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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Friday, May 16, 2014

How-to :: Succulent Planter in a Birdcage

It's been quite a while ago, but I used to keep the sweetest, tiniest, chirping finches in this white birdcage. Since then I have thought often about repurposing the cage for something useful again. When I saw the photo above (I think I found it on an FB gardening page), I was immediately inspired. Succulents are fun and unique plants that don't require much attention from the gardener.

I had no idea how to duplicate the inspiration piece, but I thought I'd give it a try recently. This is what I decided would likely work. If you'd like to do it also this is how.

Small pebbles
Sphagnum moss
Potting soil
Perlite (optional)
Dowel (optional)
Decorative rocks (optional)

You may not need to paint your cage. I did. I painted my white birdcage Espresso Brown. The cage also has a hanger and a stand. All were painted with spray-paint ~  Rust-oleum primer and paint. I chose this deep brown for the cage so it would blend into the background and allow the green plants to be the focus. After it was painted I let the paint 'set-up or cure' for a couple of days before I began transforming it to a planter. Curing time for paint helps delay deterioration.

Now that it's painted and cured let's get creative. 
Place very small rocks in the bottom tray for drainage. I used about an inch of small pea gravel. This makes the cage heavy so be sure your stand (or hanger) and bottom will hold the weight.
Soak sphagnum moss in water. Wetting it thoroughly helps to make it easily moldable and it stays in place until the next step. I put the moss in a bucket of water and let it drink up the water thoroughly.

Mold the drenched moss using small quantities at a time (squeeze out excess water as you go) to the sides of the cage about 4" or so in height. My cage came with plastic inserts that slide in and out on all four sides. I put those in place to help hold the moss in. When I was ready to plant I removed them. You can better see the plastic slides two photos down.

Mix your favorite potting soil with about one part Perlite. Perlite is optional. See all those white specks? That's Perlite. My favorite potting soil is made with some Perlite in it. I added more Perlite because I had some on hand. Perlite will aerate the soil and help with drainage. Succulents need good drainage.

Soak the soil in a bucket. I find the soil easier to work with if it is already wet for this situation. Also, if the soil is already wet you won't have to run water over the plants and risk movement of any of these components once it is finished.
Pack the wet soil inside of the exterior wall you made with the sphagnum moss. I used the open door to the cage to stick my hand through. It was awkward and slow, but it is the only way to get your hand inside.

I didn't purchase any new plants for this project. I used my newly rooted succulents and a few small pieces of various types I had left over from other projects. 

Plant the inside of the cage with as many succulents as you think fit and look appropriate considering height and mature size. I put in varying sizes/shapes and then added some small decorative pebbles to fill in empty spaces.
Plant the outside of the cage. I used a small dowel to poke a hole between the small wire openings.  A pencil or large screw driver could also work ~ you just need something to penetrate the moss and make a way for the stem to slip into the soil without damaging the roots. I gently inserted each rooted cutting through the opening made with the dowel. I used rooted pieces without soil attached or I knocked off the soil.  There isn't room to fit soil and roots through the narrow wire. I did my best to tighten the interior (wet) soil around each insert to secure it. I placed one hand inside the cage and gently packed the interior dirt around each piece while holding the plant with the other hand outside the cage. I also attached a small Tillandsia to one of the exterior scrolls (without dirt) just for fun.

I won't add water for a couple of weeks or more since my soil was already soaking wet. I'll add more succulents later if I need more to fill it out. I'm kinda waiting to see how these initial pieces take off first.
The newly planted birdcage and stand has found a home on the outside deck in partial sunlight.  This spot never gets midday sunlight but it does receive lots of filtered light and morning light.

I feel pretty confident about the interior plants. They will likely take root and adjust to their new environment eventually. The true test will be the exterior inserts.  If the outside pieces actually root and take hold my copy of the inspiration piece might be successful.

The whole project took me about an hour including painting. It didn't cost me anything at the time because I happened to have all the supplies already on hand. I like that.

Obviously, my planter has some growing up to do before it reaches the amazing beauty status of its inspiration piece. Good thing I'm a patient gardener.

Where's the most unusual place you've planted succulents or other plants? The possibilities are endless when plants are given the proper conditions. I'd like to make a succulent wreath some day ... it's on my list.

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  1. i love the repurposed birdcage. it looks great. you have done so many cool projects since i've been there. let's do something fun when i come back down....i mean a project together. my bird cages outside are still feeding the birds but maybe i need to do this.
    love you and your inspired self.

  2. I'm anxious to see how long it takes your plantings to fill it. It looks very neat. I've never seen a bird cage planting like this.

  3. I saw this too and was inspired. I have a small bird cage I will plant it when I find some succulents to use. I have a few but they are too big for this project. I think your project turned out great. It will all take I bet. You have that touch. Thanks for the encouragement.

  4. Meems,it is absolutely beautiful!! You are so talented!

  5. What a neat idea! I've never been a succulent person, but that is a beautiful use of a birdcage. Come to think of it, I may have a birdcage/card holder from my wedding. That would be a great way to display and actually use it! Thanks!

  6. This is Really nice Tips. Thanks to sharing wonderful Tips.

  7. Really cool tips, thanks for sharing.

  8. Such a fun project, Meems! I'd love to see how it grows. And I loved the idea of adding the tillandsia. Hoping you'll keep posting pics of how it looks after a couple of months.


  9. Great tutorial! So happy my creation inspired your piece! Yes that is my birdcage in the inspiration photo. In time it will fill out and get even more lush. I have enjoyed you blog for quite awhile. Happy planting! Lois Andersen

  10. Thank you for your tutorial. I had seen different birdcage tutorials with succulents, but this one has been very useful for me. My birdcages don't have trays at the bottom so I am thinking to possibly use a plastic plate and placing charcoal over that instead of the small pebbles for drainage. Fingers crossed.


  11. Have planted my husband old boots with cactus and succulents. Love your bird cage just need the cage


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