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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Cactus Rock Garden Tutorial (With Dollar Tree Supplies)

How to make a cute cactus rock garden with this easy tutorial.  I used Dollar Tree supplies to make this, so it's inexpensive.  This is a great kids craft, too!

Who else loves succulents and cacti?  I love the looks of them, but I don't do live plants in the house.  I don't have a green thumb, and I have cats.

Chloe, my son's Siamese mix, loves to eat things she's not supposed to eat.  Carly, our grumpy older cat, loves to knock things off of counters.  

I have some faux succulents and cacti that I like, but I wanted to make another one.  Dakota wanted one for the shelf in her room, so I made her this cactus rock garden.

I found the three main supplies at Dollar Tree.  Of course, you can repurpose items or find your own rocks and planters.  

Cactus Rock Garden Tutorial

How Do You Paint Rocks to Look Like a Cactus?

I Googled images of cacti and used them for inspiration. A paint pen would have been very helpful.  Mine was dried out, so I used the end of the paint brush.  I made dots, Xs, and lines with the end of a paint brush.  

I also used a lighter green to add some texture to some of the rocks.

What Paint Do You Use on Rocks?

I used acrylic paints.  I prefer Martha Stewart acrylic paint or Folk Art acrylic paint.  They are both thick and have good color choices.  

The pink that I used was thin and took three coats.  The Folk Art green paint took two coats and covered beautifully.

Finding Rocks to Paint

I bought rocks from Dollar Tree.  I got the polished black river rocks.  I wanted them to be clean and smooth.  I had more than enough to make this cactus rock garden tutorial from that bag.  Only three were broken or too rough to use.

If you want larger rocks, try Etsy for rocks.

If you do use found rocks, wash them with dish soap and water.  Use a brush or an old toothbrush to scrub them.  Rinse well and let dry completely before you paint them.

Flower Pots

I wanted a small cactus rock garden, so I used a very small flower pot from Dollar Tree.  Mine are plastic and came 4 to a pack.  They aren't in stock anymore, but they do have this 3 pack of terra cotta flower pots.

You can also find some colorful small flower pots on Amazon that would be cute for this project.


I needed something to cover the Styrofoam, so I used reindeer moss.  I used this reindeer moss from Dollar Tree, or you can find other styles of moss on Amazon.

You could also use smaller rocks, but I liked the look of the moss because it covers better.


  • Smooth rocks (I used these, but try Etsy for more rocks)
  • Small flower pot
  • Moss 
  • Styrofoam
  • Hot glue
  • Paint


Step #1

Paint your rocks on both sides with two coats of green paint.  Let dry completely.  I also painted three pink small rocks for the tops of the cacti.  

Step #2

Get creative and add some details to your rocks.  I used the end of a paint brush to add dots and lines.  On a few, I dry brushed a lighter green for some extra texture.

There's no right or wrong way to do this.  Just have fun!

Step #3

I decided that I didn't like the flowerpot color with the rocks, so I dry brushed it with white paint to give it a little bit of texture.

Step #4

Cut a piece of Styrofoam to fit inside the flower pot.  Mine sits about an inch below the top of the pot.  

Step #5

I wasn't sure how to attach the rocks since hot glue melts Styrofoam.  But then I realizes that this can be good thing!

I put a dollop of glue directly on the foam.  It melted and created a small dent with glue.  I stuck the rocks in them, and it worked perfectly.  

Glue the pink tops where you want them.

Step #6

Place moss around the rock cacti to cover the foam.  

I was originally going to use this as a pen holder for my desk, but Dakota claimed it.  It's now siting on a shelf in her bedroom.

I think it turned out cute!  I might make another one for my desk in my office.

Like this post?  Pin it!

How to make DIY painted rocks for a cactus craft. This easy cute succulent planters in pots uses stones for a cute decoration.  Get ideas DIY for painted cacti in pots to make.  This uses only supplies from Dollar Tree, so it's a dollar store craft.  Projects like this are great for adults or for kids! #paintingrocks #rockpainting #cactus #diy

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