Website Shifting Roots Logo
My Account

THE BEST PUMPKIN VARIETIES (FOR ANY OCCASION)

[social_warfare]

If you’re a flower farmer looking to make stunning pumpkin centrepieces, a home baker looking for the perfect pie pumpkin, a parent looking for a large pumpkin variety to carve with your kids, or any pumpkin lover in between, you’ve come to the right place!

In this blog post, I share my favourite pumpkin varieties for baking, arranging, cooking, decorating, carving, and more. Let’s get into it!

A mixture of heirloom pumpkins in a variety of sizes and colours.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase anything. You can read more about it in my privacy policy. Thanks for supporting Shifting Roots!

The best pie PUMPKINS

Everyone wonders if fancy heirloom pumpkins are good for anything other than decor–and they definitely are! If the pumpkin flesh is bright orange with thick walls, the pumpkin will be perfect for pies and puree for baking.

My favourite pie pumpkin comes from some random seeds my father-in-law gave me some time ago. I call this variety the “Early’s Pie Pumpkin” as I’m fairly certain the seeds were from Early’s Farm and Garden Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. These mystery seeds reseed, they’re prolific, and they make the perfect pumpkin pie.

Jarrahdale and Sugar Baby are similar varieties that also make perfect pies!

An orange Sugar Baby pumpkin held against a blue woodgrain background.

fastest-growing PUMPKIN VARIETIES

Pumpkins typically need 100 days or more to maturity. In fact, in colder climates like Zone 3, you’ll often have to bring your pumpkins indoors before they’re totally mature. Not to worry, as they’ll continue to ripen beautifully indoors.

Smaller varieties like Jack Be Little or Baby Boo can be ready in as little as 85 days.

sweetest PUMPKIN VARIETIES

Look for varieties that are considered pie pumpkins or sugar pumpkins. Some examples are Sugar Baby, Baby Pam, Baby Bear and Sugar Bush. Apparently, the words Baby and Sugar seem to be good indicators that it will be a sweet-tasting pumpkin.

best PUMPKINS for carving

When choosing a carving pumpkin, look for varieties that are larger with thicker skin and less flesh. You can carve pumpkins that are meant for eating, but it will be more difficult to get the pieces out, as the walls are much thicker. Some of my favourites include Jack O’ Lantern, Appalachian, and Gold Fever.

A mixture of heirloom pumpkins in a variety of sizes and colours.

RELATED: HOW TO HARVEST & PROCESS FRESH PUMPKIN

largest PUMPKIN VARIETIES

Dills Atlantic Giants are the standard for growing a large, competition-worthy pumpkin. Nova Scotia farmer and pumpkin breeder Howard Dill spent over 30 years developing this giant pumpkin variety. The heaviest Dills Atlantic Giant weighed in at over 2, 500 pounds and you can purchase seeds for pumpkins ranging between 300 and 1,00 pounds on the Howard Dill website. Some other giant pumpkin options are Big Max, Prizewinner, and Big Moose.

Looking for something large, but not ridiculous? Try Cinderella, Autumn Gold, Connecticut Field, or Howden Biggie.

smallest PUMPKIN VARIETIES

Bigger isn’t always better. Smaller varieties are great for decor, for kids to play with (ask me how I know!), and to make centrepieces with if you’re a flower farmer. My favourite decorative pumpkins are Baby Boo and Jack Be Little, but Jack-B-Quik, Wee-B-Little, and Casperita are also good choices.

A mixture of heirloom pumpkins in a variety of sizes and colours.

pumpkin varieties by colour & texture

Looking to grow a rainbow of pumpkins? This is the place to start! Pick at least one pumpkin (or squash) from each of these categories to get a variety of colours and textures.

striped

  • Blaze
  • Cushaw
  • Dwarf Tiger Striped
  • Kakai
  • Lil’ Pump-ke-mon
  • One Too Many
  • Sweet Lightning

SPOTTED

  • Calabaza Squash
  • Carnival Squash
  • Colorado Sunrise
  • Spark
  • Speckled Hound

warted

  • Futsu Black
  • Galeux D’ Eysines Squash
  • Goosebumps
  • Grizzly Bear
  • Knucklehead
  • Marina di Chioggia
  • Miniwarts
  • Scheherazade
  • Warty Goblin

Black

  • Batwing
  • Black Kat
  • Dark Knight
  • Futsu Black
  • Midnight

BLUE/green

  • Blue Doll
  • Blue Hubbard Squash
  • Crown Prince
  • Jarrahdale
  • Kabocha Squash
  • Marina di Chioggia
  • Total Eclipse Squash

ORANGE

  • Appalachian
  • Autumn Gold
  • Baby Bear
  • Baby Pam
  • Big Max
  • Big Moose
  • Cinnamon Girl
  • Connecticut Field
  • Dill’s Atlantic Giant
  • Duchess
  • Early Giant
  • Fairytale
  • Gumdrop
  • Igor
  • Jack of Hearts
  • Musquee de Provence
  • New England Pie
  • Racer
  • Wee-B-Little
  • Wolf

PINK

  • Galeux d’Eysines
  • Porcelain Doll
  • Winter Luxury

RED

  • Cinderella/Rouge Vif d’Etampes
  • Lakota
  • Red Kuri

TAN

  • Autumn Crown
  • Buckskin
  • Dickinson
  • Kentucky Field
  • Rumbo
  • White Pie

white

  • Baby Boo
  • Blanco
  • Casper
  • Casperita
  • Lumina White
  • Moonshine
  • Polar Bear
  • Shiver
  • Snowball
  • Valenciana
  • White Boer

Yellow

  • Jaune de Paris
  • Long Island Cheese
  • Mellow Yellow
  • Sunlight
An autumn floral arrangement within a Long Island Cheese pumpkin.

RELATED: Do This For the Longest Lasting Pumpkin and Flower Centrepiece

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT PUMPKINS

What are the easiest pumpkins to grow?

You might be disappointed by my answer, but there really is no easiest variety. All pumpkin varieties have their unique challenges. That being said, any standard orange pumpkin is fairly easy to grow.

As long as you give your pumpkin lots of nutrients (meaning compost and manure in the hole where you plant it), you should have success! Barring squash bugs, vine borers, beetles and other pests, of course.

A mixture of heirloom pumpkins in a variety of sizes and colours.

Can you eat the fancy-coloured pumpkins or are they just for show?

The short answer? Yes, you can.

The longer answer? You’d be surprised how many of those fancier decorative varieties are actually really good pie pumpkins. Make sure you read the description on your seed pack, as many of the fancier heirloom varieties are delicious in pies, purees, and more, but not all are meant for eating.

I’ve grown Jarradale and made fantastic pumpkin puree from it in the past, but so many of the coloured, warted, striped, and spotted pumpkin varieties are good for cooking and baking if you do your research (and some of the “pumpkin” varieties we know and love are actually squashes which are delicious in vegetable bakes, soups, and stews!)!

RELATED: The Best Pumpkin Recipes

Where can I Buy Specialty Pumpkin Seeds?

Honestly, the usual suspects that we link to at Shifting Roots are all great places for specialty pumpkin seeds: Johnny’s Selected Seeds and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in the U.S. and West Coast Seeds, Veseys Seeds, and William Dam Seeds in Canada.

A mixture of heirloom pumpkins in a variety of sizes and colours.

What are your favourite specialty pumpkin varieties? Let me know what I missed!

If you liked this blog post, find me on FacebookTikTok, and Instagram for more cold-climate vegetable gardening tips, delicious recipes, and cut flower goodness! I also make weekly videos over on my YouTube channel. I hope to see you there!

P.S. If you love the content I create for Shifting Roots, consider joining our community on Patreon. Your support means the world to me and I am grateful for each and every one of you!


NEED HELP IN THE GARDEN?

Green thumbs aren’t just given out at birth. They’re a combination of learning about gardening and trial and error. If you wish you knew more about gardening and had more confidence in your abilities, you need the Growing Roots Gardening Guide. It’s an e-book plus 6 bonuses–everything you need to go from complete garden newb to confident in one growing season. Get all the details of what’s inside here!



Kristen Raney

Kristen Raney

Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots.  She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden.  She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Grow roots with us

Kristen

Welcome!

Hi, I'm Kristen and I help new gardeners learn to grow their own vegetables and beautify their yards. I also share recipes that use all that delicious garden produce. Grab a coffee (and your gardening gloves) and join me for gardening tips, simple recipes, and the occasional DIY, all from the lovely city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

P.S. First time gardener? You'll want to download the quick start gardening guide below!