When should you put pumpkins out?

Find out when you should put pumpkins out ready for Halloween

Two orange pumpkins and a small white on a porch outside
(Image credit: Alamy)

As the cooler fall months approach, those eager to start celebrating Halloween are asking when should you put pumpkins out ready for the festive celebrations. 

Although when to start decorating for fall is subjective, fresh pumpkins are ephemeral, so knowing when to put them out so that they last until Halloween is important to save waste and make sure your fall porch ideas are looking good when the 31st October rolls around. 

Here, we have looked at the best times to start putting out pumpkins for the fall and Halloween seasons so that you can start decorating for fall.  

rachel crow
Rachel Crow

Rachel has written for lifestyle magazines for many years, with a particular focus on gardening. 

Now focusing on gardening content on Homes and Gardens and its sister brands, she finds every day is a journey of discovery, whether it is learning about new plants or gardening techniques, or sharing the advice of passionate horticultural experts and garden designers including garden decorating advice.

When should you put pumpkins out?  

Whether you are growing pumpkins yourself or picking pumpkins off the vine, or simply buying them from a store, it is best to select your pumpkins within one week of when you would like to carve them. It is worth remembering, however, that pumpkins last longer uncarved as opposed to carved.  

When to put out whole pumpkins 

One pumpkin on a porch table outside with two candles burning in the background

(Image credit: Alamy)

‘Whole pumpkins generally last around two to three months in cooler temperatures such as on your covered porch,’ explains Rachel Crow, garden editor at Homes & Gardens. ‘Leaving your pumpkins in a covered space with circulating air will keep the fruit looking good until the end of the season.’ 

If you do not plan to carve your pumpkin, and instead opt for easy no-carve pumpkin ideas such as painting your pumpkins, then you can put your pumpkins out as soon as early to mid-September for an easy fall decor idea

If you do put uncarved pumpkins out later in the season, consider using the pumpkin afterward as opposed to disposing of it. If the pumpkin is still fresh, use it in meals or baking or, alternatively, chop the pumpkin up and give it to wildlife as food in colder months.

When to put out carved pumpkins 

An orange pumpkin and a white pumpkin on a chair on a porch outside

(Image credit: Alamy)

If you do plan to carve pumpkins, however, you will have to leave putting your pumpkins out much later. Although a common Halloween trend, carved pumpkins usually last for up to one week, sometimes longer if in a colder climate. ‘Carved pumpkins will turn brown and rot quicker than whole pumpkins as they lose moisture and oxidize more quickly. It is best to leave carved pumpkins off of your porch until a few days before Halloween,’ says Rachel.  

If you are adding a candle to your pumpkin, it is worth remembering that the hot flame will expedite the rotting process, drying out your pumpkin and causing it to shrivel up at rapid speed. If you do want to light your pumpkin, consider a battery-operated light, or put your pumpkins out the day before Halloween.   

Consider using fake pumpkins for decor

Light colored white and orange pumpkins outside beside a plant pot with yellow flowers

(Image credit: Alamy)

If you are concerned about making fresh pumpkins last over the fall and Halloween season, consider using fake pumpkins for an autumnal feel without worries and without waste. 

Fake pumpkins can go out at any time, and provide more options when it comes to shapes and colors for a varied, layered look on your porch or in your garden. Because of this, you can also mix real and fake pumpkins to bolster your pumpkin pile without the added cost of buying many fresh pumpkins per year. 

What's more, fake pumpkins will not attract pests and wildlife to your front door, so can remain outside of your home all season without risk. 

How long will an uncarved pumpkin last on the porch? 

You can leave an uncarved pumpkin on a porch for two to three months before it begins to rot as long as they are protected from extreme heat or cold. If leaving a pumpkin on a porch, make sure that it is covered and protected from rain, and placed in an area with good air circulation. 

How do you prolong the life of a pumpkin? 

There are a few ways to help prolong the life of a pumpkin such as ensuring you do not carve it too soon, picking a healthy, ripe pumpkin that has not started to rot on the vine, and keeping pests away – especially if they are being kept outside. 

For carved pumpkins, consider rubbing the exposed flesh with vegetable oil to slow down the oxidization process and help delay rot.