MANHATTAN (KSNT) – A K-State plant expert is weighing on the best ways to keep your pumpkins looking their best this fall.

Cynthia Domenghini, a K-State horticulture expert, is sharing some techniques Kansans can use to make their pumpkins last longer and prevent them from rotting prematurely, according to a recent article from the K-State Research and Extension Office. The first tip, pick the right pumpkin.

“When selecting pumpkins for your home, check for maturity by pressing your thumbnail into the rind,” Domenghini said. “If the rind is hard and sounds hollow when thumped, it was likely harvested at maturity. Pumpkins that are soft or haven’t developed a solid color will rot more quickly.”

Domenghini said mature pumpkins will have a waxy coating which gives them protection from getting too dry, according to K-State. You can create an artificial coating with spray wax which could help extend your pumpkin’s life.

“Harvested pumpkins last longer if they are kept cool, which isn’t always a possibility when displayed outdoors during our extended summer weather days,” Domenghini said.

As one might expect, carving a pumpkin doesn’t improve its shelf life. Domenghini said carved pumpkins generally only last a few days to a week before they begin to rot. To improve the longevity of carved pumpkins, Domenghini recommends following these steps:

  • Clean out the inside thoroughly, removing all seeds and loose string.
  • Soak the inside of the pumpkin in a 10% bleach-water solution for several hours.
  • Avoid using a real candle inside the pumpkin since the heat will speed up rotting.

“Pumpkins have a high water concentration, so if there’s a freeze in the forecast, bring your jack-o-lanterns inside,” Domenghini said.

If you’re interested in more garden tips, you can sign up for the weekly Horticulture Newsletter with K-State. If you have any garden-related questions, you can send Domenghini an email at