Succulents make great starter plants for beginner gardeners because the thick, fleshy roots hold water, allowing plants to endure the perils of a forgetful gardener. You can grow succulents in a garden or container, but if you want a truly impressive succulent display, plant succulents in a picture frame planter that you can hang on a wall to grow vertically. Succulents range in size from only a few inches tall to several feet tall. This project works best with small succulent varieties such as hens-and-chicks (Sempervivum spp.), blue rose echeveria (Echeveria imbricata) and stonecrop (Sedum spp.).
1 Take cuttings from small succulent plants. Clip the pups or small leaves from the stem of the parent plants. Pups are "baby plants" offshoots that commonly grow around the base of succulents. If you remove pups, peel away one or two lower leaves from which roots can grow. Spread the cuttings on a flat surface in a dry location for a day or two so the cut area can dry out, forming a callous that is less likely to rot in moist soil.
2 Select a picture frame to use for the succulent garden. The size of the frame determines the size of the succulent garden. Remove the backing and glass from the frame, if applicable. Measure the back of the picture frame along the edge just inside the blank space of the frame.
3 Cut two pieces of 1-by-3-inch lumber to fit the width of the frame and two pieces to fit the frame length. Piece the four pieces together to create a frame 3 inches deep. Glue the corners with wood glue and secure with two 1 1/2-inch wood screws at each corner.
4 Glue the 1-by-3-inch lumber frame to the back of the picture frame. Drive in screws at an angle in each corner to secure the frames.
5 Cut a piece of 1/2-inch wire or plastic mesh to fit the inside of the wooden frame, allowing another 1 inch on all sides. Bend the 1-inch margin allowance upward; remove a 1-inch square at each corner with tin snips or scissors so the sides fold together perfectly. Insert the mesh inside the frame and use a staple gun and wood staples to secure it to the 1-by-3-inch frame just where it meets the picture frame.
6 Cut a piece of 1/2-inch plywood or similar wood to fit over the back of the 1-by-3-inch frame. Apply a bead of wood glue around the 1-by-3-inch boards, push the plywood on top, and screw the plywood into the frame to enclose the box. Attach a sawtooth hanger or picture hanging wire to the plywood. Flip the frame over. From top to bottom, you should see the picture frame, wire mesh, the 1-by-3-inch lumber box and the plywood backing at the bottom.
7 Fill the box with potting mix. Place bottom soil on the wire mesh and use your fingers to brush it between the holes or shake the box to make the soil drop through the holes. You can use any potting mix with good drainage, or use a potting mix targeted specifically toward cacti and succulents. Water the potting mix just until damp, but not wet, to remove air pockets and settle the soil. Add more soil after releasing the air pockets so the soil is dense and won't shift when hanging.
8 Draw a design on the wire or plastic mesh, using permanent markers, if desired. You might plant red succulents in a polka-dot pattern on a background of green succulents, or arrange the succulents in a wavy, diagonal pattern according to color. Alternatively, skip the design and arrange the succulents in a free-form design.
9 Poke small planting holes into the soil through the wire mesh, using a skewer or chopstick. Push the succulent stems into the potting soil in the desired pattern. Use the size of the cuttings as a guideline for spacing; you don't necessarily need to plant a cutting in each square of the mesh grid.
10 Leave the frame on a flat surface for about two to three weeks while the succulents develop roots that anchor them into the soil. Water the soil just until moist and hang it on an interior or exterior wall. Alternatively, you can prop the frame upright against a wall. Most succulents need a location in full sun that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight daily.
11 Take the frame off the wall about once a month to water the succulents; wait a few hours for the succulents to absorb the excess water before hanging it back on the wall. Hens and chicks species grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 9. Blue rose Echeveria is hardy in USDA zones 9 through 11. Stonecrop species are hardy in USDA zones 3 through 11, depending on the species.
Items you will need
- Picture frame (optional)
- Measuring tape
- 1-by-3-inch lumber
- Wood glue
- 1 1/2-inch wood screws
- Power drill
- 1/2-inch wire or plastic mesh
- Tin snips or scissors
- Staple gun
- Wood staples
- 1/2-inch plywood
- Potting soil
- Succulent cuttings
- Permanent markers (optional)
- The picture frame attachment is an optional, decorative feature. If you don't want to include a picture frame for the front of the succulent garden, simply build a frame from 1-by-3-inch boards. Cover one side of the frame with plywood and wrap the other side with 1/2-inch mesh. The frame can be as small as 4 by 6 inches or several feet across.
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images