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Vertical Zen Garden Box

I love displaying plants in unusual ways. As I  mentioned in a previous post I don’t have a lot of surface space for containers so I’ve been trying to think of clever ways to go vertical with my indoor gardening. As with most of my projects, this is simple but packs a punch. I started with 3/4″ X 1 1/2″ lumber and a piece of 1/4″ melamine and created a box. After painting it I lined with an old shower curtain cut to size. After stapling the plastic in place I used grower pots cut in half and hot glued those to the back. Then I covered the whole thing in sheet moss which I hot glued in place and then filled the pots with soil and plants. Voila! I have it standing on top of a book case with Buddha and lit with some LEDs but you could also hang it directly on the wall. For maintenance I put the whole box in the shower once a week and mist in between.

boxes_all

box_finished_light box_finished_dark

As always, if you have any questions on how I did this or need advice on making your own, just holler! Thanks for reading and remember, today’s ideas become tomorrow realities.

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Mounting Your Own Staghorn Ferns

Unfortunately… or fortunately, this post might not be as exciting or nearly as dirty sounding as the title. Staghorn Ferns are one of my favorite plants. I like them so much I brought the three I had all the way from San Diego to Minneapolis in the back seat of my car. Two of my Staghorns I rescued from the trash at work and the other one, my first one, I bought at the Home Depot. Usually when I have seen them for sale they are potted. Staghorn ferns, like Orchids, are epyphitic, meaning they grow on other plants, trees or objects. The reason they are typically mounted and wall hanging is that it more closely resembles their natural growing condition and gives them the best opportunity to thrive. I won’t bore you with the details but for a full run down on Staghorn Fern care, click here.

Back to the task at the hand. If you’ve got a potted Staghorn fern that needs a new vertical home, here’s how to make that happen.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Potted Staghorn Fern
  • Wood
  • Peat Moss
  • Sheet Moss
  • Monofilament (Fishing Line)

Here’s a step-by-step photo set for the more visually inclined and instructions below.

1. To start off with, you need something to mount your Staghorn on. I’ve seen versions where the plant is mounted to all kinds of substrate but I settled on cedar. Since cedar has a rough grain it helps give the roots something to grab on to over time. I cut 5 pieces of 2″ X 3/4″ cedar at 10″ long, essentially creating a square when all five pieces are lined up.

2. Cut two additional boards a little smaller for the back. These will become your cross braces and will give you space to hang your plant with a few screws and wire while still allowing it to sit flat against the wall. Once you have everything cut you will screw through the back of these boards to connect all the front pieces together.

3. Using a triangle I laid out my final shape. You can go for any shape you like or leave it square. I like the hexagon shape because it’s simple but a little different. It helps to number the pieces on the back so that you remember how they fit together once they’re cut.

4. With all the pieces cut you can now lay it face down and screw through the back to connect everything together. This is not the most glamorous photo but helps illustrate how everything works. I used two additional screws and wire for hanging. Note that you can see the monofilament crisscrossed all over the back.

5. Now that your construction is complete you can move on to getting the fern onto the mount. (Sorry but no photos from here on out. My hands were too dirty to operate the camera.) Remove any loose dirt from your potted plant making sure not to tear off any roots.

6. With your mount laying flat on a table, create a small bed of peat moss on top of it, just a little larger than the size of your root ball.

7. Set your fern on top of the bed of peat moss and pack a little more peat moss around it. This helps to keep the roots from drying out.

8. Cover all the peat moss with sheet moss. The idea is that the sheet moss holds everything in place once you secure it with monofilament.

9. Secure a long piece of monofilament to one of your screws on the back and then wrap up and over the root ball and moss, making sure not to secure any leaves. Wrap and wrap until you’re sure the plant is secure on the mount.

You’re done! Find a home for your fern where it gets bright but not direct sunlight. I soak it in the shower once a week and spray it with a spray bottle in between. They like the humidity of the misting but also need to dry out between watering.

Here’s the final product:

As always, if you have any questions on how I did this or need advice on making your own, just holler! Thanks for reading and remember, today’s ideas become tomorrow realities.

Kokedama Style Hanging Plant Balls

I love plants. It might be obvious from some of my previous posts. Sometimes though, finding table space with adequate light is a challenge. The house we live in only has two south facing windows and they’re not very large. When you’re at a loss for space, going vertical seems like the most logical solution. I’ve seen lots of great solutions for vertical gardening but they wouldn’t work because of the lighting hurdle, so getting the plants into the window and closer to the light was the ultimate goal. I had seen a few DIY tutorials on creating hanging plant balls similar to these but ultimately ended up doing it my own way. I started off with a small potted plant for this version. In another version of the project I used a larger plant that I divided into three smaller pieces.
Here are the materials you’ll need. (Everything was purchased at the Home Depot.)

– Potted plant (I chose plants that only required lighter watering)

Light gauge wire

Sheet moss

– Jute, Twine or whatever you want to use to hang your plants.

Ceiling Hook

Here’s a step-by-step photo set for the more visually inclined and instructions below.

1. Cut four pieces of wire long enough that when bent in half will give you enough room to wrap up and around the plant root ball with room to twist them together. (Using a lighter gauge wire that is flexible enough to bend with your fingers and a pair of pliers is ideal.)  Bend all four pieces at the center (like you’re folding a piece of paper in half) and using a pencil or paint brush just twist the four strands until they’re connected.

2. Spread the wires out like the spokes of a bicycle wheel. Since we folded the wire in half we now have 8 pieces to arrange evenly in the circle. You could choose to either leave the loop hanging below the root ball (I thought about hanging something fun from the loop but chose to bend it inside to keep it clean looking) or bend it so it’s facing inward and will not ultimately be seen. Once you’re wires are spaced evenly, set them on a bowl that’s a little larger than the plant’s root ball.

3. Now just bend the whole set of wires down into the bowl and bend the pieces that hang out of the bowl down over the edge.

4. Set a piece of sheet moss into the bowl. Make sure it’s large enough to cover roughly the bottom half of the root ball.

5. Use another piece of sheet most to cover the top portion of the root ball. Wrap the pieces of wire up around the top of the root ball and gather them together. Using pliers, twist them together the same way you did in step one. Wrap them into a loop so you have something to attach your hanging material to. Make sure to not wrap your wire over plant stems and watch out for pokey pieces of wire!

6. Now use whatever material you want to hang your plant with. In this version, I made a macrame style cradle for it to sit in but in other versions I simply attached the Jute to the loop of wire.

I know this is a lot of instructions but it really is very easy once you get the hang of it. Here is the final product:

And here is another version I did:

As always, if you have any questions on how I did this or need advice on making your own, just holler! Thanks for reading and remember, today’s ideas become tomorrow realities.

Going Stag

For years I had wanted a Stag Horn Fern. I know, weird and only me. Most people won’t care or will be too bored reading my description but if you want to learn more about Staghorn Ferns click here. So after all these years of pining for this fern here’s what I finally I ended up with.

I know, you’re probably thinking, “How anticlimactic”. But, this is what you get for $12 at the Home Depot. Needless to say, I thought I could make it better. I found this driftwood at the swap meet for $5.

Actually, this was several pieces of driftwood connected together with the screws very cleverly hidden. Whatever. It was only $5. After locating the screws and disassembling the pieces I removed the fern, which is basically just a handful of dirt and moss connected with fishing line. Once I cut the fishing line the whole fern came right off. In an ideal world I would have had fishing line. But, I don’t fish so my standby leather cord had to work. I added a few smaller cuttings of spider plant and a few air plants I had lying around and here’s what I ended up with. Think of it as a plant collage.

To keep the whole thing watered I mist the smaller plants everyday with just a little bit of water and soak the whole thing once every five days or so.

Easy, under $20 and packs a much bigger punch.

As always, if you have any questions on how I did this or need advice on making your own, just holler! Thanks for reading and remember, today’s ideas become tomorrow realities.

Palm Frond Hanging Planter

In an earlier post, I turned a palm frond I found into a hanging light fixture. This project uses the other frond that I found at the same time. In the winter when storms roll into San Diego you can find palm tree debris all over the place and its free for the taking. I wanted a way to hang some plants in the window in my shower since with all the moisture, it seemed like a place plants would thrive. Of course, I didn’t want to spend money when I thought I could make some cooler than I could buy at the store. This is how the frond looked before I started. It’s a little larger than the one I used for the light and had a nice curve that I thought would help to hold the soil in place.

I started by using some left over leather cord which you’ve seen me use in other projects. I tied a few pieces around the front to keep it place after I filled it with soil. If your frond is dry, try soaking it in water to soften it up so that it doesn’t crack when you bend it.

I filled it with soil next and wadded up a plastic grocery bag to keep the soil from falling out. To hang it I used more leather cord and made a sling for the planter to rest in. I tied it up to the old curtain rod first and then slid the planter in place. The way its hung on a slight angle makes watering it really easy. So that the dirt doesn’t run out I use a wash cloth and ring it out. I only have to water it on one end because the slope allows the water to run down through the roots of all three plants and drains out the lower end. These plants were freebies and are two different types of begonias and a fern. If I do it again I might line the inside of the frond with something to keep it from rotting over time.

As always, if you have any questions on how I did this or need advice on making your own, just holler! Thanks for reading and remember, today’s ideas become tomorrow realities.

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