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Succulents and Pumpkins Combine to Create a New Twist on Fall Decor

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When is a pumpkin more than just a pumpkin?

When it’s a festive fall centerpiece topped with succulents!  And you can make one, too!  Learn how in this blog or hands-on at a workshop at Tagawa’s Oct. 8

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

Why not take some of the good cheer that pumpkins bring and give it a new twist?  Turn a small or table-top-sized pumpkin into a one-of-a-kind succulent “garden” that is bound to bring compliments.

Interested?  Then read on!


Fall at Tagawa Gardens is a feast for the eyes.

A table spilling over with gourds of all shapes and pumpkins of all sizes is a treat in itself.  Gourds with long curving necks or bold yellow stripes.  Tiny pumpkins that fit in the palm of your hand.  Big hefty pumpkins with wonderful bumps and warts.  Any and all of these can make for quick and easy ways to dress up your home for the season.  And I’ve tried most of them.

But this year, I’m combining my affection for pumpkins and my fascination with succulents.  Deborah, the supervisor of Tagawa’s Annuals Department, has a wonderful eye for design.  She shares my love of both succulents and pumpkins.  Now, Deborah’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.  Cactus are in the succulent family, but there are hundreds of succulents that aren’t cactus.  Most people are familiar with Jade plants and Aloe, but in recent years a huge variety of other succulents have become readily available.  Tagawa’s carries many of them.

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 relatively flat pumpkin.

Let’s get started!

pumpkins-and-succelents-step-1-at-tagawa-gardens-denverA pumpkin/succulent centerpiece, step by step

Start with a pumpkin that’s a good size for where you want to display it.  Deborah chose a pumpkin that was about ten inches across.  The pumpkin’s thick stem can be part of the design, or can be used to help hold the taller succulents in the center of your arrangement.

Using quick-drying glue, Deborah attaches a piece of sheet moss to the top of the pumpkin, surrounding the stem.  She gently removes the soil from around the roots of the succulents before she glues the tiny plants in place. With regular misting, the roots will begin to grow into the moss.

Mix and match, and watch the magic take shape

pumpkins-and-succelents-step-3-at-tagawa-gardens-denverOne by one, Deborah tucks the plants into her centerpiece, using a few drops of glue on each one.  The plants look best if they’re arranged touching each other, not overly crowded, but definitely full and lush.  For her ten-inch pumpkin, Deborah used four larger succulents, surrounded by 15 smaller plants.

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 spill 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.  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!


Feel free to brag!

When you’re done, be ready for compliments!  These pumpkin/succulent “gardens” look much more complicated than they are.

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

Don’t water your pumpkin centerpiece for the first week.  After that, mist it well every four or five days.  The 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.  At that point, you can gently detach the succulents from their moss bed and plant them into a shallow container holding a 50/50 blend of potting soil and cactus mix.


Tiny can be a bit hit, too! 

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

Whatever you decide, know that pumpkins and small succulents are a great way to bring fall color and some do-it-yourself fun to your home this season.

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Luan Akin
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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