I don’t suffer from false modesty, so when I say I don’t have a green thumb, I for reals do NOT have a green thumb. Normally, not being able to sustain plant life isn’t a big deal to me but during the holidays, I’m always envious of others decorating their homes with lush, botanical stuff.
I decided to do an experiment and see if I could manage to create a natural fall centerpiece, relying only on what grows out of the ground. I got an email from Pike Nurseries about their gardening classes and decided to register for the pumpkin planter one. The class was $30 and included step-by-step guidance to plant flowers and other fall favorites in a pumpkin to take home and show off to naysaying family and friends. Here’s my experience and the steps to make one yourself!
Let me literally and figuratively spill the dirt — I went to Pike Nurseries Buckhead and could not have had a nicer, more helpful teacher than Robby Burnett Jr. There were two couples participating in the class besides me, and it was so much fun, as these married folk got competitive with each other in the pursuit of the “perfect” planter.
Step 1: Gut your pumpkin.
Obviously, the first step in a pumpkin planter is to get a pumpkin, cut off the top and scoop out all the guts (either toss it all or save the seeds for roasting). Robby was awesome and cleaned out our pumpkins for us, but it’s a pretty easy process you can get done with a knife and spoon.
Step 2: Decide if the planter is going indoors or outdoors.
If you want to show off your planter to the neighborhood, carve a hole at the bottom of the pumpkin for water to drain out; if this is an indoor creation, leave the pumpkin as is. The indoor pumpkins should get a small handful of charcoal at the bottom to absorb the water you sprinkle on it each day, so it doesn’t make a mess or cause the pumpkin to rot too quickly.
I chose to make an indoor version, but, honestly, mine has been sitting outside since I brought it home … oops. Maybe this is why I kill so many plants — not enough forethought?
Step 3: Choose your plants.
This is where you get to be creative and let your botanical juices flow. If you like color, choose bright plants, like pansies, mums, flowering kale and other cheery foliage. If you like a simpler look, try dusty miller, grasses, etc. Doing this DIY project at Pike Nurseries afforded me the chance to choose from a huge stock, which was super helpful, since I’m not knowledgeable about seasonal plants.
I wanted a white-and-black theme, so I used white pansies and white viola and contrasted that with dramatic black mondo grass and curly grass.
Step 4: Add your soil and plants.
Here’s where things get really fun, and really messy, and you can pretend like you’re back in preschool getting covered in dirt. Make sure you have enough soil in the pumpkin so the plants can comfortably sit in the base and not fall over. Then remove your plants from their plastic containers (that’s right, I’m including that mention since some people — not me — might make you feel stupid for not knowing this step) and squeeze them into the soil. It’s surprising how many plants you can fit into a medium-size pumpkin, so don’t limit yourself to only two or three plants. Again, a big shoutout to Robby at Pike Nurseries for coming up with some lovely plants for us to add to our planters. Wipe off any excess soil and dirt from your pumpkin and you’re about done!
Step 5: Admire your handiwork.
Congrats, you’ve just created your own pumpkin planter! I was so psyched after I finished my pumpkin — people in my class, not just my mom who loves everything I do, remarked how they liked my theme.
Make sure you spray some water on it now and then, and place it where you think it’ll draw the most praise on your property, whether it’s an indoor planter or an outdoor one. As I mentioned earlier, I made an indoor pumpkin, but have kept it by our front door since I brought it home … so I’m thinking it’s not going to last much longer.
Step 6: Keep up with the gardening projects.
This project might seem like small potatoes for some of you Mother Earth types, but for me, this was like cultivating a rain forest! I had so much fun working with my hands and seeing that I can be creative beyond my laptop. A huge thank you to our teacher, Robby Burnett Jr., and Pike Nurseries for having this fun class. If you want to attend a gardening class, perhaps one related to the upcoming holidays, visit the Pike Nurseries website — there’s a list of great upcoming classes and events, many of which are free!