Massachusetts floral designer Karin Lidbeck-Brent is always searching for interesting things to use in her arrangements. To add a unique, non-blooming touch she collects seedpods from garden, meadow, and roadside plants each fall. "We pass attractive pods every day but tend to look for pretty flowers and not so much for brown and dried things," she says. Seedpods may not be the most traditional choice for fall floral arrangements, but they can be just as striking as colorful zinnias or mums. Rather than bright colors, seedpods can liven up your fall decor with their intriguing shapes and textures.
When gathering seedpods anywhere other than your own garden, always make sure to get permission first from the property owner. Some plants can be prickly so grab your gardening gloves along with your clippers. And if you end up collecting too much of a beautiful thing, save nature's bounty until next year. Place excess pods in plastic storage bags or a big box until you need them. Lidbeck-Brent stores her extras so she'll have a handy supply at the ready whenever an arrangement calls for a striking shape or texture. Use these quick and easy designs as inspiration for gorgeous fall centerpieces of your own that feature seedpods and warm autumn colors.
Bell Jar and Pumpkin Display
Take inspiration directly from one of fall's most iconic plants—gourds! Using a pumpkin for the base and a curved bell jar on top mimics a gourd's natural shape. Combine moss (Sphagnum Moss, $4.57, The Home Depot) and a variety of seedpods under the jar for an enchanting fall centerpiece.
- Start with a tall bell jar and a pumpkin wider than the bottom of the jar. Outline the jar's base on the top of the pumpkin using a marker. Use a knife to cut around the outline. Remove the pumpkin's lid and scoop out the seeds.
- Fill the pumpkin with potting mix and top with moss. Lidbeck-Brent uses fresh moss she finds in her garden but dried moss works well, too.
- Choose several attractive seedpods and insert their stems through the moss into the potting mix at different heights. If some of the pod stems are too short, you can wire them to wooden sticks. Shown here are seedpods of lupine, common milkweed, hibiscus, and money plant (Lunaria annua), which produces seeds enclosed in translucent silvery discs.
Time to go foraging! Use a log or pieces of bark from the woods to help show off a rustic arrangement of moss, ferns, and seedpods. Or, if finding a log where you live is a tricky task, you could also head to a craft store to pick up a log look-a-like and while you're at it, add some interesting pods to your cart like Ashland Lotus Pod Stems, $7.49, Michaels or Mahogany Pods on Sticks, $3.49, Hobby Lobby.
- Look for a 24-inch-long log partly hollowed by rot or collect pieces of bark from the forest floor and hot-glue them together to make a log shape.
- Scrape the rotted parts from the log or bark, and shake out the debris. Lidbeck-Brent's trough is about 3 inches deep in some areas, less in others. Wipe the inside of the log until clean using an old rag, and leave it in the sun for a day or two to dry.
- Fill the log with potting soil.
- Buy a few miniature plants and set them in the soil-filled trough. Lidbeck-Brent used begonias and small ferns for their attractive leaves.
- Dig some moss outdoors with a flat spade or buy it from a crafts store. Cut a few pieces to cover the exposed soil.
- Select a variety of pods and insert them into the soil around your plants. For this design, Lidbeck-Brent uses mintolla balls and lotus, mahogany, and badam pods, available online or at crafts stores.
Sunflowers, Hydrangeas, and Pods
Even without their bright petals, the huge seed heads of sunflowers are beautiful when featured in a fall arrangement with acorns, leaves, and dark brown seedpods. Because dried flowers and pods don't need a vase full of water to keep their good looks, you can fill up a clear container with acorns (Metallic Acorns, $1.49, Hobby Lobby) instead to help hold each stem in place.
- Fill a vase with acorns (gathered or store-bought).
- Insert drooping sunflower seed heads around the rim and dried hydrangea flowers behind them to give the bottom of the bouquet a visually balanced look.
- Add taller stems of different pods, keeping the arrangement sparse and loose so their individual silhouettes stand out.
- Lidbeck-Brent contrasted the solid forms of the sunflowers with the black pods of Baptisia, long thin okra pods, yucca, oak leaves, a dark red sumac (Rhus) plume, an evening primrose seed stalk, Scabiosa, and hibiscus pods.
A plain grapevine wreath (30-inch Grapevine Wreath by Ashland, $18.99, Michaels) quickly transforms into a more welcoming fall door decoration with a few seedpods, fall leaves, and berries. Lindbeck-Brent used a wide variety of pods and plants to create her wreath, but you could also choose just a few favorites to mix together for a similar look.
- Buy a grapevine wreath at the crafts store.
- Cut or break the band binding the stems tightly together.
- Pull the circular vines of the wreath apart slightly to add more dimension and create slots for inserting stems and pods.
- Rewire the wreath loosely to stabilize it, and make a wire loop hanger on the back.
- Tuck the seedpod stems into the slots, grouping pods of each species together. In this wreath, Lindbeck-Brent uses green, teardrop-shaped milkweed pods, some leaves and red-winged seedpods from a Japanese maple, tallow berries from the crafts store, scarlet oak foliage, a lotus pod, evening primrose stalks, jimsonweed, and seedpods from a honey locust tree.
Pumpkin with Chinese Lanterns and Milkweed Pods
Using a pumpkin as a planter, you can fill it up with succulents, mums, or, in this case, a few simple stems of seedpods. Fiery Chinese lantern stems are especially striking against a light orange or even yellow pumpkin, but feel free to use any pods you want.
- Cut an opening in the top of a pumpkin—a Cinderella-type pumpkin is shown here.
- Scoop out seeds and any loose pulp. Use the hollow pumpkin like a vase, but do not add water.
- Arrange milkweed and Chinese lantern stems in the container, packing them tight to hold them in place.
Leave fresh flowers for the spring and summer, and embrace seedpods for your fall decor this year. Depending on the occasion, their autumnal colors and fun shapes are perfect for wreaths, dried flower arrangements, and stunning centerpieces.