DIY a succulent container garden in a vintage book planter

Earlier this week, the Altered Book by Becca Malone inspired me to try something new – a DIY succulent container garden in a vintage book planter. The first time I saw a vintage book planter was at Maker Faire last year. I loved the idea, but didn’t love the tedium of cutting through pages, and also worried about mildew if the pages got wet (which is likely, right?). Thanks to Becca’s technique, you can make this vintage book planter in an hour or two, and it won’t absorb water so there’s no mildew. These book planters make the cutest succulent container gardens, and I made mine two ways – with real and faux succulents. (Because yes, I have killed succulents – sorry, Mom!)

There's a trick to making this Vintage Book Container Garden in just an hour or two! I love this idea.

You’ll be surprised at how easy these are to make — just an hour or two and you’re done.

First, a few things I learned along the way:

  • If you need a source for hardback books, you can’t beat the $1 price tag at the various dollar store chains.
  • If you’re working with real succulents, use the thickest book you can. I had one that was 2” thick, but unfortunately, I ruined mine when cutting out the pages. The one I ended up using was almost 1-1/2” thick, and I would have preferred something deeper so it would hold more dirt.
  • If using a thicker book, you might need to stack together two, 1” thick pieces of STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam. The foam itself will not absorb water, but water might seep through the seam between the two pieces. In that case, line your cavity with plastic.
  • Get creative with covering the edges of your foam insert – it doesn’t have to look like pages in a book. I thought about trimming a moss sheet to fit, or using scrapbook paper with script writing on it. You can also use a strip of burlap, fabric, or ribbon. I used a textured, paper ribbon that I found in the floral aisle.
  • And finally — faux or real, it’s your choice.
Gather up your materials and make a quick & easy Vintage Book Planter.

You don’t need a lot of supplies to DIY a Vintage Book Planter.

To make a Vintage Book, Succulent Garden, you’ll need:

  • STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam: 1” x 12” x 18” sheet, or other thickness as needed for your book
  • Hardback book, the thicker the better
  • Trim to wrap around the edges; I used a crinkled paper ribbon, but you could also use moss, paper, burlap, fabric, or other ribbon
  • Succulents, real or faux
  • Polished pebbles or stones
  • Glue dots
  • Thick, white craft glue
  • Low-temp glue gun
  • Tools needed: Scissors; ruler; marker; Xacto® knife; spoon; optional for a thicker book: dental floss, plastic sheeting (could be from a freezer bag)
These Vintage Book Planters are adorable, and super-easy, too. Really, make them in just an hour or two.

Faux succulents on the left; the “real” succulents are on the right.

To make a Vintage Book, Succulent Garden:

1. Carefully cut out all of the pages from the book, except for eight – ten pages at the beginning of the book. Cut as close to the binding as possible.

2. Using the ruler and a marker, draw a rectangle the size of a page on the foam sheet. Score the lines with an Xacto knife. Position the foam sheet at the edge of a tabletop, and snap along the scored lines. If your book is more than 1” thick, repeat and then glue the two pieces together. For a size that’s in between, pull a length of dental floss through the foam block and shave off a thin layer so the foam block will fit inside the book.

Genius idea for creating a Vintage Book Planter -- substitute a block of STYROFOAM Brand Foam for the pages. It goes so much faster, and won't absorb water and mildew. has the tutorial.

1. Remove the pages. 2. Cut your foam insert the size of a page. 3. Scoop out the center, leaving a thin layer on the bottom. 4. Glue the foam into the book.

3. Measure and mark 1” in from each edge of the foam rectangle. Use a spoon to carve out the opening. Do not cut all the way through the foam. You want to keep a layer of foam in the bottom to help position faux succulent stems; or if using real succulents, the foam layer will contain any moisture.

4. Test fit the foam rectangle in the book. If an edge needs tweaking, sand it with a scrap piece of foam, or compress it by pressing firmly on a tabletop.

5. Glue your trim around the top, bottom and right-hand edges.

6. Glue the foam insert to the inside, back cover and binding. Fit it as snugly as possible against the binding.

Brilliant! How to make a Vintage Book Planter in an hour or two!

I worried about the glue showing through the pages, and so I used glue dots to adhere the top pages on each side.

7. Glue two – three pages from the front onto the foam insert, and add one more page on top using glue dots. Using the ruler and Xacto knife, carefully cut away the opening.

8. Glue several extra pages to the inside, front cover, and use glue dots to adhere the final page.

Faux Succulents:

Succulent container garden made from a vintage book. Love this! And the succulents are faux, too.

Arrange your succulents, and insert the stems into the foam bottom. Fill with small pebbles.

9. Trim stems to about 1”. Arrange succulents in the planter, inserting stems into the foam bottom to help hold them in place. Fill planter with small pebbles.

Beautiful! And so easy -- technique is on DIY it in an hour or so!

If you’re like me and have killed “indestructible” succulents, use faux instead.

Real Succulents:

10. If you used two layers of foam, line the planter with plastic to keep water from seeping through the seam between the pieces.

Easy-to-follow tutorial to DIY a Vintage Book Planter.

Carefully spoon your dirt into the planter. Top off with polished stones.

11. Remove the succulents from their pots and tap off extra dirt. Arrange the plants in the book. Using a spoon, carefully fill the planter with soil. Arrange stones on top.

There's a trick to making this Vintage Book Container Garden in just an hour or two! I love this idea.

I think these succulent planters are pretty cool, and I have confirmation from another source — my teenage daughter did not roll her eyes at this craft project, and she’s already claimed the faux succulent planter for her room. Score! Perhaps I’ll give the planter with the real succulents to my Mom, who has a much greener thumb than I.

Are you on board with the succulent craze? Do you have tips for growing them successfully?

Happy crafting!




This entry was posted in Craft Tutorial, Entertaining, Flower Designs, Garden Art, Gift Ideas, Home Decor, Recycle Crafts, Vintage Crafts and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to DIY a succulent container garden in a vintage book planter

  1. I’m not really sure if I’m o.k. with cutting a book for this purpose, but it looks cute though. I’m sure my sister will totally love this idea, she loves succulents and this design will look great on her coffee table. Thank you for sharing!

    • Sharon says:

      Thanks for stopping in. I know what you mean — some people can’t bear to cut apart a book, but perhaps this can give new life to an old, second-hand book. Happy crafting! Sharon

  2. Pingback: 17 DIY's For Turning Succulent Plants Into Wonderful Decor Pieces

  3. CraftyB says:

    Do you have a book worm in that soil??

  4. CraftyB says:

    Love the natural greenery in a book. Great combo!

  5. Jennifer says:

    My young son passed away a year and a half ago .I am going to do this with one of his books and incorporate a couple of his little chirping flashlight frog(minus the keychain part) into it. Thanks for the great idea!j

    • Sharon says:

      Thank you so much for stopping in, Jennifer, and I am so sorry for your loss. I hope your book garden will remind you of happy memories every time you look at it. I am sending you a huge, warm hug and lots of love. xo, Sharon

  6. kbandaruk says:

    So cute! i just bought some hens and chicks and this would be perfect.

  7. LisaM6 says:

    What a fun new look. These are too cute. I will need to see what the library is giving away for book. 🙂

    • Sharon says:

      Great idea, Lisa. Library book sales are another source for inexpensive hardback books (not to mention, great books for your reading stash, too). Thank you! Sharon

  8. Laurie says:

    What a fun way to showcase a book! (from a librarian….)

    • Sharon says:

      Why, thank you, especially from a librarian. I wondered if a librarian would approve of cutting up a book, so glad that you’re o.k. with it. Sharon

  9. This is so cool!! Still searching for the boxes of books that I KNOW are in my garage but as soon as I find them I am definitely making a couple of these to give as gifts!! So cool and easy! Thanks for the inspiration!!

    • Sharon says:

      Thanks, Barb. It is an easy idea, and “cool” even in the eyes of a teenager. I think you’d have a blast making these — enjoy! Any crafty plans for the weekend? How was last weekend’s craftcation? Sharon

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