Tagawa Gardens Blog

When is a pumpkin more than just a pumpkin?

$3 OFF a strip of 6 starter succulents

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When it’s a festive fall centerpiece topped with succulents!  You can make one, too!  

It’s hard to let go of summer, but I have to admit that autumn may be my favorite season in Colorado.  And nothing shouts “welcome to fall” more than a beautiful, bright orange pumpkin.  They just make me smile!

Why not take the fun a pumpkin offers and give it a new twist?  Turn a table-top-sized pumpkin into a one-of-a-kind succulent “garden” that is bound to bring compliments.  Decorating an orange or green pumpkin can make a beautiful seasonal centerpiece for Thanksgiving.  White pumpkins work great too, and can sometimes be held over and re-decorated with a Christmas theme. It’s all easy and affordable.  Let’s look at how it’s done.

Fall at Tagawa Gardens is a feast for the eyes!

The colors of fall are taking center stage at Tagawa’s!

mixed-gourds-and-pumpkins-with-luan-akin-at-tagawa-gardens-denver

On bench after bench, we have gourds with long curving necks and bold yellow stripes.  Tiny pumpkins that fit in the palm of your hand.  Big hefty pumpkins with wonderful bumps and warts.  Combining any of these has always been a quick and easy way to dress up your home for the season.

But there’s a special way to celebrate fall that combines beautiful pumpkins and an eye-catching array of succulents.  I was introduced to this fun project by Deborah, the supervisor of Tagawa’s Annuals Department.  She has a wonderful flair for design and shares my love of both succulents and pumpkins.  Now, she’s showing me how easy it is to make a beautiful centerpiece using both.

Let’s talk succulents

Succulents are plants that hold water in their fleshy leaves and stems.  Cacti are in the succulent family, but there are hundreds of succulents that aren’t cactus at all.  It’s these non-prickly plants that we’ll be working with here.

Most people are familiar with succulents like jade plants and aloe, but in recent years a huge variety of other succulents has become readily available.  Tagawa’s is offering dozens of different types.

By their nature, succulents can stay plump and healthy without frequent watering.  That’s why they work so well as part of a centerpiece in a tiny, temporary garden on top of a pumpkin.  Pumpkins that have a bit of a dip at the base of the stem work especially well.

Let’s get started!

A succulent pumpkin centerpiece, step by step

Choose a pumpkin that’s an appropriate size for where you want to display it.  To help me with this blog, Deborah picked out a pumpkin that was about ten inches across, but for smaller tables or display areas, smaller pumpkins will work fine, too.  Shallow, slightly more flattened pumpkins work better than the taller varieties.

When you’re choosing your pumpkin, feel free to pick one that has a thick or interesting stem.  The stem can be left exposed showing through the succulents as part of the design, or it can be used as an anchor to help hold the taller succulents in the center of your arrangement.

Use several squiggles of quick-drying glue to securely attach a cushiony layer of sheet moss to the top of the pumpkin, surrounding the stem.  Other glue will work, but a quick-drying flue definitely makes this project easier and faster.  Low-heat glue guns can also be used.

Gently remove the soil from around the roots of each succulent, but try to leave most of the roots themselves intact.   If you’re using succulent cuttings, they’ll still take hold and thrive if they have at least a small stub of the succulent’s stem intact to tuck into the moss.   Glue each tiny plant onto the moss, creating a pleasing design as you go.

Mix and match and watch the magic take shape!

One by one, Deborah tucks the plants into the carpet of moss at the top of her centerpiece, using a few drops of the quick-drying glue for each plant.

pumpkins-and-succelents-step-3-at-tagawa-gardens-denver

I’ve found that using a chopstick to create a small “planting hole” in the moss can be helpful.  The succulents look best if they’re arranged to touch each other, not overly crowded, but definitely full and lush.  Tagawa’s is offering six-pack strips of starter succulents that are a purr-fect way to begin this project.  (See this week’s coupon for a special discount!)

With flower gardens in containers, we refer to “thrillers, fillers, and spillers.”  Taller plants in the middle, somewhat shorter plants next to them, and plants that lean or drape on the outside.  If you follow the same design principles with your succulent pumpkin centerpiece, you’re bound to be pleased.

Choose tiny plants that contrast, and yet complement each other.  Different colors and leaf shapes can be especially pleasing. Pick some plants that have simple patterns and others that are more intricate in their overall appearance.  Succulents offer a wealth of variety.  They are Mother Nature at her finest!

pumpkins-and-succelents-with-stem-at-tagawa-gardens-denver

Feel free to brag!

When you’re done, be ready for compliments!  These succulent pumpkin “gardens” look much more complicated than they are, so don’t be shy about trying something different!

Feel free to tuck some personal touches into your design…. a few pinecones perhaps, or maybe a tiny figurine from our Fairy Garden Department.

Don’t water your pumpkin centerpiece for the first week.  After that, mist it well every four or five days.  The leaves and roots of your tiny plants will quickly absorb that moisture.  Wipe the sides of the pumpkin dry and don’t let excess water accumulate around the stem.

With good care, your little pumpkin “garden” should last for several weeks before the pumpkin itself begins to deteriorate.  It’s not uncommon to have them last for a couple of months.  When the pumpkin itself begins to fail, you can gently cut a remove the succulents from their moss bed and plant them into a shallow container into a 50/50 blend of potting soil and cactus mix.

tiny-pumpkins-with-succulents-at-tagawa-gardens-denver

Tiny pumpkins can be a big hit, too! 

If you’re inclined to make a succulent pumpkin “garden,” but want to keep it simple, how about creating a tiny design using a miniature pumpkin?  Deborah chose a white “Jack-be-Little” pumpkin, some moss, just two succulents, and a pine cone to make this sweet design.  It’s purr-fect for smaller settings or hostess gifts.

Tagawa’s has the pumpkins and the succulents to make this project your own unique creation, bringing fall color and some do-it-yourself fun to your home of office.

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Luan Akin
About 
Luan Akin
Tagawa Gardens Outreach Ambassador

After 30 years as a news reporter for KCNC TV in Denver, Luan Akin was ready for a change. In 2008, she came to Tagawa Gardens and offered to create a brand new position: Garden Outreach Ambassador.

Luan had trained and volunteered as a Douglas County Master Gardener for ten years. In addition to her duties as a news reporter, working primarily out of the Channel 4 News helicopter, Luan also produced and presented a long-running series of stories called “Gardening Together.”

All these years later, Luan now works year ‘round, presenting a variety of gardening and nature-related topics to hundreds of children, HOA’s, gardening clubs, church groups, small businesses and other organizations.

She is an avid gardener, a beekeeper and a proud mom to four dogs who have trained her well.

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