How Long Do Carved Pumpkins Last? Not Long, Unfortunately

Pro tip: procrastinate.

As soon as the temperature drops even just the slightest, we're ready to pick out our Halloween costumes and pull out the candy corn. Whether you prefer a spook-tacular occasion or something more along the lines of Charlie Brown, there's one question that collectively weighs on our minds as we get ready to carve our jack-o'-lantern each year: How long do carved pumpkins last?

Pumpkin carving is the great fall tradition that lends itself well to the whole family. Kids and adults alike can go nuts personalizing their fall gourd with the level of scariness at the discretion of the artist. There truly is a pumpkin carving pattern fit for everyone. However, one thing is inevitable: Your pumpkin will eventually rot. It's something that's important to consider when planning the perfect weekend to carve. While you don't want to carve too early, you also want to be able to enjoy your creation before the holiday passes. So about how long do pumpkins last after carving?

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How Long Do Carved Pumpkins Last

A carved pumpkin will last anywhere between three to 14 days. This depends on a multitude of factors, but two weeks is definitely pushing the limit and assumes that you live in a colder climate. If you live in a place that's warm (and humid), you can reasonably expect your carved pumpkin to last between three and five days.

How to Make Your Carved Pumpkin Last Longer

While decay is inevitable (chalk it up to the spirit of Halloween), there are some things you can do to make the most of your masterpiece and extend its life.

  • Pick a good pumpkin. You want one with a nice, green stem (three to five inches long ideal).
  • Try not to touch it. The oils in your hands can speed up the decaying process, so give them a good wash before you get to work, and then handle minimally.
  • Clean it well. Make sure you've thoroughly gutted it, and then give it a bleach bath.
  • Dry completely before carving. Moisture is one of the chief culprits that engenders rot.
  • Protect your pumpkin. Apply petroleum jelly, olive (or coconut) oil, clear nail polish, or white glue to the carved areas. This will seal off your pumpkin from the outside environment.
  • Store well. Give it the prime shady spot on your front porch, and place it on a table or stool so that critters can't access it.

While these tips can help your jack-o'-lantern stick around a while longer, the best thing to do is push off your carving party until no earlier than three days before Halloween. But, host a Halloween carving party and you're guaranteed a fresh jack-o'-lantern for the big day and a little spooky fun for a few days after.

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