With the holidays only a few short weeks away, many people are adding pumpkins and fall gourds to their outdoor decorating plan. But, depending on where you live, they may not always last as long as you want them to. Here are some simple tips to make your outdoor pumpkin last longer this year.

When you have an outdoor pumpkin, it’s exposed to temperature and weather fluctuations. And, how hot or cold it is and whether it rains or snows can all impact how long your pumpkin or Jack O’Lantern stays good outside. If you know that you’ll have an extreme temperature change, bring it inside to help protect it. The best temperature for your pumpkin is between 50 and 55 degrees.

While people enjoy carving Jack O’Lanterns, for the most part, your pumpkin will last longer if you don’t carve it. That doesn’t mean that you can’t decorate it. Just use markers or paints instead to draw your design.

If you do decide to carve your pumpkin, make sure that you clean out the inside to remove all of the seeds. Leave behind only a clean interior and then dunk it in a bleach and water solution to help kill any bacteria.

Don’t use real candles to light up your pumpkin. The heat from the candles will make it rot more quickly. Instead, get the battery-operated LED candles from the store and use those. This will help make your outdoor pumpkin last longer.

Whether you carve a Jack O’Lantern or not, you can cover your pumpkin in a thin layer of petroleum jelly to help protect it from the environment. You may need to occasionally clean the outside off and reapply it. But, this should discourage animals and help keep your display looking good for much longer. If you don’t have petroleum jelly, you can easily use vegetable oil instead. Just remember that if it rains you will need to reapply it.

Be sure to place your pumpkin in an area that is out of direct sunlight. The more it’s exposed to the sun, the quicker it will begin to rot. Look for an area at the base of a tree when making your display.

When choosing your pumpkin, make sure you choose one that’s healthy. Avoid any that have bumps, bruises, or dings when you pick it out. Starting with a healthy pumpkin will ensure you can display your whole pumpkin for up to 8 to 12 weeks outside. If you decide to carve a design, you will probably start to see a change after 5 to 10 days depending on the weather in your area.

How long do you keep pumpkins as decorations? Share in the comments below!