Picture Frame

Easy to look after and, once rooted, happy growing vertically, succulents are a good choice for living pictures. Start your decorative display by using small succulent cuttings or offsets, then watch your picture grow and evolve over the seasons.

TIME IT RIGHT Plants will start to root quickly, but it will take 4-6 months for the frame to fill out and be completely covered. Do not plant in winter when succulents become dormant.


TOOLS & equipment

wooden box-style picture frame in 2 parts, ideally 2in (5cm) deep and with an overlapping front 4-6 strong metal hanging brackets electric drill & screws emulsion paint mixed 2:1 with PVA paintbrushes

clear marine varnish (optional) heavy-duty plastic liner & scissors exterior glue or staplegun tape measure

wooden batten & handsaw soil-based potting mix & perlite bucket & trowel micromesh

wood filler & sandpaper (optional) dibber, chopstick, or pencil


selection of succulent cuttings: Echeveria elegans Echeveria secunda glauca Sedum spathulifolium ‘Purpureum’ Sempervivum arachnoideum Sempervivum ‘Blue Boy’ Sempervivum calcareum Sempervivum ‘Pilatus’ sphagnum moss (soaked 1 hour, if dry)

"Project Steps


Paint the box and front frame with a PVA and emulsion mix to help protect against the elements. Leave to dry, add another coat if required, then apply a finishing coat of clear marine varnish for additional protection, if preferred.


Cut plastic liner so that it lines the insides of the box, right up to the edge of the frame. Measure and cut 2 pieces of batten so they sit parallel to the top of the frame.


Position the batten so they are evenly spaced, and screw them to the box frame. This creates planting compartments to prevent the soil from slipping down to the bottom once the frame is hung.


In a large bucket, mix up a free-draining growing medium for the succulent plants of 2 parts soil-based potting mix to 1 part perlite. Do not use ordinary potting mix since it retains too much moisture, which would eventually rot the roots of the plants.

6 Fill each of the planting compartments with the soil mix to just below the top edge of the box frame. Lightly tap down the whole frame so that the soil settles and the surface is level.

7 Squeeze out excess water from the sphagnum moss and put a thick layer over the top of the soil mix. The moss will help the succulent plants to root in.

Plan your planting design; we aimed to create bands of color with blocks of each particular succulent. To make a planting hole, cut a cross in the mesh with a pair of scissors.


Fold back the sides of the cross, then insert your plant dibber to create a planting hole. Place your plant into the hole, firm soil around the roots and then fold back the edge of the mesh.

Plant succulents 1M-2in (3-5cm) apart; over 4-6 months they will produce further plantlets to fill in the picture. Leave the frame flat for one to two weeks until the plants have put down roots, before securely screwing the frame to its final hanging location.

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Care Advice

‘Where to site We used Echeveria, which isn’t frost hardy, so our frame needs to come inside somewhere cool and bright in mid-fall and over winter. If all plants are hardy, leave the frame outside all year, but if the winter is very wet, move it somewhere more protected from heavy downpours, like a sheltered porch.

‘Watering and feeding Use a water mister to squirt water into the moss between the plants, trying to avoid getting water on the succulent leaves. Water every 10 days in summer and add a diluted liquid fertilizer to the water in spring and summer, but do not feed in fall and winter, and do not water in winter.

General Care Snip spent flowering stalks back to the base and remove any dead plant material before winter, since this could attract disease. Plants may need pruning as they grow larger. Simply snip off any excess plant material and use as cuttings.

Air Plants

Updated: October 8, 2015 — 9:11 pm