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How to Make Your Carved and Uncarved Pumpkins Last Longer

Pumpkin season is upon us, and if you're anything like me, you're excited to decorate your home with those vibrant, and colourful beauties. 

Whether you plan to carve spooky jack-o'-lanterns or simply use your uncarved pumpkins as fall decorations, you'll want your pumpkins to last as long as possible. In this guide, I'll share the best ways to extend the life of your pumpkins so you can enjoy them throughout the entire season.

fall porch decor with fall pillows bench and pumpkins

white yellow green pumpkins on fall porch

Long-Lasting Pumpkin Tips

Before I dive into the different methods, let's talk about the fundamental steps to make your pumpkins last. Follow these simple steps for the best chance of extending the life of your pumpkin.

The Pumpkin Preservation Basics

1. Choose the Right Pumpkin

Your pumpkin's journey to a long life starts at the grocery store or local pumpkin patch. You'll have the best chance of finding store-bought pumpkins in late September to early October. 

Look for healthy pumpkins with firm stems and no soft spots. Select a pumpkin that is even in colour and has no visible gouges or open bites. A healthy pumpkin is more likely to stay fresh longer.

2. Keep it Clean

The exterior of your pumpkin is its first defense against decay. Before applying any preservation method, clean the surface of the pumpkin. You can take the whole pumpkin and wash it with the hose or in the sink. This removes dirt and potential contaminants.

3. Preserve the Carved Areas

If you plan to carve your pumpkin, remember that exposed carved edges are more susceptible to rot. To preserve these areas, follow the tips below and consider using a pumpkin preserve spray.

Now that we've covered the basics, let's explore the different ways to make your pumpkins last and I'll show you the method I use.

how to make pumpkins last longer, long lasting pumpkins, pumpkin preservation

white green yellow pumpkins

The Best Pumpkin Preservation Methods

1. Bleach Solution Soak

What You'll Need:
  • 2 tablespoons of bleach
  • 1 gallon of water
  • Large bucket, pail, or sink

Mix the tablespoon of bleach and water in a large bucket. Immerse your uncarved pumpkin in the solution and rotate it, to make sure every surface is moistened. Let the pumpkin soak for 30 minutes.. Remove it and let it air dry. This bleach soak helps prevent mold and decay.

how to make pumpkins last longer, long lasting pumpkins, pumpkin preservation

2. Olive Oil Rub

What You'll Need:
  • Olive oil or vegetable oil
  • Paper towel

Rub olive oil on the surface of the clean pumpkin with a paper towel. Let the pumpkin sit the and the oil penetrate for a few minutes. This creates a protective layer, locking in moisture and preserving the pumpkin's appearance.

pumpkin bleach spray

3. Vinegar or Bleach Spray

What You'll Need:
  • 1 part white vinegar, or 1 part bleach
  • 10 parts water
  • Clean spray bottle

Mix the vinegar or bleach and water in a clean spray bottle. Spray the solution on the exterior of the pumpkin. Be sure to do this on the pavement if you're using a bleach spray - you don't want to discolour your outdoor decor! This method helps deter pests, mold, and has anti-fungal properties. Repeat spraying every few days throughout the season.

4. Petroleum Jelly Seal

What You'll Need:
  • Petroleum jelly

Rub petroleum jelly on the carved areas of the pumpkin. This thin layer acts as a barrier against moisture and helps preserve your pumpkin's carved edges.

5. Refrigerate Your Pumpkin

What You'll Need:
  • Plastic bag

Yes, you can refrigerate your uncarved or carved pumpkin! Wrap it tightly in a plastic bag and store it in the fridge. This method is particularly useful if you're in a warmer climate and want to keep your pumpkin fresh for an extended period. Store your pumpkin during the day when it gets too hot and display it outside at night.

how to make pumpkins last longer, long lasting pumpkins, pumpkin preservation

The Method I Use

Any of these preservation methods will work to extend your pumpkin's life. The one I've found very effective is a Bleach Solution Soak, followed by a Bleach Spray applied every few days. Using these two methods ensures that your Halloween pumpkin retains its moisture and fends off decay.

Additional Tips for Long-Lasting Pumpkins

Now that you know the best methods for preserving your pumpkins, here are some additional tips to ensure they last throughout the season:

  1. Keep Your Pumpkins Dry: Moisture is your pumpkin's enemy. Store them in a dry place away from rain, dew, or any source of water.
  2. Avoid Direct Sunlight: While pumpkins love the sun, prolonged exposure to hot sun can cause them to wilt and soften. Place them in a spot with partial sunlight.
  3. Check for Rot: Regularly inspect your pumpkins for any soft spots or signs of decay. If you spot any, remove them immediately to prevent further spread.
  4. Use Real Candles Sparingly: If you're using real candles in your jack-o'-lanterns, consider LED candles as an alternative. Real candles can generate heat, which may speed up the rotting process.
  5. Fruit Fly Prevention: To keep fruit flies away, create a fruit fly trap with a small bowl of vinegar and a few drops of dish soap. Place it near your pumpkins to lure the pests away.
  6. Harvest Pumpkin Seeds: Don't forget to save those pumpkin seeds! Roasted pumpkin seeds are not only delicious but also a fun snack to make during the fall.
  7. Deter Animals: Squirrels, chipmunks, and other outdoor animals may be tempted to take a bite out of your perfect pumpkin. Deter their tastebuds with unappealing tabasco sauce, cayenne pepper or a few drops of peppermint oil rubbed on the pumpkin's exterior.
fall porch decor with bench and pumpkins

With these essential pumpkin preservation methods and tips, you can make your pumpkins last longer, ensuring your home remains festive and vibrant throughout the pumpkin season. Whether you're gearing up for Halloween or simply celebrating the beauty of fall, your pumpkins will stay in perfect shape to brighten up your front porch, your gatherings, and your home. Happy pumpkin season!

fall porch decor with pumpkins

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