There’s a chill in the air, everything is pumpkin-spiced, the leaves are crunchy, my 2nd favorite part of the year is upon us, Happy FALL ya’ll! Though we’re only about halfway through the fall season, it’s FLYING by, & ashamedly as I type this I actually already have Christmas music blaring in the background, feel free to judge all you want LOL (I can’t help it, I have feliz navidad disease). ANYWAYS! We’ve worked on a couple fall pieces so far, and the first DIY is one that I’m sure you’ve already probably seen everywhere, however we put a little bit different of a spin on it…a PUMICE-EY spin of course!
You’ve probably seen them on Pinterest or Instagram, because simply carving pumpkins is not good enough, us crazy plant ladies have to take it a step further & put succulents on everything, including those orange gourdy beauties. If you’ve seen any of these DIY’s, people typically use real mini/large pumpkins & use craft glue or hot glue to attach moss to the top of the pumpkin, & then proceed to hot glue the succulents around the stem of the pumpkin on top of the moss. This way works, however the succulents cannot thrive in the soil-less environment with minimal hydration, so it is definitely meant to only be a very temporary home for the succulents. The glued succys will quickly need to be removed from the pumpkin within a few weeks and re-planted into well-draining soil as they require. HOWEVER, when I saw these pins & DIYs I was a bit flummoxed because for me, if I’m going to put my heart & soul & time into creating this fall-themed piece of artwork I want it to thrive & last! I want it to be happy & healthy, & last the whole Fall season if not longer! That’s when I came up with our take on this DIY. So grab your pumpkin-spiced latte, UGG boots, & let’s get to DIY-in’.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
- Lots of Succulents, duh!
- Faux Pumpkins (We got ours from Michael’s with a coupon for $5.98 each!)
- A bag of our PUMICE, obviously! ♥
- Quick-draining Cactus/Succulent Soil (we always use Kellogg Palm, Cactus, Citrus mix)
- Your usual Potting Tools
- Scissors or a sharp knife
- A serrated knife or pumpkin carving knife
- Chalk Paint (whatever color you’d like your pumpkin to be)
- Hot Glue Gun or Quick Drying Craft Glue
- Coffee, lots & lots of coffee 🙂
SO, LET’S GET STARTED!
First things first, my favorite part of the DIY project, succulent shopping! So we bought our succulents wholesale from a local grower Rancho Vista Nursery, because we are making 11 succulents pumpkins to use as centerpieces at a party, so will need A LOT of succulents. When buying succulents for any project, my advice is always BUY MORE THAN YOU THINK YOU’LL NEED! The first few projects I did I bought what I thought would be the exact amount I would need & ALWAYS ran short. So now, I buy a handful of extra succulents to be safe, because it’s always better to have too many succulents than not enough right? 🙂
So let’s talk how to choose succulents, the general rule of picking succulents for a project like this is you want “thrillers”, “spillers”, & “fillers”. What does that mean? “Thrillers” are the eye-catching succulents, the focal point of your project that thrill the eye, whether in color, size, or texture; we chose one of these for the center of each pumpkin. “Spillers” are your hanging succulents, the sedum donkey’s tail, string of pearls/bananas, crassulas, etc. anything that will trail & hang down the side of the pumpkin to create more dimension in your piece. & lastly, “fillers“, these are going to be the bulk of the succulents you’ll be buying that actually fill your pumpkins. We tried to pick a very wide variety of succulents for fillers, so that every pumpkin looks unique & has different colors, patterns, dimensions, & textures. One handy tip for fillers, instead of buying all individual 2-3″ succulents, consider buying 4-8” pots that have a mama to use as a thriller & the babies or cuttings around her as fillers, this will save you significantly.
Once you’ve chosen all your succulents, the NEXT STEP is to prep your pumpkins & soil! As I said earlier, we purchased our faux pumpkins at Michael’s, with a coupon we paid $5.98 per pumpkin. This is the biggest difference with our DIY, instead of using real pumpkins, we are using sturdy plastic pumpkins, that are hollow on the inside so can be cut open & filled with proper draining soil & utilized as permanent container homes for your succulents!
To prep your pumpkins, you will need your serrated knife or carver to carve the top of the pumpkin off (like you would when you make a jack-o-lantern!) You can also drill a few holes in the bottom of each pumpkin for better drainage.
Once you have all your pumpkins carved, you can make them even more unique & choose to paint them. I suggest painting with chalk paint to give that rustic, farmhouse chic look. We chose to paint some rose gold, & a few with rose gold polka dots as well to give each centerpiece it’s own unique vibe!
Next step, proper SOIL.
Since we’ve turned our plastic pumpkins into actual permanent containers the soil we use is CRUCIAL, just like in any other succulent planter. The most important part of growing healthy succulents is your soil! Just like “you are what you eat” so are your succulents! & the key ingredient for healthy, nutrient-rich succy soil is PUMICE. Our Pumice is KEY because it creates proper drainage while getting more oxygen flowing through your soil, & it absorbs excess water so reduces the chances of overwatering & rot. Our pumice also has dozens of additional minerals that nourish the soil & plants even more. (You can read more benefits about our pumice HERE).
So, for these pumpkins I used our size 3/16″ pumice, mixed 50/50 with Kellogg Cactus soil, as I recommend for all succulent containers & gardens. Once you have your pumice/soil mixed, you’re going to want to fill each pumpkin all the way to the brim, & create a taller soil mound in the center of the pumpkin so the middle focal succulent will be elevated higher than all the rest & create a more attractive dimension to your pumpkin!
Now the moment we’ve all been waiting for, finally TIME TO PLANT!
Time to get the creative juices flowing. I find the best way to tackle a planting project like this, especially for us doing so many at once, is to pick out all your “thrillers” first & set them next to the pumpkin you’ll be putting them in. Once you have chosen which succulent you’re going to use as the focal point of each centerpiece, you can much more easily envision the rest & build around that. Once you’ve made your thriller selections, it’s time to start planting. So, start by removing the root ball from each succulent, (as pictured to the right). Gently pull the succulent out of the container and massage as much soil off of the roots as possible, you always want to do this when planting because this allows you to loosen roots that may have clumped together while growing in the nursery pot, so the roots can breathe better.
Once you’ve gotten the soil off of the roots, create a deep hole in the center of the mound you built in your pumpkin planter & plant the stem/roots of the succulent as deep as you can, this creates a much sturdier centerpiece. I mean the last thing you want is a wobbly pumpkin, amIright? So now after you have all your thriller-focal point succulents planted start going to town with your “fillers”. My favorite go-to fillers are Zebra Haworthias, Elephant Bush, Graptoverias, & the ever-lovely Perles.
Always remember when planting a project like this the most important aspect of designing is HAVE FUN WITH IT! There is no science or blueprint to designing & planting a succulent container. Every single one is unique & the point of planting it in the first place is to enjoy yourself during the process & then enjoy the final product! The process is what makes it so beautiful & soul-soothing. So don’t stress out about placement, colors, patterns, or textures too much, don’t try to copy ones you’ve seen on instagram or Pinterest, build one that reflects YOU & your personality & style. Honestly just do whatever YOU like best & what combinations/colors tickle your fancy most!
Your last & finishing touches of your pumpkin shenanigans, are your “spillers”. As we discussed earlier, the spillers are the succulents you’ll add around the outer edges of the pumpkin’s rim that will waterfall over the side, giving a fuller dimension & will complete the look of your pumpkin. When it comes to spillers, in my opinion, you can never have too many! On some pumpkins I also used 2 different types of spillers, & I loved the results! So grab your hot glue gun, string of pearls or donkey tails, and get to spilling! You don’t HAVE to hot glue the spillers, or any of the succulents, however I knew I would be transporting this a few hours away & wanted to be sure they were all securely in tact when they get to their destination. Do not fret one bit, the glues will NOT damage your succulents, just make sure to remove them VERY carefully when/if you choose to dismantle your pumpkin in the future, and they’re ready to replant!
& That’s It!
As you can see it’s really not all that complicated to build these beauties! So, run to Michael’s, grab a plastic pumpkin, a bag of pumice, & create a gorgeous centerpiece for your fall-themed front porch, office desk, or fall dinner party, or heck, since you’re planting them in a proper container with healthy soil, you can even build them this weekend & save them to use as a Thanksgiving centerpiece. It will be just as luscious & gorgeous in a month for turkey day as it is now!
So that’s that! Thank you so much for reading & hopefully creating along! & a special thank you to the real MVP @iwasakiphotos for taking all these amazing photos & helping me build a ridiculous amount of these LOL. Also, if you end up making your own give me a shoutout on Instagram @SexySucculents_ ! I’d love to see how YOUR pumpkins turn out!
Now if you excuse me, I’m back to stuffing my face with pumpkin pie while listening to my Christmas music & watching cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies ;P
Until next time,