The Q&A Archives: Pumpkin Vine Dying

Question: I have what looks like an orange colored fungus growing on the base of my "Jack - O - Lantern" variety pumpkin vine. The lower leaves are yellowish with holes in them and the upper or newer leaves are intact , but have a whittish haze on them. The smaller vine of the same variety growing near it has shrivelled up. Both were doing fine just days ago with the exception of this orange "fungus" at the base. The "Lumina" variety of pumkin growing nearby is doing just fine with no sign of fungus or disease. I also have "Spaghetti Squash" growing nearby that is also doing well. If this is a fungus, can I do anything about it now and save the vine? Also, if this is a fungus or type of disease, could it spread to the other similar varieties of plants I am growing nearby? Should I just yank the offended vine to attempt saving the rest of my vegetables?

Answer: If the ailing vine didn't sound so bad, I'd suggest trying to save it, but it sounds beyond help. Yank it out and make room for your healthy plants. I can't say I've ever seen a "fungus", other than downy or powder mildew, attack a pumpkin - I wonder if it could be the frass (droppings) of a squash vine borer? They burrow into the base of vines and leave a pile of tan frass outside their holes. Their damage ultimately results in vine death, with symptoms akin to what you've described. Am I stretching here, or does that sound like a possibility? You can slit open the vine (as long as you're going to pull it up) to confirm or deny the presence of the borer, which is white and plump. If it turns out to be the culprit, visit the webpage again and we'll let you know how to avoid it next year. Best of luck!

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