Design Preview: Rotating Plant Wheel

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With just over a month left in the semester, a lot needs to be done to turn the vision for my rotating plant wheel wall decoration into a physical artifact.

A lot of thought went into my decision to make a plant wheel for my final project. To help make the decision I set several project goals for myself. I wanted to make something to help fill wall space in my dining area, which is the least decorated room in my house. I also wanted to make something that incorporates house plants. Prior to starting this project I only had two plants – a small cactus and an aloe vera plant – which I typically keep in my kitchen on a platform behind my sink. Whenever I look at them they bring me joy – they’re a zen, earthy addition to my home that helps bring a little liveliness to my living space. I’ve been wanting to get more plants to join these lonely two, and this project seemed like a good excuse to do so. I also wanted my final project to be very unique and special to my home; I wanted it to be a one-of-a-kind artifact. My final goal, which is really the key requirement for this project, was to make something that is dynamic in some way. These goals drove my search for my final project concept.

After setting these goals, or design guidelines, for myself, I started looking for sources of inspiration. I searched long and hard, scrolling through Google images and skimming through Pinterest, and finally came upon the below image of a plant wheel used as home decor. I was immediately intrigued by the concept. It fills a good amount of wall space, has the capacity to incorporate a number of small plants, and can be crafted into a dynamic artifact. I was especially drawn to this plant wheel’s aesthetic. It’s very simple and old fashioned, but it has a very clean finish to it. I like that it has an earthy and open feel to it as well; it fills the wall without being overbearing. This plant wheel is the basis for my final project design.

For my plant wheel’s aesthetic, I want to build off of the look of the wheel I found for inspiration to make a unique artifact of my own. My project will naturally have an earthy tone, as it will be used to house a number of small plants. I also want it to have somewhat of a makeshift look to it, incorporating a variety of wood and metal materials to create the wheel; I want to use materials that don’t seem to go together to ultimately make a cohesive unit. With that said, I also want the wheel to have a craftsman feel to it. The final artifact should look clean and well crafted, while emphasizing the plants.


With a project concept and aesthetic in mind, I created a number of sketches to come up with a unique, one-of-a-kind design. The design that I plan on moving forward with is pictured below (left). It includes an inner circle, which will remain stationary, and an outer circle, which will rotate. The outer circle has poles fixed perpendicularly inwards with wheels at the ends that interface with the inner circle. The interface should be tight enough to allow the outer circle to freely rotate around the inner circle, while remaining evenly fixed.


Connected to each of the perpendicular poles running between the outer and inner circles will be a unique plant holder. Each plant holder will be connected to the pole with a peg that can rotate freely as the outer circle rotates. This will allow the plants to remain upright during rotation. Each plant holder will also be a unique shape made to hold a specific plant. Some design concepts for plant holders are sketched in the right image above. These unique details will help to form a very personalized final design.

With these preliminary sketches and a rough vision of how I want to make the final plant wheel in mind, I started gathering materials. I decided to buy a bike wheel off of Craigslist to use as the inner circle for my plant wheel. A bike wheel seemed suitable for this portion of the design based on its size, its inherent roundness, and the built-in tread along the outer edge, which can smoothly guide the outer circle during rotation. I then went to Eco-Cycle to gather materials for the outer wheel and plant holders. After about an hour of perusing, I found two wooden boards, which can be cut and shaped into the outer circle and mounting components. I also found two long wooden slats that are a good width and thickness to use for the perpendicular poles that will connect to the outer circle and run along the tread in the bike wheel during rotation. Finally I found two long metal rods and five copper pipes, which are all bendable by hand, but strong enough to hold their final shape; these will be used to make the plant holders. After gathering these materials I went to Home Depot to get some small wheels that can glide along the bike wheel’s tread, as well as some additional plants to populate the plant holders.


Moving forwards with this project, I would like to have my final dimensioned design sketches completed by April 4th. I will then begin fabrication, with hopes that I will identify and purchase any additional materials needed by April 9th. A bulk of my fabrication should then be completed by April 15th, which will leave a week for me to make any final adjustments or design changes as needed. 

Something I still need to figure out is how I will mount the final plant wheel to a wall. I want the fixtures to be as hidden as possible, so the final artifact looks clean while hung up. The final artifact will likely be somewhat heavy with the plants mounted, so the wall fixture needs to be very sturdy. As I complete my final design drawings, I will continue to think through and select a proper mounting solution.

I still have a long ways to go in making my plant wheel, but with a clear plan and the motivation to make a well-crafted artifact, I’m ready to get to work and start fabricating!


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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Hey Natalie,

    I’ve never heard of a plant wheel so this is very interesting! I think the aesthetic you chose works well with this idea, and the materials you chose (wood slats, bike wheel, etc.) fit this well. One thing to consider is having your flower pots be something you craft as well (or even make the plant holders and flower pots one entity). This would add to the aesthetic and possibly make your fabrication easier. It might also be cool to paint everything in one color (like a white or pastel). Just an idea, it could look cool.

    • Natalie Jagelski
      April 5, 2021 10:46 am

      Thanks for your comment! I did think about making the flower pots myself, but the wheel portion is already a pretty hefty amount of work, so I decided to just buy some pre-made flower pots from home depot. It would have been really cool to make a combined pot and holder for each plant, but I also like the look of mixing multiple materials together, such as a ceramic pot, metal holder, and wooden base. It’s also an interesting thought to paint the whole thing one color, but I do like the different colors that each material element I selected brings. I chose each material purposefully to add a specific color and tone to the project. Thanks for your suggestions!

  • James Brown
    April 4, 2021 9:11 pm

    Hi Natalie. This project really has a great bohemian feel! Do you know how you are going to make one wheel stationary and the other freely rotating yet? I’m excited to see what you have.

    For the wall mounting, I have always liked using a piece of wood cut lengthwise at an angle. You screw one half to the wall and the other to the board. Since its the same cut it lines up perfectly. I probably didn’t do a good job describing that though, so here’s a picture:

    • Natalie Jagelski
      April 5, 2021 10:38 am

      I’m planning on mounting the bike wheel to a wall, making it stationary, and the outer circle will have poles with wheels that interface with the outer rim of the bike wheel and (hopefully) rotate smoothly. Mounting is something I’ve been struggling to figure out, especially because I want the mounts to be hidden, but I really like the angled wood concept you sent. That could work really well for what I’m trying to do – thanks!


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