The latest in gardening trends can sometimes come from the most unexpected places, and succulents have certainly held the spotlight for gardening trends for a while. Repurposing antique bird cages for a unique display, however, is a fresh idea that makes a new and striking twist on a current favorite. The latest in gardening trends can sometimes come from the most unexpected places, and succulents have certainly held the spotlight for gardening trends for a while. Repurposing antique bird cages for a unique display, however, is a fresh idea that makes a new and striking twist on a current favorite.
Succulents and vintage bird cages are a perfect fit for each other. While the antique bird cage captures a certain nostalgia, the dynamic and whimsical form of succulents adds character. This new take on planters is the start of a hot new trend, and is sure to turn heads.
“You know you’re a gardener when everything you see becomes a planter.” – Unknown
If you want to capture this trend before it grows, you might need to do some DIY. Many garden centers are only just starting to introduce pre-planted options to their shelves. Making your own succulent birdcage gives you the option for a totally personalized and custom look that will add a unique edge to your home or backyard.
- Birdcage with a minimum 1” lip at the bottom (these can usually be found easily at an antique mall).
- Optional moss and lichens for decoration
- Sheet moss or coco liner
- Cactus soil
- Small pebbles
- Activated carbon
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You’ll want about 1 succulent plant for every 2” of birdcage diameter. For example, a 6” wide cage can fit 3 plants. For larger cages that are a foot across or more, you can start playing with container design. The “thriller, filler, spiller” rule of thumb is still a great tool here, helping to plan for a centrepiece, some low profile fillers, and something to trail out of the cage.
Some of the better options include:
- Thriller: Varieties like Aloe Vera, Jade, or tall Aeonium have the striking architecture you might want for the center of your birdcage.
- Filler: Rosette Succulents (echeverias) are the staple of a birdcage garden. Their natural range in colors make for a beautiful design as they spread in gorgeous clusters. Other little succulents work well too. Consider using Sedums or Crassulas as well.
- Spiller: Succulents are a little limited in trailing options. Of course, String of Pearls or String of Bananas is a good choice for a small footprint in the cage with far-trailing habits. Burrow’s Tail could also be considered, but is a less popular choice because it grows so slowly. Eventually, your fillers will send runners that trail, adding a natural trailing element.
Putting it Together:
You’re essentially building an open terrarium, so many of the principles for the more mainstream succulent containers apply. Your birdcage will determine some of your construction approach: A mesh or open bottom is preferred, where coco liner or sheet moss can be laid down for drainage. A solid bottom cage will either require drilling drainage holes, or very careful vigilance with watering habits.
Here’s how to put together your succulent birdcage:
- Lay sheet moss or coco liner at the bottom of the cage and up a few inches on the sides.
- Place a layer of pebbles at the bottom for drainage.
- Layer activated charcoal on top of the rocks. This is an important step as it helps keep your plants safe from accumulating toxins.
- Add cactus soil to your desired soil height.
- Plant your succulents, arranging from the center outward.
- Add moss, lichens, and other touches to fill in any gaps and to give a polished final look.
It is also important to note that older cages may have paint that contains lead. Working with this kind of cage is not just a safety concern for you, but also for the health of your plants. When in doubt, use plastic sheeting to protect your plants against the paint chemicals from your antique birdcage.
Planting in a birdcage is a new and creative way to garden – any old cage can be a striking alternative to any hanging basket. Succulents may be on their way to popularizing this trend, but a little creativity can bring forward unique and totally original displays in your home that are guaranteed to start conversations! Simply switch out cactus soil for peat-based potting soil and you can plant any annuals you want.
Imagine your backyard, complete with lavish and lush bunches of Supertunias or Bacopa, streaming from a birdcage, or alternatively, a rustic cage filled with edible and fragrant herbs.
This trend is all about looking at garden containers in a new way and finding an attractive way to put twists on container classics. Experimenting and getting creative is the perfect way to have a backyard statement piece that is unique and head-turning.