Choosing Halloween Pumpkins: Tips On Picking The Perfect Pumpkin

Pumpkins On And Around A Hay Bale
pumpkin picking
(Image credit: Feverpitched)

(Author of The Garden Crypt: Exploring the Other Side of Gardening) Pumpkins are the icons of Halloween decorating. However, choosing pumpkins isn't always that easy unless you know what you're looking for. This article can help with that so you can pick the best pumpkin for your situation.

Halloween Pumpkin Selection

Pumpkins are one of the most popular symbols of Halloween, representing not only the autumn harvest but also Halloween décor. The old Irish tradition of carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns, which was once done using large turnips, still goes on today. Look nearly anywhere during the Halloween season and you're certain to see them; pumpkins lazing about one's landscape with smiling or scowling faces, some with no face at all. Pumpkins come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They also range in color from the classic orange to yellow, green, and even white. Choosing pumpkins for Halloween is no easy task, especially if you're looking for pumpkins to carve. While most people want nothing more than an ordinary pumpkin for a simple carved-out design, others want their pumpkins to make a statement. These are the ones who look for the perfect pumpkin, if there is such a thing. These are the people who take Halloween decorating to the extremes, but all in good fun and with extraordinary results.

How to Pick a Pumpkin for Halloween

To make choosing Halloween pumpkins easier, it always helps to have a general idea about their purpose. Will you be carving them? If so, the type of design should accommodate the pumpkin's size and shape. For instance, your design may require a tall and narrow pumpkin as opposed to a smaller round one. Small and medium-sized pumpkins work well for the more traditional jack-o'-lantern faces. However, designs that are more complex may require a larger sized pumpkin, so picking the perfect pumpkin for this is important. Carved pumpkins can add drama to your Halloween décor. Create a variety of jack-o'-lanterns and scatter them throughout the yard. Set them in trees. Tuck them between plants in the garden. Don't forget to light them up after dark to create that ominous effect. Perhaps you're not into carving. That's okay. Pumpkins can be used simply for aesthetic purposes. These, too, look great scattered around or placed along walkways and porches. Whatever the purpose, here are some pumpkin picking tips to help you with making that Halloween pumpkin selection less stressful:

  • Pumpkins should not have any visible bruising or other irregular spots. Bruised pumpkins can shorten the amount of time you'll have to show it off, so keep this in mind when choosing.
  • Try to choosing Halloween pumpkins that are smooth and uniform. These usually sit up better. Of course, if you're merely choosing pumpkins for Halloween décor other than carving, this probably won't be much of an issue.
  • Once you've picked the perfect pumpkins for all of your decorating needs, you'll want to take care not to damage them before getting home. Picking up pumpkins by the stems is not really a good idea and increases the chances of having the stems break off.

Pumpkins and Halloween go hand in hand. However, choosing pumpkins for Halloween doesn't have to be stressful. Planning your design and becoming familiar with various pumpkin varieties ahead of time can often make the process both fun and easy.

Nikki Tilley
Senior Editor

Nikki Tilley has been gardening for nearly three decades. The former Senior Editor and Archivist of Gardening Know How, Nikki has also authored six gardening books.