Lakota Squash: Vine with a Story

The Lakota squash is a delicious winter squash that can be added to any fall menu. Once ripe, the nutty fine-grain meat is popular for baking, and the seeds are a tasty snack.

This pear-shaped pumpkin has a lovely orange skin with green stripes, which makes it a lovely fall decoration. This plant can be huge, with each plant taking up a minimum of 4 to 6 feet of space in the garden.

Although it is a form of winter squash, you need to harvest before the first autumn frosts hit your garden. And you will want it; They are yummy pumpkin! But it has a specific story – one that the Lakota tribe are not involved in. Let's talk about this beautiful squash hybrid and how it came about!

Good Products for Growing Lakota Squash:

Brief instructions for care

The deep orange and green stripes on the Lakota pumpkin are beautiful.

Common Name (s) Lakota pumpkin
Scientific name Cucurbita maxima ‘Lakota’
Days to harvest 85-100 days
light Full sun
Water: Even, even moisture, about 1 inch per week
ground Well-drained, loamy, fertile
fertilizer Balanced 5-5-5 or 5-10-10 NPK regularly through the summer
Pests Pumpkin borer, pumpkin bug, cucumber beetle, aphids
Diseases Bacterial wilt, mosaic virus, powdery mildew

All about Lakota Squash

Pumpkin flowersLike other pumpkin flowers, the Lakota are edible. Source: Dinesh Valke

The Lakota pumpkin, Cucurbita maxima "Lakota", is a winter pumpkin with thick orange skin and green stripes. It is pear-shaped and closely resembles the Hubbard gourd. It is a close relative of the pumpkin in that it is the same type, if not the same shape or size.

This plant takes up ample space in the garden and the vines can spread over 10 to 20 feet. The green leaves are large and round and the flowers are bright yellow. When the fine-grained pumpkin is ready to be harvested, it weighs about 4 to 8 pounds.

When planted from seeds, it takes about a week and 10 to 15 days for the seedlings to germinate. Vines, leaves and flowers grow in late summer. The pumpkin grows once it is pollinated and ripens in mid to late fall.

This winter squash is valued for its sweet nutty meat. The seeds can be harvested and roasted or even pressed for oil. Like all other pumpkin plants, the flowers are edible. Harvest the male flowers and leave the female flowers to produce the fruit.


The history of the Lakota pumpkin is fascinating. It is not a true Native American heirloom as proclaimed by many seed traders! Instead, it's a hybrid that took over a century to make.

The original seeds from which this pumpkin was grown were grown in Fort Atkinson, Nebraska, in the 1820s. They had acquired them from unnamed tribesmen who lived throughout the Missouri Valley region. The fort later traded some of their seeds for Fort Robinson so they could grow the pumpkin too.

A Fort Robinson civilian worker Alfred Iossi took some seeds and shared them with his sister Martha Newman. She grew them in her garden along with other types of pumpkin, saved the seeds, and planted them again the next year.

Eventually the Newman family moved to Alliance, Nebraska. The seeds moved with them and continued to be planted on their homestead every year. While the original product was described as oblong and cylindrical with green and orange stripes, the strain she produced alongside her Hubbard gourd began to change. They were no longer long and cylindrical, but more like the teardrop shape of the Hubbard, but with the stripe color of the original product.

A woman named Alice Graham received seeds of this variety from Mrs. Newman. She donated seeds to the University of Nebraska. Only one of the 200 plants the university planted produced fruit, and they began growing that fruit to produce more seeds. Six generations of plants later, they developed a special inbred strain called NE IS-88-12.

Based on the history of the seed, the University of Nebraska, D.P. Coyne chose to identify the origin of the original landrace seeds by referring to one of the tribes that traditionally lived in the Missouri Valley and named it Lakota. In his report it was clear to him that it was an honorary name for the pumpkin. The Lakota Sioux people had no hand in its production.

Many seed traders have falsely claimed that this is a traditional food grown by the Lakota tribal peoples, largely because of its name. It has become quite romanticized in fact, as people often want to grow ancient heirloom varieties and often look for tribal seeds. However, the final research paper on the history and origins of the Lakota gourd was published in the early 1990s, and the field tests they conducted were conducted in the 1980s. In summary, what we know today as a Lakota gourd is a mix of an unnamed gourd and a Hubbard gourd that took over a hundred years to make.


Lakota on the vinehref = ”” target = ”_ blank” rel = ”nofollow”> Source: Nicolas Schwab

This requires a similar level of care as other winter pumpkin varieties. It's easy to grow and a nice addition to the garden.

Sun and temperature

This plant needs full sun with at least 6 hours of sunlight and up to 8-10 hours of direct sunlight. It thrives in warm USDA growing areas 8-10.

Winter frosts can be harmful so wait until the last frost in your area to plant in your garden. If you have a long winter, consider planting your seeds indoors. The minimum floor temperature is 60 ° F, with ideal floor temperatures between 70 and 85 ° Fahrenheit. The flowers can be damaged in extreme heat and slow production.

Water and moisture

During the germination and seedling stages, the soil needs frequent watering and needs to be evenly damp, but not damp. Once established, this plant is somewhat drought tolerant. Water when the top 2 to 3 inches of the soil is dry to the touch. Focus on watering the base of the plant where the roots are concentrated. Avoid watering leaves, vines, flowers, or produce.

The ideal time of day to go to the water is in the morning. Provide deep watering, with the top 1 inch of the soil saturated once a week. Drinking hoses can simplify the process. High humidity is not ideal and increases the spread of pests and diseases.


This plant has shallow roots that love rich loamy, well-drained soil. To create ideal soil conditions, loosen the top 6 to 12 inches of the soil and incorporate fertile organics. The soil should absorb moisture but not hold back a puddle of water that can rot the roots.

Mulch can be spread on the base of the plant to minimize evaporation on hot summer days. The pH range isn't a huge problem, but the ideal range is between 5.5 and 7.0.


Focus on fertilizing one week after real leaves develop and one week after flowering. Then apply a light dose of fertilizer once a month. A 5-5-5 or 5-10-10 NPK organic fertilizer that is removed and incorporated about 4 inches from the base of the plant is ideal. Liquid fertilizers can be applied once a month, while slow release granules can be applied once or twice per season. Be wary of nitrogen-rich fertilizers, which can stimulate leaf growth and divert focus from the ripeness of your fruit.

Pruning / training

Wait to prune until you see which vines are growing fruit. Then selectively cut vines that are not growing fruit and direct the plant's energy towards production. Pruning when the plant and soil are dry as this will minimize disease. Be careful when pruning. Vines can tear easily. Keep the pruning to a minimum, as the large round leaves are an important food for pumpkin production.

If you're short on space, try vertical growing options, such as: B. the use of a trellis. Once you start planting, consider using a 5-8 foot support system. Consider using individual loops on your trellis for additional support for the heavy fruit.


Seed propagation is the predominant cultivation method. If you plant directly in the ground outside, sow 2-4 seeds an inch deep. Place each plant 3 to 6 feet apart.

If you have a short growing season, start your plants indoors for 2-4 weeks. Remember that seedlings are delicate and don't want their roots to be disturbed. So be careful when transplanting!

Another option is to grow your winter squash in a 5-10 gallon container for gardening.

Some have succeeded in propagating by cuttings. When feeling adventurous, encourage a single vine to put down roots by anchoring it in the ground with a stake, covering it with soil, and cutting it off the mother plant as soon as roots form.

Harvesting and storing

Ripe Lakota PumpkinThis hybrid has nutty, finely textured meat.

You have put the time and effort into caring for this winter squash and it is a joy when it is ready to harvest! Let's go through the basics of harvesting and storing so you can enjoy your gloriously sweet and nutty pumpkin all winter long.


The Lakota pumpkin ripens within 85-100 days. In some regions, it can take up to 140 days for the vine to reach maturity. But how do you know if it's ripe and ready to be harvested? Press a fingernail into the hard skin. If it makes a dent or mark in the skin, or exposes flesh, it's not done. You can also tap the hard shell, you want a hollow sound and no soft spots.

Harvest before the first frost sets in. Use a knife to cut the stem 2 to 3 inches above the pumpkin, but do not carry it by the stem. Let the winter squash harden in the sun or in a sunny place inside for 1-2 weeks. This hardens the skin and allows it to stay longer.


For long-term storage, keep the hardened Lakota squash in a cool, dark, and dry place. They last 6 months and you should look for any weaknesses, rot, or decay.

You can also boil and freeze or for storage options. The pumpkin will last 3 months in the freezer, while the canned pumpkin will last 1-2 years. Dehydrated pumpkin can last up to 5 years if properly stored.


Powdery mildew on pumpkin leavesPowdery mildew is a common sight on pumpkin plants. Source: Rigid

you may need to be hand pollinated. Male flowers bloom early and are located on thinner stems. Female flowers have a small fruit bulge below the flower head. Take pollen from male flowers and dab it into female flowers with a cotton swab or brush.

Wilting leaves can be deceiving. If pumpkin leaves wither in hot weather, it is their plant adaptation to conserve water. The leaves should pop up again in the cooler evening temperatures. If the leaves are constantly limp and withered, it is an indication that they need a deep drink of water and / or fertilizer.

Other problems can be pests like that Gourd borer, Squash bug, Cucumber beetle, or Aphids. The Lakota gourd can be resistant to the harmful effects of the vine drill as it has a tendency to take root where the vines are. Floating row covers can prevent these pests from entering your yard.

Common winter squash diseases like bacterial wilt, Mosaic virus, or mildew can find its way into your garden. Damp and humid conditions can contribute to this. To reduce this possibility, you want your soil to dry out between waterings and not water foliage. You can put pumpkin on wood or plastic to lift it off the ground.

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