Love that design mag style, but helplessly un-handy? Long for the “bring-the-outdoors-in-with-live-plants” look, but have a knack for killing fresh greenery faster than you can say “photosynthesis”? We have the project for you:
You don’t need a green thumb to bring this super-fresh style to a living room near you. Nor do you need to bust open your piggy bank to buy the overpriced boutique version.
It’s a fun, easy DIY project that involves LIVING plants that need almost NO CARE, so even plant-killers the world over will suddenly sprout a “green thumb”. Plus, you can enjoy the vibrancy of leafy home décor in a neat little, minimalist package that you crafted with your very own hands. What have you got to lose? Besides your hang-ups about being a bad crafter/gardener?
SO, HOW TO MAKE THIS COOL, CACTI CREATION? FIRST, GATHER THE GOODS:
A deep, 8"x 10" , canvas-friendly wood picture frame (We used OW3 but any of our deep rabbet frames would work great!)
A flat, wood backing piece (can be plywood) slightly larger than the opening of your picture frame
1/2" wire mesh (a.k.a. hardware cloth)
Tin snips or heavy-duty wire cutters
Paint or wood stain for the sides of the wood backing (Totally optional! Depends on the look you’re going for. )
Wood glue (Optional: Since waiting for the glue to dry takes up most of the time, if you attach the backing with screws or a staple gun instead, you’ll speed up the process. But be sure it’s completely flush with the back of the picture frame so soil won’t fall out)
Moistened succulent/cactus potting soil (enough to fill the box)
A mix of about 15 small (2-inch) succulent plants, such as: hens & chicks, stonecrop, Aeonium, Dudleya, leatherpetal, panda plant, tiny aloe, etc.
Preserved lichen or moss
A chopstick (or pencil, wooden dowel, popsicle stick, etc. – anything to make small spaces in the soil)
TIPS OF THIS DIY TRADE:
Flatter, tendril-like succulents work best.
Take succulent cuttings or “pups” from your backyard and save money!
If you have extra moss when you’re finished, put it around the base of a potted plant – it’s a great look and will help the plant retain moisture.
If you decide to create a larger hanging succulent planter, use screws rather than glue to better reinforce the box (the soil will be heavier).
These beauties also make fantastic table centerpieces. So, leave it horizontal for the dining table or prop it on a bookcase!
Note: You wont need the D-rings and hanging wire on the back of the picture frame if you choose these kinds of displays.
LET’S GET THIS CRAFTY PARTY STARTED!
1. Measure and cut the wire mesh to fit the opening on the back of the picture frame.
2. Fit the wire mesh onto the back opening of the picture frame and staple it in place with the staple gun.
3. Here you have two options, wood glue, staple gun, or some combination of the two.
If you are using wood glue, apply a liberal amount of wood glue around the rim of the backing box or inner rim of the plywood and place it over the opening on the back of the picture frame. Weigh the piece down with books or a heavy object (or clamp it together).
Note: Some of the glue may seep out when you weigh it down, so wipe away any excess while it’s still wet. Let the glue dry according to the instructions.
If you are using a staple gun, simply staple the plywood securely and squarely onto the back of the frame, like below.
4. If your wood backing is thick enough to be visible from the side of the planter, you can paint or stain the sides for a better look. Just follow directions on the stain for this.
5. (Optional) Attach the hanging hardware about 1/3 of the way down from the top of the picture frame (about 3” down, if you’re using an 8” x 10” picture frame). You want it high enough so the frame will not lean too far forward, potentially dropping your succulents!
Note: If you don’t want to hang your planter (it’s also a lovely table ornament!) you can leave this step off.
6. If your succulent potting mix is completely dry, moisten it so that it’s damp. Fill the box with soil, shaking it side to side and pressing the soil down through the mesh. You want the box full and the soil firmly packed.
7. Gently knock off any excess soil from the succulents’ roots. (You may want to separate larger plants into individual shoots.)
Note: We recommend laying them out on top of the mesh first to develop the arrangement you want before digging in!
8. Use the shears to cut an opening in the wire mesh just large enough to accommodate the roots of one succulent. (Some will be small enough to fit through the mesh opening without cutting it.)
9. Use a chopstick to create a small hole in the soil for the succulent’s roots and gently press the plant into place. Repeat for all succulents.
10. Fill in the spaces between the succulents with the moss, using the chopstick to gently press into the openings of the mesh.
11. Voila! Done! We recommend letting your planter sit for a few days to let the roots take hold of the soil under the mesh. Then, hang on the wall, lean against a shelf inside or out or use as an awesome dining centerpiece.
CARING FOR YOUR CREATION
Succulents need a decent amount of light light, but it’s best if you hang the planter where it will get moderate to bright indirect sunlight.
Mist the moss weekly. If it starts to dry up and harden, give it a thorough misting and you’ll see it soften up again.
Once a month, take the planter down and lightly water it to moisten the soil. Keep in mind that the planter doesn’t drain, so be sparing.
If you notice any succulents aren’t thriving (or if a succulent outgrows the picture frame), you can pull them out and replace them. Same goes for the moss.
SO, LET’S REVIEW:
A DIY endeavor that doesn’t break the bank? Check.
Enjoying an indoor plant with a high likelihood of living more than a week? Check.
Showing off your impeccable taste and uncanny crafting abilities? Check, check!
When you’re done patting yourself on the back, please don’t forget to share a pic of your DIY custom, cacti creation with us on social using the hashtag #FramingJoy. We’re suckers for a good succulent success story!.
Written by Roominate contributors Sarah and Cheryl