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Horticulture and Home Pest News
Horticulture & Home Pest News is filled with articles on current horticulture, plant care, pest management, and common household pests written by Iowa State University Extension specialists in the Departments of Entomology, Horticulture and Plant Pathology.

Ghostly Pumpkins

This article was published originally on 10/14/2009

White is the new orange…or at least it is for pumpkins. Once a novelty, white pumpkins are now seen at pumpkin patches and some grocery or hardware stores in October. While white pumpkins may be a little more expensive than their orange cousins, they offer an alternative white "canvas" for painting and carving. Homeowners enjoy the variety and the fact that they go well with any decor. The white rind adds a bit of ghostly Halloween mystique, especially when lit by candle-light from within.
Even though these naturally white orbs may look different than the typical Jack-O-Lantern, they are quite similar. The inside or flesh is orange (and edible) just like an orange skinned pumpkin. White pumpkins are also grown just like the orange ones. Plant the seeds in a sunny, well-drained site in May after the threat of frost has passed. Be sure to give the white pumpkin plants plenty of room to spread as they are just as vigorous as the orange types.
Selection of suitable specimens and proper storage conditions in fall are important for maximum enjoyment of Jack-O-Lanterns in white or orange. Look for large, well-rounded specimens for carving. For painting, look for pumpkins with smooth rinds and few blemishes. If kept cool and in indirect light, pumpkins should last for several weeks. Consider moving them to a protected location such as a garage overnight if a hard freeze is predicted before Halloween.
Popular Cultivars

Cultivar Size of pumpkin Comments
Baby Boo < 1 lb; 2-3" dia. Flat; mostly ornamental
Cotton Candy 5-12 lbs; 8-10" dia. Round; strong stem
Full Moon 60-90 lbs Round
Gooligan < 1 lb; 2-3" dia. Flat; mostly ornamental
Lumina 10-15 lbs; 10" dia. Flat and round
Silver Moon 10-15 lbs; 9-10 " dia. Flat and round
Valenciano 8-10 lbs; 8-10" dia. Flat and round with slight ribs

 
 from left, 'Lumina', Gooligan’, and ‘Cotton Candy'
White Pumpkins: from left, 'Lumina,' 'Gooligan,' and 'Cotton Candy.'