With Thanksgiving behind us, you might be wondering what to do with all of your lovely pumpkins and gourds that you used for decorations. Last year Candace and I showed you how to create a fun and cheerful Jack-O-Lantern planter filled with grasses and succulents.
This year I wanted to show you guys how to create an easy and chic pumpkin planter using specialty pumpkins 'Speckled Hound' and 'Rouge Vif d’Etampes' and a variety of succulents (both hardy and non-hardy).
What are specialty pumpkins? Well, the best explanation can actually be found in our previous blog post by Mike Lascelle 'All Things Pumpkin'. But for simplicity, I just refer to all pumpkins which are not your typical Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin variety 'Howden' as specialty pumpkins. If you are interested in seeing the huge variety of pumpkins and gourds available, I highly recommend that you read Mike's post.
Succulents make for a great plant for pumpkins because they can tolerate drought conditions. This important when planting into a decomposable vessel like a pumpkin. Typically, once you water your plants in a pumpkin, it will begin rotting within a few days. So succulents are perfect because they won't need to be watered frequently or at all depending on how long you keep your planter.
For the tutorial today we are focusing on planting the 'Rouge Vif d’Etampes' variety which has brilliant red skin and a flat sort of shape. We will be planting it up with only 3 plants Hens & Chicks 'Henrys Black', Sedum pachyphyllum 'Salsa', and our homegrown Sedum 'Fine Gold'. We have an amazing selection of succulents and cactus in store, so if you would like to go for a different colour scheme or look, feel free to change up the ingredients and flex your creative muscles!
1 4" pot Sedum 'Fine Gold' (indoor plant)
1 4" pot Hens & Chicks 'Henrys Black' (hardy outdoor plant)
1 2" pot Sedum pachyphyllum 'Salsa' (indoor plant)
ProMix Cactus Soil
1 'Rouge Vif d’Etampes' or specialty pumpkin of your choice.
Pumpkin carving tools
Specialty Pumpkins 'Speckled Hound' (front) and 'Rouge Vif d’Etampes (back), Sedum pachyphyllum 'Salsa', Sedum 'Fine Gold', 'Hens & Chicks 'Henrys Black'
The first step is to carve and empty your pumpkin. The skins of the 'Rouge Vif d’Etampes' and other specialty varieties are very thick and therefore you will need a sturdy knife and I recommend you wear gloves to have a good grip on your gourd.
Remove the top of your pumpkin and scoop out the innards of your pumpkin and discard it. The inside of your pumpkin does not need to be a work of art, just be sure to get the stringy and goopy stuff out.
The second step is to take a few handfuls of your cactus soil and fill your pumpkin about a quarter of the way full. I lightly moistened my cactus soil to avoid having to water my plants later on. Depending on the depth of your pumpkin, you may want more or less soil. What is important that the plants can spill over the edge of the pumpkin without exposing the soil.
Your Hens & Chicks plant will likely come with a "Hen" surrounded by her "Chicks" meaning smaller rosettes around a large rosette. We call these Pups. Take your plant out of its pot by squeezing the plastic pot and have a look at the root system. There will be pups that can be removed from the main plant easily by teasing the roots apart with your fingers. You can pull them off with your hands or if you have trouble you can snip the connecting roots using clean scissors or secateurs. Your goal is to isolate 2 clumps of pups from the main plant, therefore, having 3 separate groups of plants. Don't worry if you find yourself with a pup with only a single root without soil. These plants are so sturdy that pups will grow with just that tiny little bit of root no problem.
Plant the largest of the group into your pumpkin off to one side so its fleshy leaves hang over the edge of the pumpkin. Reserve the other two smaller clumps of pups for more planting.
Like with the Hens & Chicks, the Sedum 'Fine Gold' can and needs to be divided if your pumpkin is too small to accommodate the whole plant. This was the case with my pumpkin but fortunately, these plants are extremely hardy and can easily be divided. Like with the Hens & Chicks, simply unpot your plant and with your fingers gently pull away a section until you have a section that will fit in your pumpkin. The roots will come apart ore readily than the tangled leaves, so just gently tease the top apart. Reserve the extra pant for a second pumpkin planter like I did.
Plant your Sedum 'Fine Gold' snug up against the Hens & Chicks and the edge of the pumpkin. Again, allow the Sedum to cascade over the edge.
Now take your Sedum pachyphyllum 'Salsa' and plant it beside the Hens & Chicks. There is no need to divide this plant because it is in a 2" pot which will fit quite well. Now is also the time to have a look at your planter and see if you need to add any soil around the plants. You do not want any air gaps or exposed roots. Use your hands or even a teaspoon to place soil in the gaps, doing your best to avoid getting soil in between the petals of the Hens & Chicks. If you do get soil in the crevices of the plant, I recommend using a small paintbrush to remove the dirt.
This last step utilizes the two smaller groups of the Hens & Chicks by filling any gaps you find in your arrangement. I had some space between the Sedum pachyphyllum 'Salsa' and the Sedum 'Fine Gold' so I used the two clumps to fill that area.
I found it difficult to get my fingers in between the plants, so I actually used a chopstick to nestle the roots into the soil between the plants. It worked like a charm. The planter looks very finished by being planted so full and densely.
As I mentioned above, you likely will not have to water this planter much between now and Halloween. If you see the leaves of your plants beginning to pucker or wrinkle, that is a sign the plant needs to be watered. Use as little water as possible when watering your pumpkin planter to avoid encouraging rot.
Succulents prefer bright sun locations, so be sure to place it in a suitable spot inside or outside of your house. Being that this planter is a combination of hardy and non-hardy succulents I recommend you bring your planter inside at night to avoid frost damage if you have placed it outside on your porch.
Once Halloween is over and you want to retire your planter, you can plant the Hens & Chicks outside in your garden in a sunny spot or even into a perennial container arrangement for the winter. As for the Sedums, you can repot them into a ceramic container and enjoy them as houseplants!
Following the same steps outlined above, I created a second planter using a 'Speckled Hound' pumpkin, the remaining Sedum 'Fine Gold', an indoor Echevarria (unlabeled but likely the 'Red Tips' variety) and Graptoveria 'Bashful'. I love using the combination of whole pumpkins and planted pumpkins as part of my front porch display as it brings a great amount of interest.
So if you are looking to recreate these looks with your existing pumpkins or want to create them in new ones, come into the store and grab all the supplies you need. We have a great selection of pumpkins of all varieties in still.
Heather Youl - Digital Media Manager