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A jack o lantern sitting on a porch.

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Jack-o-lanterns are a Halloween staple, but sadly they seem to fade away in a short amount of time. As Halloween draws closer, people are beginning to select the perfect pumpkin for carving. Before heading to the pumpkin patch, below are a few tricks to keep in mind this Halloween to keep your jack o’ lantern looking fresh.

A field of pumpkins.

Picking the Right Pumpkin

Dani Carroll, an Alabama Extension home grounds, gardens and home pests regional agent, said the first way to preserve a jack o’lantern is to initially pick the correct pumpkin.

“Pick a pumpkin without any bacteria or mold that may be growing around the handle and has no soft spots,” Carroll said. “A pumpkin with a nice sized handle is often a better pick than one without.”

Tips at Home

According to Carroll, direct sunlight often breaks pumpkins down faster. Be aware of this when selecting where your jack o’lantern will sit during the day. There are also a few remedies that people can try at home to help preserve their jack o’lantern.

Bleach and Water Solution. This remedy to pumpkin decay might be time-consuming, but it also might solve the problem. Before carving the pumpkin, wash it well to rid the pumpkin of any leftover soil, then dry off with a towel. Once the pumpkin is carved, it will lose moisture. Spray with a weak bleach solution daily (10 percent) along the cuts to enhance moisture.

Use A Commercial Product. Buying a commercial product for pumpkin preservation is another remedy the could prolong its life span. The main components of these commercial preserving solutions are borax, preservative fungicide, sodium and water. Follow the directions on the bottle when spraying on pumpkins. Jack-o-lanterns have been known to last up to 14 days with minimal mold growth. There is only some decay after application of commercial products.

More Information

For more information regarding pumpkin preservation this Halloween, visit the Alabama Extension website or contact your county’s Extension office.

 

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