Muhaiminah Faiz via Instructables //CC BY-NC-SA 2.5
Muhaiminah Faiz via Instructables //CC BY-NC-SA 2.5

13 Creative Ways to Plant Succulents

Muhaiminah Faiz via Instructables //CC BY-NC-SA 2.5
Muhaiminah Faiz via Instructables //CC BY-NC-SA 2.5

From cactus to aloe, drought-resistant succulents come in an amazing variety of shapes and colors. This variety, and the fact that they're easy to care for, make succulents the perfect plants for everything from a tiny planter on the counter to a lavish outdoor display—and all the creative displays featured below.


Megan Andersen-Read stuffed snail shells with cuttings of various small succulents that had begun to root, and then added just enough potting soil around those roots. She had enough shells that she was able to put some of these gardens around the house and more outside as accents for her larger garden.


loveisinmytummy via Instructables // CC BY-NC-SA 2.5

It's hard to throw out obsolete books, but it may be easier to turn them into something pretty, like a miniature garden. Instructables member loveisinmytummy found this project to be easier than it looks. You hollow out the pages and build the garden of your dreams in tiny form. The accessories are optional; use your imagination to create the literary world you want.


We expect fresh greenery on a Christmas wreath, but a wreath of live flourishing succulents is a lovely celebration of warm weather. Stephanie at Garden Therapy shows you step-by-step how to make your own succulent wreath, whether fully planted like the one shown here, or partially-covered. She also teaches you how to care for it, and how to refresh your wreath when the plants begin to show their age.


marcellahella via Instructables // CC BY-NC-SA 2.5

To freshen up a space that's too small for a wreath, how about a simple succulent ball? Instructables member marcellahella will help you create a little garden ornament that can go anywhere, and even move around to take advantage of different light and temperature conditions.


There's no reason why your backyard fence or garden wall shouldn't have its own artwork. Vertical gardening goes in a picture frame to display outdoors in this living painting project from Instructables member algert555. Once you have your framed shadow box built and loaded with soil, the fun comes in artfully arranging different succulents to create your masterpiece.


Does your refrigerator get sunshine? If not, there must be some metal surface in your home that does. Instructables member AlexeyY4 offers a tutorial on putting living plants in wine corks that you can stick on a metal surface and move around as you see fit.


Muhaiminah Faiz via Instructables //CC BY-NC-SA 2.5

Isn't this charming—a miniature living diorama in a teacup! Muhaiminah Faiz made this one and gives us all the steps to create it and the accessories at Instructables.


How many times have you seen a nice chair abandoned in the street because the seat was broken or missing? Instructables member DIYwithCaitlin rescued an old chair frame to make a lovely planter filled with succulents. If you have plants on the ground and hanging plants, this idea gives you an intermediate level to balance the visuals on your porch or in your garden. Succulents look great in a metal chair as well.


PassionflowerMade via Etsy

Succulents can survive well enough as to be wearable for your wedding or other special occasion. Susan McLeary at PassionflowerMade will make custom necklaces, crowns, bracelets, and more composed of living succulents. After you wear them, they can be transplanted to soil to serve as a cherished souvenir. And if you have a gentle hand and patience, you can make your own succulent rings and earrings with instructions from Succulents and Sunshine.


If the conditions are right, you can wear succulents for a long time. They can be small enough to fit into a jewelry-size terrarium and stay green for years, with proper care. Boobooplant sells them in tiny terrariums that you can wear as a necklace, keychain, or pendant.


Megan Andersen-Read knows you can display succulents in anything, if you keep your eye out for possibilities. Even pine cones! Read her tutorial on how to build a hanging succulent garden in pine cones at Creative Live. A year later, she says the plants in the pine cones are doing just fine. Andersen-Read has also placed succulent gardens in toys and even shoes!


Since succulents can be tucked into tiny spaces and they don't need much water, they are the perfect plants to set into broken pottery. You'll find instructions for building a broken pot succulent garden at MidwestLiving.


Bricks aren't something you'd normally put on your dinner table, but as a planter for attractive succulents, they make a nice centerpiece, with or without candles. Arianna Thomopolous shows us how she carved holes in red bricks to make one for Mother's Day. Those planters will last forever.

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5 Trouble-Shooting Tips to Keep Your House Plant Alive

Maybe you’ve heard that houseplants can help improve indoor air quality. Perhaps you’ve read that looking at plants can help you focus. Or maybe you just really like how that ficus looks in your living room. But buying a plant and keeping it alive are two different things, and the answer to your botanical woes isn’t always “don't forget to water it.”

Here are five green-thumb tips to make sure your plant stays as leafy green as it was the day you bought it.


You don’t want to neglect your plant, but it’s easy to go overboard with the watering can, and that can be just as harmful as forgetting to water your plant for weeks. A watering schedule can help you keep track of whether or not your plants need attention, but you shouldn’t water just because it’s Sunday and that’s when you usually do it. Before you go to water your plant baby, make sure it actually needs it.

Your plant’s water needs will vary based on the type of plant, its location, how old it is, and plenty of other factors, but there are a few rules of thumb that can put you on the right track. Lift the pot. If it’s heavy, that means that the soil is full of water. If it’s light, it’s dry. Dig a finger into the soil around its roots, making sure to feel beneath the surface. Still damp? Hold off. Dry? Grab the H2O.

If you really struggle to strike the right balance between too much and too little water, consider a smart plant system. And regardless of how often you water, make sure to use a pot with good drainage to prevent root rot.


Be aware of where your plant is situated in the room, and whether there might be any temperature extremes there. Is your fern sitting right above the radiator? Is your peony subject to a cold draft? Is your rosemary plant stuck leaning against a window during a snowstorm?

As a rule, most houseplants can handle temperatures between 58°F and 86°F, according to a bulletin from the University of Georgia. The ideal range is between 70°F and 80°F during the day, and between 65°F and 70°F at night. Below 50°F, sensitive plants can suffer damage to their leaves. However, as with most plant advice, it depends on the species—tropical plants usually do well in higher temperatures, and some other plants are happier in colder rooms.

If your sad-looking plant is sitting in the middle of a cold draft or right next to the heater, consider moving it to a different spot, or at least a few inches away. If it’s near the window, you can also draft-proof the window.


Be mindful of the kind of ecosystem that your plant comes from, and know that keeping it happy means more than just finding the right amount of sun. A tropical plant like an orchid won’t thrive in dry desert air. According to the Biology Department at Kenyon College in Ohio, a dried-out plant will look faded and wilting. You can immerse it in water to help it bounce back quickly. (Warning, though: A plant that’s getting too much moisture can look that way, too.)

If your home gets dry—say, when you have the heater on full blast in the winter or the AC on constantly during the summer—you’ll need to find a way to keep your plant refreshed. Your can buy a humidifier, or create a humidity tray by placing the pot on a tray of pebbles soaked in water. The plant will soak up the humidity as the water under the pebbles evaporates. You can also get a spray bottle and mist your tropical plants periodically with water. (But don't mist your fuzzy-leafed plants.)

Not sure how humid your house is? You can get a humidity gauge (known as a hydrometer) for less than $10 on Amazon.


Even if you do all of the above correctly, you can still struggle to keep a plant healthy due to infestations. Keep an eye out for common pests like spider mites, which will leave brown or yellow spots on leaves or make the plant’s color dull. If you discover these tiny mites (you may need to use a magnifying glass), wash your plant immediately with water to knock off as many mites as possible. Wash the plant with an insecticidal soap, too, but make sure the label says it’s effective for mites.


Healthy plants often outgrow their homes. if you notice that there are roots coming out the drainage holes at the bottom of your pot, or that water sits on the surface of the soil for a long time before draining down, or that your plant’s roots are coming up out of the soil, it’s time to upgrade to a bigger pot. Signs of a “root bound” plant whose root system is too big for its container can also include wilting, yellowed leaves, and stunted plant growth.

No matter what the size of your plant, it’s good to repot it once in a while, since the nutrients in the soil deplete over time. Repotting creates a fresh nutritional start and can help perk up unhappy plants.

If your plant looks unhealthy and you're still stumped, try consulting the website of a university horticulture department for other signs of plant distress and potential solutions.

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5 Smart Gardening Devices to Turn Your Thumb Green

Just because you are a little absentminded about your houseplants doesn’t mean you can’t be a gardener. In the 21st century, there are plenty of smart tech solutions to care for your plants. Here are five technological tools to keep your plants alive, no matter how terrible a plant parent you are:


A blue sensor is placed in a pot of purple flowers next to a phone with the HelloPlant app open.

Helloplant, a new Kickstarter project, is a sensor that you insert into the soil of your pot to keep tabs on your houseplant. The associated smartphone app will ping you if the Wi-Fi-connected sensor detects that your plant is drying out, and it can tell you where the plant is getting light. The recommendations are customized based on what kind of plant you label it as in the app. Best of all, it’s cheaper than other smart gardening solutions, coming in at just under $26 per sensor.

Find it: Kickstarter

2. PARROT POT; $90

Parrot’s smart pots use embedded sensors to monitor and tend to your plants whether you’re home or not. They are self-watering, preventing you from under-watering or over-watering your delicate houseplants. You can go on vacation for up to a month and the Parrot Pot will take care of your precious basil plant for you. The four sensors measure light, temperature, moisture, and fertilizer levels and send the information to your phone so that you can analyze how your plant is doing. It’s the perfect assistant for someone who wants to develop a green thumb but isn’t quite sure how to start.

Find it: Amazon


Three plants in white GROWTH planters are placed on the floor.
Studio Ayaskan

With GROWTH, you never have to worry about your plants outgrowing their pots. The origami-like containers can expand so your growing plant has more room as it gets bigger. Created by the London-based design shop Studio Ayaskan, the white pots will give your apartment a minimal, modern vibe. The pots are not widely available yet, sadly. The studio recommends you subscribe to its newsletter to get an alert when they go on sale.


A white sensor is hidden within the leaves of a potted plant.

PlantLink is another smart sensor that you can insert into your potting soil to detect the moisture level of your plant’s environment. Based on the type of plant, the device will text, email, or send a push alert to your smartphone to tell you when it needs to be watered. PlantLink also makes a smart valve that you hook up to your sprinklers to automatically water your plants. It has its own solar panel and can be programmed to water your plants based on changes in the weather.

Find it: Amazon


Three Nanofarm boxes filled with herbs sit next to each other on a wooden table.

If you’re serious about your indoor gardening operation, consider Replantable's Nanofarm, a Kickstarter-backed tabletop produce system that requires zero oversight. You set it up once and wait for your food to grow. It works using Replantable’s Plant Pads, all-in-one seed and nutrient sheets that come in a number of different herb and salad-green varieties. For the Nanofarm, you just fill the tray inside with water, put in a Plant Pad, and close the door until your basil or butter lettuce is ready to harvest.

Find it: Replantable


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