Monstrously Fresh Jack ‘O Lanterns! Care Tips for Carved Pumpkins

Monstrously Fresh Jack ‘O Lanterns!
  • Posted October 9, 2013

So, how do you keep a freshly carved Jack ‘O Lantern from quickly losing its perk and turning to mush? The first step is patience…don’t let all the Halloween décor in the stores push you into carving a pumpkin too early!

The average “life span” of a carved pumpkin is only 1 to 2 weeks, even under the best care and conditions.

Start with a fresh, firm and solid pumpkin. Soft spots indicate that decay is already occurring and it will quickly spread.

After carving, disinfect your pumpkin with bleach-water solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water. In cooler zones a thorough spray-down may suffice, but surest results come from soaking the pumpkin overnight in bleach-water.

An additional daily spritzing with bleach-water will provide added insurance against rot. Not interested in daily dousing after the initial soak?  Try coating your pumpkin’s cut surfaces with petroleum jelly, spray shellac or other clear sealant.

Finally, while freezing temperatures will certainly mush things up, it is important to keep your Jack ‘O Lantern in a cool location out of direct sun. You can even place it in the refrigerator between display sessions!

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Dawn Sherwood
About the Author

Dawn Ochsner is a landscape designer and garden writer.

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Monstrously Fresh Jack ‘O Lanterns!
Photo Gallery

Beyond funny faces…try

  • Carving only “skin” deep
  • Silhouettes of witches, crows or spooky trees
  • Stenciled words of fright
  • Bling of leaves, bead or marbles
  • Stacking multiple pumpkins
  • Adding plants