Tuesday, October 25, 2011

DIY Tutorial: Succulent Frame for Vertical Display!

Welcome to my "how to build a vertical succulent frame and make a succulent arrangement" tutorial.

This is actually  the first vertical succulent frame that I made complete with a plant arrangement.

The size is 20" x 16".  The top frame is a 1" wide by 1/2" tall custom frame that i sealed with three coats of wood sealer a while ago.

I joined another wood frame using a 2" wide canvas stretcher bars to build a depth for the box to contain the soil.  The two frames were combined to make a 2" deep box using rust free metal L-brackets and some waterproof glue.

A piece of hardware cloth (wire mesh) coated with a green plastic was cut a couple of inches bigger than the size of the frame opening so that I can cut out the four corners and fold the sides parallel to the box wall.  I stapled to the folded sides of the hardware cloth to the side of the frame.  The backing board is cement board normally used for a support under tiling projects in the kitchen or bath room.  The board is screwed on to the back of the frame using rust free screws designed for the cement board.  If you're handy with a router you can cut a rabbit to hide the side edge of the cement board.

You can see a little of the details in the frame I used here.  I thought about drilling some drainage holes in the back but decided that it probably won't matter much.  The soil is a mixture of 50% cactus mix and 50% perlite.  Cactus mix already has perlite or pumice depending on which kind you buy but I like adding more perlite because it improves drainage and keeps the mix light weight which is important since we will eventually hang this vertically.

I pack the soil in with a chopstick and covered it with green sphagum moss.  This holds the soil in and fills the surface with a nice green color which will fill in any areas that are left open in between the succulents.  You can see that the moss really holds the soil in when you stand it up.

I wanted to make this succulent arrangement for my wife.  She likes pinks and purples and floral shapes so I decided to go with that color scheme and use yellow as a complimentary color to make accents.  The most affordable succulents I found were actually from The Home Depot.  For pinks and purples, I used three Echeveria 'Perle Von Nurnberg' in a triangle shape'.  The little green succulents on the bottom right is a kind of Sempervivum.  For yellow, my plan was to use Ogon.  Then the plan was to cover the rest of the frame with a ground cover Sedum.  I left the plants in their little pots and roughly arranged them here using the idea of applying S-curves and or C-curves in groups of plants.  You need tweezers and a steady hand to plant these little succulents. 

It took me about three hours to remove all the soil from the plant containers, and plant everything.  I decided to use a few Aeonium Zwartkops (Dark Prince) that are almost black with a deep purple sheen to add a bit of drama.  The planting process is tedious but not difficult.  Just remember to be patient and enjoy the process since you are making a masterpiece ;).

Here she is!  I misted the surface only to take a nice photo.  However, I will not water this for a week so that the cuttings have time to heal and form callouses.  Now we will keep this in the shade and flat on a table for 3-6 months until every cutting is rooted into the soil.  Once the succulents are rooted, they will not be easily pulled out of the frame.  At that point, I will attach a couple of wall hangers and hang it up in our courtyard!  In the mean time, we will enjoy it flat on a table for a while.  Here is a high resolution image if you want to take a closer look!


  1. Wow!!

    Many thanks for this info. I've always been a gardener but have recently moved to a tarmac backyard. The only way is up! Today I started the first bottle tower of house plants to use as summer bedding when the frosts have gone. Tomorrow I start my hunt for suitable succulents. Lanna

    1. I am glad to be of help. There are lots of great ideas out there. Landscaping can be a huge laborious job despite the fun. We are done with the front yard but have a long ways to go in the back yard. Good luck on your endeavors. Happy gardening with those succulents! :)