How to save pumpkin seeds for planting: expert advice

Use these top tips on how to save pumpkin seeds for planting and enjoy a fresh crop of pumpkins next year – for free!

Pumpkin with pumpkin seeds removed
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If you want to know how to save pumpkin seeds for planting, the good news is that it's actually really easy. Once you have carved your pumpkins for Halloween and/or made delicious pumpkin pie with the flesh, don't discard the seeds. If properly prepared and stored, they can be planted in the garden next year.

Learning how to grow pumpkins from seed starts with knowing how to preserve the seeds from the pumpkins you've bought. Gardening experts explain how to do this correctly. 

Woman removing seeds from pumpkin

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Easy tips on how to save pumpkin seeds for planting

Our expert tips ensure you can put your Halloween displays to good use by learning how to save pumpkin seeds for planting in your kitchen garden.  

1. Clean the pumpkin seeds

Cleaning the seeds is the first – and essential – step for saving your pumpkin seeds for planting. Suzy Blodgett, a gardener, homesteader, and garden blogger, points out that before you do any of this, it's important to remember that 'pumpkins should be fully mature to ensure that the seeds are fully developed, this will help with germinate rates.'

Once you've chosen a nice and ripe pumpkin to use for your pumpkin carving ideas, pull out the pulp and separate the seeds. 'Once you have the seeds separated, cover the seeds with water. Let them soak and come back to rinse and refresh the water once or twice a day, until all of the pumpkin guts are gone.'

2. Lay your pumpkin seeds out to dry

Next, you want to prepare your pumpkin seeds for drying. Tammy Sons, a horticultural expert and CEO of Tn Nursery, uses the following method: 'Place on a dry paper towel or on a cheesecloth (cotton dries them out faster). Make sure the seeds are spread out and not sticking to one another on the cloth.'

Suzy adds that she likes 'to put them on paper towels on a cooling rack, so that air can circulate underneath them.' The next step is to 'stir the seeds around once or twice a day, switching to clean paper towels as needed until the seeds are completely dry. If there is any water left, the seeds will mold and rot in storage.'

Pumpkin seeds being dried

Pumpkin seeds being dried

(Image credit: greatfood / Alamy Stock Photo)

3. Store your pumpkin seeds

Storing your pumpkin seeds correctly will ensure they keep until next year. Suzy's top tip is that 'once the seeds are dry, they should be stored in an air-tight container in a cool, dry place out of the light.'

Stephen Webb, editor and founder of Garden's Whisper, a website specializing in gardening, also recommends freezing your pumpkin seeds for better storage. He explains that 'you can either place the entire seed in an airtight container in the freezer or remove it before storing it if you prefer. If you have more pumpkins than space in your freezer, vacuum-sealing them in airtight bags is a good method.'

Can all pumpkin seeds be used for planting?

No, and it's important to know what type of pumpkin you've got in order to avoid disappointment when trying to grow them next year. Stephen says that 'certain types of pumpkins have been developed from those with thicker shells. These pumpkins cannot be used as seed material, as they will not germinate.'

Stephen also explains that 'varieties explicitly bred for eating do not produce good seedlings, and these must be purchased every year.' When buying your pumpkins for your outdoor Halloween decor ideas, it's always a good idea to ask the grower what type they are if you want to follow our tips on how to save pumpkin seeds for planting.