What are the best plants for a vertical garden?
Vertical gardening has been known for centuries. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are the epitome of Heaven – lush green waterfalls, rooftop gardens, terraces of divine vegetation, a spectacular view of abundance.
Our guide to vertical gardening will help you figure out the best plants for your living wall, by taking various factors into consideration. As with any new gardening endeavour, an essential part plays the selection of plants. In this article, we have prepared a list of smart choices of plants for your beautiful green wall, as well as some additional aspects you might want to consider before you approach your living wall project.
Broadly adaptive and humid-resistant, those plants can easily grow on walls and quickly cover up large areas. They are great for vertical gardening as they generally grow downward, so consider sword fern, bird's nest fern and blue star fern as the easiest to establish on your living wall. To bring out their deep and light hues of green include some flowering perennial trailing plants for walls, which will grow nicely with your hanging ferns and add splendour to your vertical green piece of art.
Bromeliads grow shallow roots and need little space – therefore they make a great fit for your living wall. Blossoms are kind of funky and long-lasting. Note, however, that in the UK, bromeliads are grown as houseplants, so they are more suitable for indoor settings, such as a heated conservatory. Still, there are a few cold-loving hardy varieties that you can grow safely outdoors (Aechmea species).
There is a reason why succulents are so hipster – they look cool and don't need much attention. Their adaptivity is impressive – try "killing" a succulent plant by ignoring them, and it might turn out it's growing better without your aid. Varieties like crassula, echeveria and sedum are all great to include in your green wall project.
These plants that grow on walls might not need an explanation – low maintenance, loving indirect sunlight and spreading quickly. Some vine species have awesome blossoms like Wisteria, Clematis, Hydrangea or England's favourite climbing Rose. Roses are number one plants for living walls in the UK, both indoors and outdoors.
That is right – they do not grow in soil, so don't even try it. Air plants need sunlight – most of them like several hours a day of direct sunlight. If you are creative enough, you could make a beautiful vertical garden solely with Tillandsia and display it as a levitating plant wall.
To give your vertical garden even more purpose, besides the aesthetics side of things, plant herbs. Choose those that mature quickly and need low light, such as basil, mint and parsley. Herbs in vertical gardening have an added value - they make an excellent addition to your summer Gin & Tonic or can spice up your home-cooked meals.
What to consider when choosing plants for living walls
Think of all the components any project manager needs to consider for their team to achieve the best results. Gardening - vertical or not, is no different than good project managing. Plants play a crucial role in gardening, but you will need to consider more elements and other factors to achieve perfection.
Consider the growing conditions – most importantly, take into account the positioning of the wall. Observe if it is going to be mostly in the shade or it will get plenty of sunlight throughout the day. For instance, if you choose a north-facing area, you will need a different set of plants to a south-facing wall with hours of direct sunlight. For example, sun-loving plants should be grown in a north-south direction, so one side gets sun from the East and the other – from the West. In general, the rule of thumb is to figure out the right orientation for your plants.
You’ll also need to ensure good drainage for your vertical green wall and give your trailing plants the right nutrition, so they can thrive.
Creativity is a must to get the most out of your living wall by using well the available resources. One excellent habit of any aspiring or seasoned gardener would be to always carry a container when walking in nature. Hilly landscapes offer great biodiversity and inspiration, so you can always add to your wall some pretty wild species.
Taste is a personal matter, but it's essential to implement some sort of symmetry when it comes to vertical gardening. You can experiment with growing various flowering plants, combine different-sized leafy plants, or even add lights that will enhance your garden’s magical appearance.
By introducing vertical gardening in your green space, you will naturally promote the so needed biodiversity in our overbuilt urban environment, that’s for sure. After all, it is our mission to play the part in preserving nature at large. As we’ve mentioned above, your outdoor vertical garden will look even more complete if you add wildflowers that will offer natural habitat to bees, insects and butterflies.
Beginner or not - vertical gardening is a fun way to be more creative with your green space, especially if it’s on the small side. This way, you will not only deepen your botanical knowledge and enjoy experimenting with design and aesthetics but also be able to have more plant varieties, as they won’t take up ground space. Last but not least, the vertical gardening approach can be applied inside your property, as well. So, you can easily green up your conservatory by creating an amazing display out of a well-designed indoor living wall.