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How to Create a Living Painting Using Succulents

Updated on October 18, 2019
Faith Reaper profile image

Theresa finds joy and beauty in gardening. She feels closer to the Lord God when digging her hands into His earth.

Live Succulent Wall Painting Planter

Live Succulent Wall Painting Planter
Live Succulent Wall Painting Planter | Source

What Are Succulents?

Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org


"Not to be confused with cactus; botanically cacti are succulents but not all succulents are cacti. Succulent plants, such as this Aloe, store water in their fleshy leaves."

"In botany, succulent plants, also known as succulents or sometimes fat plants, are plants having some parts that are more than normally thickened and fleshy, usually to retain water in arid climates or soil conditions. Succulent plants may store water in various structures, such as leaves and stems. Some definitions also include roots, so that geophytes that survive unfavourable periods by dying back to underground storage organs may be regarded as succulents. In horticultural use, the term "succulent" is often used in a way which excludes plants that botanists would regard as succulents, such as cacti. Succulents are grown as ornamental plants because of their striking and unusual appearance."


A Conversation Piece and Then Some!


Talk about a conversation piece, well, this striking and unusual living painting is just the ticket! I bet your neighbors do not have anything like it, and if they do, their living painting is unique to their own artistic eye. The great thing is that no two living paintings are ever just alike. They are all one of a kind masterpieces indeed!


Did you know you too can create a striking and unusual living painting from an old picture frame and live succulents? Well, you can, and it is so easy to maintain. Once this masterpiece is created, it pretty much maintains itself. The hardest part about the whole project is building the planter box, although in reality, it is pretty basic too. You will be amazed at just how easy it is to add such beauty to your surroundings. It is easy to showcase a wall full of these beauties with little effort.


Live Succulent Wall Painting Planter Displayed at a Different Angle

Live Succulent Wall Painting Displayed at a Different Angle
Live Succulent Wall Painting Displayed at a Different Angle | Source

Planting a Living Painting


You are unique, so why should you not create art that is anything but out of this world, full of life, color and textures? When you can frame something exquisite and alive, which is also healthy for your home environment, why not do so? It is time to think out of the box or, in this case, in reality, in a planter box!


Perfect Old Picture Frame

Perfect Old Picture Frame
Perfect Old Picture Frame | Source

Tools Needed:


Chop Saw or Hand Saw

Nail Gun (I do not have one, so I had to hammer the old-fashioned way)

Screwdriver

Wire Snips

Staple Gun

Hand Drill

Nail Punch

Utility Knife


Materials Needed:


Old Picture Frame

Staple Gun

Galvanized Nails

Chicken Wire, a lightweight, galvanized 2 inch hexagonal pattern works great for this planter.

Two (2 X 2) 12 inch boards (treated)

Two (2 X 2) 16 inch boards (treated)

Two Heavy-Duty Eye Bolts

Piece of treated plywood (12 X 16 inch)

Organic Landscape Fabric

Potting Soil (Organic)

Various Succulents

Spray Water Bottle

Fine Paint Brush (to brush dirt off of succulents)



Gathering Various Succulents

Various Succulents
Various Succulents | Source

Gathering Cuttings


If you already have succulents growing in your garden, break the small “pups” (the stems should be at least 1/4 inch long).


Set the cuttings aside in a cool area for a few days to allow their stem ends to dry and callus over.



More Gathering of Various Succulents

Gathering of Various Succulents
Gathering of Various Succulents | Source
Gathering of Succulents
Gathering of Succulents | Source
Gathering of Succulents
Gathering of Succulents | Source
Gathering of Succulents
Gathering of Succulents | Source
Gathering of Succulents
Gathering of Succulents | Source
Gathering of Succulents
Gathering of Succulents | Source
Gathering of Succulents
Gathering of Succulents | Source
Gathering of Succulents
Gathering of Succulents | Source
Gathering of Succulents
Gathering of Succulents | Source
Gathering of Succulents
Gathering of Succulents | Source

Building the Back Frame of the Planter

Back Frame of the Planter
Back Frame of the Planter | Source

Note: Well-drained soil is crucial for succulents. Roots that sit in constantly damp and wet soil, will end up rotting the plant.

Making the Frame to Hold Live Succulents


For a 1-foot by 16 inch planter box, cut two 2-inch widths of 2" x12" lumber. Then cut two more 2" by 16" lumber (be sure to use pretreated wood, especially if you are hanging your painting outdoors). Nail the corners together for a frame 2 inches deep.


Staple the wire mesh to one side of the open frame. If desired, add trim on top of the mesh to hide it. I have done this using an old picture frame. One can use old barn wood or driftwood to frame the outside too.


Staple or nail a 1-foot by 16 inch piece of treated plywood onto the open back of the frame (drill small random holes in the bottom piece before nailing to allow for plenty of drainage).


Cut the wire netting, and trim each side approximately 1 inch less than the outer picture frame itself.


Using a staple gun, attach the wire netting to the back of the outer picture frame.


Attach the outer picture frame to the inner frame. Drill pilot holes to prevent splitting the wood.


Then nail through the outer picture frame, directly into the inner frame, using galvanized nails.


Line the planter with organic landscape fabric. The fabric should lay right against the wire netting, and extend up a couple of inches on the inside of the planter. To hold the fabric in place, staple the sides of the fabric to the picture frame with a staple gun.


Attach heavy-duty hangers (eye bolts) for hanging your painting.


Old Picture Frame with Great Width and Depth for Framing the Living Painting

This old frame is great as it has great width and depth, perfect for framing the living painting!
This old frame is great as it has great width and depth, perfect for framing the living painting! | Source

Finishing Up the Framing


Attach the back of the treated plywood with the drainage holes to the planter.


The back panel can be cut from a piece of pressure treated plywood, cedar paneling or waterproof plywood and attached to the planter with a nail gun (I did not have a nail gun, so I had to use a hammer).

Treated Plywood 12" X 16"

Treated Plywood 12" X 16" for Back of Planter Box with Holes Drilled for Drainage.
Treated Plywood 12" X 16" for Back of Planter Box with Holes Drilled for Drainage. | Source

Planter Box Famed with Holes Drilled for Drainage

Plant Box Ready to be Filled
Plant Box Ready to be Filled | Source

Adding Soil


Make sure the planter box is set on a flat strong surface. Fill it with moist cactus mix.


Once the planter is filled with dirt and plants, it will be quite heavy, so choose hanging hardware accordingly (two heavy-duty eye bolts). Just keep in mind the weight of the planter once it is filled. The wire mesh and wood backing help to hold the soil in place.


Adding Soil to Planter Box

Adding Soil to Planter Box
Adding Soil to Planter Box | Source

Chicken Wire

Roll of Chicken Wire (for this project, one only needs a small amount, so it is always good to ask if they have an open roll, which is much cheaper.  I got a great deal for this roll at $4.00.)
Roll of Chicken Wire (for this project, one only needs a small amount, so it is always good to ask if they have an open roll, which is much cheaper. I got a great deal for this roll at $4.00.) | Source

Organic Landscape Fabric

Organic Landscape Fabric
Organic Landscape Fabric | Source

Old Picture Frame, Chicken Wire and Organic Landscape Fabric

Old Picture Frame, Chicken Wire and Organic Landscape Fabric
Old Picture Frame, Chicken Wire and Organic Landscape Fabric | Source

Poke a Hole Through the Garden Fabric to Plant a Succulent

Planting First Succulent (The light reflecting off of the garden fabric makes the brown frame look like a totally different color here.)
Planting First Succulent (The light reflecting off of the garden fabric makes the brown frame look like a totally different color here.) | Source

Believe It or Not


If you were to purchase a succulent “painting”, they sell for $95 just for a 6 by 12 inch painting/planter! The one I made here is 12 X 16 inches.


If you already have a succulent garden, then you are way ahead of the game in the cost of the succulents.


Also, if you are artistic and love planting, you may be able to make a great living from creating living paintings using succulents, especially if you already grow your own succulents!



Filling the Planter with Succulents


Fill the wall planter with plants.


Begin planting by snipping the wire netting to accommodate the roots of the plants. Then slice the landscaping fabric with a utility knife to expose the potting soil. The less wire that is cut, the better, as it does serve as support for the plants.


Just poke a shallow hole, set the plant just under the soil and firmly pat the dirt around the base of the plant.


As you work your way around the planter, any wire that needs to be cut can be bent back into the dirt to help hold and support the plants.


Leave the frame lying flat in a cool, bright location while plants take root, about 7 to 10 days after planting, and then begin watering.


Work Your Way Around the Planter

Planting the Succulents.
Planting the Succulents. | Source

Finishing Up


Once the planter is filled, use a soft paint brush to gently brush away any dirt that is on the plants.


Spray the entire planter lightly with water.


The water bottle actually helps to keep one from over-watering the potted succulents, which is quite easy to do.


Prior to hanging, allow the planter to lay flat for 5 to 6 days. This will give the plants time to settle and establish roots, though some of the cuttings may require more time.


The planter should be taken down and watered once a week or when the soil is completely dried out. Be sure not to over water. The plants should be watered at their base and the stream from the water bottle is perfect for this.


Live Succulent Wall Painting Planter Displayed in Different Lighting

Live Succulent Wall Painting Planter Displayed in Different Lighting
Live Succulent Wall Painting Planter Displayed in Different Lighting | Source


The colors and textures are simply fabulous and once established, these intricate beauties will practically grow themselves.


© Copyright Faith Reaper, February 5, 2014

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