Common Name: winter squash
Native Range: South America
Zone: 2 to 11
Height: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 12.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: Pale to deep yellow
Sun: Full sun
Suggested Use: Annual, Vegetable
Fruit: Showy, Edible
This annual vine can easily be grown from seed. It is best grown in fertile, organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained loams in full sun. Seeds may be planted outdoors when soil temperatures have risen to at least 65 degrees F., typically around the last spring frost date. Plant several seeds together in each planting site (seed hill) and thin later. Seed can also be started indoors about 3 weeks before the last spring frost date, with young plants set out after last frost date. Distance between individual plants and between rows varies depending on the variety and growing method. For vines that scramble along the ground, generally space seed hills about 3-5' apart. Fertilize well. Fruits resting on mulch, straw or boards resist rot.
Cucurbita maxima is a squash native to subtropical areas of South America (Argentina-Bolivia-Uruguay) where it was first domesticated. It is a monoecious, creeping, vine-like annual that features running stems to 12' long. Some bush cultivars are also now available. Rounded leaves are usually unlobed with toothed margins. Flowers are pale to deep yellow. Soft or hard-shelled fruits come in a variety of shapes from rounded to cylindrical. Fruits are usually left on the plant to mature for fall harvest as winter squashes. This species includes a variety of pumpkins (some to 100+ pounds), and a large and diverse collection of other winter squashes, in colors ranging from blue to gray to pale green to orange to multi-colored, and in a variety of different shapes and sizes ranging from rounded to cylindrical (e.g., buttercup, hubbard, turban, banana, and Australian blue). Many of these winter squashes are noted for having excellent flavor. Plants in this species are sometimes commonly called soft-stemmed squash because the fruit stalks generally have a soft, thick, corky texture.
Genus name comes from the Latin name for a gourd.
Specific epithet means largest.
Bacterial wilt, fusarium wilt, blossom end rot, downy mildew and powdery mildew may appear. Potential insect pests include aphids, cucumber beetles, squash bugs, stink bugs, cutworms, pickleworm and squash vine boreres. Watch for mites. Spray for insects at night when bees (needed for cross-pollination) are less active.
Harvest as winter squash for culinary use. Young flowers, leaves, shoot tips and seeds are also edible.