As the weather begins to cool, thoughts turn to decorating the inside and outside of your home for fall. Pumpkins, mums and other fall foliage are a great way to create a colorful look, both outside and inside, but there are a few tips that you may want to keep in mind.
“When you are choosing a pumpkin, you want to try to find stems that are green,” Tina Condurso of East Gate Farms, said. “That can be difficult as the stems tend to turn brown fairly quickly, but they should still feel a bit flexible and soft. Pumpkins that are not carved can last some time, but there are many factors to consider. Humidity and warm weather will break them down faster and you shouldn’t sit them in direct sunlight if you want them to last.”
Condurso stated that there are some pumpkins varieties that are hardier than others while those with warts tend to break down more quickly, especially in humidity.
“When you choose a pumpkin for a Jack-O-Lantern, the first thing to look for is a flat bottom,” Condurso said. “The traditional orange pumpkins is the easiest to carve as it offers a pretty flat surface. In addition, the rind on a traditional pumpkin is a bit softer than the colored, decorative ones. Choose one that is a decent size to carve the design you want as well. Pick up the pumpkin before you purchase as it should feel pretty solid, not soft in any area.”
If you plan to use your pumpkin outdoors, there is really no need to preserve it unless you have to place it in direct sunlight. For indoor decorations, Condurso explained that they sometimes use shellac to preserve gourds and pumpkins.
“My mother made me a fall decoration last year with shellacked pumpkins,” Condurso said. “No kidding, that decoration lasted until February.”
Another fall favorite used in decorating is mums, but Condurso warned that it is better to purchase the mums before they bloom.
“Mums pop with cooler weather,” Condurso said. “When you buy them, pick one with closed buds because when they bloom, you will have flowers for as long as a week. For outdoor decorating choose hearty mums rather than florist mums. They are perennials, so they will come back next year. Asters are the same way and they also come back each year.
When it comes to summer plants, there are some that you can bring inside and protect. However, Condurso warned that bringing hibiscus and other topicals is not recommended.
“They are known to get white flies and aphids which you don’t want in your home,” Condurso said. “If you want to keep them through the winter, cut them back and spray them with an insecticide soap so you don’t bring pests into your home.”
Anyone with questions about fall planting or decorating can stop by East Gate Farms. They are open seven days each week from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM. The farm is located just over the Wilkins Road overpass on Cedar Creek Road, east of Route 1.
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