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Connecticut Garden Journal: Spooky Jack-O'-Planterns

Oct 19, 2017

October is a time of apples, corn stalks, Halloween, and jack-o’-lanterns. Visit a local farm stand now to pick out your pumpkin for carving. But instead of making a jack-o’-lantern this year, try making a jack-o’-plantern?

What's a jack-o’-plantern? Well, it's a jack-o’-lantern that's planted.

Instead of just creating the spooky glow with candles or lights inside your jack-o’-lantern, you have plants sprouting from the head, mouth, eyes, and top.

It provides a different look for a classic fall tradition and you get to play with some nice fall flowering plants as well.

Here's how it works: Select your pumpkin and have the kids clean and carve it as usual. Apply some petroleum jelly to the cut surfaces so it doesn't dehydrate so fast.

Then let your gardening creativity kick in. Select plants with fall interest such as small ornamental grasses, sedums, pansies, colorful kale, or even houseplants.

Pack the pumpkin with moistened potting soil and don't worry about drainage holes. Pop in the plants as you like.

Consider some tall showy grasses or cabbages popping out of the head as hair and some quirky succulents for funky eyes and mouth. You can buy these at local garden centers or just transplant some from your own garden.

Last year I dug self-sowing pansies and violas and used those. Let your imagination go wild. If you still want to use your pumpkin on the big night for a jack-o’-lantern, simply clean out your planter, moving your plants into the garden.

Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about fall garden clean up. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.