Gossip in the Garden

Harmony in the Garden's Chattier Side


Succulent pumpkins

Without a doubt, fall is my favorite season of the year.  Once I spot the first signs of pumpkins and squash adorning grocery stores and farmers markets  I’m like a kid in a candy shop.  And don’t even get me started on my obsession with glass pumpkins!

I’ve admired succulent-topped pumpkins ever since I first saw Laura Eubanks’ to-die-for gorgeous creations a few years ago.

When I was asked to lead a workshop for the Polk County Master Gardener’s Fall Fling, of course I jumped at the chance!  We had so much fun that day, everyone sitting around chatting, catching up on each others lives – sort of like a modern day quilting session.  In fact, one of the members recently sent me an email letting me know she had so much fun making these pumpkins that her daughter’s girl scout troop was now going to do the same!

So, if you’re feeling creative and want a fun and easy project that will last for several months, try making your own succulent topped pumpkin.  They’re ideal decorations for Halloween and Thanksgiving, and when they’re getting a little ‘past their prime’,  you can re-plant them in the garden!    Here’s the simple directions:GreenBar

You will need

  • A pumpkin (or squash) with a shallow, bowl-shaped top
  • Seeds, pods, dried buds – get creative with seasonal embellishments
  • Moss – dried sphagnum moss works great
  • Clear tacky craft glue (Aleene brand works really well)
  • Glue Gun (for heavier seed pods and non-cooperative succulents)
  • Spray Glue (for the moss)GreenBar
  • And of course you’ll need a mix of succulent cuttings!
  • I like to use a mixture of tiny, medium and a few larger sized varieties.

To keep your composition interesting it’s important to emphasize contrast of color, shape, size and texture.GreenBar

  1. Thoroughly spray the top of the pumpkin (or squash, in this case) with the spray glue.
  2. Apply a thick, ½” layer of moss, firmly patting it down. You may need to re-apply more spray glue to get it all to stick.
  3. Trim the ends so you have a tidy edge.  Or not – it depends on the look you’re going for.  Rough edges have more of a rustic feel while neatly trimmed edges allow the succulents to shine.GreenBar

Begin attaching the larger succulents or seedpods first, towards the center of the pumpkin.  You can use either the tacky gel glue or hot glue gun.

Ideally, these succulents shouldn’t have any stems, so they lie flat and will easily attach.

Believe it or not, succulents aren’t phased in the least by the glue (either hot or cold). Their little roots will start to grow right through it – amazing, I know.GreenBar

After a week or so the succulents will shrink a bit, so it’s important to pack them tightly letting no moss show through.

And just like designing containers, where the common motto is ‘thriller, filler and spiller‘, the same goes with succulent pumpkins.

Put the ‘thriller’ on the top (i.e.: larger succulent, bigger seed pod, etc), surround it with filler (mediums succulents and berries, etc), then have trailing succulents drape down the sides of the pumpkin.GreenBar

Isn’t this beautiful?  One of the women in the group made this, and I just love how the succulents pop against the white pumpkin.

We used lots of dried berries (pyracantha, pepper tree, etc) and small pinecones, and attached them with the tacky glue.  A hot glue gun would work better as it dries so fast, but with this many people we didn’t want to risk accidental burns.

Let the pumpkin dry for an hour and it’s good to go!GreenBar

Here’s another gorgeous pumpkin made by one of the members.  Don’t you love how the green and yellow of the pumpkin accentuates the berries and succulent colors?

To care for your pumpkin, keep it out of direct sunlight and it should last for several months.  I keep mine in the house one week, then it goes on ‘vacation’ outside for the next.

Mist with water once or twice a week.

The roots of the succulents will begin to grow through the glue and the moss, and when pumpkin season is over all you need to do is remove the succulents and replant them in your garden.


Or, you could always dismantle the succulents and glue them to something more appropriate for the next holiday season.

Maybe pinecones?

For a fantastic succulent book filled with more simple, creative and fun succulent projects I highly recommend Debra Lee Baldwin’s newest book, Succulents Simplified.


17 Responses to Succulent pumpkins

  1. Everyone is going crazy with making Succulent topped pumpkins these days. So many member of our Succulent Fanatics group on Facebook are going crazy with making them and the fun this is, everyone is different. I did 2 workshops this year and it was a lot of fun too. So glad you are getting more into succulents. Ha! you may want to join our group on FB ….. Succulent Fanatics.

    • Hi Laura – I can only imagine how beautiful the succulent pumpkins are that the S. Fanatics are creating! I can’t believe I haven’t joined that group yet – I’m heading over there now!! 😉

  2. Wonderful, wonderful post sweet Rebecca! You covered it all! Looks like you all had a absolutely great time! I have pumpkins and all the makings I need to get to it. I was thinking about doing another video. Hmmm! And or blog post. But don’t want to copy you. And I know Debra and Laura already have a video but hey, everyone has their own take on things don’t they. I will share this on Sweetstuffs for sure as they will love it. It was great seeing you at the SE and wish I could be there for your book launch but my back just isn’t up to it right now. Have fun!

    • Hi Candy – I’m so sorry your back is still hurting. 🙁 And don’t worry about copying ME – heck, I was copying Laura. We all take ideas from one another and spin them into our own a bit, adding a little here and there. It’s all a good thing when our goal is to spread the love of gardening!

  3. What a great idea! This would be so great to give to someone in a hospital or nursing home rather than flowers at this time of year.

  4. Rebecca, the pumpkins are adorable! I can’t wait to add these to our fall decorating. I think my kids will love making one as well. Thanks so much for the inspiration! I adored your garden this summer at the Fling…and one of these days, I will finally write about all of the gardens. I had to sort 2,000 photos first! 😉

    • Thanks so much, Julie. I hope your kids have as much fun as mine did (mine is 18 and she still loves making projects like this). And I’m so glad to have met you, too, this summer. Where has the time gone – seems like just yesterday!!

  5. Thanks for sharing the “recipe” for succulent pumpkins! A nearby nursery offered a workshop but, as that required an hour drive each way and a $75 fee, I much prefer reading about your approach. Maybe I can collect some friends to give it a try with me.

    • Hi Kris, it would so much fun to do this project with a few friends (have each one bring cuttings to share!) In our workshop, several people contributed succulents from their gardens which really made it that much more fun since we had such a wide variety of goodies from which to choose.

  6. Hi, Rebecca — One of the projects in my new book, Succulents Simplified, shows Laura Eubanks demonstrating this technique. It has become hugely popular, and yours are gorgeous! It’s the “new” wreath. I’m so glad the workshop went well, too.

    Btw, I did a 4-min YouTube video with Laura that shows how to make a succulent-topped pumpkin, step by step. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSr6doI4uQQ

    • You’re so right, Debra – it’s the new ‘wreath’. Ha! And your video is fantastic! I tried to load it into my post, but YouTube wasn’t cooperating. I’m glad you included the link. Watch it everyone!! It’s like having Laura and Debra give you personal one-on-one instructions! 🙂

    • Glad you liked them, Donna! I hope you have fun making your own. Once you’ve made a few they’re addicting. I have 5 more little pumpkins here just waiting for me to transform them…