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Do This For the Longest Lasting Pumpkin and Flower Centrepiece


Have you fallen in love with flower and pumpkin centrepieces? They’re so unique for a Thanksgiving Centrepiece or a fall wedding. But for as cute as they are, there’s only one problem–how do you get the pumpkin to last?!

I’ve typically found that the pumpkins hold up for 4-7 days before they get really gross. Now the difference between 4 days and 7 days doesn’t seem like a lot. But when you’re trying to sell pumpkins to paying customers, you want your product to last as long as possible.

Three small white pumpkin centrepieces, filled with sunflowers and amaranth.

My Thanksgiving pumpkin centrepieces were a huge hit this year, and I wanted as many happy customers as possible. So as I started to sell the pumpkin bouquets, I experimented with different ways the pumpkin vase could store water and last the longest.

I started by simply just pouring water into the pumpkins with nothing else inside. But then I had the idea to put small containers within the larger pumpkins to store the water and hold some of the flowers up. I had also heard that some other flower farmers use soil within the pumpkin bouquets, while others mix oil and water within the pumpkin.

With all these ideas, it sparked the idea to simply try all 6 ideas to see which pumpkin filler would make the arrangement last the longest! With this, I tried 6 different pumpkins:

P.S. If you’re looking for info on HOW to make pumpkin centrepieces, check out this Youtube Video where I do it in real time. You can also see my first pumpkin centrepiece sale, and my Thanksgiving Pumpkin Centrepiece sale.

A variety of pumpkins in white, orange, and green, ready to be made into Thanksgiving centrepieces with flowers.

Pumpkin #1: Water Only

The first pumpkin was a water only pumpkin. I carved out the pumpkin, gave it a quick rinse with water, and filled it 3/4 of the way with water.

Pumpkin #2: Water & Container

The second pumpkin was cut open and cleaned out, then inserted a small plastic container and filled the container with water

Pumpkin #3: Soil Only

Why not try the simply solution of putting dirt into the pumpkin? I remembered doing this with succulents with one year, and the pumpkin lasted for 2 weeks. This pumpkin was cut open, then I went straight to my backyard, dug some dirt, and threw it into the pumpkin.

Pumpkin #4: Bleach Rinse & Container

Like the other, this pumpkin was carve out, but instead of rinsing and cleaning it out with water, I use a bleach and water solution to rinse out the pumpkin. Once it was rinsed, another small plastic container was inserted and fill with water.

Some people leave the pumpkin soak in the bleach solution for up to an hour, but mine just got a rinse.

Pumpkin #5: Oil & Container

Pumpkin 5 was carved and cleaned out, just like the others. But once it was rinsed out, I took some oil and put in on the inside of the pumpkin. Once the entire pumpkin was rimmed on the inside with oil, I put in another small container and filled it with water.

I used canola oil, but I don’t think the type of oil would really make a difference. If you decide to go this route, use what you have.

Pumpkin #6: Container Only

After trying so many different things, I realized that I needed a “control pumpkin.” What would happen if you just didn’t do anything? So the last pumpkin was simply carved out and inserted a container with water.

A cut up mini white pumpkin, ready for flowers.

What next?

Once all the pumpkins were done, I put them on the mantle on my fireplace and let them sit for a week. It’s a north-facing room with two west facing windows, and none of the pumpkins were in direct sunlight.

I did not add any water or flowers or special treatment to any of them, and checked in 7 days later!

six mini white pumpkin arrangements.

The Best Way to Get A Long Lasting Pumpkin Centrepiece

1. Pumpkin #1: Water Only

The simplest way ended up being the best in the experiment! The water only pumpkin did the best overall after 1 week. It retained it’s colour the whole week, the water stayed reasonably clear, the pumpkin plump, and there was no odour coming from the pumpkin! There was only a little bit of mould, that would not be recognizable when filled with flowers.

2. Pumpkin #5: Oil & Container

I was quite impressed with the oil rinse pumpkin. Out of all the pumpkins, pumpkin #5 remained the most sturdy and remained a hard exterior. This pumpkin got second place though due to the discolouration that the oil did to the pumpkin’s exterior. Even after continuing on this experiment for week #2, this pumpkin still had no mould!

3. Pumpkin #2: Water Rinse & Container

In third place is the water rinse and container combination on pumpkin #4. Compared to the remaining pumpkins, there was not much squish and not much visible mould. When the container was removed, the bottom on the pumpkin and surrounding the container was quite mouldy – but still did better than the others!

thanksgiving pumpkin centerpieces-a larger one with a green pumpkin and sunflowers, and two mini white ones with chrysthanthemums.

Details on the Remaining Pumpkins

The remaining pumpkins overall were not something I would want on my table after a week.

The soil pumpkin (Pumpkin #3) did not do well at all, it is extremely squishy and the pumpkin is completely discoloured. I would say this pumpkin performed the worst overall, but it didn’t have any mould.

I also thought the bleach rinse (Pumpkin #4) would do better – but it did not! It was extremely squishy, the mould was visible from the top outside of the pumpkin, and it attracted fruit flies like a bear to honey.

The container only (Pumpkin #6) also performed quite badly. There was the most amount of mould out of all the pumpkins on this one, and it also attracted many fruit flies. The squish test of this pumpkin was also very poor.


With every experiment, there is always flaws and things that I realized I should have done AFTER the fact. First of all, I did not put flowers into all of the experimental pumpkins! This might have changed the discolouration in some of the pumpkins or help reduce the mould as well.

If you leave you pumpkin arrangement outside in a colder environment with water only, it can honestly last up to 3 weeks! Be sure to use weather hardy flowers, or flowers that dry well, and they’ll last beautifully! I did up a pumpkin bouquet and put it outside on my doorstep, and 3 weeks later, it is standing tall and colourful!

a series of mini white pumpkin centrepieces filled with fall flowers like calendula, strawflowers, and statice.

Even if you’re not planning on making any pumpkin centrepieces, I feel like you could apply this experiment to your Halloween Jack-o-lantern. Just maybe don’t do the oil one unless you’re using a battery operated candle.

Do you have any special treatment to make pumpkins last longer? Tell me about it in the comments!

Ready to grow your own beautiful cut flower garden, without the hassel?

I’ve taken all the guesswork out of creating a cut flower garden with my e-book, Cut Flowers Made Simple. It’s the perfect way for beginner and intermediate gardeners to start their own cut flower garden with or without seed starting.

Click on the picture to find out more or get your copy.

an example of some of the pages of Cut Flowers Made Simple

text: How to make longer lasting pumpkin centrepieces.  A white pumpkin with pink and white fall flowers coming out of it.
Kristen Raney

Kristen Raney

Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots.  She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden.  She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.

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Hi, I'm Kristen and I help new gardeners learn to grow their own vegetables and beautify their yards. I also share recipes that use all that delicious garden produce. Grab a coffee (and your gardening gloves) and join me for gardening tips, simple recipes, and the occasional DIY, all from the lovely city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

P.S. First time gardener? You'll want to download the quick start gardening guide below!