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Easy DIY Giant Paper Mache Cactus

I have a bit of a thing about cacti and succulents and love cactus-themed crafts. My cactus crafting went supersized with this giant paper mache cactus.

I love the giant but I can’t justify the cost of buying one, real or artificial and I don’t have the greenest of fingers.

So I decided that the only way I was going to get a giant cactus was by making one. I’ve made mini plastic bottle succulents and a repurposed felt succulent garden before by never something on this scale.

This is such a fun craft that I shared the experience with my friend Wendy on one sunny day. We made a giant paper mache cactus each. These weren’t ordinary cacti we pimped them with paper napkins.

After making Marimekko shoes a couple of weeks ago we thought it would be fun to decorate our cacti with Marimekko paper napkins.

DIY Giant Paper Mache Cactus

2 cacti patio

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What You Need

Any old stick or broom handle will do just bear in mind this will determine the height of your cactus.

The chicken wire I used was just an old roll I managed to scrounge from my local junk shop. As I use a lot of PVA/white glue for my crafts I buy it in large tubs from the DIY store as that’s much cheaper than buying it from craft stores.

For these cactus we used Marimekko napkins and some green pear print napkins from IKEA, one packet should be plenty enough for each cactus.

How to Make a Giant Paper Mache Cactus

1.. First, to create a firm base you need to set your stick in Plaster of Paris into a pot/small bucket.

To do this mix Plaster of Paris as to the instructions on the packet. Stand your stick up in the creamy mixture, prop up the stick using either a table or chair and tie with string.

You want to make sure your stick remains upright as the plaster sets.

stick in plaster of paris

2. Next, once the stick has set, use the chicken wire to create a frame.

To do this wrap the chicken wire around the stick to the desired thickness and taper the top. Then with more chicken wire create two arms and attached to the frame with loose bits of wire.

Chicken wire is very easy to manipulate into shape.

chicken wire cactus

3. Next, the gaps in the chicken wire can be quite large and thus difficult to paper mache straight on to the frame. To fix this use masking tape.

Cover the wire cactus frame in strips of masking tape about 2 cm apart. This will then provide a surface for the newspaper to adhere to the frame.

masking tape on chicken wire

4. Then, cut the newspaper into strips approximately 3cm X 20cm. Paste the PVA glue onto the newspaper strips and stick to the frame until covered.

DIY giant paper mache cactus

4. Then once the paper mache has dried, dilute your PVA glue 2 parts glue to 1 part water. Cut your tissue paper into strips approx 3cm X 10cm. This time paint the diluted glue onto the newspaper layer and then place the tissue paper on top until completely covered. Leave to dry.

Top Tip: Tissue paper decoupage is very delicate that is why its best to use diluted glue. Also, apply the glue to the object rather than the tissue paper.

Paper mache cactus

5. For the final paper mache layer/decoupage use the paper napkins. Most napkins are 3 ply, separate out your napkins so you only use the top printed ply.

This time doesn’t cut the napkins into strips but tear them to get a feathered edge. (Wetting the napkins with a brush first makes them easier to tear).

Using the same glue mixture and method with the tissue cover your cactus in the napkins.

6. Finally, when the napkin layer is dry cover the whole cactus with waterproof PVA/ Mod Podge. This will give it a protective finish.

Waterproof glue is thicker than normal glue. It’s best to apply with a foam brush so as not to tear the napkins. This glue will appear white when applied but don’t worry as it dries clear.

Marimekko Cactus
Paper mache cacti
pear cacti patio 2
Giant Paper Mache Cacti

Both these cactus are a fun decoration, they look great in the garden for a summer party. You could just have them casually in your home for more unique decoration.

The cacti could be used as an unusual hat/coat stand. The green pear one is for my sons room, which has just been revamped with a cacti theme.

The Marimekko cacti though is my favourite as I do love a Marimekko craft even more than cacti crafts. This one will look great with my Marimekko tin can planters in the garden.

If you want to start smaller with your paper mache projects then perhaps try these paper mache teacups first. I also have a tutorial on how to make a paper mache bowl and then decoupage it. There is also a tutorial for a stunning watercolor 3D paper Mache heart wall decoration.

There are many more Marimekko crafts here.


Thursday 7th of September 2017

Love these! I see you mixed the plaster of paris in a metal bucket, but then your cacti are in the ceramic pots. Did you just lift it out? Or is the metal pot inside of the ceramic one?

Thanks for sharing!

Claire Armstrong

Thursday 7th of September 2017

Thank you ? Well spotted Kate the metal bucket is inside the ceramic pots.


Monday 16th of January 2017

Love these, I started to make two of them for our school fundraiser. Wondering what you mean by diy store vs craft store... what is a diy store? Did you use elmers glue-all (pva glue) I understand that prevents mold? Thank you! You can get a mold

Claire Armstrong

Monday 16th of January 2017

Hi Sarah, DIY stores are what we call home improvement stores/builders stores in the UK. You can often buy white glue (PVA glue) in larger quantities in these stores so it's cheaper. As I use a lot of white glue I buy a 5lt bucket from my DIY store. You should be able to get mold resistant glue or an additive to add to it to make it mold resistant in your home improvement store.


Wednesday 23rd of March 2016

I made 2 cactus avout 5.5 feet tall and pur lights in tgem abd drillwd smalled holes all over for a friends mexican theme party looked great!

Claire Armstrong

Wednesday 23rd of March 2016

Wow I bet they did look good. I love my cactus, and they'll be a good excuse to throw a Mexican themed party in the summer.


Friday 31st of July 2015

These are amazing! What a fun and crazy crazy craft :-D I hope you will share your cacti with Idea Box this week: xx Mila

Claire Armstrong

Friday 31st of July 2015

Thank you

Lisa @ Fun Money Mom

Thursday 23rd of July 2015

Those are so creative...I LOVE them!!! They add such a whimsical touch! Visiting from Mom Blogs Party xoxo Lisa @ Fun Money Mom

Claire Armstrong

Friday 24th of July 2015

Thank you