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Great gardening project: Create a succulent pillow

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(Read caption) This easy gardening project will create a living pillow for your deck or porch. It's simple and attractive.

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Before I give you a step-by-step breakdown, I want to let you know that I developed the succulent pillow for a presentation on “Functional Garden Art” that I was doing for Walt Disney World’s Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival a few years ago.

My “muse-finding radar” was set on high as I prepared for my Disney stage debut, and my goal was to present “out of the box” design ideas. It was a tough assignment, and inspiration was slow in coming.

Idea from an unexpected source

Thankfully, I found my inspiration when I was least expecting to.

I was watching the movie classic by Orson Wells “Citizen Kane,” when some beautiful tapestry curtains in one scene captured my attention.

My eye always focus on flowers and plants in movies, so I was captivated by the pattern of the cabbage roses in the tapestry curtains. (For some reason, the shape of the cabbage roses reminded me of the rosette form of the potted echeveria plant that sat next to my sofa.)

“Hmm, maybe I should create a tapestry curtain from succulents,” I thought.

After a few minutes of pondering the construction details, I refined the idea and scaled down to succulent pillows. Pillows would be much more practical to construct.

So, the moment Orson Wells muttered his famous final word, “Rosebud,” I had my succulent pillows designed on paper and ready to go.

Ready for a scavenger hunt?

Now that you have the backstory on how this idea germinated, let’s get started by sourcing the materials needed for the project.

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Outdoor-grade pillow in solid color (material should be rot-resistant)

1 large bag of moss (make sure you moisten the moss before using).

3 small succulents or “pups” from a plant. (If you are using cuttings, wait a week or so for the cut end to dry before planting.)


Xacto blade


  • Open the seam of the pillow on one side and remove all the stuffing.
  • Insert moistened moss in its place. [See Photo 2 above; click on the arrow at the right base of the first photo.]
  • Position your succulents where you would like them. Clusters of three are ideal, but if you add more, use an odd number.
  • Cut slits where you want to place your plants. [See Photo 3 above.]
  • Remove each succulent from the pot, remove most of the soil from the roots, and place inside a piece of pantyhose that is tied at one end. (The hose protects the roots from completely breaking apart as you insert the plant through the pillow slits)
  • Insert the succulents. [See Photo 4.]


I created an open area in the moss so that the plants are nestled inside it and weren't free-floating in a sea of moss.

If you like a true pillow look, sew the top seam closed again, leaving some small openings for drainage. I left mine open and crowned the pillow with another plant to serve as a focal point.

That’s it!

Place your pillow on a waterproof tray, water when the moss feels dry by gently misting the moss.

Display indoors in a bright room.

When the sun comes out, go outside and don’t forget to take your succulent pillow with you!


Shirley Bovshow is a nationally recognized garden designer, gardening coach, and garden television host and producer based in Los Angeles. She appears regularly on Discovery, HGTV, Style Network, and network talk shows. Shirley’s “Eden Makers Blog” is a top garden design blog. She is also the producer and host of the first online garden television entertainment show, “Garden World Report” which features the “who’s who” of the gardening world as contributors and covers the major garden events and news from all over the world. You may follow Shirley on Facebook and on Twitter.

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