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How to Make a Carved Halloween Pumpkin Last Longer

Whether it’s for Fall or Halloween decoration, we all want perfect pumpkins, especially after laborious carving. Nothing more disappointing than a failed decoration on Halloween night, with deformed, half-rotting pumpkins. Learn all about how to make a Halloween pumpkin last longer in this article.

Carved Halloween pumpkins can begin to deteriorate and rot within a few days, but there are several methods you can use to help extend their lifespan and keep them looking fresh for a longer time. Here are some tips to make a carved pumpkin last longer:

Treat it Gently

Choose the cutest and best pumpkin. Broken stems mean less life. Choose pumpkins with a long, firm stem. Do not handle it from the stem! Use with both hands, gently, carefully. And be careful how it will be transported in the vehicle.

Choose the right pumpkin: Select a fresh, firm pumpkin with no signs of damage or rot. Look for one with a sturdy stem, as a strong stem indicates a healthier pumpkin.

Keep your Pumpkin Cool, Clean and Dry

Clean and disinfect: Before carving, clean the pumpkin’s exterior with a mixture of 1 part of bleach plus 10 parts of cold water. This helps disinfect the surface and prevent mold growth.

Wash the pumpkin with this bleach water solution entirety with the help of a soft cloth. If it is easier for you, you can submerge the pumpkin for a few minutes. Using a soft cloth, wipe the surface and let your pumpkin dry completely in the shade. With this bath, you will eliminate bacteria and microscopic molds that participate in the decomposition process, prolonging the life of your pumpkin.

You can repeat this cleaning every 3 weeks or wipe the surface with the mentioned bleach and water solution, especially near the stem, where moisture accumulates. This is the first area to be affected, and it causes the sunken head effect. Always be careful that the entire surface is ventilated and completely dried.

Use the right tools: Sharp, clean carving tools make cleaner cuts that heal more effectively. Dull tools can damage the pumpkin and lead to faster decay.

Tip for easy carving! After cutting off the top to remove the stem and begin to hollow out, I like to use my electric hand mixer to remove the inside easily. Then, I remove the seeds and continue hollowing to start carving. After carving, I like to rinse the interior with 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. That definitely makes it last longer.

Perfect Location

Keep it cool: Store your carved pumpkin in a cool, dry place when it’s not on display. Cool temperatures help slow down the rotting process.

Secure a spot on your porch or yard that is covered, protected from rain, and with little or no sun. A dry and shady place will be ideal to last the whole season. Rain and sun will accelerate the decomposition of the pumpkin.

Keep your pumpkin out of direct sunlight, as prolonged exposure to sunlight can speed up the decay process. Display it in a shaded area if possible.


Carved Halloween Pumpkins Protected from Drying

Keep it dry: Make sure your pumpkin doesn’t get wet, as moisture can lead to mold growth. If it rains, bring your pumpkin inside to dry.

Preserve the interior: To keep the inside of the pumpkin fresh, coat the cut edges with petroleum jelly or vegetable oil. This will help prevent moisture loss and slow down the drying-out process.

Those who decide to carve their pumpkins should have an additional collection. When carving pumpkins, deterioration and decomposition are accelerated. When you’re done carving, rub some oily material across the carved surface to prevent drying. Some of the substances you can rub are petroleum jelly, coconut oil, or olive oil.

The advantage of petroleum jelly is you will not have rancid odors, being completely odorless. Be safe to wash your hands, and do not continue to handle the pumpkin with these substances. Otherwise, the deterioration will accelerate.

halloween pumpkins

Don’t Mess With My Pumpkin

Make sure the inside of the pumpkin is completely free of the gut. This will reduce the chance of mold forming and attracting fruit flies. Inside the pumpkin, you can place a fly sticker, a small glass of wine, or apple cider. This will attract the fruit fly to the glass instead of ruining the pumpkin.

Although I love squirrels, I don’t want them to reach my carved pumpkin.

The most effective way to prevent ants and squirrels is to keep the pumpkins off the ground, with some separation, such as steps, windows, or on top of birdbaths.

Please don’t touch it: Try to minimize physical contact with the carved areas of the pumpkin, as the oils and dirt from your hands can promote mold growth and rot.

Once your pumpkins are carved, keep your hands out!

Avoid Heat and Candles in your Halloween Pumpkin

Heat and handling will shorten the life of your pumpkin. After laborious carving, you will surely seek to prolong its life.

An alternative to using candles and placing battery-operated fairy lights inside. They are economical and illuminate adequately so as not to lose the desired effect.

Use LED lights: Instead of traditional candles, use LED lights or battery-operated candles to illuminate your pumpkin. Real flames can generate heat, which can speed up decay.

Consider a pumpkin preservative spray: Some commercial pumpkin preservative sprays are available. These can help extend the life of your carved pumpkin, but follow the product’s instructions carefully.

Recommended Post: What to do with the tons of pumpkin seeds after carving for Halloween? Here are 6 Must-Try Pumpkin Seed Recipes.

We’ll show you how to extend the life of your Halloween pumpkins protected from rot with this advice.

About Julia Morgan

Julia Morgan is an agronomist and a master gardener. In her previous roles, Julia was an advisor promoting large-scale food growing in urbanized areas, introducing the concept of chemical-free produce. She is an expert in putting her hands in the soil, developing organic foods, and improving production processes for decades. Julia is a natural teacher and encourages every person in her way to grow their own food. She split her days between writing and reviewing for The Garden Style Website and offering assessments to cure edible land. Julia enjoys connecting with The Garden Style Community.

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