Introduction: Succulent Wall Art

Picture of Succulent Wall Art

I decided to make some living wall art with succulents. This time around was more of an experiment to see how it could be done. I have compiled a step by step instruction as to how I made my own living art box to hang on a wall.

As a note, I made this prototype with the concept of making more with better materials. I have a slew of ideas and creations, but I wanted to get a better grasp on how easy it is to build them.

So, here are my notes on how I built my first living art 12"x12" frame box.

Step 1: Materials

Materials: Scrap stained 1"x6" Redwood, old picture frame, scrap wire mesh, scrap 1"x12" Redwood, caulk, cactus mix soil, moss and succulent cutlings.

Tools: Table saw, finish nail gun, wire snips.

Step 2:

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To start I cut the frame box and made each side 12".

Step 3:

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Then I finish nailed the box together and made a "top" and "bottom". The top and bottom pieces were the areas where I nailed the box together so you wouldn't see the finish nails as easily once the box was hung on the wall. When you put the planter box together, keep in mind the sides that will show and place the best sides of the wood facing the exterior of the box.

Step 4:

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I cut the back piece and finish nailed it on the inside of the box.

Step 5:

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Then I caulked the back and all the corners of the box to seal the planter frame up.

Step 6:

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I took the scrap frame and cut it down in size to secure the wire mesh to the frame box and give the box a more finished look. I used finish nails in order to secure the picture frame to the box.

Step 7:

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I put the cactus soil in the box and compacted it down. I put a very think layer of moss on top of the cactus mix in order to hold the soil in and retain a bit more moisture. The moss is more of an experimental idea, but it seems like a good one...

Step 8:

I have quite a few succulents growing in my yard so I cut a bunch off in order to make my living art. The ends of the cutlings should "scab up" after a couple of days and then they are ready to insert into the soil and frame box. The cutlings will branch out new roots once planted in the box and essentially make a new plant.

Step 9:

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I arranged the succulents how I wanted to make something interesting and beautiful. They will take root in about 6 weeks and at which point, I will put the planter box vertical.


dmorin7777. (author)2016-04-21

and also, does it {the box} have to be so deep. I really love the Hens and chicks....I want to hang some living art at my front door entry way on the brick wall...i love yours it seems to be flourishing. And looks beautiful!

dmorin7777. (author)2016-04-21

Can you use any kind of wood?

faceboogerz (author)2016-02-16


hrvatska (author)2014-03-19

Would the plants survive if you watered it by misting with a spray bottle? I really don't know anything about caring for cactus-type plants.

rrkrose (author)2012-09-04

Wow! These are beautiful!

thesucculentsource (author)2012-07-03

Here is a great site for beautiful and well priced succulent cuttings. They ship all over the US.

legolasandgimili (author)2012-06-04

Wicked cool! Like living art.

witold (author)2011-12-11

I found your instructable very interesting, congratulations :)

Could you tell what kind of plants did you use? Because I've seen them in Spain and since then I'm courios what was it :P They're very nice (those with leaves looking like flowers).


soooonr (author)2011-12-08

I know it's already been said (many times), but very cool! This might be the first thing I've found on this site that I may actually build. I think these would make lovely presents. If you're gonna give someone something alive, it's nice to make it low-maintenance!

Thank you!

janisbored (author)2011-11-28

this project reminds me of a beautiful installation from flora grubb i saw at an open house.. SOOO BEAUTIFUL... they actually have one diy project you can purchase with all the materials.

Yeah there are a few companies around the world that make boxes for you and all you need to supply are the plants. They make amazing pieces!

luckyee4 (author)2011-11-28

I used to make some hanging boxes similar to yours--Love the picture frame idea on yours..
My suggestion would be that at the top --drill 2-3 holes slightly towards the back in order to water the plants-- We left our tops open and inserted PVC tubes- bottom closed- and drilled very small holes up and down the sides- which helped to get the water down to the bottom...
Great Job!

MsJaxFla (author)2011-11-28

Your succulents sure do look like what we always call "Hen & Chicks" or maybe "Ghost Plants"....... (Graptopetalu paraguayense), Okay, can't type with broken wrist and forget spelling.

And I would use MORE moss than dirt, and just spritz with the hose in the hot summer once in awhile. I guess you do need to take it down once in a blue moon to water & feed it..... but just let the moss dry in between waterings.

I use MIracle Gro in a very weak solution.

klambert3 (author)2011-11-27

"I put a very think layer of moss on top"

Just to clarify, thin or thick? I figure thin but want to be clear.

designrevolver (author)klambert32011-11-27

I meant thin. You don't need the moss, I just had wider chicken mesh so I used it to assist on holding the soil back.

MsJaxFla (author)designrevolver2011-11-28

Really? I was sure you would have said a thick layer of moss. Why? Because you have a deep box and succulents mostly only need moisture.... oh well.

I first saw this technique in a major magazine... and I have always like it.

I live in Florida and yes I still need to shelter or cover my succulents in a freeze that lasts more than a short time.

If you have any old wooden drawers, you can use them as well.

Oh yeah, why do you caulk the seams? I am thinking to hold the box frame together? I still would recommend drilling some air holes in the bottom. \

I do love this idea and a good one to build your own frame.

janetsellers08 (author)2011-11-27

Beautiful. I always wanted to make one. So far, does it leak or what happens to the wall it is on? Or do you keep it outside? Where I live, it is snowy and cold, so we would need to keep it indoors. Thanks.

In order to water it, you have to take it down off of the wall. Give it a day to absorb the water and then put it back on the wall. Making the box out of sheet metal would be the best, but not very easy to do. I live in California so these plants thrive in this environment.

Thanks! I grew up in CA, but this snow stuff is quite a challenge - things just stop for fall and winter gardening, whereas in CA we had kitchen gardens all year, etc.

General Lee Stupid (author)2011-11-27

what are the dimensions on the box you made? how shallow do you think you can get away with? thanks!

Beauceron (author)2011-11-27


suayres (author)2011-11-27

Very clever and creative--and beautiful, too! Another planting medium (which would work especially well for bromeliads) are the thick, pleated felt wall pockets you can buy at some home improvement stores and garden centers.

Crystalline_Chaos (author)2011-11-25

They look similar to a succulent that were pretty commonly found growing in planters in and around my parents' house. Common name for it was I think "Hen and Chicks". Which when you think about it many different plants share similar if not the same common names, which is why binomial nomenclature is used. Same thing with insects and arachnids; one in particular comes to mind. "Daddy-long legs" and you may have heard of this common name, there are three creatures I have seen it used for, and in-fact, they all fall in the arthropod phylum. Two of which are arachnids; only one of which is a true spider (otherwise commonly referred to as a cellar spider [Pholcus phalangioides]) and the other is more closely related to a mite (often called a harvestman) [Phalangium opilio]. The third is actually a crane fly (Tipulidae oleracea).

Ugh... sorry, I get a bit spacey when it comes to stuff like that.

Great instructable by the way! I may have to try this one. I wonder if it would be possible to make a more temporary wall art from cut flowers? Make a box and some how water-proof the sides (possibly make it out of plastic) then use the florist foam stuff (the fine gritty textured stuff [ewww! hate the feel] usually a green color). I guess you could decrease the depth of the box? Do you think that would work? Anyways, fantastic idea and Instructable!

That's right, it is hen and chicks. Haha thank you for the extra data. :)

I plant to construct a few planters that you can hang on the wall. Think planters to put flowers in that look modern and whatnot. I'll do an instructable on those, but they will be pretty easy to make. I love the modern look, so I would like to make them out of a darker concrete material. Possibly a dark gray plaster with epoxy on it or something of the sort. Anyway, I'm rambling now!

Thank you for the feedback!

kewlkiwi (author)2011-11-27

Perhaps, when you get to the hanging up stage, you could arrange the hooks/nails/whatever on the back of the box so that it can be hung in all four possible ways 'up'
That way, the moisture in the soil wont drain towards one side all the time, which may leave the plants at the top a bit dry.

azolina3 (author)kewlkiwi2011-11-27

True, I was wondering if he had to take it down to water it and let it settle for a certain amount of time...

designrevolver (author)azolina32011-11-27

Yes, I take it down to water it.

azolina3 (author)2011-11-27

So once its on the wall how do you water it? Im not sure how much water succulents need but if its sideways wont it pour out?

designrevolver (author)azolina32011-11-27

I would take it down to water it and then hang it up after it absorbs the water. The one I made here is outside, but they can be hung inside. Some sort of waterproof mesh could be used as well top prevent leaking on the wall after it gets hung up.

MsLindyRay (author)2011-11-27

I have grown plants, especially succulents, all my life,and have a succulent nursery. I have never seen any reason to cut them at all. Just pull up the babies around the mother plant, and it will already have the start of roots, if not it's own roots already. They will actually put forth roots faster in a dry planting medium than a wet one, as they will be searching for water. If you over water them, they will die. They also need bright light. If my trees get too big and overshadow some of them before I notice, they die off. When I finally notice, they are just gone--absorbed back into the soil.Also, with lighting too low, they colored ones will fade to green.

Okay. I have a few hen and chicks plants in my yard and the little pieces I plant I had to cut off because they are not just coming up from the ground, they are branched off from the mother plants.. This is just how I did it and was based off of research I did online with experienced growers. Thanks for the tips!

gailgates (author)2011-11-27

Very Cool! I wish I thought of that!

designrevolver (author)gailgates2011-11-27

Thanks! If you do a google search you can find more. :)

Karina Q (author)2011-11-24

I love it!! Can you tell me the name of that plant?? Thank´s and i really like your work!

designrevolver (author)Karina Q2011-11-24

They are succulents and the genus is Aeonium. There are numerous types and I have a couple of them in this piece. I made this piece 3 months ago and hung it in my backyard on a brick wall. It is still looking great! :)

Karina Q (author)designrevolver2011-11-24

He visto de esas plantas pero nunca supe el nombre, me encantan!! Thanks a lot!! You are really nice!

mikeasaurus (author)2011-11-23

Living walls are neat, and succulents are a favourite of mine. Do you have any photos of planting the succulents (step 8)? It would be good to see what 'scabbing up' looks like, and how you made the openings between the chicken wire.

I don't have any photos of the cutlings scabbing up, but it takes about 2 days. Once the cutlings are scabbed, you can peel off any dried out flakes, then you set them in you planter box. I am creating another one in a few days, so I will document it better and edit this instructable.

Penolopy Bulnick (author)2011-11-23

That is beautiful!

Thank you! i am making more soon. I just got a few more recycled frames.

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