The only problem was that I have two black thumbs and wasn’t willing to sacrifice the lives of a few dozen sweet little succulents for what would end up being a gorgeous, but temporary, display. Luckily for me, Hobby Lobby had all of its faux succulent picks for on sale for 50% off last week. I’ve already used some in my office, so I knew that they are very realistic looking – the only kind of fake plant I will allow into my house.
So, I built a display frame and added what seemed like eleventy billion fake succulents. The result was pretty awesome.
My faux succulent hanging garden took longer and cost more to complete that I was expecting. I put together a tutorial on the project as I was going along, and I will give you some tips on how to save money if you choose to put together your own.
How to Create a DIY Faux Succulent Hanging Garden
1. Find a frame to use for your project. You will want it to be somewhat thick so that the succulents don’t completely cover it. I purchased an unfinished frame from Hobby Lobby (at 50% off), but you can easily find one at a thrift store or in hanging out in the back of one of your closets, right? You’ll remove the glass and the backing, so don’t worry about it if those items are missing or damaged.
MONEY SAVING TIP: I bought a frame with a 16″ x 20″ opening. Although it looks amazing once completed, it took A LOT of succulents – and a lot of time – to fill it densely. I recommend a smaller frame opening unless you have ample time and money to blow.
2. Build a plywood base that fits into the frame where the glass would normally go. At Hobby Lobby, I found some 1/4″ thick plywood strips that were about an inch and a half wide and 3 feet long (it was in the section with the hobby wood and wooden letters, if you go looking for it). I used two of these pieces for my frame.
I cut them so that they would form a box and then used some JB Weld to bond the corners. I clamped each of the corners with a corner clamp and the JB Weld set in 6 minutes. I’m sure there are better ways to do this, but the wood was so thin that I didn’t think I’d be able to screw it together. The JB Weld worked great, but epoxy or even wood glue would probably work.
3. Next, you’ll sandwich some mesh between your box and your frame. I used what’s called “Hardware Cloth” from the outdoor section at Home Depot. I put a very thick bead of high melt hot glue around the inside of the frame (where the glass normally goes) and pressed the hardware cloth into it. Once it was dry, I put a really thick bead of hot glue on top of it and smushed the wooden box on top (I put some scrap 2×4′s on the top of it to weigh it down while the glue dried). I also hot glued around the edges so that it would be really sturdy.
MONEY SAVING TIP: You might be able to skip the Hardware Cloth and only use the foam core described in Step 4. It will depend on how thick your plywood strips are compared to the inner lip of the frame – i.e. if there is any lip left to glue the foam core into.
After the glue was dry, I painted the frame and the box. Obviously, you can use whatever paint you want. I used Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint Flow Blue mixed with Kitchen Scale and “glazed” it with some left over stain I had from my herringbone wood wall project.
4. Cut a piece of foam core and wedge it behind the Hardware Cloth. I used black because it was what I had on hand. If you do need to go and purchase some, a dark color works well because it will blend into the shadows of the succulents once they are in place.
5. Start at one corner and push the realistic looking fake succulent stems through the foam core, varying sizes as you go. You’ll likely have to trim the stems so that they don’t stick out too far past the box, but it can be easily done with a pair of scissors or wire cutters. If the larger, heavier succulents try to fall forward, you can always use a dot of hot glue to hold them in place. However, I found that I could just wedge them into place with some smaller plants.
6. Continue adding succulents to the frame, keeping them as close together as possible and having the leaves overlap the edges where the mesh meets the frame.
7. Hang the frame on a wall or prop it on top of a table. Regardless of how you decide to display your new faux succulent hanging garden, keep mindful of the natural light it will receive. A real hanging garden will need plenty of natural light, so make sure your fake version receives good light to make it seem more realistic.
My garden hasn’t found a permanent home. It will likely go somewhere in the area we are working on now, but I don’t know exactly where. After I took the photos of the finished project, I took the frame off the wall and placed it on the middle of my dining room table – on top of the modern ruffled table runner. I was surprised to see how awesome it looked there! I’ll take pictures of it there soon so you guys can help me be the judge of if it should stay there or be moved elsewhere.
Have you been obsessing about hanging succulent gardens? Try your hand at my DIY fake version!