So, I saw something like this on Pinterest and of course it did not come with instructions so I searched the web. (I use Startpage.come by the way, and not Google.) I found a couple of good sites so I set out to do my own. I didn’t take step-by-step photos because I didn’t know I was going to start this blog, but when I make some more, I will add photos. In the meanwhile, here’s what I did and what I learned. Whether or not the plants live and thrive remains to be seen and I’ll update that info later. I made these about 3 weeks ago and so far, most of the plants are doing well. A couple are a little iffy . . .
First I got an old frame from my mom (The big blue one) and I painted it with Krylon indoor/outdoor paint. A couple of days later I went to Goodwill and picked up a few more, very plain. But I also found the “little” frames. I got my loving husband to build a “box” that would attach to the back of the frames. The instructions I found said it should be 1 1/2 inches deep, but that seemed too shallow so mine are 2-3 inches deep. I should have only put one coat of paint on the frames or waited to paint because they got banged up and I ended up having to repaint them anyway.
I bought a roll of construction fabric, which isn’t fabric at all, but a wire mesh. I think it came in different sizes, but I wanted a weave that was closer than standard chicken wire because I was using small plants. I measured the inside of a frame and cut this mesh wire to fit, then I attached it to the back side of the frame (where your glass would go). Than the frame was attached to the box using a nail gun. So, you want wooden frames not plastic. If you use plastic frames, you’ll have to figure another way to attach it to the box and if you do, let me know how that goes. Next, I decided which side would be the bottom and I drilled some drainage holes in the bottom of the box (the bottom as it will be when it’s hung up). Then I painted it all again. If you want to get fancy you can putty the nail holes. I didn’t.
Then I added dirt by just dropping through the window in the frame, through the wire mesh, and into the box. Since I’m impatient, I used regular potting soil and not stuff specific to cactus. I periodically pounded the thing to help the soil settle and I added water, then more soil. I filled it all the way up, but then later when I was adding the plants I had to pull some dirt out so it’s a better idea to leave 1/4 inch below the wire mesh.
Then the fun part! I started adding plants. Once I started in a corner and once in the middle. Either way works fine, but start somewhere and move across the frame. Don’t just spread them out and try to fill in the gaps. For some plants with big roots, I had to snip the wire to make the openings larger. I also used some dried moss to help prop the plants up, keep the dirt in, and to look pretty in between plants. For plants that have a big leaf spread, it was easier to poke the moss in around where the root would go first. After trying to poke the moss in under leaves, and breaking them off, I figured this part out. I’d take a bit of moss, kind of twirl it into a ball, and then poke it in an opening in the mesh. I used the dull side of a wooden skewer to poke the moss and also to make little holes for the roots. I used it to gently poke the roots into the holes, also.
Two very important things to know: 1) Wait at least two weeks before you hang your living frame so that the roots can settle into the soil. 2) NEVER pick up your creation by the frame only after you’ve added dirt and plants. It gets heavy and can pull away from the frame. Yeah, been there, done that.