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Plants for a Vertical Garden: How to Create a Living Wall

Vertical gardening is a great way to save space while still growing a large number of plants and flowers. If you live in an apartment or have a small outdoor living area, creating a garden may seem impossible; however, with a vertical garden, it's not!

Fill your home with plants in a vertical garden to enjoy the benefits of color, fragrance, edibles, and filtered air throughout the seasons. Let’s look at the basics of growing plants in vertical gardens.


Vertical Garden Plants: A Basic Growing Guide

Vertical gardening requires some special care to keep plants thriving.

  • Soil: Like all container gardening, plants should be planted in rich, organic potting soil. Soil should have a blend of organic materials, pumice, and perlite for optimal growth. 
  • Water: You should also plan to water frequently as containers dry out quickly from evaporation, or choose plants that require minimal water if you know this will be difficult. 
  • Fertilizer: Apply a liquid fertilizer regularly. Liquid fertilizers keep plants and flowers supplied with a steady, balanced fertilizer blend every time you water. 
  • Plant Considerations: Choosing plants with shallow root systems or low feeding requirements can make growing plants in vertical gardens easier, but you can make more fussy plants grow with the right care. Know your commitment level. 
  • Light Needs: Spend time watching the pattern of light in the space you would like to place your vertical garden. Different plants grow best in full sun or shade—you should know how much light the space provides before purchasing plants. 
  • Planter Selection: Planters like these Outland Living Vertical Garden Bins are fabulous for their versatility and portability. You can move the planter to different locations depending on the light.

What are the Best Plants for Vertical Gardens?

Once you have established where you will put your planter and what kind of light it receives, it is time to purchase plants. There are many creative ideas and combinations of plants to explore. 

You can purchase perennial or tropical plants that look good all year and continue to grow for many seasons, or you can rotate plantings throughout the year to add variety and create new looks. There is really no wrong way to use your vertical garden. Let’s look at the best beginner gardener choices.

Vertical Garden Plants for Full Sun

If your garden is located in full sun, either indoors or outdoors, you have some fun options. Keep in mind that the full sun will dry out the soil. Plants in full sun should be watered daily, sometimes even twice a day. Here are some easy starter plants:

Sedums: Sedums, also called Stonecrops, are succulent plants that come in a wide variety of colors, textures, and heights. These beautiful plants can form low growing mats or grow taller with spikes of flowers. Sedums flower in pinks and yellows, grow quickly and do not require much water. Make a pattern of different sedums for an interesting display. 

Annual Wave Petunias: A powerhouse in the garden, wave petunias grow in long, trailing forms that will provide a riot of color all summer long. These annual flowers are inexpensive, come in a wide variety of colors, and are self-cleaning, meaning you do not have to clip off dead flowers. They need moist soil and regular feeding to flower best. 

Thyme: For an edible addition to the garden, plant your vertical garden with varieties of thyme. Common thyme and Lemon thyme are 2 easily found varieties. Thyme forms low spreading mats that cascade over the edges of pots. They also prefer somewhat dry, unfertilized soil, so make a good fit for the less-than-green thumb. 


Vertical Garden Plants for Shade

Sometimes buildings can block most of the light to an apartment patio, creating an abundance of shade. Or you may simply want to brighten up a dark corner of your home. Many plants can thrive in shade, low-light or partial sun environments. Try one of these options for your small space:

Ferns: Ferns are available in so many varieties, heights, and needs. Filling a vertical garden with ferns will create a lush, dense wall of texture. Try Maidenhair Ferns for a delicate look, or Japanese Painted Fern for colorful leaves. The downside of ferns: they are fussy plants that require moist, not soggy, soil, and balanced soil nutrients. 

Fuchsias: Fuchsias are a mainstay in shade gardening. They flower profusely all summer long with bell-shaped hanging flowers in pinks, whites, and purples. Fuchsias like moist, fertile soil. Although they are a little messy, fuchsias provide an exotic look for little work. 

Pathos: Pathos is perhaps the easiest indoor garden plant you can grow. With large leaves, often in variegated patterns, pathos will trail down vertical garden planters quickly. Pathos require little care—regular watering and occasional fertilizing will keep them happy for years. 

Edible Plants for Vertical Gardening Year-Round 

If you want to eat the fruit of your labor and have fresh food to add to your plate, try edible gardening. With a little extra care, you could have fresh produce year-round. Here’s a seasonal guide to the best plants:

Spring: Start the year by planting sugar snap peas, radishes, and mesclun lettuce mix for fresh salads. All of these plants grow easily from seed and will grow well in shallow containers.

Summer: For summer produce, grow green beans and Patio tomatoes. Green beans provide a great yield for kid-friendly picking. Patio tomatoes take less space to grow—be sure to fertilize your tomato plants well.

Fall: Kale and arugula are easy-to-grow fall vegetables that take little space to provide tender baby greens. Plant seeds or starts in late summer for a fall crop. 

Winter: Bring your vertical garden indoors for a winter of fresh herbs. Plant basil, parsley, and cilantro and great smelling and tasting foliage. 

Enjoy Your Living Wall

Vertical Gardening is a great way to get started in container gardening, fill a limited space with color, and enjoy the benefits of fresh flowers and produce. Hopefully, this guide has you well on your way to successful planting.

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