Create a Living Picture Frame

By Staff
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By Cassidy Tuttle

Eye-catching and easy to care for, succulents are simple to incorporate into any number of creative décor projects. This fun living picture frame project from the book Idiot’s Guides: Succulents makes use of the plant family’s diverse shapes, textures and colors by displaying the succulents vertically rather than sitting upright. All it takes are a few materials and light weekly watering to maintain this lush living decoration. 

There’s something appealing about plants growing vertically rather than in a pot. Succulents do especially well in vertical arrangements, so they are a popular choice for creating living pictures. A living picture can cover an entire wall, or it can be something smaller and more personal. If you’re growing indoors, small and personal is a great option. Find a color palette of succulents that you like, or choose a variety of shapes and textures. Rosettes are a popular choice for living pictures, but branchy, trailing, and even somewhat tall succulents work well too. 

Remember Drainage

If your frame doesn’t have drainage holes, consider drilling holes in what will be the bottom of the picture so water can easily drain out. When lying flat, water should be able to seep out the back of the frame. When standing, water can drain out the front of the arrangement, but will last longer if there are drainage holes in the frame.


• Wood shadowbox frame
• Wire or chicken wire
• Staple gun
• Soil
• Sphagnum moss
• Succulent cuttings (3 to 5 varieties)
• Pencil or wooden craft stick  

1. Remove the top of the shadowbox frame and attach wire (make a grid or use chicken wire cut to size) to the back, using a staple gun.
2. Fill frame with soil up to wire.
3. Soak moss with water. 
4. Spread a layer of moss over the soil in the frame opening.

5. Remove the lower leaves on the succulent cuttings, creating about 1 to 2 inches of bare stem. 


6. Use a pencil or wooden craft stick to create a hole in the moss and soil. 
7. Insert one succulent cutting into the hole. 

8. Using this method, create waves of succulents by placing several of the same succulent type in a diagonal or curved line.
9. If desired, add a larger succulent to the frame to create a focal point.
10. Use branchy or trailing succulents to add visual interest along the edge of the frame. 
11. Continue to fill frame with succulents. Keep succulents close together because they will shrink slightly before growing.
12. Fill any remaining gaps with clumps of moss.
13. Leave frame horizontal for 6 to 8 weeks until succulents have fully taken root. It makes a great table decoration.
14. Once your cuttings have rooted, hang the living picture or stand it up on a shelf.
15. To water the living picture, remove it from the wall and pour water on top, completely soaking the soil. Water your living picture weekly or when the soil dries out. 

Reprinted, with permission of Alpha Books, fromIdiot’s Guides: Succulents by Cassidy Tuttle.