Succulent Arrangements on Pumpkins

November 14 pumpkins 016We  are still in the season for all things pumpkin, and I was inspired by Claire Jones to try a pumpkin succulent arrangement after seeing her post on her Garden Diaries blog in October.

We are looking forward to a neighborhood gathering next week, and I wanted to try to construct succulent arrangements on pumpkins for our refreshment table at that event.  Pumpkins just disappeared from most shops after Halloween.  I felt very lucky to find exactly the shape pumpkins I was looking for at the Homestead Garden Center last week, and even luckier when Jonathan made a gift of them as they clear out fall stock to make room for Christmas.November 14 pumpkins 001

I found a bag of good, thick moss at Michael’s craft store for around $8.00 today.  It is beautiful moss, but not quite enough to sufficiently cover two pumpkins.  Luckily I had a frosted moss fern, Selaginella pallescens, which needed a trim going into garage storage for winter.  I expect that its aerial roots will allow it to root into the moss, and its similiar texture filled in the gaps.

Claire suggested cutting the stem off of the pumpkin to begin.  She used a moss which looks a little thinner than what I found, and covered the entire stem area with a sheet of moss.  The depression in the top of the pumpkin allows moisture to collect to hydrate the plants.  I really liked the stems on my pumpkins, and decided to leave them in place.  This made it a little easier to attach the plants.  I was able to drape rooted stems of “Angelina” stonecrop around the stem, and glue the stems of some of the rosettes to the pumpkin stem instead of to the moss.November 14 pumpkins 002

If you want to try this arrangement, first gather your plant materials.   I used nearly every piece of plant material I cut today, and could have used more.  Cut heavily so your finished pumpkin will look lush.  This is a good project for this time of year because it is good to trim back the succulents as the come inside for winter.  Cut the stems longer than you might otherwise, so you have plenty of surface area to glue.  Purchasing plants just for this project, at least in Virginia, would be very pricy.  Taking cuttings from established plants keeps this project affordable.November 14 pumpkins 005

I dropped one of my largest succulent pots while bringing it into the garage this week, so I am very motivated to take cuttings from those plants ahead of having to repot all of the plants into new pots next week.  Claire indicates that the succulent cuttings should root into the wet moss.  Succulents are often very slow to root, but are also good at growing aerial roots and taking moisture directly from the air in some cases.  They hold their hydration well and can go “unplanted” for several weeks.  I’ll want to take this arrangement apart after Thanksgiving and cook the pumpkins.  The cuttings will be fine until then, and can be set into small pots of soil for the remainder of the winter to finish rooting.November 14 pumpkins 009

In addition to the stonecrop, and moss fern, I also cut heavily from a Kalanchoe which is still outside.  I don’t think it will survive the winter, but has rooted into the ground near our back porch.  It is a fairly old plant now and needs to be repotted.  I just haven’t gotten to it, and so cut it back hard for this arrangement.

After wiping the pumpkins with a damp cloth to remove dust, I securely hot glued hunks of the sheet moss into place around the pumpkin stem.  The sheet moss forms the base for the rest of the arrangement and needs to be securely attached.November 14 pumpkins 007

Then, I began working in layers to attach the moss fern and stonecrop, then the Kalanchoe, and finally the Sedum, Echeverea, and other cuttings.  Some of my pieces had a little potting soil and root, which I left on, and covered the soil with other plants.  I made an effort to put hot glue on the sides of stems, but never on the broken end, where moisture is absorbed and roots should begin to grow.

This is a very peaceful process.  There are no instructions to give, other than to allow the plants to show you how they best fit together.  Work with your cuttings until you are pleased with the arrangement and it looks complete.November 14 pumpkins 010

Claire used branches of Nandina, berry clusters, okra pods, and other dried materials in her arrangement.  I cut some Nandina branches and berries, but decided to save those for another project.  I liked the effect of the moss, fern, and succulents just as they are.

After giving the glue a few minutes to dry and harden, I took each pumpkin to the kitchen sink and sprayed lightly with the hose sprayer to re-hydrate the moss.  I didn’t do this before constructing the arrangement because I thought the glue would adhere better to the dry moss.  When the moss hydrates, it plumps up and looks alive.  Regular spritzing will keep the moss and fern fresh.  Overdoing it might induce rot in the succulents, so as in all things, we’ll find a happy medium.

November 14 pumpkins 012The finished pumpkins are out on the deck, where they’ll stay as long as temperatures remain in the 40s or above, until needed for our gathering on Tuesday.  One of them will become a Thanksgiving gift for my parents, and the other will take a place of honor on our dining room table Thanksgiving week.

I still have several small white pumpkins that I want to trim with moss and succulents ahead of Tuesday.   These large pumpkins needed most all the cuttings taken today, so the small ones will have to wait until tomorrow.

Thank you, Claire, for sharing your beautiful decorated pumpkins, and for inspiring me to try something  new.  This is such a beautiful way to use pumpkins, and another way to “shop our gardens” for components for gorgeous floral arrangements.

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