A Succulent Turtle Topiary

Succulent Turtle Topiary

Scrolling through Pinterest, I happened to see a pin featuring a topiary – it was a super cute Succulent Turtle! Unfortunately it was a dead-end pin, but it was so adorable that I felt like my garden really needed a turtle, I just wasn’t too sure about the succulents.

I’m probably one of the few people out there who hasn’t dived into the succulent craze. I’ve had access to them for decades through a local greenhouse and they just don’t do well for me. My yard is too shady so they get stretched and leggy. Then I either water them too much and they rot, or I water them too little and they shrivel up into succulent mummy’s.

But I can grow Sempervivum (Hens & Chicks) and Sedum. As a bonus, both are winter hardy here.

What I used to make my Succulent Turtle

Materials to Make A Topiary Turtle

Materials:

Most items are available at the dollar store during the gardening season or you can use my affiliate links which help support this site at no extra cost to you.

  • 12″ wire hanging basket with coco liner
  • 4 – 4″ clay pots
  • Sphagnum moss
  • A small roll of chicken wire
  • Succulents. I used Sempervivum (Hens and Chicks) for my turtle.
  • Washers, wire and an old plastic pot (or a sheet of coir or landscape fabric big enough to cover the top of your wire basket)
  • Snips to cut the wire.

Make the Topiary for a Succulent Turtle:

 

Measure a square of chicken wire slightly larger than the basket. Then filled the basket with soil and water. Cover with landscape fabric or coir to keep the soil in. Next you fold and attach your mesh to the rim of the basket, use wire to ‘sew’ it together if you need to.

Use wire and a washer to attach each pot to the chicken wire. The ‘legs’ are not placed equally around the pot. Two are more together at the front and two at the back, just like they would be on a real turtle.

For the head I rolled a piece of chicken wire into a tube and then formed it into a turtle head or at least something vaguely resembling a turtle head. The tail is a flattened cone shape.

I stuffed them both with sphagnum moss before attaching them to the ‘shell’ with wire. The head at the front of the basket (looking up so he isn’t a moping turtle), and the tail to the underside.

Plant Your Succulent Turtle!

Then I slashed the coir (which sounds easier than it was) and stuffed the plants in.

You could paint the clay ‘legs’ or even glue sphagnum to them if you prefer, but I decided to leave mine natural.

I’m kind of pleased with my succulent turtle, even if his ‘shell’ is still a little bare. By the end of July, the Dragon Wing Begonia will be all around him and he’s going to look so cute nestled in there.

If you prefer a more natural look, line the basket with sphagnum moss instead of the liner it came with.

See how cute his little tail is?

I believe I shall name him Fred. I can hardly wait to see how Fred’s shell grows. He’ll be amazing.

For a smaller turtle that you can bring indoors, check out my Topiary Mini Turtle. You might also like my Bunny Topiary Tutorial.

 

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20 thoughts on “A Succulent Turtle Topiary”

  1. Oh my gosh, I LOVE this!! Shared on my Facebook page and pinned. I need a family of sea turtles to go with the wall art I hung in the backyard. This is brilliant! I hope I have the energy to make them after I’m done with the backyard makeover! LOL

    1. The Shade Gardener says:

      Thank you so much for sharing! I love how this project turned out, but it would be interesting to see one planted by someone better with succulents than I am. I bet you could make some super cool turtles with some of the less hardy ones!

      1. This project is seriously on my want to do list Vanessa, I have the perfect spot for it too ๐Ÿ™‚ Wanted to let you know Mosser Lee left a note on my Facebook post when I shared this & said you made it with their products. If you post this project on their Facebook page you have chance to win $50. Wanted to let you know so you’d have the chance at the $50…It could buy lots more turtle supplies! LOL.. Good luck!

        1. The Shade Gardener says:

          Thank you! I’ll check out the contest. This turtle only took about an hour or two to make – he’s a pretty quick project.

  2. Wow I love this! My 11 year old adores turtles so now I have to make this. She will love helping me make it also. Thank you for sharing this great project. Pinning it to share!

    1. The Shade Gardener says:

      Thank you so much! This topiary was so much fun to make – I hope you enjoy it too!

    2. Snap my 11 year old was bought 2 for her 10th birthday. They are fab creatures. Defo gona try this ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. The Shade Gardener says:

        They really do look cute in the garden.

  3. I adore Fred. I want a Tommy. Next week I hit the stores. Yea!

    1. The Shade Gardener says:

      Thank you. I spend a lot of time admiring Fred, I kind of like him too.

  4. “Fred” is gorgeous!
    Loved and pinned. I must make this!

    1. The Shade Gardener says:

      Thank you so much! He’s a fun guy to have around.

  5. Lianne Alvarez says:

    Often I run into photos of something wonderful that lead nowhere. I pin them anyway, thinking I’ll, one day, figure them out. However, life gets in the way, and It doesn’t happen. So, thank you for taking the time to figure out and create this adorable project.
    My daughter-in-law is a big fan of turtles, and they’re remodeling the back yard. I think she needs one of these!

    1. The Shade Gardener says:

      It really is a simple project – keeping it going was a bit of a challenge. Squirrels were pulling some of the succulents out before they could root in.

    1. The Shade Gardener says:

      Thank you so much! I’ve done two versions – one using the coir liner supplied with the basket and another using sphagnum moss to line the basket and keep the soil in place. The sphagnum is easier for inserting the plants.

      I suspect I’ll have to get my boys help me make a video of the process this spring so then I’ll have three of them.

  6. This is adorable. I followed links from our group on Facebook. I’m not a crafty person, but I am a gardener so coming up with these ideas is not my forte, but I’ll bet I can execute the project. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. The Shade Gardener says:

      I’m not all that crafty myself and it was surprisingly easy to put together this topiary.

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