Succulent pumpkins are all the rage this season—they take everything wonderful about fall and distill it into the perfect, long-lasting arrangement. The only problem is we can’t seem to keep them in stock! As soon as we make up a batch, they disappear with a happy customer. In the spirit of their popularity, we thought you might enjoy a quick DIY tutorial below!
Step 1: Gather Supplies
- Fancy Pumpkin(s): Our favorite ones to use are the fancy heirloom pumpkins that come in an assortment of colors and sizes such as ‘Fairy Tale’, ‘Cinderella’, ‘Blue Doll’, ‘Porcelain Doll Pink’, and many more. They offer a larger planting surface and look balanced when topped with succulents. Choose from all shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns. Go wild!
- Spray Adhesive: Aleene’s Tacky Spray is a good one and can be found at most craft stores.
- Craft Glue: We prefer Aleene’s Clear Gel Tacky Glue; this can also be found at most craft stores.
- Moss: Our favorite is SuperMoss Preserved Sheet Moss or Mountain Moss which is real moss that comes in handy sheets or as bunches—both sold at our garden centers. We’ve also used moss out of the backyard that has had time to dry out.
- Succulent Cuttings: Purchase 2- to 6-inch succulents and sedums, or take cuttings from existing plants. If you want your succulent pumpkin to live indoors, it’s safe to use non-hardy succulents, but if you plan to keep it on your porch, you will want to use the hardy ones. Repurpose annual types that won’t live outdoors through the winter anyway (much better than waiting for them to turn to mush with the first freeze). We suggest starting with a variety of 5 to 7 succulent shapes, sizes, and colors so the arrangement has lots of variation; this is where your creativity comes in.
- Seasonal Accents: Use items that are dried or somewhat preserved so they will keep on top of a pumpkin for a couple of months (think seed pods and dried flowers). Try to color-coordinate with your succulent choices for a harmonious arrangement. Some of our top picks for this time of year are poppy pods, Billy balls, hops flowers, and rose hip sprays.
Step 2: Select Your Pumpkins
Choose something with a little character, like a small white one with green stripes, an orange one with warts, or a smooth, blue-skinned pumpkin.
TIP: Select pumpkin(s) that have a depression around the stem to make it easier, and avoid the largest pumpkin in the patch. Good stems are not necessary.
Step 3: Prepare Succulent Cuttings
Gather a collection of succulent/sedum cuttings in a variety of textures and shapes that will complement one another. Take cuttings from annual succulents in outdoor pots since their season is coming to an end. Succulent types with many branches or small rosettes work really well, whereas larger chunky pieces can be harder to work with. You’ll want to have a good handful of succulent cuttings for small pumpkins and two handfuls for larger ones (more if you prefer a plump, full look). Divide succulents that have multiple stems into as many rosettes as the plant has and shake soil from the roots. Try to avoid using plants without any sort of sturdy stem.
Step 4: Prepare Your Pumpkin
Wipe down and dry the top of your pumpkin. Snip the stem so it is no longer than a half-inch OR leave the stem intact and work around it. Apply an even amount of spray adhesive to the top of your pumpkin and immediately apply a layer of moss. Be sure to place it accurately on the pumpkin—the adhesive dries fast! Moss serves as the planting medium for the succulents and plays an important role in holding moisture to keep them alive.
NOTE: Many people are surprised that these pumpkins are not actually cut open and planted into. Because of this, they have a much longer life span!
Step 5: Arrange Succulents
Working from the center of your pumpkin, start laying out the succulent cuttings. Once you have your design, apply a small amount of craft glue to the stems and place them into the moss bed. If your cuttings are having a hard time staying put, try wiggling the stem into the moss as far as you can. Hold succulents in place for a few seconds to allow the glue to set.
Tip: Begin with larger rosettes towards the center of the arrangement and add trailing, longer cuttings around the edges. It’s best to get the bigger features set first and then tuck smaller pieces in between. Remember to allow at least one inch of stem to work with for each cutting.
Step 6: Top Off with Seasonal Accents
Again, our favorites include poppy pods, Billy balls, hops flowers, and rose hip sprays. Fill in between the succulents with your dried accent pieces and secure with craft glue. Place your finished arrangement in a dry spot overnight to make sure the glue sets well… and voilà!
How to Care for Your Succulent Pumpkin
It’s simple! Make sure your succulent pumpkin receives lots of light and spray the moss with water once a week. Feel free to let your arrangement take a vacation for the weekend to any spot in the house you’d like to adorn, but make sure it returns to its ideal living conditions for most of its life. With proper care, these beautiful, festive pumpkins can last 6 to 8 weeks and serve as Halloween and Thanksgiving decor. And just like that, without ever actually cutting into a pumpkin, it will look like you have planted one full of sedums—MAGIC!