How to Make Living Wall Art (wood-mounted planters)
I love plants, but sadly I’ve sent more to the graveyard than I’d like to admit.
And sure I could blame my cat, Duckie, for thinking my plants are his salad bar, but I’ve also had my fair share of overwatering/underwatering/not enough sun, too much sun, or just straight up neglecting them.
Or losing plants due to DIY cat-repellant concoctions that killed the plant before my cat could.
I guess this is a good place to mention several plants are poisonous to cats, so please be cautious when adding plants to your home or make sure they are out of reach. And also use caution when making DIY cat repellants as some essential oils can be dangerous for pets. Do your research and use your best judgment.
How to Make Living Wall Art
I struggled with keeping plants alive in our previous house, and traveling in the RV has only created additional challenges – hello humidity.
With that said, I’d like to think I’ve made progress in my plant-care abilities. Not only have I learned which plants thrive in our tiny home on wheels, but which plants Duckie is likely to stay away from. If you ask me, Snake plants are amazing for both RV’ers and cat owners, but I want more than cacti and succulent-type plants in our tiny home on wheels.
Cat Plant Lady
The problem isn’t even Duckie nibbling on my (non-poisonous) plants, but that he does it in the middle of the night when I’m asleep.
And then he throws up.
On my rugs.. or cozy throw blankets… or throw pillows.
And anyone who has cats knows that nothing will get you outta bed faster than the sound of a cat about to puke.
Let’s just say I’ve got skills and 99.9% of the time I’m able to jump outta bed, run to the living room, and move him to a “throw-up-safe” location before either of us even knows what’s happening. The only time I miss is when I wake up and realize I can’t move because either McNally or our other cat, Kobe, is sleeping on my legs and ignores my struggles to move them off me. If this happens, chances are I won’t make it to the living room in time.
Yet this doesn’t prevent me from browsing nurseries and bringing home more plants (Sorry Eric!).
And I’ve tried faux plants over the years and do have some faux greenery sprinkled about in vases, but for me, it’s more about bringing life into our RV.
How to Make Living Wall Art (Wood-Mounted Planters)
While I may sound more concerned for my plants and rugs, I love my 12-year-old plant-eating cat more. I just haven’t given up hope that I can have leafy plants I don’t have to move into the shower every night before bed.
Oh, the things we do for our pets.
While we already have a couple hanging planters, I’ve become even more determined to have leafier, green plants inside our RV, and figured the best way to do this would be to make wall-mounted plants.
To be honest, we don’t have a ton of vertical spaces in our RV that Duckie can’t reach, but there are a few, and I was happy to take advantage of them.
Not only are these wall-mounted planters perfect for tiny living, but they create beautiful, living wall art, can help purify the air, and are a great option for keeping nibbling pets away.
So if you’ve ever wondered how to hang plants from a piece of wood vs. sitting in a pot, I’m here to guide you along the way.
In fact, the first time we attempted this project, we shot a video of the process to show just how easy it is, which you can watch below. What you see in the video are Eric’s very first wall-mounted plants and I think they turned out awesome! I use a more simplified method since we shot the video (Eric still prefers the first), but will share that with you in a minute.
Video: How to Make Wood-Mounted Plants on Driftwood or Cork Bark
Air Plants = Epiphytes
First off, the best plants to use for this project are epiphytes, also known as Air Plants. Whenever I heard the term “Air Plant” I always thought of these guys…
Turns, out there are over 22,000 different varieties of Air Plants!
So what are epiphytes? The short answer is they are plants that are able to gain their moisture and nutrients via the air rather than from the soil. You can often find them growing on the side of a tree trunk, branch, or rock. They also help purify the air.
Some examples are ferns, orchids, a variety of cacti, philodendron, etc. Some of my favorites are staghorn ferns, hoyas, and bird’s nest. If you’re unsure about a specific plant, you can always ask Uncle Google “Is (xyx plant) an epiphyte?” and you should be able to find the answer.
Here are a few more photos of the finished planters so you get a better sense of what we’re making here:
Side note: We used a Crocodylus plant in the video (also pictured above) but didn’t realize they can be a little trickier to keep alive, probably not the best option for us since we are far from having a green thumb. It didn’t do too well in our RV and we ended up replacing it with a Bird’s Nest plant (shown below), which has done amazing and is supposed to be one of the easiest plants to take care of. So if you’re looking for an easy, leafy epiphyte to mount, go with a Bird’s Nest!
- Epiphyte Plant such as Staghorn Ferns, Bird’s Nest, Hoyas, Orchid, etc.
- Piece of Wood such as Cork Bark/Cork Bark Flats or Driftwood
- Hanging Hardware – we used eye hooks and twine
- Container with water
- Fishing Line
The items below are optional, depending on how you choose to secure the plant/moss to the board:
- Screwdriver and screws
- Circular Object (about the size of the plant)
I heart Cork Bark
I’m now OBSESSED with cork bark flats! I didn’t even know they existed until I started researching materials for this project.
Cork comes from Cork Oak Trees and just like the board, the bark is super light and spongy and easy to work with.
I struggled with finding them locally because the local nurseries didn’t carry them, and while you can sometimes find them at pet supply stores near the reptile supplies, I didn’t have such luck.
I was too impatient or order online so I drove to a bunch of nurseries anyway and eventually found some near the orchid supplies. What’s funny is I found them at a nursery I had called that told me they didn’t know what I was talking about. Go Figure.
Of course, these were found after we shot the video, so in the video, you can see we used cypress driftwood, which I think worked really well too.
With that said you can find Cork Bark/Cork Bark Flats on Amazon or from other online retailers.
DIY Living Wall Art – Two Methods
I’ll admit that after making the first two plants, I skipped most of these steps and sorta just winged it. It works both ways, so it comes down to preference… and patience.
With that said, I figure it’s probably best to give you some sort of guidance so you can have a better sense of how most mounted planters are made, and can then choose the method that works best for you.
Eric prefers the first method I’ll share, which involves tracing a circular object onto your wood and adding screws, which he then zig-zagged the fishing line around to help keep the plant and moss in place. He likes to follow specific instructions and thought the planter looked more “finished” this way.
I, on the other hand, saw this as the perfect opportunity to get messy, play around, and sorta see what happens. I preferred the less structured, more organic vibe of these planters, which I share in the second method below.
Which will hold up better over time? Guess we’ll have to wait and see, but mine are doing great so far!
Feel free to try either method or find a different method that works best for you.
In the photo above you may notice that the top planter was made using the first method and the one below it was made using the second method. You can tell by the fishing line on the sides of the second plant.
By the way, the photo above was taken right after we made the planters and I have since had to move the bottom plant because Duckie doesn’t mind the hard, waxy leaves and nibbled at it anyway.
Option One: Circular Moss using Screws
Let’s dive into the first method for making wall-mounted plants!
Step 1: Attach Hanging Hardware
The main reason you want to do this first is that it’s easier to do before you attach the plant. In the video, you’ll notice we used actual hanging hardware (D-Hooks) for one of the planters, but then tied some twine around it because we wanted to have the planter hang from the twine. For the rest of the planters, we ended up using eye hooks and twine which was sooooo much easier, and what I recommend. I also noticed the eye hooks were super easy to twist into the cork bark or driftwood we had.
Step 2: Trace Circular Object onto the wood
Use your circular object to trace a circle onto the board. The size of your circular object is going to depend on the size of the board and how big your plant is. This is essentially going to be where the roots of the plant are placed, and where you add the moss.
Choose where you want to position the roots onto the board and trace the circle. We chose to have our plant be rooted closer to the bottom of the board.
Step 3: Add Screws to Circle
Using your circle as an outline, evenly space out 6-8 screws – you can use more or less depending on the size of your plant and your piece of wood.
You could use nails, but after hamming a nail into fragile driftwood, we split the wood in half. Oops. Unless you’re using fragile wood, nails should be fine, but I’d think screws could work for either.
Step 4: Attach fishing line
Tie a knot of fishing line around the top screw. I’d go ahead and double-knot it just to make sure it’s extra secure. You could cut off a super long piece of fishing line, but we didn’t cut the fishing line until the very end (you can watch the video if this sounds confusing).
You could technically fo this after you place your plant onto the wood, but we figured it may be easier to do before the roots were in the way.
Step 5: Add your plant to the piece of wood
Remove your plant from the pot it’s in and dip it into a container of water. You’re going to dip it in the water a few times to remove some of the dirt from the roots.
You don’t want to remove all of the dirt, just some of it to make it easier to work with.
Then set your plant onto the wood, until you have it where you want it. Remember that the circle/screws are a guide for where the roots/moss will go.
Step 6: Add Moss on top of the roots of the plant
Take some of your moss and place it inside a container of water. You want the moss to soak up the water, then squeeze it out. This makes it easier to work with and will help add water to the plant. I recommend having this setup and ready to go before you begin the project. This way the moss has a couple of minutes to soak up the water.
Spread the moss on top of and around the roots until you get the look you want.
We used preserved moss for the first two planters because I liked the rich, green color, but later used Sphagnum Moss and honestly found it much easier to work with. I also think it’s held in place better, but use whatever moss you prefer.
Step 7: Wind Fishing Line around the Screws to Secure the Roots/Moss to the Wood
Starting at the top screw (you should already have the fishing line knotted to the top screw from Step 4, but if not you can do it now) go ahead and loop the fishing line to the bottom screw, making sure it’s nice and tight. Then loop it back up to the top again in order to secure a v-shape around the moss in the roots. Then continue zig-zagging the fishing line around the screws, going in opposite directions to help secure the moss in place. Once you’ve wrapped the fishing line all the way around and back to the top, you can cut the fishing line and tie it tight – double, or even triple-knotting it is a good idea.
If your screws are still showing, you can go around and tuck in some extra moss underneath the fishing line.
You’re done, woo-hoo!
Now you can find a place to hang your cute little planter. Or if you wanna try a different method, check out the steps below.
Option 2: Extra Quick and Easy Method (no screws)
This is how I made all of my wall-mounted planters after we shot the video. I personally prefer this method and even made my mom a wood-mounted planter for Mother’s Day going this simplified route, which you can see in the photo above.
Step 1: Attach Hanging Hardware
The main reason you want to do this first is that it’s easier to do before you attach the plant.
Step 2: Remove your plant from the pot and dip it into a container of water
Remove your plant from the pot it’s in and dip it into a container of water. You’re going to dip it in the water a few times to remove some of the dirt from the roots, which will make it easier to work with.
Step 3: Position the Plant onto the Piece of Wood and Add Moss
Set your plant onto the wood, until you have it where you want it. Then take some of your moss and place it inside a container of water. You want the moss to soak up the water, then squeeze it out. This makes it easier to work with and will help add water to the plant.
Spread the moss on top of and around the roots until you get the look you want.
Step 4: Wind Fishing Line around the Roots/Moss to the Wood to Secure it
If you watch the video above, you’ll notice Eric made a version of this simplified planter and first wrapped fishing line around the piece of wood, tied it off, then slid the roots underneath it. This is probably a good idea, but I’ve skipped it for all of my planters and instead just put the moss directly on top of the roots, and then wrapped the fishing line around the moss, which in turn has held the roots in place.
To do it this way I simply tie a knot on the side or back of the board (triple-knotted), then continue to wrap the fishing line around and around the board until the moss looks nice and secure, but not too tight where the leaves or roots look suffocated, if that makes sense. You can gently move any leaves out of the way as you continue to wrap the fishing line around the moss. Then tie it back off once you feel good about the amount of fishing line used. You can also go in and tuck extra moss around any areas or make adjustments as needed.
I’ll admit I use quite a bit of fishing line, but you can’t really see it unless you get super close and even then, the moss covers a decent amount of it as it dries. And while you can see it on the side, you can always tuck extra moss under and around it to hide it more.
You’re done, woo-hoo!
Although once you finish one you’ll probably want to tackle another. It’s fun and the planters are so darn cute!
The downside of method 2:
The downside of this simplified method? The only downside I see to taking this approach vs. the screws option is once you water the plant, the moss shrinks temporarily and the fishing line can become loose (temporarily). If you leave the moss to dry it should be fine, but there have been a few times I’ve had to re-slide the bottom fishing line back onto the board. It’s not a big deal, I literally just move it up, but the fishing line should be more secure with the circle/screw method if that makes sense.
Here are some more photos of our wall mounted planters throughout our RV. I wish I had one large wall I could display several of these bad boys, but there’s really nowhere for us to do that unless we covered up our bedroom map and I don’t see that happening. Oh well, I’m loving them sprinkled about our tiny home!
While the Asparagus Fern isn’t technically a fern, or an epiphyte, I’ve seen them mounted to wood with moss and decided to do the same with ours. So far so good!
How to Water:
When it’s time to water your plant, submerge the entire mount in water for 20-30 minutes and let it dry before hanging it back up. You can also spritz it with a water bottle throughout the week. Keep in mind that watering guidelines vary depending on the type of plant used and the season, so do your research!
Here are some of the resources we used for this project:
Mounted plant care tips and where to purchase pre-made options:
We LOVE Pistils Nursery’s Website for all sorts of plant tips, including how to water mounted epiphytes AND they even sell all sorts of plants, including cork-mounted options!
We hope this post was helpful and that you’ll enjoy making living wall art as much as we did! We’re far from experts when it comes to taking care of wall-mounted plants, so if you have any tips feel free to share them in the comments below!