DIY Wood Succulent Planter Box

Succulents are a wonderful addition to any home. Not only do they make for beautiful decor, but they also have important health benefits—working to purify the air, add more oxygen, and improve the humidity in your home.  

And of course, while you can’t just set them and forget them, they take far less effort to maintain than other types of houseplants. If you have a busy schedule like me, that’s a significant perk.

I recently decided to add some new succulents to my collection. In the past, I’ve gone with ceramic planters, but I love arts and crafts, so I decided to look into making my own wood planter box instead.

The results were incredible! The DIY succulent planter was fun to make, relatively inexpensive, and in my humble opinion, quite stylish. If you want to build your own DIY succulent planter, just follow along below, and I’ll walk you through it.

Getting Started

First, you’ll need to choose and gather your materials.  

Choosing Your Lumber

All wood will eventually break down, particularly if you plan on leaving your planter outside on your porch, but certain types will last longer than others.  

If you’re looking for something that will last as long as possible, you should go with a premium type of lumber like cedar. A planter box made from cedar could last for upwards of 20 years. Plus, you might not even need to finish it as cedar tends to look quite stylish all on its own! However, you’ll have to spend substantially more money than you would on other alternatives.

If you’re looking for something a bit more inexpensive that is nonetheless quite reliable, you could instead go with Douglas fir. It’s easy to work with, and your planter should still last for 7-10 years.  

Douglas fir was my choice. I know I’ll probably want to redesign in a few years anyway, so maximum longevity was not my focus. I just wanted quality lumber that I can get for a reasonable price, but your priorities are up to you.

Keep in mind that pressure-treated wood is made with chemicals that will harm your plants, so look for untreated or ACQ-treated lumber instead.

Assembling Materials

The amount of lumber you’ll need depends on how large you want to make your planter box. I decided to go with a 12” by 8” DIY succulent planter (definitely on the small end; the size you want is up to you), so I got a 1 “ 4” by 10’ piece of lumber, which I would then cut into smaller pieces. You’ll also need:

  • Wood screws
  • Drill
  • Saw (or pay for the hardware store to pre-cut your lumber for you)
  • Viny Screen (optional)
  • Stain or Lacquer (optional)
  • Trim (optional)

Once you get everything together, you’re ready for the fun part!

Getting to Work

Now that you have all your materials ready to go, you can put together a DIY succulent planter in seven easy steps.

Step 1: Cut Wood Pieces

I cut four equal-length 12” strips—two for the sides, and two for the bottom. The bottom will be 8” across, so we cut two more 6” strips for the shorter sides. The lumber is 1” thick, so that will fit perfectly.  

Make sure to cut the wood in as straight a line as possible. If you don’t have access to a saw or don’t trust yourself to cut it, you can have the lumber pre-cut to your specifications when you purchase it at the hardware store. However, most stores will charge a little extra for this.

I like extra-polished details, so I chose to sand the lumber after cutting it. That isn’t always necessary, though, depending on how cleanly the wood was cut.  

Step 2: Attach the Pieces

First, you’ll want to drill some pilot holes in the short sides and on the base. Those will help the screws go in evenly.

I first attached the four sides together, then the bottom pieces. If you measured everything right, it should come together perfectly! 

Step 3: Drill Drainage Holes

As anyone with a green thumb knows, you don’t want your plants to get soggy feet. That is particularly true of succulents, as they are excellent at storing water and need very little.

To prevent this, turn your box over and drill a few small holes in the bottom. I have a small box, so I only drilled four. If yours is a bit larger, you might want 5 or 6. But don’t overdo it.

Step 4: Consider Your Details

At this point, your DIY succulent planter is ready to go. But if you want to add a few finishing touches, do so now. Many people may add a screen layer on the inside of the bottom, to protect the wood from the draining water and make it last longer. Measure the inside, cut your screen, and attach it with some small finishing nails.

If you want trim to spruce up the design, attach that now as well.

Step 5: Treat the Outside of the Planter

Now it’s time to make the planter look good. If you used Douglas fir like me, you’ve probably noticed that the planter feels nice and sturdy but looks a little bland. I used some basic wood stain, but you could also even paint the box whatever color you choose.

If you invested in some cedar or another higher-quality lumber, you might just use some clear lacquer or leave it untouched for an au natural look.  

Either way, make sure you only treat the outside of the planter box. Treating the inside could contaminate the soil and damage your succulents.

Step 6: Add the Soil

Start out with a thin layer of gravel. That will help the planter drain and avoid soggy feet. From there, there are several types of soil you could include, but I decided to go with cactus soil. That’s specifically designed for succulents and will help them thrive.

For an aesthetic boost, you might consider adding pebbles on top of the soil as well. I think these make for a great touch.

Step 7: Plant Your Succulents!

Your DIY succulent planter is ready to go! Add your succulents to the planter and enjoy.

Taking Care of Your Succulents

Succulents are very low maintenance as far as houseplants go. But that doesn’t mean you can just plant them and leave them be. If you want your succulent to thrive, you should water it about once a week, so that the soil gets fully soaked.  

However, that timeline is just a guideline. You’ll want to make sure the soil gets all the way dried out in between waterings. If you live in a particularly humid area, you might not want to water your succulents as often, and vice versa. Succulents can die if you overwater them, so be very careful.

You can also use some succulent food about once a month or so during the summer growing period. During the winter months, your succulents will enter a period of dormancy and won’t need any fertilizer. You should also consider halving the frequency at which you water them during the winter as well (as long as they’re not shriveling). 

For my money, there’s not much better than a combination of arts and crafts and decor, all in the name of something alive to care for, keep you company, and even give you health benefits. With a DIY succulent planter, you get all the above!

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