Introduction: Cedar Driftwood Planter

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Re-purpose from nature to make this beautiful and completely unique cedar “driftwood” planter, using a Cedar tree trunk instead of actual driftwood.

I had this driftwood planter for a year, and during that year, I was pleased to discover after looking back at these photos, that out of the 8 or so types I planted, that I was only two types of succulents that died. The plants that gave me trouble are the same types that give me trouble in regular planters as well.

I am seriously lacking a green thumb, so that’s a testament to the hardiness of these plants being planted on this type of planter. I’m updating this tutorial because early in the year, I ended up moving across the country. I was worried the plants would get damaged in transit, so I temporarily re-homed the succulents to a large container for transport.

The other reason for the update is that after seeing how well the succulents did even in the shallow spots, I realized the grooves don’t require much depth, so I was able to eliminate a step and downgrade the difficulty level from moderate to easy! Some of these updated photos are my newly planted cedar driftwood planter. ** I have a lot of woods behind my house and am fortunate that there are trails I can walk on.

On my walks, I kept seeing trunks of cedar trees that had been cut down at some point because they were dying or dead and they had rotted from the ground and were easy to pick right up. I thought they were beautiful and unique looking and they reminded me of driftwood.

I don’t have easy access to driftwood so I thought I would take advantage of the cedar tree trunks and use them as “driftwood planters”. The only drawback to these is that cedar is an incredibly hard wood, so carving out deeper divots for planting the succulents was a little challenging. I make lots of planters so if you haven’t seen them and you want to check out some unique planter projects, then check out the Outdoor Decor section and specifically my Cement Balloon Planters and Cinder Block Planters wall.


Cedar tree trunk

Assortment of succulents

E6000 glue


Chalk or pastels

Eye dropper

Soil (may be necessary for deeper grooves)

Step 1: Choose the Wood for Your Driftwood Planter:

Choose a piece of tree trunk that has broken off from a dead cedar tree or other). I have quite a few of these dead trunks around my house. I looked for one that was visually interesting and had some natural grooves.

The grooves are important and will allow you to skip Step 4 if they are deep enough. However, you really don’t need much depth to plant the succulents, a groove about an 1/8-1/4” will be enough for most succulents to take root. If you can’t find a piece of ‘driftwood’ that is already separated from the cedar, then you may need to use a chain saw to cut the tree trunk off from a fallen tree.

Step 2: ​Prep the Cedar Driftwood:

Next rinse the dirt off the trunk. I did this in the winter, so I just rinsed it in the bathtub and spot dried it where the water puddled up in the grooves. The trunk likely has insects in it, so the way to kill them is with heat. First turn on your oven to 250 degrees, I didn’t bother pre-heating.

Now put the trunk on a tray to help keep your oven clean, in case more dirt comes off and then let it bake for about 2 hours. Please keep an eye on it to make sure it isn’t burning, I set a timer for every 20-30 minutes to check on it. Finally, after a couple of hours, remove it and let cool down.

Step 3: Determine the Locations for the Succulents:

Using the pastel or chalk stick, mark out the locations you want to place the succulents.

Step 4: ​Drill Shallow Grooves (if Necessary):

As it turned out, I probably didn’t need to deepen my cedar grooves as much as I did. If you think you need some depth, then take a Dremel with a cutting bit and hollow it out a little more in the areas you have marked for planting the succulents.

It would be a good idea to clamp the cedar in a table vise while doing this in case the trunk slips. I recommend cleaning up any undercuts that you may have created. Remember, you only need a depth of 1/8- ¼” to allow your plants enough space to attach their roots.

If you don’t have deep enough grooves you can also build up the moss a bit to hold the stems to the planter.

Step 5: Prep the Moss:

Since dry moss is very brittle and difficult to manipulate, making it a little moist will allow you to work with it more easily. So briefly wet the moss with water and then just wring out the moss after wetting and put the moss aside for now.

Step 6: Prep the Succulents for Planting in the Cedar Driftwood Planter:

Carefully remove the succulents from the containers, and then shake off the soil and trim back some of the roots. You don’t want them to be longer than your nooks are deep. In some cases you may have little to no root. In that case, you can secure the succulent by pressing some moss on top of the stem.

Step 7: Adhere the Moss to the Driftwood:

Squeeze a little bit of glue onto the locations of the cedar driftwood you are planting and start by planting the moss. You can also just dip the moss in some of the glue and stick it on the trunk. If some of your grooves are deeper than an inch, you can add a bit soil underneath the moss. The glue is waterproof and will adhere to the wet moss nicely.

Step 8: Anchor the Roots Into the Cedar Driftwood Planter:

Next, start planting your succulents. Just dip the stems into the moss that has been glued. It’s okay for the stem to get glued. The moss itself should anchor the plants, but if the roots are a little dry, then they may not be as cooperative in trying to manipulate so help anchor those using the eye dropper.

Continue working your way around the cedar trunk until you have your plants looking the way you want them. I advise holding off a few days before watering so your plants can get used to their new fancy home in the Cedar Driftwood Planter!