With an old wooden frame, some chicken wire, moss, and some succulent cuttings--create a beautiful hanging garden that will last for years.
- Picture frame—wood (12 x 16 is a great starter size)
- Weed block fabric or burlap (a little bigger than the size of the frame) stapled to the back of the frame
- Chicken wire (2” bigger than the frame on EACH side
- 1 – 2 small bales of moss (sold at nurseries & craft stores—natural color—usually under $10/bale)\
- Stapler--manual or electric—your choice
- 3/8” staples (½” staples work, too)
- Wirecutter to cut chicken wire
- Scissors to cut weed blocking fabric
- Measuring tape
- Picture hanger
- Bowl of water to briefly soak moss in
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Step 1: Measuring the Chicken Wire
Measure the frame.
Next, unroll a slightly bigger section of chicken wire.
Lay the frame down on top of the chicken wire. The chicken wire must be 2” bigger on each of the four sides.
Use a wirecutter to cut out a 16” x 20” section of chicken wire.
Step 2: Bending the Chicken Wire
Background: Each of the four sides of the chicken wire will be bent at 90-degree angles (like sides of a shallow box). One at a time, each side is bent 2”, then stapled to the INNER edge of the frame.
Begin by bending one of the long sides of chicken wire.
The new bent side should be about 2” long.
Step 3: Stapling the Chicken Wire to the Frame
Staple the bent edge of the chicken wire to the frame.
Make sure you staple the wire far down into the bottom of the frame to keep the staple from showing later.
Fold the corners into V-shapes and staple.
Use a hammer to tap loose staples into the frame as you go.
If the frame is too small to get your stapler in, you can staple the last side to the BACK of the frame. Avoid this if possible to reduce the risk of a hole in the back panel.
Step 4: PREPPING THE MOSS
As you tear the moss apart, place it in a bowl of water.
Push the moss into the water squeezing it like a sponge until all of the moss in the bowl is wet. Let soak for a minute.
With the front of the frame pointing down, fill the wire basket you created with wet moss.
Lightly squeeze the water out as you fill.
Step 5: STAPLING THE WEED BLOCK ONTO THE BACK OF THE FRAME
Place the frame face down.
Attach the weed block fabric, or burlap to the back of the frame.
Fold the edges under to make it neat.
Staple from one side of the frame to the next—back and forth until staples are about 1” apart. Pull the fabric tight.
NOTE: There are many kinds of weed block fabric on the market. I’ve shown two on this page. It does not matter what kind you use as long as it breathes a bit.
Step 6: ATTACH THE PLANT HANGER
Attach the hanger.
Or you can lean this up against something.
Step 7: READY TO PLANT
Choose the succulent slip you want to use. Make sure all leaves are removed from the part of the stem that will be planted in moss.
With the frame facing UP, use your finger to dig a canal down into the soaking wet moss.
Place the succulent slip into the hole.
Add bits of wet moss to the hole to hold the succulent slip in.
* Use any 2-part epoxy to repair the frame as it weathers over the years.
Step 8: Caring for My Hanging Succulent Garden
- These last years.
- When the frame starts to split from weather, use a 2 part epoxy, like JB Epoxy, and fill the gaps. These framed gardens hang outside and weather. They become rustic and beautiful. No one notices a bit of epoxy here and there.
- Add annuals that flower all summer for more color.
Soak with water every day by gently pouring gallons of water on the moss, or blasting with a stream of water from a hose. If succulent slips fly out, you need more moss.
Step 9: Wintering My Hanging Garden
- I live in the Pacific Northwest. Temps get down to 25 degrees a few times each winter. With it may come snow.
- My hanging gardens are filled with succulents from my yard. These include chicks & hens—see Hardy List below,
- The framed succulent gardens are meant to live outside all year round. This means I have succulents up to Zone 7. These succulents can survive freezing temps. I used to live in Minnesota. There I needed to buy up to zone 5. Those succulents could survive temps down to -10 or -20 F.
- Outdoor succulents in zones 1 – 7 MUST have cold temps each year. They need a winter period to go dormant. Then in the spring most will wake and thrive.
- Each October I place all of my framed gardens on a metal grate.
- I place them all alongside an outside wall of my house.
- I make sure that there is no roof overhanging them, as they need access to the water that rain or snow provides until the cold temps make them go dormant.
- This provides enough protection for the plants and frames.
- Each spring I replace succulents that did not make it with new slips.
- Sometimes I add new moss to freshen a hanging garden.
- These hanging succulent gardens will last years.
- I’ve created at least 25 of these framed gardens beginning in 2014. I’ve used a variety of frame sizes. I’ve found that the 18” x 24” survives the best from year to year. It seems the bigger the frame, the more plants will survive.
Step 10: Should I Use Succulent Slips or a Whole Plant?
- Using succulent slips, or cuttings, is much easier than using whole plants.
- A succulent slip will form roots in the moss your hanging garden is filled with.
- Remember, your chicken wire has—at most—1” gaps. Fully rooted plants will not fit through these gaps.
- Collect slips from friends, neighbors, and your own yard—where ever you can find succulents to plant in your hanging succulent garden.
- Using your finger, dig a canal down into the moss.
- Place the succulent cutting into the hole.
- Add bits of wet moss to the hole to hold the succulent slip in.
Step 11: Examples of Hardy Succulents—Zones 1 – 6
- Hen and Chicks (sempervivum)
- Sempervivum Heuffelii
- Sedum (stonecrop)
- Rosularia & Prometheum
- Opuntia Cactus (prickly pear: zone 6)—I’ve seen these growing in New Brighton, Minnesota.
- Delosperma (ice plant—some to zone 6)
Participated in the