How to Make a Vertical Succulent Garden

Add a hanging garden to your home with a living succulent picture frame. Succulents are a good choice for vertical gardens because they’re slow-growing and don’t need a lot of water to thrive.

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Tools and Materials

  • pruning snips
  • succulent cuttings, made at least one day before you begin
  • picture frame with glass panel removed
  • shadow box made of cedar 1x3s, cut to fit the back of the frame
  • hammer and nails
  • jigsaw
  • liquid nails adhesive
  • metal hardware cloth, cut to fit the inside dimensions of the frame
  • staple gun and staples
  • 1/4" plywood backing, cut to fit the back of the shadow box
  • potting soil (mixes made for succulents or cactus)
  • chopstick or pencil
  • sturdy picture hooks and picture hanging wire

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Step 1: Make Succulent Cuttings

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Snip cuttings from succulent plants at least one day before you begin the project. Remove lower leaves so there’s a 1- to 2-inch long stem remaining. New roots will sprout from these stems. Let the cuttings dry on a tray for a day or so to callus the cut ends.

Step 2: Attach Hardware Cloth

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With frame face down, place the hardware cloth on top. Staple the cloth to the edges of the frame.

Step 3: Make Shadowbox Frame

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The shadowbox will add depth to the back of the picture frame, acting as a planter for the soil and succulents. Cut the cedar 1x3s to the dimensions of the back of the frame. Nail the box to together and then glue it to the back of the frame. Glue the plywood backing to shadow box. Let dry.

Step 4: Add Soil

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When the backing board is dried, fill the box with potting soil. Pour it on top of the hardware cloth and use your fingers to push it through the mesh. Shake the frame to evenly distribute the soil. Use enough soil to fill the box and reach the wire grid.

Step 5: Insert Succulent Cuttings

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Push clipping snips (or use a chopstick or pencil) through the gird and into the potting soil, making a hole. Insert the succulent cutting into the hole. Repeat until the entire frame is filled with plants.

Step 6: Let Succulents Root

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After planting, lay the succulent frame flat and out of direct sunlight for two to four weeks to allow the cuttings to root. Otherwise, they’ll fall out when you hang the art, because, gravity. Do not water for the first two weeks. Water lightly third week.

Step 7: Put it on Display

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You can hang your succulent art on a wall, or set it on a table or shelf and prop it against the wall. Succulents do best in bright, but not direct sun. If you hang it outdoors, protect it from afternoon sun. If you hang it indoors, put it near a south-facing window. Water your succulent art once a month (more if you live in a very hot or very dry climate) by laying the frame flat on a table and moistening the soil. Let the succulent picture dry for a day or two before rehanging, because the wet soil will be heavy.

Project Tips

  • Save money by buying a picture frame at the thrift store. The one we used cost $1
  • Ask the hardware store if they will give you scraps of metal hardware cloth and plywood. Many stores cut these materials for customers and have small pieces left over. We got scraps free at a big-box store.
  • You can buy fresh succulent cuttings online from growers who’ll clip and send them in two days.
  • Hang on to the succulent plants you take your cuttings from. They’ll make new growth and be lovely again in a month or so.
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