Tuesday, 15 December 2015

How to make a succulent birdcage

Hello! So, my neighbour Serene has two green thumbs and is also very generous; this works out well for me since she keeps giving me plants - especially succulents, which I love! But it was getting to the stage where I had so many succulents that I needed to work out a new way to keep them, rather than just having them in the little pots she gave them to me in. I've had a decorative metal birdcage hanging around my house for literally years, so I decided to upgrade it to a succulent cage! ^___^

Since I was planning to keep this cage inside I didn't treat the metal in anyway. If you're planning on hanging yours outside, I'd recommend coating it with a rust preventative. Also, check that the hinges are going to hold up! My cage is pretty heavy now, and I'm not sure I'd trust it hanging for a long time. 

I brought a hanging pot liner from the hardware store; mine was made from coconut fiber and has a circular base shape.

I used secateurs to trim down the edges of the liner and also cut darts into the sides so that it would fit better in my hexagon shaped cage. It was pretty tricky to cut the edges so that they were the same height all around, and mine is higher at the back. If you want the edges perfectly even, just keep trimming! I decided that having the back higher would make the plants at the back of my cage easier to see while it's on the shelf, so I left it. I'm also hoping that as the plants grow the liner will be less visible.

After adding the liner, all that's left to do is to fill the cage with soil and plants! I used a specialised cacti and succulent soil mix which, again, I got from the hardware store. The bag I got was quite large, but I've been using it for lots of my succulent replanting, so it's not going to waste ^___^

I'm not a very good plant mum as I don't know the names of all the succulents I have, but here's what I do know. The tall plant is a Sedum rubrotinctum, also known as Jelly Bean. The tips of the leaves go red when left in the sun; mine is going redder by the day which I hope means it's happy next to the lounge room window.

The three plants that look the same (two of them are next to the dinosaurs and they form a triangle within the cage) are actually all from the same plant. I think they are Sempervivum giuseppe, also known as Hen and Chicks. The pot Serene gave me had one plant in the middle of the pot and six smaller plants surrounding it; at her advice I broke off the smaller plants and planted them separately. I put three in this cage, and have the other four in pots by themselves.

The plant with wavy leaves, behind the left dinosaur, I think is an Echerevia Zorro and the plant kinda hiding behind Jelly Bean with the large rounded leaves with red tips is a Kalanchoe luciae, also called Flap Jacks. Hmmm, jelly beans and flap jacks; who knew succulents could be so delicious? ~___^

On the other side of Jelly Bean is a bushy little succulent which I think is Sedum Goldmound. I'm not sure what the brighter green plant at the bottom of the photo above is though, or the skinny ones which look like creepers.

This photo has a better view of Flap Jacks and Goldmound, and also shows how the back of the cage has the liner and plants on a higher angle. Once all your plants are in, give the soil a good watering. Some will probably drip out of the bottom of the liner at this stage, so hang it outside for a bit until it's not leaking anymore. I've been told that the best way to water succulents is to give them a little bit, and then wait until the soil is dry before watering again. This usually means that I'm watering them small amounts every couple of days, and that's not enough for the liner to drip inside. If the soil gets really really dry and your plants look like they're suffering, hang them outside again and give them another good watering.

Do you have a favourite type of succulent? Scott recently brought me an awesome doll head planter for my birthday, so now I really want a brain cactus (Mammillaria elongata cristata, for those playing at home) ~____^

- Lisa xx

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