Pumpkins-on-a-Stick

Nothing says Thanksgiving like pumpkins, but have you ever grown pumpkins-on-a-stick?  “Pumpkin” is a bit of misnomer because these are actually eggplant.  The flavor of this eggplant is quite bitter and is used in Asian dishes, but this doesn’t preclude using it for arrangements. The color of pumpkins-on-a-stick is outstanding and they make a great addition to containers and as table decorations.

Pumpkins-on-a-stick are easy to grow.  Start with planting seeds in mid to late February, following the package directions for seed planting depth and watering.  Harden off the seedlings before planting them in the garden after danger of frost is past, usually around Mother’s Day.

pumpkins on a stick

As the “pumpkins” develop, they’ll be a medium green color, not ripening to orange until the latter part of the growing season.  Interestingly, the oldest fruit towards the bottom of the stem will turn orange first.  Harvesting at this time will give the interesting effect of orange “pumpkins” and green “pumpkins” all on the same stick.  The stems on these plants are very sturdy so they make a natural addition to containers.  Watch out for the thorns on the stems though, so be sure to wear leather gloves when harvesting.

The ”pumpkins” will be very glossy and quite eye-catching.  They can also be allowed to dry, making them last for quite some time.  Stripping off the leaves allows better view of the fruits.  Regardless if you leave the stems upright or use the classic flower-drying technique of hanging stems upside down, the fruits shrivel and dry to a nice orange color.

Each eggplant is filled with seeds, making you a very popular person with your gardening friends, who would love shared seeds!

pumpkin on a stick dried

Kathleen Cue
Horticulture Program Coordinator at Nebraska Extension

Kathleen serves as a Horticulture Program Coordinator. She educates people on making smart plant choices to reduce use of fertilizers and pesticides in their landscape which has a positive impact on air, water, soil and environmental quality, property values and people’s pocketbooks. She provides leadership and coordination of the NE Extension in Douglas-Sarpy Counties Master Gardener volunteer programs: the Master Gardener Speakers Bureau, and “Ask the Master Gardener” Consultations.


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