How to Grow: Jack-O-Plantern

Learn how to create a Jack O Lantern that you can plant, too.

Listen to podcast:

It was my daughter, Elena, living in Canada who turned me on to Jack O Planterns. We’ve all heard of Jack O Lanterns and now is a good time to get pumpkins for some traditional Halloween carving. But a Jack O Plantern?

Elena saw them at a fall festival last year and I was intrigued. What’s a Jack O Plantern? Well, it’s a Jack O Lantern that you plant. Instead of just having the spooky glow of a candle or lights inside your Jack O Lantern, you have plants sprouting from the head, mouth, eyes, etc. I think it’s a great idea. It provides a different look for a classic fall tradition and you get to play with some nice fall flowering and foliage plants.

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 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.

From the Vermont Garden Journal on Vermont Public Radio.