Add vertical gardening to your gardening for space-saving color

Add vertical gardening to your gardening for space-saving color

Vertical gardening—think vertical plant wall—is one of the hottest garden trends, but one of the oldest (have you ever grown a vine on a fence or trellis?). Vertical gardening elements can draw attention to an area or hide an unattractive view. This gardening style is perfect for any outdoor or indoor space. Get started with our vertical gardening guide!

Denny Schrock.
Denny Schrock

Vertical gardening basics

In vertical gardening, use vertical structures or trees to create garden rooms or identify hidden spaces ready to be explored. Trellises installed in the ground or in large containers allow you to grow vines, flowers and vegetables in vertical garden pots using much less space than traditional gardening requires.

Vertical gardening with upright structures can be a boon for apartment dwellers, small-space urban gardeners, or others with limited outdoor space. Indoors, you can grow small-sized houseplants as vertical gardens by creating living walls for a tapestry of color and texture that helps filter indoor air pollutants.

In cool-weather climates, houseplants grown in vertical gardens add much-needed humidity during the months when the furnace runs and dries the air. Increasingly, hotels and office buildings are incorporating living walls and vertical gardens indoors and outdoors. Although vertical gardens may need more frequent watering, they contribute to good air circulation.

Jay Wilde/The Wilde Project.
Jay Wilde/The Wilde Project

Vertical plant wall

Green walls, another form of vertical gardening design ideas, are the latest trend in gardening. Some are walls covered with climbing plants, while others include a modular system that allows plants to grow inside the structures.

French botanist Patrick Blanc is credited with being the father of green walls. He produced his first project on the exterior of the Museum of Science and Industry in Paris in 1988. Dozens of his other works are now displayed around the world, at home and abroad. Blanc refers to his projects as living paintings or plant walls.

Creating a plant wall or vertical garden using plank methods requires a metal frame, a layer of hard plastic, and felt. The vertical plant wall frame can be hung on the wall, or can be freestanding. Hard plastic attached to the frame makes the wall waterproof. Plant roots grow into the felt, distributing water and fertilizer evenly. Plant selection depends on light and other growing conditions.

Some plant wall systems include soilless growing spaces so other types of plants can be grown, as well as irrigation systems. Besides watering and fertilizing, vertical plant walls require other maintenance, including pruning, dusting, weeding, and, sometimes, plant replacement. Plant walls or vertical gardens are heavy, so consult a structural expert to make sure your wall can handle the load.

Ed Goulich Photography Company
Ed Goulich Photography Company

Vertical gardening considerations

Take these items into consideration when gardening vertically outdoors:

  • Install your vertical gardening structure before planting to avoid disturbing the roots or stems of plants. Pair heavier or more demanding plants with sturdier structures.
  • Tall plants or structures cast shadows on the vertical garden, affecting the plants’ growth patterns.
  • Plants grow differently in a vertical garden. Some, like climbing roses, need to be physically attached to structures, while others, like morning glories, twine and wrap around trellis holes.
  • Plants used in vertical gardening may need to be watered and fertilized more frequently because they are exposed to more light and wind.
Marty Baldwin.
Marty Baldwin

Vertical gardening plants

A wide range of vertical garden plants are used on a vertical plant wall or garden, with the choice of plants determined by light conditions. For traditional vertical farming, consider these options:

Annual Vines

Annual flowering vines that climb without becoming too heavy include the black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata), Cardinal climber (dream s multivida), Cypress vine (Ipomoea coamucleate), moon flower (Ipomoea alba), Scarlet beans (Phaseolus coquinius), And the beans whistle (Dolichos lablab). They all grow best in full sun.

Perennial vines

Perennial vines that are easily grown for vertical gardens include clematis and American clematis hybrids (Celastrus climbing), And ivy (Ivy selections). They all grow best in full sun. Jasmine prefers its flowers to be in the sun and its roots in the shade.

Matthew Benson Photography.
Matthew Benson Photography

Shady vines

Vines used for shade vertical gardening include the hardy kiwi (Actinidia columicta), chocolate vine (Akebia kinata), Dutch tube (Aristotechia macrophylla), And climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea petularis).

Edible plants

Edibles that adapt well to vertical gardening include fruit-bearing vines such as kiwi (actinidia delicious), Siberian gooseberry (Actinidia arguta), Edible flowers such as nasturtiums and vertical garden vegetables including peas, squash, tomatoes and beans.

Vertical plants

Vertical plants provide interest in vertical gardening. Many of them can be grown without a supporting structure. Consider planting vertical apple trees (Thuja western), Juniper (juniper rocks), Or Lombardy poplar (Black people).

Vertical herb gardening

Grow a bountiful herb garden containing many different species and varieties, even in a small space. Consider planting herbs vertically (rather than horizontally) to maximize your growing space. Use shelves, wall hangers or hanging mechanisms to give individually potted herbs a place out of the way.

Ed Gulick Photography Company
Ed Gohlik Photography Company

Vertical gardening structures

Fences, balconies, trellises, schools, obelisks and other types of structures make it easy to grow vertical garden plants. Hanging baskets can be considered elements of vertical gardening because they break the horizontal plane of gardening. Connect a drip irrigation system for easy watering, or add a rope and pulley system to allow easy access to hanging baskets for watering and tending your vertical garden.

If you have an existing structure, such as a shed or garage, add a trellis in front of one of the walls so that vertical garden plants have a structure that supports their stems but doesn’t cause any damage to the wall. Leave space between the trellis and the wall for air circulation.

You can create and build vertical gardening structures yourself. An invisible trellis works well indoors, as does a climbing willow frame. For outdoor vertical gardening, build a plant trellis for growing edibles. This bean trellis will develop into a lush tree, adding a charming touch to your garden. Download our free trellis plan to get started on your vertical gardening project.

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