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DIY: Hanging “Succulent Garden” Made With Pistachio Shells

Yesterday I was torn between making a piece of artwork to hang on the wall with my pistachio shell flowers, and a wreath for my front door.  So, I ended up making a piece of artwork that is currently hanging on my front door in lieu of a fall wreath.  It’s the best of both worlds!  😀

It’s dark and rainy outside so I didn’t get the best pictures this morning.  For now, these will have to do.  I have the best intentions of getting better pictures when the weather clears up, but in reality, you probably shouldn’t count on it.  🙂

There are lots more pictures at the end, but let me show you how to make this hanging succulent garden.

If you make one this big, you’ll need lots and lots of pistachio shells.  I saved the shells from five or six 8-ounce bags of pistachios.

To make the flowers, start with three shells and glue them together with your hot glue gun like this…

Now you’re going to start adding shells and building out by gluing shells directly to that.  Just add hot glue around the bottom edge of the shell as shown here.

And then glue them to the first piece you made.

And basically, you just keep adding and building outward until you have a flower that is the size you want it.  So you’re not gluing the shells to a base of any kind.  You’re gluing the shells to each other.

After making several flowers, I finally realized that it was easier to make the middle section, and then add a dot of glue to the bottom and attach it to a piece of wax paper.

Then build the flower by turning the wax paper.  This keeps your work surface clear of any hot glue drips, and keeps your flower from sticking to your work surface.  When the flower is complete, just rip off the wax paper from the bottom.

Your finished flower will look something like this…

Make as many as you need to fill up your “canvas”.  I just used a piece of 1/4″ plywood for my “canvas”, and mine ended up being about 15″ x 17″.  Of course, it takes FOREVER to make that many flowers, so just be aware of that.  This is a good project to spread out over a few days, and just make a couple of flowers each night while you watch your favorite show on t.v.  I like to call these projects “Netflix Projects”.  🙂

When all of your flowers are made and the glue is completely cooled, the flowers are ready for their dye bath.  I used powdered Rit fabric dye in four different colors, and I left the flowers in at varying lengths of time.  Obviously, the longer you leave them in, the more saturated the color.  I did have a couple of shells detach during their bath, but that didn’t happen much.  My flowers stayed pretty well intact during their dye bath.

My flowers that are very light in color were left in about 30 seconds, and then turned upside down on paper towels for about 20 seconds, and then turned over (right side up) and misted with a spray bottle filled with water.  The ones that are more saturated were left in the dye bath for about three to five minutes, and then placed upside down on a paper towel for the excess to drip off, but I didn’t mist those with water since I didn’t want the color to get diluted.

You can see the difference in this picture below.  The flower on the top row on the right is dyed with the same teal dye as the flower on the bottom row second from the right.  The difference was the amount of time, and the water misting that the light one got after its dye bath.

With all of your flowers finished, prepare your “canvas” by gluing the backing of your choice.  I used this light brown moss stuff that I got from Michael’s.  Be sure to leave the edges free since those will fit into your frame.

Now go ahead and put the frame on (I just made a very simple frame from moulding I found at Home Depot, and then stained it with Minwax Dark Walnut stain), and begin arranging your flowers.

As you do this, you might find that there are holes that need to be filled.  I ended up having to make four additional small flowers (in the top left corner) to fill empty space.

Then you’re ready to hang your garden.  Because I wanted to hang mine on the front door like a wreath, and because I love big loopy, saggy bows, I cut strips from an extra canvas drop cloth, and dyed it with some of the leftover yellow dye that I had used for the flowers.

I just love these little flowers.  At a glance, they really do look like they could be real succulents (which I realize aren’t flowers)…until you realize that these succulents don’t come in bright orange, teal, and yellow.  🙂  And my green is even off.  But that’s okay.

This one is my absolute favorite.  It got a bath in the teal dye for about 30 seconds, and then got a pretty good shower with the spray bottle.  I love the subtle aqua color.

I’m very pleased with how my little “succulent garden” turned out.  The best thing is that I won’t be able to kill this one!!  That’s the best kind of garden ever!

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  1. WOW, Wow, Wow, Wow WOW!!! That’s all I keep saying as I am scrolling down looking at how this turned out!! I am on my way out to get goodies from Wally World, and I will be buying LOTS of Pistachios! If I can only convince my hubby to save the shells when I pack them in his lunch! I guess I had better make some really CUTE notes to attach to the full baggie, and then add another to the empty baggie for him to put them in!!! Can’t believe how BEAUTIFUL this turned out!!! MUST MAKE SOON!!! GREAT job on making this “community” craft project!!

  2. So creative! You’re right – my first thought when I saw the photo was to ask you if they’re real or fake – faux to the max. Very funny how you call these projects “Netflix Projects”

    1. These are fabulous ….
      I am going to mix mine with the pine cone flowers ….

      Thanks so much for the GREAT idea

  3. Kristi, you seriously outdid yourself this time! Talk about re-purposing an item!! Wow! I’m so impressed, and the results are just gorgeous! That is truly a piece of art! (I loved it so much I pinned it, tweeted it, and posted it on my FB page!).

  4. I LOVE THIS and I’m totally making one myself – only I don’t like pistachio’s, so I guess my husband is going to have to eat a lot of them. 🙂

  5. Kristi, you are a flippin’ genius! This is AMAZING! And I’m so using your idea and making one for myself. I’ve been wanting a hanging succulent garden but knew a real one wouldn’t do so well in my house 😉 I’m so excited to try this! I’m sharing it on FB and pinning 🙂 LOVE it! Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. wow these look GREAT!! and the light colored teal ones look like the real thing,at least on my moniter they do.

  7. Thank you so much for your detailed tutorial! For once, instead of just pinning a project and never getting around to doing it, I actually started this one. I sat here with this in front of me and have finished four flowers now. Thank you!

  8. Brilliant…I like your moves! Certainly the best of both worlds then when you’re finished with hanging it on your door you can move it to your wall!

  9. Your creativity never ceases to amaze me! This is positively exquisite! What a beautiful piece of “succulent” art you’ve made, and you never have to water it! 🙂 That’s even better!

  10. what a cool idea however I would “kill it” where I live because all that glue would melt in the sun/heat!! lol maybe for a inside door??

  11. We buy pistachios all the time. My parrot and my kids both love them. I’m just so sorry I haven’t been saving the shells before. But I have an empty container available now.
    Great ideal, and instructions!
    Thanks Again

  12. Even my husband thinks these look great. Mine seem to have some spaces that you can see through. Is this normal or am I not getting the shells close enough?

  13. I saw this on Hometalk and had to come over to see how you did it. I enthralled with these flowers. I keep looking at them. Amazing idea and love how you’ve used them. Must start eating more pistacios!

  14. Absolutely Incredible! I can’t wait to try this, very fun idea. I wonder if you should use a spray Shellac to preserve it for outdoor weather? What a great idea…..I will be back! JB

  15. One thing not mentioned in the tutorial is how to attach the frame. Is it nailed on or glued? I’m definitely thinking about making this awesome project with the tons of shells I have left from eating my pistachios. 🙂

  16. Absolutely ingenious and beautiful! I love the natural colors and the reuse of natural things. Very time-consuming I’m sure but the end result is more than reward for it. Great job!! I pinned it on one of my boards.

  17. Wow!! Thank you for sharing such a beautiful decor! I have started making the flowers. I have a question. How do you arrange the flowers in the canvas? Do you glue the flowers with the moss? Please explain!

  18. This is awesome. They really do look like little succluants. Now I know what to do with my left over nut shells. You have some really great creative ideas.

  19. this is so beautiful and tasteful. I HAVE to make one. I have one bag of Pistacchios down and 5 more to go! thankfully I love them 🙂 thanks for the awsome idea 🙂

  20. Beautiful! The guys at work keep wondering why I keep buying them Pistacchios and telling them how good they are for them to eat up! I was wondering how did you attach the flowers to your back board?

  21. são lindas as flores..eu já havia usado cascas de pistache, para fazer flores e decorar telhas, mas bem mais simples…obrigado por compartilhar….

  22. Oh my!! This is absolutely gorgeous!! I love these pistachio-shell flowers; & wish I had one-millionth of your creativity!!

  23. This makes me think of all the times I bought a bag of pistachios at the grocery store and tossed the shells out the window as a I drove home, like a crumb trail. NOW I have a reason to save them! These are stunning. I came across this page today for the first time and am in love and completely inspired =)

  24. Oh my goodness!!!! I just threw away TONS of shells from my son’s pig out the other day!!! WHY DIDN’T I SEE THIS SOONER?!!!!
    And, to top it off I scolded him for almost eating a whole pound bag in less than one day! NOW what is he going to think when I bring him bag after bag and hound him until he’s eaten them all???? He’s going to think his mom’s lost it!!!

  25. The first word that came in my mind after seeing this succulent garden was”lovely” even without scrolling down through the page. I wanna include some walnut shells too because I don’t like pistachio much.

  26. WOW! Lots of love and care into this fabulous project. At first I thought it was real succulent plants. Wondering how they were hanging from the frame, but then after reading through the tutorial and I just thought how brilliant is this!!! Stunning!

  27. OHMAGOSH!!!! This is sooooooo fabulous! Just think, all the little “succulents” you want, and they’ll always stay that cute little size. GOT to try it and I love the idea of the wreath too. I don’t eat pistachios but I guess I’m gonna have to buy ’em anyway (or maybe beg the shells from friends who do). Thanks for this great idea!

  28. I just saw this in Pinterest and thought it was beautiful! Your instructions and photos are helpful for us beginners! Thanks for sharing!

  29. Hi this is an awesome idea!!! I often had thought what you could make of those shells.
    I love the shapes and allways i was thinking of to use them as beads, i haven’t tried it out still.
    But this is the best idea ever!!!
    Thank you for your great tute you’ve shared and as well the idea;-D

  30. These are fantastic Kristi! And I do love pistachios 🙂 win win! One question – how did you affix the shell pieces to the “canvas”?

  31. Incredible but creative idea. This is truly a piece of art and I’m so excited and would love to try this! 🙂