It’s hard to let go of summer, but I have to admit: I love autumn in Colorado. And nothing shouts “welcome to fall!” louder than big beautiful pumpkins. They 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’s bound to bring compliments.
A fall feast for the eyes at Tagawa’s
Imagine long benches at Tagawa’s spilling over with these icons of fall: Gourds with long curving necks or bold yellow stripes. Tiny pumpkins that fit in the palm your hand. Big hefty pumpkins with wonderful bumps and warts. Combine these with some dried corn stalks and a few colorful ears of dried corn and you have an instant fall display. And Tagawa’s has it all!
But if you’re hungry for even more fall flavor, you can take your decorating to a whole new level by creating a beautiful centerpiece: a succulent garden on top of a pumpkin!
Let’s talk succulents
Succulents are plants that hold water in their fleshy leaves and stems. Cactus is in the succulent family, but there are hundreds of succulents that aren’t cactus. Most people are familiar with jade plants and aloe, but a huge variety of other succulents has 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 temporary garden on top of a relatively flat pumpkin.
Let’s get started!
Step by step to a succulent pumpkin
Meagan is one of Tagawa’s, especially creative staff members. She’s all in when it comes to making these seasonal succulent gardens.
She suggests that you start with a pumpkin that’s the right size for where you want to display it. For this garden, Meagan has chosen a pumpkin that’s about four inches across. Feel free to let the pumpkin’s stem be a part of the design. Stems can also help support taller succulents in the center of your arrangement.
If the succulents you choose are too large, many of them will tolerate having some of their outer leaves gently peeled off to create a smaller plant. Many times, the leaves you remove can be set on moist sand under good light to grow new succulents for your next project.
A glue gun with cool glue sticks works great for assembling your garden. Start by attaching a few pieces of moss to the top of the pumpkin to create a natural-looking carpet around the stem. If the moss is thick, some of the old roots may need to be trimmed away first.
Tagawa’s carries small succulents sold as “plugs,” cuttings that have been rooted in soil but never potted up. If these succulents are especially tall, you can trim off much of the root system, leaving a short… perhaps a 1/2 to 3/4″ piece of stem to insert into the moss.
Smaller, “baby” succulents can also be trimmed off of larger plants growing in your garden or houseplant collection. If your succulents have any remaining roots, gently remove the soil. Ideally, plants that have had their stems cut back should be allowed to air dry for a day to allow those cut edges to seal before planting.
And the fun begins
Before you reach for your glue gun, you may want to design your garden first…. setting a few plants this way and that until you have the look you want.
Once you’re happy with your design, encircle the short stem or base of each succulent with a small bit of glue.
Insert the plants into the moss, starting with taller succulents that may need some support from the stem, whether it’s visible or not. The plants look best if they’re arranged to touch each other, not overly crowded, but definitely full and lush. A chopstick may be helpful in creating a tiny slot for the succulent’s stem.
Choose 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.
Feel free to tuck some personal touches into your design…. a few pinecones or a stick, or maybe a small figurine.
Caring for your garden
Don’t water your pumpkin centerpiece for the first several days. After that, mist it well every week or so. Your tiny plants will quickly absorb that moisture. Wipe the sides of the pumpkin dry after each misting. Don’t let excess water accumulate around the stem! Gently tip the pumpkin shortly after misting to drain away any excess water.
With good care, your little pumpkin “garden” should last for a couple of months before the pumpkin itself begins to deteriorate. At that point, you can snip off the succulents from their moss bed and plant them into a shallow container holding a 50/50 blend of potting soil and cactus mix.
The finished succulent pumpkins are much easier than they look, and they’re lots of fun, so let the decorating begin!