| Amarillo Globe-News
In addition to offering some of the best selections of seasonal plants in Amarillo, Pete’s Greenhouse schedules popular in-person workshops and other events on a monthly basis. In October, its annual Pumpkin Succulent Workshop sold out quickly and ended up being the local business’s most popular event this year. “We sold out with 52 people,” says Jordi Velasquez, who owns Pete’s with her husband, Devin. “We even had a wait list. We probably should have done more classes, and probably will next year.”
She thinks the popularity of the pumpkin-succulent combination reflects a couple of realities. One, after a hot, dry summer, people are ready for fall. Two, it’s a unique and adorable arrangement. Pumpkins are always popular in the autumn months and succulents have been growing in demand for the past few years. Put those two things together and you have an ideal combination for a fresh, seasonal centerpiece.
“Everybody’s not used to seeing it all the time,” she says of the arrangement. “It’s a really unique statement piece and sets the tone for fall.”
She walked us through a step-by-step process to create your own pumpkin centerpiece at home, just in time for the Thanksgiving table. Thankfully, the process is much easier than the final result makes it appear. “It looks like it might be complicated, but it’s one of the easiest [classes] we do all year. The fun part for me is watching someone who says they’re not creative, and by the end of the class, they’ve created this amazing arrangement,” she says. “It happens every single time.”
Sphagnum (peat) moss
Succulent variety, trimmed to fit design
Dried botanicals (fallen leaves, pods, grass, pinecones)
Here’s how to do it:
1. Select a pumpkin. For best results, choose one that has a flatter top to provide a broad, horizontal base for the succulents. “It does work better if you have more of a flatter, Cinderella-type pumpkin,” says Jordi. Make sure the stem is cut as flush as possible with the top of the pumpkin.
2. Wash your pumpkin and let it dry.
3. Soak sphagnum moss. Fill a large bowl with water and place the moss in it for around five minutes. This type of moss, which retains moisture and requires infrequent watering, comes in a bag and is available at most nurseries or home improvement stores.
4. Apply adhesive. Using spray adhesive (available at most craft stores), spray a saucer-sized area around the stem of the pumpkin.
5. Pack the moss. After squeezing out any excess water, form the pre-soaked moss into a ball about the size of a softball. Make sure to pack it tight!
6. Secure the moss. While the adhesive is still tacky, firmly press the moss ball onto the adhesive area of the pumpkin. You’ll want the layer of moss to be at least a half-inch thick.
7. Make a hole. Using a skewer, create a hole in the moss. You want it to be slightly larger than the stem of the succulent you’ll be placing within it. Velasquez recommends starting first with the largest or tallest succulent. “You can put it right in the center or, if you want to create something more asymmetrical, off to the side,” she says. “That personal preference is part of the fun.”
8. Glue the succulent. Using craft glue and/or a hot glue gun, apply glue on the side of the stem of the cut succulent and press firmly into the hole you created.
9. Work your way around. Continue this process with succulents all the way around the top of the pumpkin. Focus on mixing up the colors and textures of the succulents as you arrange them.
10. Infill. To complete the appearance of the centerpiece, fill in the space between the plants with other organic matter. Velasquez suggests using dried botanicals like fallen leaves, pods, grass, pinecones, and more. “We used foraged botanicals from around the Panhandle to fill ours in,” she says of the workshop at Pete’s. “Your arrangement can keep evolving. You can keep adding to it.”
11. Let the glue and the arrangement dry.
Once completed, care for the pumpkin centerpiece by dribbling a teaspoon of water onto the moss once every week to keep it damp. “You want it to stay damp. That’s what gives [the succulents] water,” she says. Like any houseplant, the centerpiece needs bright, indirect light, so place it on a surface near a window.
Gradually, the pumpkin will begin to soften. When this happens, use a sharp knife to slice off the top of the pumpkin, removing the moss arrangement portion. Then, simply add it to a pot of soil. (The flesh of the pumpkin will rot away, fertilizing the soil.) “Pop that whole top off, put it in soil and you’ve got an arrangement,” says Velasquez. “Your succulents will root in and keep growing. That’s one of the coolest things. I had people in the workshop [this year] who had done it last year and still had their succulents planted in a pot.”