Pumpkins are classic autumn seasonal decor. They’re lovely on the front porch, along the front walk, or even in a fall centerpiece. But how long do pumpkins last?
Whole pumpkins generally last about 2-3 months in cool/dry conditions, although there are heirloom types that can last up to one year in storage! At room temperature, most pumpkins will last only about a month.
Pumpkins that have been carved have a much shorter shelf life.
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A carved Jack-o-Lantern on a chilly front porch usually lasts between 1-2 weeks, while a carved pumpkin at room temperature may only last a few days. Carved pumpkins may last longer if cut surfaces are sprayed with a sealant.
There are a few considerations that go into the length of time pumpkins last. Read on to learn all about their post-harvest lifespan and ways to keep them for longer!
When To Carve Pumpkins For Halloween
To have carved pumpkins for Halloween, it’s best to carve them within one week of Halloween night. In hot climates, it may make more sense to wait until a day or two before halloween to carve a pumpkin into a Jack-O-Lantern.
There are, however, all manner of concoctions suggested online to extend the life of a carved pumpkin.
Some carvers have used antibacterial and antifungal cleaning solutions to slow decay, and may employ petroleum products like floor wax and automotive lubricants.
Here are some popular sealants for cut surfaces to help carved pumpkins last longer:
If you do choose to try and preserve your carved pumpkin with a chemical disinfectant or sealant, be sure to closely follow manufacturer’s instructions and take the necessary safety precautions when working with chemicals.
“Pumpkin carvings will not last long. I have tried pickling them, treating them with fungicide, covering them in lemon juice, smothering them with petroleum jelly, and putting a finish on them. My best results have come from spraying the cut surface with a polyacrylic finish. This will prevent the pumpkin from drying out so fast and will extend the life of the carving. When spraying a carving with finish, be sure to do it outside or in a well-ventilated area. Dry the surface of the pumpkin with a cloth or paper towel before applying the finish.”
Preserving Pumpkins, Extreme Pumpkin Carving, by Vic Hood & Jack A. Williams
When Do Carved Pumpkins Go Mouldy?
Carved pumpkins generally go mouldy within a week or two of carving. If you are going for the “rotted pumpkin” look for your Halloween decor, the pumpkin generally has to be carved at least 2 weeks prior to Halloween. Cooler climates like the northern States and Canada may have to carve pumpkins in the first week of October to have a scary mouldy mess by the time Halloween night arrives.