How long does a carved pumpkin last? Get the lowdown this holiday season

Wondering 'how long does a carved pumpkin last?' It's useful to know when planning your Halloween decor – and we're here to help

carved pumpkins on doorstep
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It's helpful to know how long a carved pumpkin lasts. These colorful veggies are a stalwart of the spooky season, and once summer turns to fall, many of us are keen to get carving. But, do it too soon and your carefully crafted display may be past its best once Halloween arrives.

In other words, timing is crucial when it comes to this type of outdoor Halloween decor. We've got the info you need to ensure your pumpkins have the scare factor for all the right reasons on the big day.

How long does a carved pumpkin last?

The general consensus is that once you've carved your pumpkin, you have three to five days before it starts showing signs of decay – although some may last up to a week.

Where you position your pumpkin can have an impact. Temperature is a key factor, as warmer air will speed up the decomposition process. This means, if you live in a cooler climate, keeping your pumpkin outdoors as part of your Halloween porch decor will help it last a little longer than keeping it at room temperature.

However, on the other hand, outdoor pumpkins will also be exposed to rain and wildlife. For this reason, it's best to lift it off the ground, ideally somewhere sheltered, to help keep it protected.

Whether you use a real candle or not can also affect how quickly your pumpkin breaks down. Choose LED tealights – such as these ones from Amazon – to keep yours looking its best for longer. As another plus point, they have fewer safety risks than real flames.

carved Halloween pumpkins

Generally, carved pumpkins won't last longer than a week at most

(Image credit: tilialucida/Alamy Stock Photo)

Can you make a carved pumpkin last longer?

There are a few ways you can try to stop a pumpkin from rotting – or at least, slow down the process. For instance, in a pumpkin carving demonstration video, Martha Stewart rubs petroleum jelly into the exposed flesh of her intricately carved pumpkin to delay it from going moldy. It's also important to pick a pumpkin that's healthy and rot-free to begin with.

But, if you want to keep things simple, you could always opt for a faux pumpkin instead of the real deal. Just a quick search on Amazon brings up tons of designs available for all types of Halloween themes.

'Neutral-toned pumpkin sculptures or fairy light pumpkins can adorn your doorway to perfectly elevate your porch to spooky heights,' recommends Style Advisor Nadia McCowan of Wayfair. And a bonus is, whatever faux pumpkins you go for, you'll be able to use them year after year.

carved pumpkins on doorstep

Carved pumpkins will last longer in cooler temperatures

(Image credit: Pixel-shot/Alamy Stock Photo)

How long do no-carve pumpkins last?

Another way to keep your Halloween pumpkin lasting longer is to skip the carving stage altogether. There are plenty of chic no-carve pumpkin ideas to try that will give your setup a slightly-more-understated yet seasonal feel.

With such a wide variety of shapes and colors available, pumpkins can create a beautiful display left au naturel. And most will last at least two to three months before they start to decompose – providing they're healthy when you buy them and they're kept somewhere relatively cool. 

Some varieties of pumpkin – usually old-fashioned cooking ones – are known to last longer, says Home for the Harvest. For instance, the stunningly blue-gray heirloom 'Traimble' pumpkin can last up to a year uncarved, as can 'Marina di Chioggia' – another heirloom type that's knobbled and green.

Painting pumpkins is another approach for a longer-lasting and unique display. For instance, Nadia from Wayfair suggests using spray paint in gold, silver, or even pink. The finished decor will spruce up a tablescape beautifully, indoors or out. 

Painted pumpkins can last a similar amount of time as whole, plain pumpkins, especially if you finish your design with a coating of craft sealer, as suggested by the DIY experts at True Value. This will help protect it from the elements if positioning it outdoors. 

pumpkin display for fall

You don't have to carve pumpkins to create a beautiful display

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Holly Crossley
Acting Deputy Editor

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion.