seed in the compost. The fruit on these vines gets quite heavy and this can be difficult to support unless you have something really strong.

Create a strong support structure for your pumpkin plant

When creating a support structure for your pumpkin plant, you need to remember that pumpkins aren’t natural climbers. Therefore, you’ll have to guide the vines onto the support structure and tie them on.

One of the best materials that you can use to create your structure is bamboo. Bamboo is strong but also lightweight. You want to use long and thick bamboo stakes to create your structure.

Growing Pumpkins Vertically with bamboo | Fruit & Vegetables

Here’s how to make a strong structure for your pumpkin plant.

Use 6 upright stakes

Space your three-metre long upright stakes in pairs around 1 metre apart. Create a teepee shape by having the bottom of the stakes around a metre apart and then tie the tops together with strong twine.

You should now have three pairs of stakes, tied at the top and spaced around a metre apart. Make sure that the bottom of the stakes are pushed well into the ground so that they’re nice and secure.

Tie on your horizontal supports

Grab another 7 long thick bamboo stakes for the horizontal supports. Place one on top of the upright stakes into the V created when you tied the top of the stakes together. 

Make sure you tie this stake on securely with heavy-duty twine.

Now, attach three horizontal stakes to each side of the structure around 50cm apart. Tie these on securely to the upright supports.

This structure should now be strong enough and large enough to support one or two pumpkin plants. 

Use a strong garden arch instead

If you don’t have easy access to heavy-duty bamboo stakes, you could use a garden arch instead.

These can be purchased ready-made from Bunnings, but make sure that you get a nice strong one to support the growing vine.

If you choose this route, you also want to ensure that the base of the arch is pushed well into the ground so that it’s nice and secure. You don’t want the entire thing to fall over under the weight of the vine.

An old ladder that is nice and solid will work too

If you have an old aluminium or wooden ladder that stands on its own in an A-frame shape, you can also use this as a support.

Just make sure that you secure it well into the ground so that it won’t topple over if there’s a strong wind.

Guide your pumpkin vines up and along the supports as they grow

Once your pumpkin seeds have germinated and the vines start to grow, you want to guide them up and along the supports. Remember that pumpkin vines aren’t natural climbers and they won’t do this on their own.

You can tie the beginning of a vine onto one of the upright supports and then gently wind it around the horizontal supports. Continue to do this with additional vines that grow so that each horizontal support has a separate vine growing along it.

Growing Pumpkins Vertically with bamboo 2 | Fruit & Vegetables

If you’re using an arch, just guide the vines up the arch and tie them on at intervals.

Support your young pumpkin fruits as they grow

If you’re growing anything larger than a melon-sized pumpkin, you’ll need to provide some support for the developing fruit. 

If you don’t do this, the fruit will get too heavy and eventually pull down the vine or the pumpkin stem will break.

One of the best ways I’ve found to do this is to use some strong bird or insect netting to create a cradle for each pumpkin. Just cut a piece of the netting and place this around the base of the fruit so that it almost encases it.

Then, tie the top of the netting onto the support structure. You should end up with something that looks a little like a hammock for your pumpkin to rest in.

Keep an eye on your pumpkins as they’re growing to ensure that the weight of the fruits is not putting too much strain on the support structure or the vine.

I like using the netting to create a hammock for the fruit because it still allows for plenty of airflow and any moisture can easily evaporate.

However, if you don’t have any netting, you can also just use a piece of fabric to create a hammock for your pumpkins. Even an old sheet cut up into suitably sized pieces will work.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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