Pumpkins have long been a favorite fruit of both growers and consumers and for many reasons.
They can be used for edible purposes, for a variety of dishes and desserts, or used recreationally for decoration or making jack-o-lanterns for display during Halloween.
No matter what your purpose is for growing this fun and quaint fruit, you should know a few things about them.
Many people plant pumpkins and then get frustrated, asking “Why are my pumpkin leaves wilting?”
If you have run into this problem, there are a few issues that can cause this (and I’ve also listed a couple of remedies as well). Read on to find out why this is happening and what you can do to fix it!
Why Are My Pumpkin Leaves Wilting?
Yellow, drooping leaves are hallmark indicators of wilted pumpkin leaves, and they are caused primarily by insects (such as Squash Bugs and Vine Borers) and diseases (such as Fusarium Fungus, Phytophthora Blight, and Bacterial Wilt). The third most common cause of wilted pumpkin leaves is lack of water.
Common Causes of Wilted Pumpkin Leaves
As mentioned above, the three most common causes of wilted pumpkin leaves are insects, disease, and lack of water (dehydration).
Determining what the cause is of wilting leaves is necessary in order to fix the problem, which will require you to rule out other issues to narrow down the exact cause.
If the wilting is caused by insects, there are two main culprits (Squash Bugs and Vine Borers).
Squash bugs look like tiny, winged caterpillars and lay eggs during the springtime. The hallmark sign of the Squash Bug is a fine powder on the leaves of your pumpkin plant.
Check the leaves in order to find their eggs, and make sure you eradicate them entirely to avoid infestation. These bugs feed primarily in early summer to early fall.
If you are dealing with a Vine Borer, you may notice an orange or green substance at the bottom of the pumpkin plant.
These insects feast on the base of the stem and are found in most abundance during June (so it is important to really keep an eye on your pumpkin plants during this time).
One common and effective method to get rid of this insect is to set up a yellow tray with water in it, since the vine borer is attracted to yellow it will make its way into the water and ultimately drown (problem solved!)
Diseases are another common cause of wilted pumpkin leaves. The three diseases that impact pumpkins are bacterial wilt, Phytophthora blight, and Fusarium Fungus.
Bacterial wilt, which is caused by the cucumber beetle, disrupts the vascular system and leads to dehydration.
You can determine if this is the cause by cutting a leaf off of your plant and inspecting it for a white, slippery substance. You can only cure this disease by removing the entire plant.
All pumpkins impacted by bacterial wilt must immediately be removed in order to prevent further spread to the rest of the patch.
Phytophthora blight is easier to fix than bacterial wilt and only requires a plant-safe fungicide.
This spreads quickly during cool months (so you will really want to keep an eye out during the early to late fall). Prevention is the best cure, so plant your pumpkins in soil that drains well or rotate your crop as needed.
If you are dealing with Fusarium Fungus, you may notice necrotic (black) areas and lesions of various sizes and may or may not contain mold.
There isn’t a definitive cause of this, but we do know that it lives in soil and can reside there season after season.
The only way to prevent this is by rotating your crops and avoiding planting in the same place every year.
You should also wash off shoes and equipment if you suspect your plants are infected with Fusarium Fungus because it can be spread by anything that comes into contact with it.
All plants will require adequate hydration, and pumpkins are no exception! It is natural for pumpkin leaves to wilt slightly during the day, and this doesn’t always mean they aren’t getting enough water.
However, I’ve found that if my leaves are wilting during the morning, it’s a good sign that they are dehydrated.
While the pumpkin may have large leaves to protect the soil beneath it from losing water, it cannot hold up against long periods of heat. If your area is experiencing extreme heat, try to shade your pumpkins as much as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wilted Pumpkin Leaves
What is causing my pumpkin leaves to wilt?
Wilting pumpkin leaves are commonly caused by disease, insects, or dehydration. Ensure that your pumpkins have plenty of water and, if necessary, shade. You should also inspect the pumpkin patch frequently for signs of insect infestation or disease-ridden plants.
My issue seems to be dehydration. What can I do to prevent this from reoccurring and what are the signs?
If your plants are struggling due to dehydration, you will want to make sure you give them extra water and attention. This may mean putting up some umbrellas to shade the area if it has been excessively warm and sunny. A major sign of dehydration is wilted pumpkin leaves in the morning.
I think my pumpkin leaves are wilted because of disease. What do I do?
This depends on the disease and treatments vary with what the cause is. However, in many cases, you will need to pull up the infected pumpkins to prevent the disease from spreading. If you’re unsure, and the above steps didn’t help, talk to your local home gardener for more advice.
A Wonderful Goodbye (To Wilt!)
Remember to keep your plants hydrated and frequently inspect them for signs of disease or insect infestation so that you can remedy the issue before it has spread too far.
I hope this has helped you to troubleshoot the cause of your wilting plants and that you will be able to enjoy a full and abundant pumpkin patch this season!
Taking care of houseplants and gardening are my greatest passions. I am transforming my apartment into an urban jungle and am growing veggies in my indoor and outdoor garden year-round.