By Erin Marissa Russell
When you hear the word “pumpkin,” more than likely the image that springs to mind is a ribbed orange squash that’s fat and round—maybe your imaginary pumpkin is carved into a grinning jack o’lantern, or maybe not. But the truth is, there’s so much more to the world of pumpkin varieties than the standard orange Halloween lanterns.
Pumpkins come in a huge number of heirloom and hybrid varieties for gardeners to choose from. They’re simply an extraordinarily diverse vegetable, ranging in size from four ounces up through more than 1,000 pounds, so some are itsy bitsy, while others are absolutely enormous. Pumpkins can come in shades from the palest ghostly white to powdery gray-blue, rosy pink, brick red, and every imaginable hue of yellow, orange, and green. You’ll even find varieties that are a varnished shoe-polish black.
Some pumpkins have smooth surfaces, others have pronounced ribs, and a few are covered in warty lumps and bumps. And that doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of what’s available when it comes to flesh colors, stem shapes and shades, and the shapes of the pumpkins themselves. The task of choosing a few favorites to grow is enough to make a gardener’s head spin.
That’s where we come in. Sure, this is a long list of pumpkin varieties, but it’s nothing compared to the dizzying number of options in seed catalogs and on gardening websites. Before getting down to the varieties, we’ll cover the basic pumpkin types. It’s probably best to decide which broad category you’re interested in growing, then hone in on the varieties we recommend that fall under that category to narrow the field a bit.
Pumpkin Botanical Categories
Pumpkins are members of the Cucurbita genus, a group of herbaceous vine plants that includes pumpkins as well as cantaloupes, summer squash, watermelons, winter squash, zucchini, and gourds. The individual species types that include varieties we refer to as pumpkins mostly fall under Cucurbita pepo, but there are some plants called pumpkins that come from the Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita argyrosperma, Cucurbita ficifolia, or Cucurbita moschata species instead.
Scientifically, the distinction between a pumpkin, a winter squash, and a squash is blurry, and there is no consensus when it comes to how to distinguish between these categories. Pumpkins, it is generally agreed, are a subset of winter squash, but it hasn’t been determined exactly which species are pumpkins instead of simply squashes. As a result, one seed company may call a certain species a pumpkin while another calls that species a winter squash, so don’t let the contradictions stress you out too much.
Winter squash and pumpkins are interchangeable in recipes as far as flavor is concerned. If you want to call your pumpkins winter squashes because they seem squashy to you, that’s perfectly fine. If you decide to treat your winter squashes like pumpkins and carve them or use them as holiday decor, no one will object. There are no hard and fast rules to differentiate the categories, so no one can prove you wrong. But in general, we refer to species that are eaten in savory dishes, roasted, or baked as squash and those that are pureed in pie filling or used for ornamental purposes as pumpkins.
That confusion aside, pumpkins themselves have their own vocabulary to describe the categories they fall into depending on size, appearance, or the way they are used.
- Cheese pumpkins are so named because they resemble large wheels of cheese with their nutty yellow-tan skin.
- Jack-o’-lantern pumpkins, or carving pumpkins, are made to stand up to carving and to look attractive, so taste has fallen by the wayside and these varieties are not very good to eat. Their flesh tends to be stringy and tasteless since it is normally meant to serve an artistic purpose instead of being consumed. However, they are medium to large in size and tend to come in shades of the classic orange, with sturdy handles and slight ribbing.
- Pie pumpkins are used for baking, so flavor is more valued than appearance in these varieties, which tend to be smaller than the jack-o’-lantern varieties. Pie pumpkins have flesh that is denser, with lower moisture and higher levels of sugar, so their flesh holds up to cooking quite well. If you want to eat the pumpkins you grow, it’s recommended that you grow pie pumpkins, regardless of what you want to cook with your harvest. Pie pumpkins generally fall between four to eight pounds when they’re mature.
- You may see references as you’re pumpkin shopping to varieties with “naked seed pumpkins,” which may also be called “hull-less” or “semi hull-less” pumpkins. Varieties with naked seeds produce seeds that are especially suited for roasting, since they can be eaten without cracking and discarding the hulls before you get to the good stuff. The lack of a hull also makes it more convenient to use these varieties for pumpkin seed oil. However, gardeners should be aware that pumpkins that come from naked seeds tend to be more of a challenge to grow, especially when the ground where they’re planted is cool.
- Colored pumpkins are those that come in the less common shades—anything except orange, basically. Pumpkins that have more than one color are also called colored pumpkins, even if one of their colors is the standard orange. However, most colored pumpkins fall under another category as well, depending on their size or their intended purpose.
- Miniature pumpkins is a term that usually describes varieties that weigh no more than one pound at maturity. Miniature varieties can be any color or shape. They are often used for craft projects, painting, or as decoration. Other size designations include small pumpkins (which weigh two to four pounds), medium pumpkins (ranging between eight and 20 pounds), large pumpkins (from 20 through 30 pounds), extra large pumpkins (between 30 and 50 pounds), and giant pumpkins (weighing more than 50 pounds). The weight gap between the small and medium pumpkin categories, the four- to eight-pound range, belongs to the pie pumpkin category that was previously described.
You won’t find a designated category that’s just for pumpkins that are well suited for painting projects. However, people who enjoy painting pumpkins generally choose to grow relatively small varieties that have smooth surfaces without much ribbing and come equipped with strong, attractive stems.
Amish Pie: An excellent baking pumpkin due to its firm flesh that makes for moist, tasty pies. Skin is peachy orange tinged with green, and the pumpkins, which can weigh in at up to 90 pounds, have distinctive ribbing. 90-105 days to maturity.
Apprentice: Small, round, and smooth, these burnt orange-colored pumpkins are a commonly-grown version of the Lil’ Ironsides variety. The compact, bushy Apprentice plants produce around one pound of pumpkins each. Direct sow in acidic to neutral soil types just after the last frost. Perfect for painting. 115 days to maturation.
Autumn Crown: Autumn Crown pumpkins have a pale orange shade on their outer skin that looks almost white with an orange tint, but inside, the fruit is bright orange, containing a small seed cavity. They are edible, very tasty, and have a super sweet melon-like flavor and aroma which is very similar to butternut squash. The fruits are two to four pounds each and highly uniform. Autumn Crown pumpkins ripen early and store well. Matures in 100 days.
Autumn Gold: Autumn gold pumpkins grow on vigorous vines, which usually produce three to five pumpkins per vine, each weighing around seven to ten pounds. Autumn gold pumpkins are good for decorating, carving and cooking, where both their flesh and seeds can be harvested and put to use in various recipes. The autumn gold variety is especially good for roasting seeds and making pumpkin pies. These versatile pumpkins turn golden orange several weeks before harvest time. They have an attractive round form, mild ribbing, and strong handles. Winner of the All-American Selections award. Matures in 90 days.
Baby Bear: Mature pumpkins grow to around four inches tall with a five to six inch diameter, weighing in between one and a half to two and a half pounds each. Baby bear pumpkins have smooth, deep orange skins and strong, long, dark green handles. This variety is well-suited to decorating and carving, as well as for pies and seed roasting. Baby bear vines yield an average of eight fruits per plant. This All American Selections winning variety is disease resistant and the perfect size for letting children decorate them. For decorating, harvest before heavy frosts when rinds are still hard. Matures in 105 days.
Baby Boo: Bears palm-sized mini pumpkins that start out a pure white and mature to a shade closer to the palest yellow. Reliable for high yields. 100 days to maturity.
Batwing: Batwing is an unique-looking ornamental pumpkin that produces small orange pumpkins that appear to have been dipped in dark green paint. The small bush-like plant produces fruit in many different color designs, some are half orange and half green, while others are nearly all-green, or all orange. The dark green shade appears black from a distance. The perfect halloween ornamental. Matures in 90 days.
Big Autumn: Big autumn pumpkins are typically massive, clocking in around 16 pounds each. This hybrid variety grows into a semi-bush, producing slightly bumpy, mildly ribbed, bright orange pumpkins that are perfect for carving, decorating, and making into sweet pumpkin pies. Matures in 90 days.
Big Max: This heirloom variety produces absolutely massive pumpkins, some of which can grow to 70 inches around and up to 100 pounds. Big max pumpkins are smooth and round, with light orange skin that is sometimes highlighted with pale orange spots. To grow the biggest pumpkins possible, limit growth to one fruit per vine and provide plenty of space to grow and lots of water and fertilizer. Big max pumpkins are excellent for making breads and pumpkin pies. They also make excellent fall decorations and are great for decorating and carving for Halloween. Matures in 120 days.
Big Moose: Big moose pumpkins are large, heavy, and brightly colored, boasting an eye-catching orange-red shade with lighter orange streaks on a slightly bumpy flesh with moderate ribbing. Vines produce one to two fruits per plant, with fruits that range between 50 and 125 pounds each. Great for decoration on roadside displays, as well as Halloween carving. Matures in 110 days.
Black Futsu: A stunning heirloom variety from Japan that generally weighs in around 3 pounds. The bumpy exterior hides sweet flesh that works well in soups. The deeply ribbed pumpkins start out a dark green that is almost black before lightening to terra cotta. 100 days to maturity.
Blaze: Blaze pumpkins are an F1 hybrid variety that averages around three pounds and are reliably high producers. Pumpkins are striped in buttercup yellow and classic orange. Intermediate resistance to powdery mildew. 95 days to maturity.
Blue Doll: Slate blue pumpkins have deep ribs and contrasting deep orange flesh. The coloring makes them good decorative choices, while the sweet flesh is often put to use in a pie, soup, or put away in cans. This F1 hybrid pumpkin variety grows to around 15-20 pounds. Intermediate resistance to downy mildew. 100 days to maturity.
Blue Lakota: Blue lakota squash are not commonly referred to as a pumpkin, but they are beautiful pumpkin-like winter squashes that deserve a spot in the pumpkin patch nonetheless. An excellent variety for baking, blue lakota squash has a sweet, nutty aroma and flavor and a fine-grained texture. Decoratively, these round to gourd shaped fruits are deep crimson-orange with large dark green spotting and barely noticeable ribbing. Colors can vary from mostly orange to mostly green but most blue lakota squash are about half orange and half green, which makes for an attractive display. This heirloom variety is easy to grow as long as the 10 to 20 foot vines are given ample space and support. Blue lakota squash stores well and matures in 85 to 100 days.
Bumpkin PMT: Bumpkin is a miniature orange F1 hybrid pumpkin variety with green stems. This type is known for its hefty harvests. Intermediate resistance to powdery mildew. 85 days to maturity.
Cannonball: These five pound pumpkins have smooth, vibrantly bright orange skin, and light ribbing with large, deeply rooted, deep green and cream streaked handles. Fruits are approximately 7 inches in diameter and heavy for their size. Cannonball pumpkins are great for carving, decorating, cooking, and baking. Matures in 90-110 days.
Carnival: Pumpkins crossed with acorn squash for unique variegated coloration in splattered shades of cream, dark green, and apricot. Hues will vary depending on temperature, with hot weather reducing the red and gold tones. A wonderful choice for both visual appeal and flavor. 85 days to maturity.
Casperita: A miniature pumpkin variety that matures to sizes between half a pound and one pound. Casperitas are white in shade and are known for their ability to hold their pale color. Intermediate resistance to powdery mildew and watermelon mosaic virus. 77 days to maturity.
Charisma: These deep orange, blocky round, moderately russeted, medium size pumpkins have strong green handles and grow on reduced-length vines. They are resistant to powdery mildew, and average about 14 to 18 pounds each. Good for decoration. Matures in 98 days.
Cinnamon Girl: Often grown for use in cooking, for pies and breads, or as a decorative pumpkin. This small variety was developed by Cornell University and University of New Hampshire. Intermediate resistance to powdery mildew. 85 days to maturity.
Connecticut Field: This heirloom pumpkin was grown by Native Americans from the New England area and was passed down to settlers and continues to be passed down to gardeners today. Considered the original Halloween carving pumpkin, the Connecticut field variety produces fruits that typically measure 12-20 inches in diameter and grow to between 15 and 25 pounds. Aside from their decorative value, these ancient heirloom pumpkins are also used in cooking, and are especially good for making pies and soups. Matures in 120 days.
Cornfield: The cornfield pumpkin variety gets its name from historically being planted along with corn crops in the cornfields. The light orange fruits have a round, flattened shape, with moderate ribbing, thin skin, and strong stems. The 12-15 pound fruits are perfect for carving and decorating. Matures in 90 days.
Cotton Candy: This stunning white pumpkin variety has sturdy handles, which makes the cotton candy one of the best decorative white pumpkins you can grow. Large 5-12 pound fruit is all white with a true pumpkin shape. Perfect for decoration and painting. Harvest when white and leave outside in the sun to retain color. Reaches maturity in 110 days.
Crystal Star: The crystal star variety produces a pretty, pure white, round pumpkin with smooth skin and barely visible ribbing. Typically around 12 inches in diameter and between 25 and 35 pounds, the crystal star pumpkin is well-suited to painting and decorating. Crystal star pumpkins do not turn blue or yellow like many other white pumpkin varieties, but tend to hold their all-white flesh throughout the growing season as well as throughout harvesting and storing. Matures in 100 days.
Dill’s Atlantic Giant: Known for producing truly huge pumpkins in the range of 400 to 500 pounds, a Dill’s Atlantic Giant holds the current world record after weighing in at 1,810 pounds. This variety has rough skin and deep ribs, and the size often results in a slumped or asymmetrical shape. 130 days to maturity.
Early Giant: This oddly-shaped medium to large pumpkin variety is both blocky and elongated, and can grow up to 40 pound sizes. Early Giants can grow anywhere between 14 and 40 pounds large but average about 25 pounds. The early maturing fruits are medium to dark orange, moderately ribbed, and have stocky chalky green handles. Easy to grow and powdery mildew resistant, the early giant grows on a long vine, producing one to two fruits per plant. These pumpkins are not good for culinary use or carving, but look great in a roadside display. Matures in 95 days.
Fairytale: The fairytale pumpkin’s wild, old-fashioned appearance is due to the flattened shape, dense ribs, and strong, curled stems. Pumpkins are terra cotta with splashes of green stippling. Dense flesh is well suited for preparation in pies and other baked goods. Prevent watery flesh by reducing the moisture you give these pumpkins before harvesting. 90-110 days to maturity.
Field Trip: A dark orange pumpkin with moderate ribbing and distinctive, long, deep-rooted handles, the field trip pumpkin is aptly named, as it is perfect for school children when their school takes a field trip to the pumpkin patch. The five to seven pound, round, flattened fruits, are the perfect size and shape for kids to carry around and bring home to decorate. Matures in 90 days.
Flatso: Flatso pumpkins are small, flattened oval-shaped, dark orange fruits that bear medium ribs and thin but sturdy, dark green handles. Fruits grow to around six to eight pounds and measure five to six inches high and nine to ten inches in diameter. Great for roadside displays, farmers market displays, and decorative placement. Matures in just 85 days.
Flat Stacker: The flat stacker hybrid variety is an improvement on a previously bred hybrid variety called flat white boer, which must have needed a replacement, as seeds of the old variety are impossible to find online. This variety is an unusually flat-looking, oblate-shaped, white-skinned pumpkin that is good for stacking, autumnal decorations, and culinary use. Fruit averages 15-25 pounds, with deep ribbing and good disease resistance. Matures in 95 days.
Full Moon: The giant, all-white, smooth-skinned, slightly-sutured full moon pumpkin can grow to between 60 and 90 pounds. Full moon pumpkins average 36” tall and 24” wide, which is quite large, but perfect for attracting attention to roadside pumpkin stands. Full Moon pumpkins are an excellent choice for carving or making pumpkin pies. To keep the pure white hue, harvest at maturity, otherwise the skin will turn to a creamy beige shade instead of the attractive bright white. The color can also change after harvesting, unless kept in a cool, shady location. Matures in 110 to 115 days.
Galeux d’ Eysines: This French heirloom pumpkin is known for its warty skin in a light pinky orange, with a slightly flat silhouette. The warts come from swelling of sugars under the skin—tan lumps that look similar to peanuts. Averages 10 to 15 pounds and prized for the smooth pie filling the flesh will make. 105 days to maturity.
Ghost Rider: Ghost rider is a semi trailing pumpkin variety that produces large, heavy, deep orange fruits. This variety requires tons of water and frequent fertilization during the season. Plant in full sun in a deep, fertile, sandy, acidic soil. Ghost riders are edible pumpkins that are great for salads and for flavoring foods and drinks. They are also well-suited to carving. 115 days to maturation from seed.
Gladiator: One of the most popular pumpkin varieties, the gladiator cultivar produces large, round, deep-orange fruit that is uniform in size and shape. Gladiator pumpkins are grown for cooking and decorative purposes. They are great for carving and painting and have large handles. Powdery Mildew resistant. Plant in full sunlight and allow 115 days to mature.
Gold Medal: An extremely large F1 hybrid pumpkin at sizes from 35 to 40 pounds that is the most commonly grown type in its weight class. The skin has a vivid orange color and pumpkins are spherically shaped with moderately deep ridges. 95 days to maturity.
Gooligan: These tiny white baby pumpkins are especially cute and incredibly versatile. The gooligan variety produces white-skinned miniature pumpkins that grow to around one pound or less and are only six inches in diameter, perfect for decorating or placing on tabletops or mantles for fall displays. Gooligans are small, flattened oval-shaped pumpkins with concave tops and deep ribbing. Due to their small size and lightweight nature, you can even provide a trellis for the vines for an attractive hanging garden display. Bake or roast gooligan pumpkins just like you would an acorn squash. Matures in 95 days.
Gumdrop PMR: This F1 Hybrid variety produces three to four fruits per plant. The fruits average about 11 to 13 pounds. Gumdrop pumpkins are vibrant orange, moderately ribbed, and oval-shaped with a flat bottom. Small enough for young children to tote around. Great for decoration and fall displays. 100 days to maturity.
Hijinks: The hijinks F1 hybrid pumpkin variety is an All American Selections winner with a deep orange color, distinct grooves, and strong, well-rooted stems. This variety is highly resistant to powdery mildew, and consistently produces high yields of six to seven pound, round, uniformly sized pumpkins. The hijinks pumpkin plant grows no more than two feet high but its long vines can spread out as long as 15 feet, taking up quite a bit of garden space at full maturity. Matures in 100 days.
Hooligan: The hooligan pumpkin variety is a miniature, multicolored, jack-be-little hybrid variety that displays an orange, green, and yellow mottled design and deep ridges. Weighing an average of ¼ of a pound each, the fruits are only two inches tall and three to four inches wide. Hooligan pumpkins are cultivated for ornamental purposes and for snacking. In addition to the fruit, which has a tasty, sweet aroma and flavor, certain parts of the flowers are edible as well. Matures in 95 days.
Howden Field: Produces symmetrical, uniformly shaped pumpkins between 20 to 25 pounds similar to the Connecticut Field variety. The extra thick flesh has a hard skin with distinctive ridges. Intermediate resistance to black rot. 115 days to maturity.
Indian Doll: The indian doll is an F1 hybrid variety that produces a deep orange pumpkin with a highly-flattened oval shape that is perfect for stacking. Its exotic, bumpy sweet flesh is perfect for pies, soups, and other recipes. It is also great for fall decorations. Indian doll pumpkins grow to between 20-24 pounds. This hybrid was bred to have an excellent powdery mildew resistance, as well as a strong tolerance of downy mildew. Matures in 100 days.
Jack-B-Little: Fitting into the palm of your hand, Jack-B-Little miniature pumpkins are only two inches tall and three to four inches in diameter. This heirloom variety grows on compact vines that produce up to 20 pumpkins per plant. The miniature pumpkins are perfect for cooking and decorative purposes. Uniform shape and size with smooth skin and moderate ribbing. Stores for a full year if properly cured. Matures in 105 days.
Jack-B-Quik: Jack-B-Quik is a slightly smaller, taller, darker, and more ribbed version of the miniature Jack-B-Little variety.
Jack Sprat: These pie pumpkins generally grow to about three pounds each, producing vivid orange fruits that have uniform shape and size with embedded stems in contrasting dark green. Plants produce high numbers per plant and have good tolerance to powdery mildew. 100 days to maturity.
Jarrahdale Large: Bluish gray pumpkins have a shape similar to drums and are deeply ribbed, weighing between 12 and 18 pounds. The golden flesh has a sweet flavor with a fruity component and is known for the aroma when cooked. The most uniform of the Jarrahdale pumpkin varieties tested in trials. 100 days to maturity.
Jill-Be-Little: Slightly taller and larger than the Jack-B-Little miniature variety, Jill-Be-Little pumpkins grow to two and a half inches tall and three to four inches wide. The half pound fruits are flattened oval-shaped with a concave top. They are extra wide with deep ribbing. Jill-Be-Little miniatures are perfect for decorative purposes. Matures in 100 days.
Jumpin’ Jack: Produces tall pumpkins with a stretched-out shape. The thick walls and roughly textured skins make Jumpin’ Jack pumpkins well suited for carving into jack-o’-lanterns. 120 days to maturity.
Kakai: Kakai pumpkins make excellent choices as decor due to the distinctive pale orange flesh striped in green so dark it is almost black. Seeds are a deep green and lack hulls, making them well suited for snacking. 100 days to maturity.
Kandy Korn: If you are looking for high yields from a pumpkin plant that doesn’t take up too much space, the kandy korn variety is the pumpkin plant for you. In a small, compact, 24 inch bush, you can get 12 small, bright, yellow-orange, oval-shaped pumpkins that are great for indoor and outdoor decorating, as well as for carving. Each fruit is one to one and a half pounds, perfectly uniform, and adorned with a small, curved, dark green handle. Matures in just 85 days.
Knucklehead: As the knucklehead pumpkin matures, small blisters expand into extreme warting all over the outer flesh of the fruit. The knucklehead pumpkin starts off forest green and ripens into a deep orange shade as warts develop. Fruits grow to 12-16 pounds and one foot high and ten inches wide. They are excellent specimens for carving into scary halloween faces, and the warts make them even more menacing. Plants produce 2 fruits each. Matures in 105 days.
Lakota: Pretty pumpkins in variegated jungle green and blaze orange have sweet flesh with a nutty flavor and a fine grain. Adapts well to many climates and environments and weights four to eight pounds at harvest.85-100 days to maturity.
Little October: These miniature pumpkins are perfectly suited for kids to paint faces on for Halloween decorations. High yields of smooth, burnt orange, nearly round fruits that are highly uniform in size, shape, and stem. With 3 to 4 inch diameters and faint ribbing, these pumpkins are grown purely for decorative purposes. Matures in 95 to 100 days.
Long Island Cheese: These medium to large pumpkins look like cheese wheels because of their squat shape and distinctive ribbing. Their coloring is like khaki, and stems are slender. Moderately sweet flesh is often put to use baked into a pie. 108 days to maturity.
Lumina: The lumina pumpkin variety is a novelty pumpkin that is cultivated for carving, baking and decorating. The white outer skin and orange flesh looks great when carved. The texture and flavor are excellent for culinary purposes. The smooth white skin seems to glow under lights. With practically no ribbing and ultra smooth skin, the lumina pumpkin variety is one of the easiest pumpkins to carve. Weighing between 10-12 pounds each, lumina pumpkins grow to 12 to 18 inches high and eight to ten inches in diameter. Matures in 95 days.
Magician: If you have had terrible luck with mildew, viruses and plant diseases in your area, you might want to try the Magician variety when planting pumpkins this year. It is the first F1 hybrid variety that is resistant to both powdery mildew and zucchini yellows mosaic virus. This variety produces high yields of 10 to 16 pound fruit that measures to one foot tall and ten inches wide. The fruit is deep orange with medium ribbing and strong, hefty, deep green handles. Matures in 110 days.
Magic Lantern: Magic Lantern F1 hybrid pumpkins were bred to be highly resistant to powdery mildew and to produce medium-sized pumpkins in small, compact garden spaces. The magic lantern pumpkins grow upon space-saving semi-vines, growing 14 inches high and a foot wide. The fruit has a slightly bumpy texture, dark orange skin, and medium ribbing. Matures in 115 days.
Marina di Chioggia: An heirloom variety of sea pumpkin that hails from south of Venice, Italy. Turban-shaped fruits are a bright green, with rippled, warty textured ribs. These grow to around 10 pounds and have a rich tasting flesh in shades from buttery yellow to a color that resembles cantaloupe. Marina di Chioggia pumpkins work well in pies and baked goods, gnocchi, as ravioli filling, or sliced into wedges and grilled. 95 days to maturity.
Mellow Yellow: The yellow-skinned mellow yellow pumpkin variety produces blocky-round, 18-22 pound fruits that are uniform in shape and size, with moderate ribbing and solid green handles. Yields one to two pumpkins per plant. Resistant to powdery mildew. Matures in 95 days.
Merlin: Merlin pumpkins are great for carving Jack O Lanterns for Halloween due to their deep orange color and medium ribbing. They are also powdery mildew resistant and extremely uniform in fruit size and shape, making them perfect for commercial marketing. Medium large sized fruit ranges from 15 to 23 pounds, averaging one foot wide and fourteen inches tall. Matures in 115 days.
Midnight: Midnight is an almost black miniature pumpkin variety. The shade of green is so dark that it appears black from a distance. This small but striking pumpkin variety grows to one or one and a half pounds. Though it is edible, it is more commonly used for decorative purposes. Skin will start to turn orange after two months of storage. Matures in just 80 days.
Moonscape: Moonscape pumpkins are an F1 Hybrid variety that produces pale reddish orange 15-18 pound medium-sized fruits with deep ribbing, dimpled skin and bright green medium-sized handles. Flesh is edible and bright yellow. Full vines produce high yields of medium to large size fruits. Matures in 100 days.
Moonshine: Moonshine pumpkins are small to medium sized, smooth, all-white pumpkins. Grow moonshine pumpkins in fertile, well-draining soil with a pH between 5.8 and 6.8. Lightly feed with a high phosphorus fertilizer to begin flowering. Perfectly suited for decorating and carving. Fruits are ready to harvest when white and should be left out in sunlight to retain color. Produces mature fruit in 100 days.
Mr. Wrinkles: The Mr. Wrinkles hybrid variety produces a unique barrel-shaped Jack-O-Lantern style pumpkin with a deep orange color, deep wrinkled ribs (which add an extra spooky texture to carvings), five inch handles, and thick flesh which has an excellent flavor and aroma. Cultivated for both culinary and decorative use. Pumpkins range from seven to 29 pounds. Matures in 110 days.
Munchkin: This miniature variety produces bright yellow-orange baby pumpkins that are three to four inches wide with deep sutures and a flattened scallop-like shape. 4 to 8 ounce fruits store well if properly cured. Thin but sturdy stems. Great for decoration and eating, with a flavor similar to sweet chestnuts. Susceptible to mosaic virus and aphid attacks. Matures in 100 days.
Musquee de Provence: This traditional pumpkin variety from the southern regions of France produces unique, handsome, large, flat 20 pound pumpkins that are extremely lobed and deeply ribbed. When ripe, the skin is a rich amber-brown with a deep orange flesh that is quite thick. The flesh is prized for its excellent flavor and aroma. Matures in 120 days.
Naked Bear: The naked bear variety is a F1 hybrid that is especially good for culinary use, both for its flesh, which is used for cooking and baking, and for its semi-hulled seeds, which are roasted to make an excellent snack, and pressed to make pumpkin seed oil. This variety produces smaller fruits of 2-4 pounds each, but in large yields. Naked bear pumpkins are used to make pies and pepitas. Though these pumpkins are certainly attractive enough to be used for decorative purposes as well, they are more commonly cultivated for culinary use. Matures in 105 days.
Nantucket: Nantucket pumpkins, also known as long pie pumpkins, do not look like pumpkins at all, but some kind of elongated squash gourd. However, these elongated, bell-shaped fruits are referred to as pumpkins, and are widely considered to be the best pumpkins for pie making. These pumpkins should be harvested when the skin starts to turn orange, but they will continue to ripen after harvesting, becoming sweeter and more flavorful in storage. Fruits are between five and eight pounds each. Matures in 95 to 100 days.
New England Pie: This variety produces dark orange pumpkins of various sizes, generally between four and six pounds, with brown woody stems. Though often used for pie making, New England pie pumpkins are not as sweet as many other varieties, but more starchy, dry, and subtle in flavor. Used more for their texture than flavor. Stores well. Matures in 105 days.
One Too Many: One too many is a large-vine pumpkin variety with a truly unique ornamental pumpkin. The white fruit is decorated with orange midribs and red veining that looks like a bloodshot eyeball. Fruits typically weigh between 20-25 pounds and are either round or oblong shaped. Good powdery mildew tolerance and decent virus resistance. Matures in 110 days.
Orange Smoothie: Orange Smoothie is an F1 hybrid variety with exceptionally smooth skin which makes it excellent for painting and carving and a top decorative variety. Produces bright orange round fruits between six and nine pounds each with strong stems. Excellent for painting, carving, and pie making. All American Selections winner for, “Prettiest Pumpkin Ever.” Matures in 90 days.
Peanut: A shockingly unique pumpkin variety that has a blistered skin which looks like peanut shells. At first glance, you may think that a peanut pumpkin is diseased, as the blistering looks similar to elephantiasis, an rare extreme skin condition, or some kind of growth on the surface of the pumpkin’s skin. However, this unique heirloom variety naturally blisters due to a buildup of excess sugar and takes on this appearance atop its salmon-pink skin. The sugary warts that cover the fruits’ flattened oval surface actually add to the sweetness of the flesh, making it even more delicious in pies, breads and cheesecake recipes. Matures in 95 to 100 days.
Pepitas: Pepitas is an All American Selection award winner, and one of the most beautiful pumpkin varieties you can find. The skin of pepitas pumpkins are a glowing golden yellow-orange that is covered in dark green streaks, splashes, and freckles. The flesh is delicious, slightly sweet, and tender, and the seeds are nutty, savory, and highly addictive, especially when roasted and lightly salted. The most troubling decision will be whether to display them for their decorative brilliance, or to use them in the kitchen to savor the brilliance that they add to your palate when used appropriately in both sweet and savory recipes. Matures in 100-105 days.
Pik-a-Pie: This downy mildew resistant F1 hybrid variety produces six pound round orange pumpkins with large green handles. The semi-bush plant produces a high yield of pumpkins that are great for making pies. Pik-a-pie pumpkins are well-suited for home gardens, farmers markets, market growers, and open field plantings. Pik-a-pie vines produce relatively uniform six inch diameter pumpkins with a slight rib. Matures in just 85 days.
Pipsqueak: The most striking feature of the pipsqueak pumpkin variety are the long, thick, dark-green handles. This doorstop decorative variety is otherwise relatively normal-looking. With an upright oval shape, medium ribbing, and a deep orange color, the exceptionally long handle is the only thing that sets it apart from many other similar decorative varieties. Matures in 100 days.
Polar Bear: The polar bear pumpkin variety, as its name would suggest, is a massive white pumpkin that is cultivated for decorative uses. With fruit weighing between 30 and 65 pounds, the long-vining plant produces big white globes to display on roadsides and on porches and patios. Fruit retains white color well after being harvested. Matures in 100 days.
Porcelain Doll: Porcelain doll is a hybrid pumpkin variety that usually has pale pink skin. Sometimes the skin is closer to a salmon, or a pinkish-orange. Sometimes it is a mix between a pale green and a pale pink. Seldomly, you may find porcelain doll pumpkins in a pale orange shade, but usually they are pink, which is fitting, as a percentage of the proceeds of porcelain doll pumpkin seed and fruit sales, is contributed to the Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundations which supports efforts to fight breast cancer. The flesh of porcelain doll pumpkins is deep orange and sweet, and is commonly used in pies, soups, and many gourmet recipes. Full vines bear 2 to 3 fruits at 16 to 24 pounds each. The blocky, deeply-ribbed fruit is over double the size and weight of the Porcelain Princess variety, a smaller pink F1 hybrid pumpkin. Matures in 110 days.
Porcelain Princess: The porcelain princess F1 hybrid variety is very similar to the porcelain doll variety only smaller and resistant to both powdery mildew and downy mildew. With fruits clocking in at seven to ten pounds and seven to eight inches wide, the porcelain princess is a significantly smaller version of the porcelain doll. Used in the kitchen during the holidays for several side dish recipes, porcelain princess pumpkins have both decorative and culinary value. Matures in 100 days.
Prizewinner: For world record sized pumpkins that weigh between 100 and 300 pounds each, look no further than the F1 hybrid prizewinner. To get the biggest fruit possible, limit plants to one fruit per plant and prepare yourself for huge bright orange-red pumpkins with shallow ribbing. Though prizewinners can reach up to 300 pound sizes, most gardeners are more likely to produce fruits between 75 and 150 pounds. Experienced pumpkin growers probably know how to encourage sizes on the higher end of the spectrum, but who needs 300 pound pumpkins anyway? More importantly, how are you going to move a 300 pound pumpkin from one place to another? Matures in 120 days.
Queensland Blue: Queensland blue pumpkins are an old heirloom pumpkin from Australia that produces ten to twenty-pound highly-ribbed, slightly-flattened pumpkin-shaped fruit with striking deep blue or green skin. The bright orange flesh plays a nice contrast to the eye-catching deep blue or green outer skin. Allow queensland blue pumpkins to mature fully while still attached to the vine until the leaves start to die back. Then, using a soft cloth, wipe down the outer layer of skin with a weak bleach water solution to kill off any harmful bacteria that may be present and help improve storage potential. Use any fruits that are damaged or scarred immediately, as they will not store well. Matures in 120 days.
Rockafellow: The small, uniquely-shaped, oblong rockafellow pumpkin variety produces six and a half inch fruits with long, green handles and hard, smooth shells. These pumpkins are perfect for pie making, painting and decorating, and they are also a great choice for gardeners with small growing spaces. The semi-bush plants produce large yields without having to stretch out across large garden spaces. Matures in 95 days.
Rouge vif D’Etampes (also called Cinderella or Bright Red French): Brick red pumpkins average 10 to 15 pounds and resemble red wheels of cheese with a flattened spherical shape. Although they’re lovely for decor, these pumpkins also make for excellent baked goods with moderate sweetness. 115 days to maturity.
Sanchez: The Sanchez pumpkin variety produces an odd-looking gourd to say the least. It is bright orange, it has a squatting oval shape, it’s skin is covered in warts that appear in patches, and its stems are oddly thin. The full vines of the Sanchez pumpkin produce prolific yields of three to six pound fruits that measure four to five inches tall and six to seven inches wide. Matures in 90 days.
Silver Moon: This F1 hybrid variety from Australia is resistant to powdery mildew and zucchini yellows mosaic virus. The 10 to 15 pound fruits have wide ribs and a highly uniform size and shape. Silver moon pumpkins appear to have silver skin at first glance, but upon further inspection, you can see that it is actually a pale blue with silvery-white striping and freckling. The dark orange flesh is deliciously sweet and flavorful. Silver moon is great for decorating and eating, and can be made into pies, or used in soups and stews.
Small Sugar: Small sugar is an heirloom pumpkin variety that is perfect for pies, even more so than its larger relative, the Connecticut field pumpkin. Small sugar pumpkins are about 10 inches in diameter with a deep orange-yellow skin and a fine-grained flesh with excellent texture that has a sweet and sugary taste and aroma. These pumpkins store very well. Matures in 100-105 days.
Snowball: Pale white pumpkins are round in shape with dark green stems and weigh in at around two pounds each. Snowball pumpkins are known for retaining their white coloring even when they are subjected to stress. 100 days to maturity.
Spark: Spark pumpkins have a wide, flattened shape and are yellow-orange with deep orange ribs. Great for decoration and perfect for fall markets, but not good for eating. Plants are vigorous viners which are resistant to powdery mildew. Top yields reach maturity in 90 days.
Speckled Hound: The speckled hound pumpkin has a very unique-looking gourd that has culinary and ornamental value. The skin is salmon pink with green or blue-green splotches. The thick, dense flesh inside is dry and grainy, yet still light and delicious at the same time. The skin coloring is quite amazing when you take the time to inspect it closely. The salmon pink or pastel orange skin and blue-green spotting combine to make just about every imaginable pattern under the sun. Each plant produces about eight round, blue-green and orange-pink patterned, five pound fruits. Matures in 100 days.
Speckled Pup: These are one and a half pound mini kabocha squash plants which produce fruits from a compact, space-saving, semi-bush style plant. The fruits are deep green and decorated with red-orange speckles, as its name suggests. The fruits have a deep flattened spherical shape. Inside, a sweet, dry flesh with a nice creamy, nutty flavor and pleasant silky smooth texture. The speckled pup pumpkin can be put to use as an interesting looking, small, decorative gourd for fall displays, or it can be used in the kitchen, where it can be enjoyed for its surprisingly addictive flavor.
Specter: This early maturing white F1 hybrid variety has a semi-hard, wart covered outer skin that is good at keeping its color. Specter pumpkins have a uniform size and shape and produce large yields of fruits that are nine to 12 inch tall and wide and weigh between 12 and 20 pounds. Resistant to powdery mildew. Matures in 95 days.
Sugar Pie: These pumpkins have been cultivated since the 1800s and are known for their delectable flavor in savory dishes, soups, breads, muffins, and pies. Produces small pumpkins that are also a good choice for jack-o’-lantern carving. Sensitive to frost. 90 to 115 days to maturity.
Sunlight: Sunlight pumpkins have stunningly bright yellow skin with dark green stems that contrast nicely with its vibrant, sunny yellow skin. Each plant produces three to four pumpkins which are four to six pounds each. Sunlight pumpkins are resistant to powdery mildew and are commonly used to make pies and to bring a different color to the typical brown, red, and orange traditional fall decorations. Matures in 100 days.
Thumpkin: Thumpkin pumpkins have a deep-orange flattened oblate-shaped fruit and good ribbing. The feature that stands out the most on the thumpkin variety however, is the handles, which are truly massive, measuring up to ten inches long. The thick-walled fruit can weigh between 15 and 25 pounds each, but a good deal of that has got to be the handle alone. Thumpkins need quite a bit of space to thrive in the garden. Plant them at 72 square feet per plant to give them plenty of room. Matures in 120 days.
Toad: Toad pumpkins have round to teardrop-shaped fruit with multiple warts and semi-hard shells. Fruits weigh between one and a half to two and a half pounds each, and are topped by a well-rooted and well-sized, dark green stem. Fruits produce less warts when they are exposed to less stressful environmental conditions. Fruits are sized around five to six inches tall and four to five inches wide. Handles can reach up to four inches long. Toad pumpkins are very easy to grow and mature in just 85 days.
Tom Fox: The Tom Fox pumpkin variety is the perfect size and shape for halloween decoration and carving. They are well-ribbed, medium-sized pumpkins with a deep orange color and strong, dark-green handles. They are produced on long vines and grow into thick-walled, heavy specimens that are perfect for carving. Matures in 110 days.
Tours: This novelty variety is a French heirloom pumpkin that has a unique ornamental value. The massive fruits look similar to watermelons. The upright, oval-shaped fruits are dark green and decorated with yellow-orange stripes that run from the top of the fruit to the bottom. Fruits weigh between 15 and 30 pounds each. Tours pumpkins have been used in French cuisine to make jam, soups, and animal feed, and are sometimes pickled for certain recipes. Matures in 100 days.
Trickster: This hybrid variety produces smooth, deep orange, three pound pumpkins with dark green handles. Plant in a full sun location and allow plenty of room to sprawl or support with a trellis. Use trickster pumpkins in pies or decorate with them as fall ornamentals. Matures in 90 days.
Valenciano: Valenciano pumpkins are the whitest pumpkin variety. They are perfect for painting and for fall decorations. The medium-sized flattened oval shaped fruits are six to eight inches tall, 11 to 15 inches wide, slightly ribbed, with smooth white outer shells. The sweet, thick, deep orange flesh is good for pie making and other culinary uses. Each plant produces two to three fruits. Matures in 110 days.
Warlock: This hybrid pumpkin variety produces 20-30 pound pumpkins with a uniquely rough, bumpy, dark-orange skin. Tall fruits and strong handles make warlock a popular cultivar for roadside decoration. Resistant to powdery mildew. Matures in 110 days.
Warty Gnome: The warty gnome hybrid pumpkin variety is dark orange with yellow stripes and many dark green warts that turn yellow after harvesting. It is also equipped with a long, dark green handle. A novelty variety, the warty gnome pumpkin stands out in fall decorative displays. It is super hard to cut due to its hardshell exterior but stores longer than most pumpkin varieties. The small, flat, round fruits measure four inches high and seven inches in diameter, and weigh in between four and six pounds. Cultivated for decorative purposes, the warty gnome pumpkin is an odd-looking winter squash variety that is truly one of a kind. Matures in 95 days.
Warty Goblin: Large, irregular warts and bumps cover the orange skin with green globes that hold their color for weeks after pumpkins are picked. These have a hard shell rind and a dark green stem that stays securely attached. These F1 hybrid pumpkins weigh between eight and 20 pounds and may be either rounded or tall. Intermediate resistance to powdery mildew. 105 days to maturity.
Wee-B-Little: This baby variety produces mini-pumpkins that are three and a half inches high and wide. An All American Selections winner, this compact, bushy variety sprouts unique ornamental pumpkins that are also good for eating and cooking. Each plant should yield approximately eight pumpkins. Matures in 95 days.
White Boer Ford: This variety is a pure white stacking pumpkin with a flattened spherical shape and stunning white skin. The sweet orange flesh is great for cooking and baking. This variety is great for both decorating and eating. Fruits generally grow about one foot wide and only three to five inches tall and weigh around 10-15 pounds each, though some White Boer Ford pumpkins have been known to reach 30 pounds. Matures in 115 days.
White Ghost: The F1 hybrid white ghost pumpkin variety was created by breeding cotton candy and baby boo. The result is an odd-tasting pumpkin with an irregular shape and thick flesh. White ghost pumpkins have a distinctly odd, and slightly off-putting aroma and flavor and are also not good for carving, so it is really only a decorative pumpkin. Matures in 90 days.
Winter Luxury: Winter Luxury is a small pie pumpkin with a unique appearance thanks to the netted texture of its skin, which resembles lacy white stippling on a peachy orange background. This variety weighs in between six and nine pounds. 105 days to maturity.
Wolf: This heirloom variety produces 16 to 24 pound, round, deep-orange pumpkins with moderate ribs and absolutely massive dark-green handles. For best growing results plant in full sun and allow as much space between plants as possible. Great for decorating. Plant early for best results. Matures in 120 days.
With so many amazing pumpkin varieties on the market to choose from, there’s no reason to limit yourself to growing just one type per year. After all, surely you’ll want some to carve, some to bake into pie, some to paint, and a few warty heirlooms or unusually colored varieties to scatter around as spooky decor. And of course, you’ll also need a miniature variety, a multicolored variety, and a jumbo variety to round your collection out. Hopefully you have lots of room to dedicate to your pumpkin patch—otherwise you’re facing a pretty tough decision of narrowing these delightful options down, but what a wonderful dilemma to have. Happy pondering!