DIY: Plant frame

Taryn Jacobson, owner and creative director of Tiakaya Design and Living Room, a roof garden oasis and eco café in Jozi, shows just how easy it is to transform an old photo frame into a living centrepiece


  • An old frame that’s at least 4–6cm deep
  • Superglue or a staple gun
  • A piece of chicken wire or plastic mesh that’s slightly larger than the glass that would fit into the frame
  • A piece of hard, waterproof PVC plastic that’s big enough to cover the entire back of the frame
  • A drill
  • Potting soil mixed with river sand
  • A small water spray bottle
  • A variety of indigenous succulents


  • Lay the frame face down on the table and, if necessary, remove the backboard and glass. Using superglue or staples, attach the mesh to the inside back where the glass panel would usually sit.
  • Keep the frame face down and attach the piece of hard PVC plastic to the outside back using superglue, effectively turning the frame into a planter box. Allow the glue to dry.
  • Drill a 5mm-wide hole in the PVC for drainage.
  • Turn the frame right side up. Scatter the soil mix through the mesh, occasionally spraying it with water and shaking the frame gently, until it’s evenly filled with soil.
  • Take cuttings of your desired succulents and stick them through the mesh into the soil. Leave the planter frame flat in a bright spot out of direct sun for a few weeks until the clippings grow roots.
  • Spray the plants weekly; you’ll know it’s enough when water starts dripping out the drainage hole.


  • You can use a shallower frame if you’d like, but you’ll need to build a planting box to add on to the back to increase its depth as can be seen in the main photo.
  • If using succulent cuttings that already have roots, use a pin to gently ‘tease’ the roots out while planting them in your upcycled frame planter.