Seasonal Centerpieces & Placesettings with Succulents

I’m thrilled to have Cynthia as part of our team. She provides amazing ideas and today’s contribution is no less worthy! Cynthia has an amazing hand with succulents and you will LOVE this idea for the fall holidays.

Cynthia of Jordan Valley Home and Garden ClubFor those of us in colder climates, the end of the growing season is upon us.  I absolutely love using the non-cold hardy, California-style succulents in my planters outdoors.  The problem, however, is that they are not frost hardy.  I will usually overwinter them inside but last year I figured out a unique way to use them indoors that not only keeps them alive but makes them the focal point of a gorgeous fall “living arrangement” for my home.  You can make these too, quite easily in fact, to serve as interesting table decor for your own “Falliday” celebrations.

Here's a gorgeous fall "living arrangement" you can make for your home! It's a fun and unique way to use succulents indoors by Jordan Valley Home & Garden Club.

Last year I learned that, if kept indoors, the succulent pumpkin arrangements can last for about 4 months! The only reason they won’t last longer is that the UNCUT pumpkin will start to degrade not rather than the succulents giving up. No, I’m sure you won’t want a succulent pumpkin decorating your foyer at Christmas BUT if you don’t happen to get around to disassembling it until after the holidays, it’ll all be okay.  And yes- I know this because I didn’t get around to disassembling mine until that time!

Here's a gorgeous fall "living arrangement" you can make for your home! It's a fun and unique way to use succulents indoors by Jordan Valley Home & Garden Club.
Before we get into the technique, let me say straight up that I am landscape designer, not a florist! In fact, I am pretty sure a real florist would cringe at the methods I use for my living arrangements but, so be it.  The point of a living arrangement is to preserve the root systems so that the plants can be used for future arrangements OR be planted outdoors in the real garden when you’re done- the creation is merely a temporary home.  I guess that makes “Living Arrangements” sort of a hybrid between houseplants and floral arrangements which is exactly my goal!

Here's a gorgeous fall "living arrangement" you can make for your home! It's a fun and unique way to use succulents indoors by Jordan Valley Home & Garden Club.

Shall we make some?  First up, I wanted to try using some little mini-pumpkins and squash to make individual placesetting card holders.  The most important thing to remember is that we’re NOT CUTTING INTO THE PUMPKINS! The plants are not stuffed down into a hollowed-out pumpkin.  If we did that, the whole arrangement would quickly begin to degrade. Rather, we are pinning the plants to the top of the UN-CUT pumpkin as though it were a simple pin cushion. That’s the secret to making the arrangements last and to keep mold and rot from moving into the succulents which would prevent them from being re-used later.  Besides, who wants a half-rotten pumpkin sitting on their kitchen table?

Succulent-Topped Mini-Pumpkins, Squash & Gourdes Placesettings

Here's a gorgeous fall "living arrangement" you can make for your home! It's a fun and unique way to use succulents indoors by Jordan Valley Home & Garden Club.

When purchasing your succulents, try and select a variety of succulents with different colors, shapes and textures because it will give you the most interesting final result.  I like to get mine at a local grower, J&J Nursery in Layton, Utah because they have the best prices and selection.  However, the big box home improvement stores also carry a very nice, albeit more expensive, selection.  For the arrangements in this tutorial, I used 2″ and 4″ sizes.  I also pulled a few rooted cuttings out of a “past-it’s-prime” succulent wreath I made in 2012.

Supplies:

  • Small succulents (2″ pots) at J&J Nursery in Layton, Utah- my favorite place to acquire cost-effective succulents or, for those in warmer climates, succulent cuttings.
  • Mixed pumpkins and gourdes (mine were purchased in a mixed bag from my local Big Box Mart).
  • Floral Pins
  • Moss (I used glycerin preserved Reindeer Moss but any kind will do).

Here's a gorgeous fall "living arrangement" you can make for your home! It's a fun and unique way to use succulents indoors by Jordan Valley Home & Garden Club.

Select your main succulent for each pumpkin or gourd and rinse most of the soil off the root system.  Rinsing is optional but is especially important if you plan to place them on top of the plates rather than to the side- no one wants a side of dirt with the turkey!

Here's a gorgeous fall "living arrangement" you can make for your home! It's a fun and unique way to use succulents indoors by Jordan Valley Home & Garden Club.

Using floral pins, STRADDLE the stem of the succulent and pin it to the top of the pumpkin/gourd.  We don’t want to stab through the stem because the goal is to be able to reuse the plants later instead of kill them.  Repeat the process as necessary with another plant or two depending on the size of your pumpkins or gourdes.  Once the plants are pinned on, pin moss around the base to hide the root systems.  Tuck in any loose roots as you work your way around.  The roots will live perfectly happily in tucked under the moss. That’s it!

Here's a gorgeous fall "living arrangement" you can make for your home! It's a fun and unique way to use succulents indoors by Jordan Valley Home & Garden Club.

Succulent Pumpkin Centerpieces

The process for the centerpieces is pretty much the same as the process for the mini-pumpkins- just a bit BIGGER.  Larger pumpkins allow us to take advantage of some larger plants (I used several 4″ size pots)

Here's a gorgeous fall "living arrangement" you can make for your home! It's a fun and unique way to use succulents indoors by Jordan Valley Home & Garden Club.

Supplies:

  • Small succulents (2″ pots) or succulent cuttings- about 5-8 small plants
  • Medium succulents (4″ pots)- about 3-5 medium plants depending on pumpkin size.
  • Optional: Large succulents (only 1- 8″ pot for the center but only if you’re working with a very large pumpkin which we are not in this tutorial!)
  • Pumpkin- any kind will work but the flat-topped Cinderella pumpkins work especially well.
  • Floral Pins
  • Landscape Staples (found near the weed barrier fabric at Home Depot or Lowe’s Home Improvement stores).
  • Moss (I used glycerin preserved Reindeer Moss in 2 shades of green).

Here's a gorgeous fall "living arrangement" you can make for your home! It's a fun and unique way to use succulents indoors by Jordan Valley Home & Garden Club.

The technique is the same we used for the small pumpkins.  However, since I’m NOT setting them top of dinnerware, I didn’t worry about removing most of the soil.  The larger 4″ plants require the use of landscape staples to secure them to the pumpkin.  You can stab either the staples or floral pins through the root balls, just don’t stab them through the stems.\

Here's a gorgeous fall "living arrangement" you can make for your home! It's a fun and unique way to use succulents indoors by Jordan Valley Home & Garden Club.

Start by selecting and pinning your center plant to the top of the pumpkin.  If possible, remove the stem.  In the case of this pumpkin, it was totally NOT possible so I decided to simply work around it.  The center plant is secured with 2 landscape staples shoved through the root ball at roughly a 45 degree angle (if you are a real florist- you may cringe now).

Here's a gorgeous fall "living arrangement" you can make for your home! It's a fun and unique way to use succulents indoors by Jordan Valley Home & Garden Club.

Take your next largest plant (we’re using an ‘Afterglow’ Echeveria which is quite possibly my favorite) and pin it sideways on the pumpkin, again using the larger staples.  Repeat this, spacing evenly, until the major spaces are filled.  Use the smaller plants or cuttings to fill in the gaps and trail down the pumpkin and secure them with either floral pins or landscape staples depending on size.

Here's a gorgeous fall "living arrangement" you can make for your home! It's a fun and unique way to use succulents indoors by Jordan Valley Home & Garden Club.

Remember the addage that applies to container gardens? The “Thriller, Filler, Spiller” formula?  We’re applying it here too, just using a pumpkin as the base instead of a planter!

Here's a gorgeous fall "living arrangement" you can make for your home! It's a fun and unique way to use succulents indoors by Jordan Valley Home & Garden Club.

Tuck pieces of moss around the rootballs to hide them and secure with floral pins.  Make sure that your pumpkin looks good all the way around if it will be placed on a table- we want all sides to be pretty and interesting.

Here's a gorgeous fall "living arrangement" you can make for your home! It's a fun and unique way to use succulents indoors by Jordan Valley Home & Garden Club.

Here's a gorgeous fall "living arrangement" you can make for your home! It's a fun and unique way to use succulents indoors by Jordan Valley Home & Garden Club.

Care & Maintenance

This is possibly the best part- the arrangements are super-low maintenance.  Simply place the whole thing in your kitchen sink every 3-4 weeks (if you’re keeping it indoors and in frost-prone climates, they must be kept inside).  Use a gentle spray action to thouroughly SOAK the rootballs.  Then let the whole thing sit for awhile so excess water can drain into the sink.  Once it dries off a bit, put it back in place and forget about it for a few more weeks.

KEY TIP:

Succulents are from hot, dessert climates and are adapted to those climates. Success is nearly guaranteed if you treat them the way they prefer.  When rain comes to the dessert it completely saturates everything (probably creating a flash flood) and then it’s dry for a long time.  Same deal with succulents in your home.  They want to get REALLY wet then stay REALLY dry for a long period.  The worst thing you can do is to lightly mist them on a more frequent basis.  OTHER houseplants will like that treatment but NOT succulents!  If you properly ignore them but provide lots of light and occassional deep soaks, they’ll love you!  You’ll love that they aren’t just one more living thing trying to hang on you.

Once the fall season and “fallidays” have passed, simply reverse the construction process.  Remove the moss then carefully remove the succulents from the pumpkin.  Repot them in new containers and keep growing them in your home.  You can then either add them to a NEW “living arrangement” or keep them for use in your outdoor containers come spring.  I usually pot them up into something new but you’ll have to wait until January to see what that might be!

 Thank you, Cynthia! You always come up with the most creative and awesome ideas! I LOVE this.

Head on over to Jordan Valley’s Home and Garden Club’s website to find more spectacular ideas! You’ll be glad you did!

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