Why Do Pumpkins Rot on the Vine? [4 Reasons and Solutions]

The most common reasons for pumpkins rotting on the vine are excess moisture in the soil, underwatering, lack of nutrition, or pest attacks. Most of these issues can be remedied if you use the appropriate methods. Pumpkins can often be saved if you catch these problems early. By learning the signs your pumpkin plant is at risk and the ways to save it, you can salvage your fall pumpkin harvest.

Why do pumpkins rot on the vine?

4 Reasons Why Pumpkins Rot on the Vine

Pumpkins are fast growers and they yield a lot of fruit. However, it’s important to prevent rotting, or all your hard work will be in vain. Below are 4 reasons why pumpkins rot on the vine and what to do about it:

Excess Moisture in the Soil

Excess soil moisture is the primary offender when it comes to pumpkins rotting on the vine. This is because pumpkins are very susceptible to fungal diseases. These diseases flourish in moist environments. For this reason, you should make sure you are following the appropriate watering instructions for the type of pumpkins you are growing.

  • Excess soil moisture causes fungal disease, which rots pumpkins as they grow.
  • Follow our pumpkin watering instructions to prevent disease and rot.
  • Never allow the soil to become soggy since this can encourage fungal diseases.
  • Grow small pumpkin varieties with trellises or in tomato cages.

The soil where your pumpkin plants should be moderately moist, but never soggy. Cut back on watering if you suspect this is the problem. By reducing your watering volume, pumpkin rot should clear up quickly. If you are growing small pumpkin varieties, consider growing them in a tomato cage or on a trellis. The vines will grow upward, keeping them away from the ground and excess moisture.


If you do not provide enough water to your pumpkins, they are at increased risk of rotting. This is due to the fact that lack of nutrition causes pumpkin rot. Pumpkin vines use water to move nutrients from the soil to the plants during the flowering stage. A lack of water prevents nutrient transport and leads to rotten pumpkins.

  • Underwatering pumpkins can stop them from receiving nutrients during the flowering stage.
  • A lack of water during flowering and fruit development leads to rotten pumpkins.
  • Make sure to monitor soil conditions in order to provide proper water to your pumpkin plant.

In order to prevent underwatering, monitor your pumpkin plants. Typically, pumpkins need water when the top 1 inch (2.5 cm) of soil feels dry to the touch. Soil can dry out more frequently in hot, sunny, or windy conditions. To best care for your plants, check the soil daily.

Lack of Nutrition

If the soil in which you have planted your pumpkins is not nutrient-rich, you may find yourself with a rotting problem toward the end of the season. Without the proper nutrients, your vines are not able to grow healthy pumpkin fruit. This nutrient deficiency leads to soft, rotten pumpkins.

  • A lack of soil nutrients causes pumpkins to rot on the vine.
  • Make sure the soil in your pumpkin patch has adequate nutrients.
  • If soil is nutrient depleted, add compost, decomposed leaves, or aged manure.

To remedy poor soil, add aged manure, decomposed leaves or compost to the soil throughout your pumpkin patch. This should boost the amount of nutrition in the soil and help to prevent rotting. It’s a good idea to use a high-nitrogen fertilizer for young pumpkin plants, to stimulate leafy growth. Then, switch to a high-phosphorus fertilizer once the first baby pumpkins appear. This will boost the rot resistance of your pumpkins.

Pest Attacks

Another reason pumpkins may rot is that they have been attacked by various pests. The most common insects you need to watch out for are beetles of all kinds. Fortunately, beetles are easily taken care of by spraying your vines with a mild pesticide or an organic formula.

  • Insects—particularly beetles—can attack pumpkins and cause rot.
  • Get rid of beetles that can lead to pumpkin rot by spraying this insecticidal soap or mild pesticides.
  • Eliminate snails and slugs with slug traps or this organic slug killer.
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Slugs and snails love to eat pumpkins, and will take every opportunity to do so. The best way to rid your pumpkin patch of snails and slugs is to make homemade slug traps using beer, or to use organic slug killer pellets. Both these options are safe for your garden, people, and pets.

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How Do You Keep Pumpkins from Rotting on the Vine?

One of the best ways to prevent rotting pumpkins is to determine exactly what is causing the problem. Observe your pumpkin patch each day for insects, snails, and slugs. Make sure you are not overwatering or underwatering your pumpkins, and add nutrients to the soil that is depleted.

  • Make sure you determine the specific problem that is rotting your pumpkins.
  • Look over your pumpkin patch every day to discover if slugs, snails, or insects have invaded.
  • Do not underwater or overwater your pumpkins.
  • Fertilize your soil to provide nutrients needed for healthy plant growth.

It’s also important to remember that there may be more than one problem harming your pumpkins at the same time, so if you remedy one situation, but the problem is not resolved, continue to troubleshoot until you have pinpointed all the issues.

Why are Your Pumpkins Rotting on the Vine?

Pumpkins grow fast and produce a lot of fruit. However, they can be susceptible to rot. The most common causes are:

  • Excess moisture in the soil can quickly rot your pumpkin patch.
  • Failing to give your pumpkins enough water can inhibit them from absorbing proper nutrients, causing rotting.
  • Nutrient-depleted soil can lead to rotting pumpkins.
  • Pest attacks may cause pumpkins to rot.
  • Most rotting issues can be remedied if the appropriate steps are taken.

By checking soil moisture, following a watering schedule, providing regular fertilizer, and remaining vigilant against pest insects, you can protect your pumpkins. With a little care, you can grow almost any pumpkin variety in your garden.

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