Easy Fall Centerpiece Ideas

It is time to start thinking about your fall holiday table and entertaining for Thanksgiving. Here are some ideas below.

If you want to see me decorate for the fall season with pumpkins, succulents, and other naturals, come see me at The Baltimore County Cockeysville Library in Maryland, where I will be creating and demonstrating centerpieces. I will be demonstrating for about an hour and a half starting at 7PM on Thursday evening, on October 24, 2019.  And you might go home with an arrangement!

If you can’t make it, check out my posts on how to design with succulents and pumpkins at Pumpkin Treats-Decorating with Succulents, Succulent Pumpkin Centerpieces, and Succulent Thanksgiving.

Succulent Pumpkin Centerpiece

Using a variety of drieds and succulents you can create an easy centerpiece in minutes
Spraying the pumpkin with a clear lacquer adds a nice finish; I saw this in a restaurant

An easy centerpiece to whip up for your Thanksgiving table using a leftover pumpkin from Halloween can be done in half an hour. Drying flowers all summer long from my garden gave me ample stock to pick from and I had a bumper crop of dried sunflowers to use. The sliced dried oranges were dried in my dehydrator and left over from last year. As to succulents, I have a greenhouse full!

My greenhouse has lots of succulents that I am rooting and over-wintering


My stock of dried flowers

The green Jarradale pumpkin was my leftover from Halloween and I hot-glued some green moss on top to start. Continue to glue the largest items on the top around the stem. Here I used mini white pumpkins and dried sunflowers.

Start with your largest items first and hot glue them on top
After the largest items are glued, start with the dried flowers; here I used Cockscomb

Next, hot glue the dried flowers. Using the burgundy cockscomb created a nice contrast with the light colored pumpkins.

Adding sprays of dried Dusty Miller

Continue adding dried flowers to cover the top and sides of the pumpkin. One of my favorite foliage drieds is Dusty Miller (Senecio cineraria). Drying beautifully, it looks almost as good as fresh.

Adding dried oranges gives the pumpkin a dimensional effect

Adding dried blue hydrangea and some flexible metal fern fronds adds to the richness of the design. Be sure to go down the sides of the pumpkin to create a lush look. It is almost finished!

Add the succulents at the end with some quick dry glue (not hot glue)
Pumpkin with succulents

Dried blue salvia and succulents were added at the end and the last finishing touch was a piece of kiwi vine. Don’t hot glue your succulents! They will melt with the high heat. Use a quick drying glue. I use E6000 available at any craft store. Air plants are a great addition also but be sure not to hot glue these either. Fresh plant material doesn’t work well with hot glue.

This creation will last for weeks, even until Christmas. To make it last longer, don’t sit the pumpkin in the sun and the cooler the better for temperature.

For more pumpkin ideas, go to Succulent Pumpkins For the Fall, Pumpkin Treats-Decorating With Succulents, and Succulent Thanksgiving.


After picking my own sunflowers from a farm I enjoyed them fresh for a week and then hung them upside down in a dark place to dry
Dried Sunflowers

Tips For Making Your Carved Pumpkins Last

With Halloween around the corner, pumpkin carving skills need to be honed and executed on the most perfect orange sphere that you can find in the pumpkin patch. If orange isn’t your thing, there is a rainbow of colors to choose from. Check out my post on Decorating Pumpkins-Pumpkin Eye Candy.

White pumpkin owl family

If carving a pumpkin is too much trouble for a pumpkin that lasts for about a week, consider decorating your squash with succulents which will last for months.

Green pumpkins look good with succulents
Use drieds along with succulents
Spraying your pumpkin gold adds some glam
Wisps of grass add a good design element to this pumpkin

For how-to on decorating pumpkins with succulents, check out Succulent Pumpkins For the Fall and Pumpkin Treats-Decorating with Succulents.  

Picking the Best

When you are at the farm stand picking out your perfect specimen, be sure to look it over for soft spots and gouges into the outer skin. If either of these are present, your pumpkin will likely rot before you can start decorating it. Poke and prod the pumpkin all over to make sure it is healthy. Have a plan of what you would like to carve as that determines the shape, size and orientation(sideways, upright, upside down) of your final creation. If you want the pumpkin at its best on Halloween, don’t carve it too early. One day ahead or the day of is perfect so that the pumpkin holds up.

This makes a great sideways pumpkin

Picking out from a local market means you won’t get a bruised and battered pumpkin that traveled far from the farmer.

An outdoor work area is preferable as the job can get quite messy. Using brown/butcher paper or a trash bag underneath makes cleanup a snap.

Carefully paring away of the skin adds to the expression of this face

Making Your Creation Last Longer

  1. Make sure you thoroughly clean out and scrape the guts. The cleaner and drier you get with the gooey pumpkin innards, the longer it will last.
  2.  Rinse the entire pumpkin in cold water and dry.
  3. Spray the pumpkin insides with a solution of  1 Tablespoon of peppermint soap or bleach to a quart of cold water. The peppermint soap acts as an anti-fungal and the bleach kills any organisms that lead to rot and decay.
  4. Apply a thin coating of petroleum jelly to the outside to stop the pumpkin from drying out.
  5. Place pumpkin in fridge in a plastic bag to store overnight or place outside in the cold. The colder it is (not freezing!) the longer it will last.
  6. Rehydrate with a spray of water when you take the pumpkin out of the bag.
  7. Don’t use real candles as the heat and melted wax will hasten the demise of your pumpkin.
  8. To last the longest, paint your pumpkin.

For the best tutorial on carving, I use YouTube. 


Use a drill to punch holes in your pumpkin for a unique effect
Draw from a template if you want an elaborate design
Attach accessories to make your pumpkin unique

Painted face on the bottom of a pumpkin
Group your pumpkins for a bigger impact
Attach other fruits and veggies with toothpicks
Love the butterflies!!

Creative Fall Containers Start With Foliage Plants

Three creative fall containers by Marion of Mullan Nursery Company
Three creative fall containers by Marion of Mullan Nursery Company
Creative Fall Containers photogrpahed by Marion of Mullan Nursery
Creative Fall Display photographed by Marion of Mullan Nursery


Fall is probably my favorite season for creating great container combos. I love the colors, richer and more textural than spring containers, and enjoy pulling in some fun accessories such as gourds, pumpkins, grasses, and curly willow. Go to the garden center in October and November, and shrubs are there for the taking at give away prices. Shrubs are a great starting point for an all season container.

Fall container with pumpkin and grass
Fall container with pumpkin and grass

When I put a fall combination together, I tend to work with “blocks” of solid colors, like the mum, or green autumn fern above. Using perennials such as ferns, ivy, grasses, mums, coral bells, bergenia, violas, lamium, etc., means that I can have a long-lasting container or all season arrangement that will have a new life in the spring. When the weather warms up after a long winter, I simply pull out the dead annual plants,  groom the perennials that are left, and add a blooming annual to spruce the entire container up with little fuss or cost.

Bergenia with its large leaves has burgundy highlights in the Winter. Lamium is hanging down the side and 'Southern Comfort' Heuchera is on the right.
Bergenia with its large leaves has burgundy highlights in the Winter. Lamium is hanging down the side and ‘Southern Comfort’ Heuchera is on the right.

The all season container above looked like this in January.  The Heuchera was a little wilted, but it remarkably stands up to all weather as well as the Bergenia and Lamium. The bonus is that the Bergenia turns a wonderful russet color in the cold weather.

The graceful lines of the evergreen Carex 'Evergold' looks good all the time
The graceful lines of the evergreen Carex ‘Evergold’ looks good all the time

Carex is also one of my go-to plants for winter. In the spring, I plant Caladiums to give a punch of color in this container with the Carex, and it sits in full shade with little care.


Fall containers depend on some work horses – namely grasses, cabbages, evergreens, heucheras, euphorbias, ferns, pansies, dusty miller, and mums. I feel that by designing and planting a good all season container in the fall, I am setting the stage for next year’s plantings, which saves me a lot of work and cost in the busy spring season.

Most of the plants I have mentioned are foliage plants. The selling point for me when choosing a plant, is the beauty and lasting power of the foliage. Budget conscious consumers are picking up on this and investing in beautiful foliage plants, and not concentrating on just the flowers. Flowers are fleeting, foliage is long-lasting.

These Zinnias are showcased by the foliage
These Zinnias are showcased by the foliage
Fall container with kale, cabbage, mums, ivy, and dusty miller- courtesy of Leigh Barnes of Companion Plantings
Fall container with kale, cabbage, mums, ivy, and dusty miller- courtesy of Leigh Barnes of Companion Plantings
Fall container at Ladew Topiary Gardens
Fall container at Ladew Topiary Garden


Decorated Pumpkin with Pods, Berries, and Drieds

White pumpkin with decorations
White pumpkin with decorations

Here is an update on my post Succulent Pumpkins for the Fall at http://thegardendiaries.blog/2013/10/23/succulent-pumpkins-for-the-fall/ using a white pumpkin. There are so many unusual pumpkins on the market today that I wanted to see how this color would work and I really liked it! I used more pods, added fresh variegated holly, winterberry, green amaranthus, and dried burgundy cockscomb to add a nice contrast to the white pumpkin.

Decorated white pumpkin
Decorated white pumpkin