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A picture of a Winter Squash

Winter Squash

Cucurbita spp.

Also known as

Pumpkin, Courgette, Squash, Gourd, Marrow

Cucurbita pepo-2 by VladUK (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Full Sun
Easy care
Moderate watering


RHS hardiness


Minimum temperature

Expected size









  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has no fragrance

More images of Winter Squash

A photo of Winter Squash
A photo of Winter Squash
A photo of Winter Squash

Winter Squash Overview

The genus Cucurbita contains some of the fastest growing vegetables, usually known as Pumpkin, Squash, Marrow and Courgette. They come in all shapes and sizes, from traditional Halloween pumpkins and butternut squash to more unusual varieties such as ‘Turk’s Turban’ and ‘Crown Prince’. Fun to grow, these trailing vine species need full sun, plenty of water and rich soil. Seeds are planted in spring, male flowers will bloom first, followed by female flowers (farmers use bees to help pollinate, so they can harvest a good crop) and they are harvested from summer to autumn. Pumpkins and Squash in particular, can become very heavy, so they benefit from being grown up a sturdy support structure. As a food, they're very versatile and can be roasted, used in stews and curries or blended to make a delicious autumn soup. Most varieties store for up to a few months and you can enjoy your home-grown fare throughout the winter months. Smaller species such as Courgettes, are great for small spaces, can be eaten in salads, but do not store so well, so eat as soon as harvested! y

Common problems with Winter Squash

Apart from slugs and snails, Cucurbita are more susceptible to pests when grown under glass.

How to harvest Winter Squash

Pick flowers to be served in a beer batter throughout Summer. Fruit is ripe when the outside is fully colored, the skin is hard, and the stem begins to shrivel and dry. Cut the pumpkin's stem using a pair of shears, leaving it a few centimeters long.

How to propagate Winter Squash


Direct sow seed in late Spring or early Summer, 2.5–5 cm deep. Plant seeds in rows or “pumpkin hills” which are small mounds. The soil will warm faster and the seeds will germinate quicker. This also helps with drainage and pest control.

Special features of Winter Squash

Autumn colour

Colourful pumpkins brighten up the area in Autumn.

Pot plant

You can grow pumpkins in growbags or containers that are at least 45 cm wide. Plant one or two per growbag, or one per container.

Attractive flowers

Attractive fruits

Fruits vary in sizes.

Other uses of Winter Squash

Culinary, ornamental.


The fruit is a favourite cooked, often with cinammon.

Edibles to Sow Outdoors in June

Now the soil has warmed up, sow direct into prepared beds.

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Edible to Sow Under Cover in May

Successional sow small batches on a sunny windowsill or in a heated propagator, ready to plant out later in the month.

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