How cool are succulents? I know!! Pretty cool!! Here’s the amazing part…You don’t need any gardening experience or a “green thumb” to create an indoor/outdoor living art piece! And all you need are simple materials like this found piece of driftwood and succulent plants. Actually, succulents are the PERFECT plant for people with little to no gardening skills because of all plants they require the least amount of on-going care. All you need is a little instruction in how to plant them and care for them. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
I have included a few affiliate links if you choose to shop on-line.
Who is this DIY succulent project perfect for?
- loves plants
- has no planting or gardening experience.
- would love to add more natural elements into their home or outdoor patio.
- doesn’t have time or energy for a full garden.
- doesn’t have a lot of space for a real garden.
- is ready for a no-fail project for the whole family.
- wants to create something unique and special!
What you’ll need:
- Succulent clippings (quantity will depend on the size of your driftwood or container). Click HERE for a link to the source I used to buy my succulent plants.
- Driftwood piece of any shape or size (project can also be adopted for other types of containers but deeper containers might involve additional steps…see “Adaptation notes” at the end of the post.) Click HERE for a link to an on-line driftwood source you might be interested in.
- Floral Glue or hot glue gun. You may use either glue and no, the hot glue won’t harm the plants. However, I read that the floral glue tends to hold up and have more staying power when used with succulents. Hot glue will do fine if that’s what you have on hand. Click HERE to purchase the floral glue I used.
- Sphagnum moss (absorbent moss to help support succulent health) Click HERE to purchase.
Step 1. Cut your succulent plants
The first thing you’ll need to do if you are using a solid piece of driftwood without any crevasses (like I did) is to cut the roots off the succulents.
To do this simply:
- take the succulents out of their planter
- remove the dirt
- using a scissors or gardening clipper snip off the roots
I know this may be difficult but I assure you, it’s ok. The succulents will live fine for awhile without their roots (about 3 months). This is also a good time to remove any of the old or dry leaves. This will expose the stem a bit more which will also help it survive in its new home.
Note: If you do have some deeper crevasses in your driftwood you may consider adding moss and retaining some of the roots as long as you can still attach the succulent so that the roots are hidden and only the head of the succulent is showing. If you have enough room you could even put in some fast drying succulent soil as well to help your succulents thrive. Make sure that there is some way for the moss and/or soil to drain or else you may have to create some holes to prevent root rot. If you care for your plants you can expect them to last about 3 months without soil. You can maintain your succulent garden indefinitely with soil.
Step 2. Map Out a Plan for placing your succulent plants
Map out where your succulents will go. Take a look at the space and how many succulents you have and how you will group them. Start with the biggest ones first because it will help to balance these out. Each large succulent can function as a focal point around which you may choose to group several smaller succulents. You may want to consider varying the types of succulents in each grouping….mixing textures and colors to create interest.
Step 3. Prepping your Moss
Soak your moss. It is much easier to work with once it is wet.
Note: Succulents can live without moss but adding the moss, especially this type of absorbent moss will prolong their life, especially if you maintain regular watering. Plus it adds to the aesthetic appeal of the garden sculpture you are creating.
Step 4. Attaching Moss
Add floral glue or hot glue to the area where you want to place your first succulent. Add a small amount of moss. Note, It’s easier if you squeeze the excess water out of the moss before adhering.
Step 5. Attaching Succulent Plants
Put floral glue or hot glue on the bottom of your succulent cutting and attach it securely to the moss. Note: I didn’t place moss under EVERY succulent. Some were too small and some areas of the driftwood didn’t have enough space to accommodate both moss AND a succulent. Remember what I said in the beginning, succulents don’t require moss or soil to survive so they should be ok for awhile.
Step 6. Adding More Succulents
Try packing your succulents tight, tucking smaller ones in next to the bigger ones. This will help them adhere better. Continue until you’ve used all your succulents and/or when you feel like you’ve used enough to create the look you are going for.
Step 7. Add Decorative Moss (optional)
After I finished with the succulents I also added some decorative moss. This is totally up to you as it is not essential to helping the succulents survive but is, as I mentioned, purely for decoration. I simply used some hot glue and tucked a few bits of this decorative moss here and there to fill in a few areas. It adds to the layered, textured look of my piece. At this point I still wanted to keep some of the wood showing so I was careful not to add to much!
Artistry of your Succulent Planter
There is no “right or wrong” when it comes to the overall look of this project. Think of it as art because that’s really what it is. Here are some ideas to think about when creating your art:
- Keep some of the wood exposed rather than covering every inch with succulents. The texture and color of the wood can add contrast and interest to the overall project.
- Think of your piece as a 3-dimensional sculpture. You may want to display your driftwood project as a centerpiece on a table, in which case it would be seen from all sides. Don’t forget to turn your piece around so that you consider the view from all angles!
- Just as you are varying the shapes, sizes, colors and varieties of succulents, you may also think about attaching them to your driftwood at different angles. Unless your driftwood is totally straight (and some are) and unless you are going for a more modern look (which is also a great option)
- You may want to try follow the same wandering, organic flow of the driftwood and avoid placing each succulent in a “perfect” line. If you are like me I sometimes have to fight doing things “perfectly”….(I had to remind myself so I thought I would remind you….)
Step 8. Watering and Maintenance
Do not water right away. If you soaked your moss they will absorb the water they need from that. Give them a few days for them to “recover.” You can use a spray bottle or a watering can to soak the moss and the driftwood which will both hold onto enough moisture to help keep your succulents healthy.
Everything you read about how to water succulents talks about how much it varies from region to region. If you live in a dryer climate, you guessed it, you will have to water much more frequently!! If you live in an area that is very mild and humid you will find you need to water much less frequently. For container planting or areas where you have used soil and maintained the roots, the rule of thumb is that you want to soak the roots and the soil (in our case, the moss) to encourage the succulents to establish themselves or at least last as long as possible!
Adaptation for other types of containers
If you’re thinking of planting succulents in other types of containers you will need to adopt these steps and your materials a bit. Succulents need drainage so make sure you use a fast drying succulent soil like this one (click HERE) and that your container has drainage holes. And an important tip when planting succulents in containers, be sure to plant above the rim of the container so that plants won’t ever sit in pooling water.
Are we having fun?
If this is your first adventure with succulents then you are probably as excited (and nervous) as I am. Like any new adventure, enjoy it! Consider your first try as an experiment. Because plants react differently to every new environment consider your first planting with succulents a learning experience. Watch them closely. Before you water them check the moss to see if it’s dry. Don’t over water. You will likely find that some varieties will do better than others. Consider replacing those that don’t seem to thrive with others that are doing better. You may want to research different types of succulents and choose varieties like air succulents that don’t require any soil.
A Family Affair
My husband and kids are so excited about our new “Live Succulent Sculpture”! They even asked that we place it center stage on our kitchen island where we can admire it. I have a feeling placed here it will get all the love, care, and attention it needs to thrive. We are already planning our next beach combing trip to look for more driftwood. Everyone wants to make one of their own! Now I call that….SUCCESS!
xoxo The Design Twins