Put a Succulent On It

Laura 021

Jazz up a pumpkin – or almost anything with these drought tolerant plants

Got Pumpkins? “Bedazzle” them with succulents to deck the Thanksgiving table. 

That’s what Laura Eubanks did three years ago, crowning a “warty pumpkin from Trader Joe’s” with sphagnum moss and jewel-toned succulent snippets from her garden. Today this so SoCal décor is the centerpiece of a cottage industry that includes sales, workshops and talks by the ebullient Chula Vista garden designer.

“I was inspired,” she says of her handiwork that has “bedazzled” everything from wooden spoons and teacups to suede stilettos and earrings. She even crafted a succulent toupee for her “follicle-ly impaired” brother. “Everything looks better with succulents,” she adds.

The decorated pumpkins are easy to make and last for months, as the succulents root in the moss. All can be embellished with berries, seed pods and nuts to add to their Thanksgiving appeal. Afterwards, the same pumpkins can be gilded or painted to sparkle on through the holiday season.

Unlike Jack-o-lanterns, there’s no messy cutting and seed removal. Take care not to nick the pumpkin shell to avoid rot and prolong its shelf life. Mist the succulents occasionally “if it makes you feel good,” Eubanks says with a laugh. “But they really don’t even need that.”

Here’s how to “bedazzle” pumpkins for your table. 

1.Take cuttings from succulents in your garden or friends’ gardens, or from plants you purchase. Aim for a variety of colors, textures and sizes, clipping below a leaf or bud. Allow the cuttings to dry
or callus for several days to prevent fungal diseases. In the process, Eubanks reports, the stressed plants also “will color up.”

2.Look, too, for seed pods and other decorations. Eubanks picks many up on walks through her neighborhood. They also are available at floral and craft stores.

3.Gather the remaining materials needed: pumpkins (look for concave tops and flat bottoms), sphagnum or other moss, and craft glue (Eubanks likes Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue).  

4.Spread the glue around the top of the pumpkin; then quickly pat the moss into place. Add additional glue and moss as needed to create a base for the design. Excess moss can be trimmed after cuttings are in place.

5.Place a glob of glue on the succulent tips and arrange them on top of the moss. Eubanks recommends using a larger or “wow” cutting to anchor the design, placing it a bit left of center. Then add succulents in decreasing sizes, using the smallest around the edges. Continue adding succulents and embellishments until satisfied with the design. 

6.Keep in a cool, dry place. If you’d like to change the design, lift the moss and succulents from the pumpkin, tuck the succulents into the garden or containers, and begin anew.

For the craft- or time-challenged, Eubanks also sells and delivers decorated pumpkins in four sizes and a variety of colors ranging from $15 (small) to $65 (jumbo). 

Garden Guide: By Mary James Photography by Bob Wigand

Categories: Gardening