A confession here. I am obsessed with pumpkins and gourds, and can’t drive by a farm stand without stopping and selecting a bushel full to add to my collection. To me they are sculpture in an amazing array of forms, sizes, shapes, and textures. Those of you who have followed this blog or have visited Avant Gardens know that one of my other obsessions is succulents. I wasn’t the first arranger to think of combining the two, but clearly gourds and succulents pair well.
Timing couldn’t be better. With frost imminent, I have just dug dozens of succulents out of pots in the garden and will soon run out of space in the greenhouse. As an advocate of the Slow Flower movement, extolled in Debra Prinzing ‘s book by the same name, I’m always looking for ways to use plant materials in arrangements which are in season and on hand in my garden or windowsill. Thinking that you also might want to create your own succulent arrangement, I’m passing on this quick tutorial.
Materials needed: a pumpkin or gourd, dry long-fiber sphagnum moss, floral pins, spray adhesive, and tacky glue, plus an assortment of succulents in an array of shapes and sizes in coordinating colors (that’s not hard..most coordinate so well with each other.)
First, use the spray adhesive on the top of the pumpkin so that the sphagnum moss can cling to it, and loosely extend the moss over the crown. (Note: I didn’t do this here, but would recommend removing the pumpkin stem). The moss acts as the “planting medium”, and will later be sprayed with water to hold moisture. Next, secure any trailing succulents onto the moss using tacky glue and floral pins if necessary,
Begin to add the larger succulent cuttings, like the rosette forming Graptoveria shown here. Apply a little bit of the tacky glue to the base of the stem and carefully arrange in the moss, using a floral pin, if it helps, to secure in place. Apply gentle pressure to make sure the glue and base make contact. Continue with the smaller succulents to fill in the bare spots. It will take 24 hrs. for the tacky glue to securely dry, so let the arrangement rest overnight. Check the next day to see if the cuttings seem well attached. If a few stems are loose reapply glue. and add a few more if needed. Carefully transfer your pumpkin to a spot where all can admire it.
Your arrangement will look terrific for weeks (months?). The succulents will hold up well for a while without water, but you can mist the arrangement with water if they become a little shriveled. The sphagnum moss will hold just enough moisture to keep the arrangement fresh. Since you are not hollowing out the pumpkin, the fruit will not quickly decay (as hollowed-out pumpkins tend to do). The little pinpricks from the floral pins do minimal damage. Keep the arrangement in a bright cool spot (too much warmth and darkness will encourage decay).
When your gourd or pumpkin begins to go decay, you may find the succulent cuttings are still fine. and have even set roots. Remove them from the arrangement and pot them up. Keep the baby succulents in a sunny window and you just will have a collection of plants for next year’s garden.