How To Make Your Own Book Planters for Succulents

I am a firm believer that it doesn't take much to add a little charm to your home or office. During my recent visit to Poke Acupuncture, I noticed that Russell had added tons of new decorations. My favorites were his DIY homemade book planters. Here is a step by step lesson on how to create them yourself.
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Russell talks with us about his inspiration behind creating these fun book planters: I first saw these in my favorite geniusly-designed clothing store, The Warehouse in Echo Park. They fulifill two of my great loves: old books and negligently caring for plants that are difficult to kill, thus making me feel like I have a green thumb (when in fact I have the kiss of death wtih plants). I then taught myself how to make my own versions of them by trial and error, with a few personal tweaks.

Some may cry "sacrilege!" that I am cutting a hole in a book but I
believe this to be an artistic extension my design aesthetic of
repurposing and re-imagining: taking something beautiful and turning
it into something else beautiful. I also tell the nay-sayers that I
purchased the book on Itunes where it will live digitally and
eternally, so I am actually freeing the story from its physical shell.
I usually say this with a totally straight-face, and they have,
generally, no reply.

Supplies:

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1 Vintage book.
2-3 small succulents. Any more than that will get really heavy. Home
Depot sells them for like $2 each. Be wary of "top-heavy" succulents
as they are hard to keep leverage in such a relatively shallow pot.
Even little miniature cactuses are nearly impossible to keep erect.
"Wide and flatter" work MUCH better than "tall."
Little bit of potting soil
1 exacto knife
Parchment paper or plastic bag
White glue
Dry moss or ground cover


Instructions:

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1. The night before, rub a very thin layer of white glue against the loose paper binding, just enough to make some of the pages stick. It doesnt need to be precise. It just helps when starting to cut into the book that the pages stay in one place.
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2. Cutting the square in the book is the most time-consuming part. Decide how big a square you want to have for planting. I find that the smaller patches tend to look better. I like to leave some of the text of the book visible. Using your metal ruler you will measure out your square and cut through a few pages at a time, pull them out (you will need to break the glued seal you made to get them out), and then do a few more pages, pull them out, and work your way down the book. You will need a hole that is at least 1 1/2 inches deep. The hole does not need to be clean or pretty because the only page that will be visible is the top page, so dont worry if it tears badly, or seems jagged. You wont be able to see any of it and its going to be filled with dirt. I also recommend you start with the page under the Title Page and save the Title Page for last. By the time the rest of the hole is made, you will have a better sense of how to make the cutout for the Title Page the most centered and clean. Remember this is the only page where the look of the cut out matters.
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3. Line the hole with parchment paper or plastic. This just prevents any watering from damaging the rest of the book.

4. If your book is very, very deep, you can put a layer of gravel at
the bottom of the hole. This will provide some drainage that your
succulents would appreciate. Succulents dont need much water but they
do prefer to not have their roots sitting in water so the gravel
provides a place for the water to drain that the roots wont touch. In
a regular sized booked you wont have room for gravel. Dont worry: the
succulents will still live even without the drainage.

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5. Start with the main succulent and separate it from the soil its packed in. Place it in the hole where you like. Then repack the soil around it so it can stand on its own. For the larger plants, you will need to wedge them into the corners so they stand up until they start to grow on their own. You will need to pack the soil tightly around the roots to make them stand. A little water in the soil will also help.
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6. Once you have the succulents where you want, cover the soil in dry moss. You can leave the soil exposed if you like, but I think it looks nicer with the moss because that will cover the hole in the book, and the moss will also help support the plants.
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7. Cut the parchment paper just below the surface of the moss so that its adequately hidden. Seeing the parchment totally ruins the illusion. Blow off any dirt that youve gotten in the book. There will be dirt everywhere.
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8. About once a week I spray a little bit of water into the roots
with a squirt bottle. Like I said, succulents need very little water
but they do need a lot of sunlight so if you are keeping them inside,
make sure they are by a window or put them outside as much as
possible. When you water them, try to avoid getting water on the
Title Page.

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Thanks for the lesson, Russell!

Project: Russell Brown Images: Bethany Nauert

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