Skip to main content

How to make your home spooky with pumpkin on a stick plants

Everything you need to know about growing and harvesting pumpkin on a stick

Pumpkins are essentially the universal symbols of Halloween, but you’re certainly not limited to them when it comes to spooky season foliage. If you’re looking for something a bit more quaint than the traditional pumpkin, try out the pumpkin on a stick plant (Solanum integrifolium) this autumn. Although it’s a tad rarer than your usual batch of pumpkins, the pumpkin on a stick plant is actually fairly common in nurseries and grocery stores around October and November. 

If you happen upon a pumpkin on a stick plant and want to know how to grow it, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s all that you need to know about pumpkin on a stick plant care to integrate its spooktacular vibes into your home this fall. 

Pumpkin on a stick
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What is a pumpkin on a stick plant?

Though it looks like something straight out of Halloween Town, the pumpkin on a stick, also known as the pumpkin tree or pumpkin bush, is an actual plant. Native to tropical Africa, it’s also colloquially known as an ornamental eggplant, so it’s actually related to nightshades such as peppers and tomatoes, rather than pumpkins and squashes.  

True to its name, this plant resembles pumpkins growing on sticks with its bulbous two- to five-inch red-orange fruits growing along brown branches. In terms of growth patterns, the pumpkin on a stick usually reaches around three to four feet in height and flowers before it yields fruit. A note of caution: the stems notably have thorns, so be careful handling them — consider wearing gardening gloves.

At the grocery store around autumn, you might see bunches of the pumpkin on a stick plant being sold for decorative purposes. When it comes to aesthetics, it’s a great addition to dry floral arrangements to maximize those autumn vibes. However, the pumpkin on a stick is also available as a potted plant, so you could grow it as a houseplant or a porch plant. If you’re growing pumpkin on a stick in soil, keep in mind that it’s edible, although the ripe orange fruit tends to be bitter. For the most part, people use the fruit in stir fries when it’s still green. 

A hand placing seeds in soil
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How do you grow a pumpkin on a stick plant?

Growing pumpkin on a stick by seed

The pumpkin on a stick plant is simple to grow from seed — you’ll just want to pop seeds into a seedling mix and make sure to give them plenty of light, water, and humidity. You can buy seeds online, harvest from fruits, or check your local nursery. Germination can take anywhere between one to three weeks. If you’re starting your seeds indoors to transplant seedlings later, do this anywhere between six to eight weeks before the last frost. Bear in mind that it does take around two to three months for the fruits to fully develop. 

Growing pumpkin on a stick by water propagation

You can also propagate a pumpkin on a stick by placing cuttings in water, although you want to do this when it’s warm — pumpkin on a stick really does best when it’s 75 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. (This is why some gardeners overwinter it.) You’d simply want to prune off an offshoot from the base at an angle and place it in water for the roots to grow. 

Pumpkin on a stick
Benchaporn Maiwat/Shutterstock / Shutterstock

How do you care for a pumpkin on a stick plant?

Because pumpkin on a stick is essentially a nightshade plant, you’d want to treat it as one. It’s not particularly difficult to grow, but having certain conditions met will give you the healthiest plant possible come spooky season!

  • Light: Because the pumpkin on a stick grows fruit, it needs full sun (or, at the very least, partial shade) in order to keep growing. If you plan on having it beyond the Halloween season, it’s a good idea to leave it outside or by a sunny window where it can get around 14 hours of light a day. This is how it will produce healthy flowers and fruits.
  • Soil: Pumpkin on a stick does well in loamy, well-draining soil — it also thrives with ample space, so be sure to space out multiple plants at least three feet apart if you’re planting them directly outside. They can be container plants, but just make sure to use a large pot (20 inches deep or so) that fits their roots comfortably. Mulch your soil every so often so that it resists weeds. Also, remember to support your plants with stakes or tomato cages as they grow so that they don’t snap.
  • Fertilizer: Fertilize your soil at least once during the growing season. You can use plant food with an NPK ratio, but search for a ratio with a lower nitrogen amount (like a 5:10:10 one, for example) so that your plant can focus on growing flowers and fruits rather than foliage.
  • Water: The rule of thumb with giving a pumpkin on a stick plant enough water is to water it about one inch per week. The soil should be moist, but not especially soggy. Mulching should also help you with water retention.

Pumpkin on a stick fruit close up

How do you harvest a pumpkin on a stick plant?

For eating, the ornamental eggplant should be ready to go around 70 days after germination. The fruit should be a green color when you pick it for consumption. You’ll want to use a pair of garden shears or scissors to remove each fruit so that the plant can keep yielding healthy harvests down the line. 

If you’re using pumpkin on a stick plants for autumn arrangements, pick them when the fruits display a dark orange color. The “pumpkins” should stay the same color for around two to three months. You can cut out an entire branch at the base, then hang them so that the branch, foliage, and fruits become dry enough for decorative purposes. 

For autumnal flair this Halloween and Thanksgiving, you can’t go wrong with a charming pumpkin on a stick plant. With some care and dedication, you can actually get future fruit yields from a potted plant. Don’t shy away from other Halloween-worthy plants with scary foliage, either — the more, the spookier!

Editors' Recommendations

Stacey Nguyen
Stacey's work has appeared on sites such as POPSUGAR, HelloGiggles, Buzzfeed, The Balance, TripSavvy, and more. When she's…
How to propagate your jasmine from cuttings to spread the fragrant love
From cutting stems to air layering, here's what you need to know about propagating jasmine
White jasmine blossoms

A lovely note in floral perfumes, jasmine is one of the most fragrant plants out there and features a light, sweet scent when in full bloom. You’re definitely not limited to the one plant you have growing in your garden, though. Jasmine is simple to propagate, and there are three different methods for creating more of this beautiful, fragrant plant. If you want to fill your garden with jasmine plants or want to share it with a fellow fragrant flower enthusiast, read ahead to learn how to propagate jasmine.
When should you propagate jasmine?
The ideal time to propagate jasmine is right after it blooms, which is usually during the spring or summer. Around this time of year, you'll likely be pruning your plant anyway, so it's an opportune time to pick out some cuttings from fresh stems while you're shaping your jasmine.

It's best to take your cuttings during the morning when the plant is still relatively hydrated. If you're taking hardwood cuttings from an outdoor variety (such as climbing jasmine), you can start the propagation process during the winter. You can overwinter jasmine for a few months before it's warm enough to transplant outside — ideally, you should wait for the outdoor temperatures to reach 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Read more
14 incredible morning shade plants that will thrive in your shady garden
These flowers and vegetables will love morning shade and afternoon sun
A black walnut tree in the afternoon sun

When planting a garden, your landscape and ideas may not always line up with what's best for the plants. There are tons of beautiful flowers that need full sun, which can be frustrating if your garden is shady. The good news is that there are just as many stunning flowers that enjoy the shade! Not all plants are alike, and while they all want sunlight, they don't all want the same amount or the same kind. If your garden has morning shade and afternoon sun, then these are the 14 morning shade plants you should know about.

What kind of light is morning shade?
There are five categories of sunlight that gardeners fit all plants into. There's full sun, partial sun, partial shade, dappled sun, and full shade. Each type has a long list of plants that love that kind of environment. Morning shade with afternoon sunlight would qualify as partial shade, but it is a specific type.
Many plants prefer the less harsh light of morning light and then want to be shaded during the hottest part of the day in the afternoon. There are, however, many plants that love being shaded in the morning while soaking up those bright rays in the afternoon heat.

Read more
Turn your pothos plant into a hydroponic oasis
How to propagate a golden pothos from cuttings
Hanging pothos plant

Golden pothos brighten up any home garden and they are one of the easiest plants to propagate in either water or soil. Pothos propagation can be done one of two ways -- either hydroponically or in soil. Try both options out to determine which one works best for your space. There are many different types of pothos plants, also known as pipremnum aureum or Devil's Ivy.

This guide for how to propagate pothos works for pretty much all of them. Golden pothos, one of the most common varieties, is characterized by its yellow undertones. It's important to note that leaves in a propagated golden pothos plant may contain less yellow spots than the parent plant. Though losing some color still leaves you with not one but two beautiful plants.
Why you might want to propagate a golden pothos
Whether it's a golden pothos or any other pothos variety, you'll soon find that these plants grow quickly. So even if you're not interested in creating more baby plants, cutting and pruning your pothos is vital to keeping it healthy and managing the amount of space it takes up. Your pothos might be hanging and reaching the floor, or it might be threatening to take over the wall you've been training it to vine over. Either way, cutting off a bit here and there will allow you to grow baby plants and will also encourage the plant to grow bushier and healthier vines.

Read more