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Make a Living Succulent Picture
Tuesday, 01 July 2014 - 14:26 | Views - 4,904
Create your own living mosaic to hang on a wall, indoors or out.

What you need:

Staple gun
Clean cloth

Picture frame with back and glass panel removed
Shadow box made of redwood
hardware cloth
plywood backing
All-purpose potting soil
Succulent cuttings

Step 1: Take Cuttings

With small pruning snips, cut stem sections 1-2 inches long. Remove lower leaves. (Roots will sprout from these leaf nodes.) Let cuttings dry on a tray for a few days before you plant them. This curing process causes cut ends to callus (form a thin layer of cells). It's OK if the cuttings shrivel up a little bit.

Step 2: Gather Materials

You can use any frame to create a living succulent picture.

Step 3: Add a Shadow Box

A shadow box adds depth to the back of the picture frame, allowing space for soil and plants. Use naturally water-resistant redwood or cedar 1x3s, cut to the dimensions of the back of the frame. Nail or screw into place.

Step 4: Set Hardware Cloth Inside the Frame

With the frame still facedown, insert hardware cloth. The 1/2-inch grid is small enough to hold potting soil in, yet large enough to accommodate stems. Staple hardware cloth to the edges of the frame.

Step 5: Add a Backing

Lay 1/4-inch plywood backing on the back of the shadow box. Secure with nails.

Step 6: Paint the Frame

Turn the frame face up. Brush on a coat of outdoor paint to change the color of the frame and offer some protection against the elements. For an antique effect, let the paint dry for a few minutes and then wipe the frame with a clean cloth. If desired, paint the underlying box, too.

Step 7: Add Soil

Allow the frame to dry completely before filling the box with potting soil. Pour soil on top of the hardware cloth, using your hands to push it through the openings. Shake the frame periodically to evenly disperse the soil. Add more soil until it reaches the bottom of the wire grid.

Step 8: Poke a Hole

On a flat surface, lay out succulent cuttings in the design you want in the frame. Push a chopstick or pencil through one square of the wire grid and into the soil.

Step 9: Fill In with Plants

Place the stem of a succulent cutting into the planting hole, allowing the leaf rosette to rest on top of the wire grid. It's not necessary to dip cuttings in rooting hormone succulents root easily in soil.

Step 10: Create a Design

Tuck in larger plants first, followed by smaller ones. Plant as close together as the grid allows. Depending on plant size, not every square will be planted. After planting, you may see hints of the wire, but as the succulents grow, they'll close the gaps

Step 11: Let It Root

After planting, keep the living succulent picture flat and out of direct sunlight for a week or two to allow cuttings to form roots along the stems. (For additional security, support stems with floral pins or crafts clips.) Gradually increase light levels to full sun exposure. Do not water the first two weeks.

Step 12: Display Your Picture

Set the living succulent picture on a table or shelf where it can be propped up against a wall. Or hang the frame on a wall with sturdy picture hooks.
Water succulents once a month -- lay the frame on a flat surface and thoroughly moisten the soil. Make sure the frame is dry before you hang it up again.

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