You might never have stopped to think about the history of indoor gardening, even if you’ve been keeping houseplants for many years, but it turns out that ornamental dwarf trees — similar to Japanese bonsai trees — were cultivated in ancient China as far back as 3000 BC. A little later on, the Greeks and Romans were also growing houseplants, opting often not for trees but for the flowering plants that look so familiar to us today.
These ancient cultures preferred to use clay pots to grow their indoor gardens, and even hanging baskets — which were quite revolutionary when they first appeared — didn’t become popular until approximately the 1970s. That is to say, people all across the globe have been growing houseplants in pots quite literally since time immemorial.
There’s absolutely no doubt that plants kept in pots placed on the floor, or on surfaces like tables, desks, and dedicated plant stands, can create an amazing atmosphere within a home. If you had any doubt, it only takes looking at some of the more impressive Victorian indoor gardens to be convinced.
Indoor plant walls — also often called vertical indoor gardens — are, on the other hand, something else. If you’re considering adding an indoor plant wall to your home, you’re standing on the precipice of taking part in a green revolution; you’ll be pioneering an entirely new way to grow plants in your home.
That’s both exciting and bound to create a unique, sought-after, and rather (if you like) Instagrammable interior. If you hate bare walls and can’t quite find the right pictures to hang up, but you also lack floor space for an impressive indoor garden of the type you’d really like to, vertical plant walls can also allow you to grow and care for all the houseplants you love, while simultaneously saving some space.
An indoor plant wall might even allow you to take the well-recognized psychological and physical health benefits of houseplants to a whole new level, because you can pack more plants in and truly create the impression that your home is a slice of nature.
With that “why” out of the way, it’s of course time to delve into the “how” — here’s how you can create a wonderful indoor plant wall of your very own!
Choosing the Right Wall for Your Indoor Vertical Garden
“Go big or go home”, right? If you’re committing to an indoor plant wall, you’ll likely want to mark out an entire wall for the ongoing project. The wall you pick depends on the plants you love most, to some extent, as you will want to keep the ideal growing conditions — in this case, focusing on lighting — into account as you decide which wall to sacrifice to the altar of horticulture.
Typical houseplants are, however, ones that prefer either full sun or partial shade. That means that the wall you choose will usually have to receive either at least six consistent hours of sunlight every day, or at least two to four. In most cases, indoor vertical gardens should face large windows through which bright sun comes in, or gain access to sun through skylights.
Is there no such wall in your home? You could opt to design a beautiful indoor plant wall solely with plants that thrive in partial to deep shade (yes, there are some), or you might want to consider installing some grow lights to support your indoor garden, instead. That’s up to you.
Now, while some people creating indoor plant walls do indeed focus largely on climbing vines, using wooden screens to give them space to grow, most folks will be using (quite heavy) planters to house their plant collection. For this reason, it’s good to pick a foundational wall that will be able to withstand the weight of all the containers (including perhaps clay pots), soil, and plants you will be decorating it with.
Choosing Your Plant Wall Units or Systems
As vertical indoor gardens have began to rise in popularity, more and more innovative plant wall systems — especially designed for indoor plant walls — have appeared on the market. If you head over to Amazon to browse, make sure to add “indoor” to your “plant wall system” query to find vertical garden systems designed to be installed inside the home.
You will quickly discover that there are indoor plant wall systems to cater to every taste — hanging planters made from felt, vertical planters that are heavily wood-based, metal and clay planters, and high-tech smart systems, and each in a modern or more whimsical, cottage-like, style.
Each looks great, in their own way. You will want to keep a few things in mind if you’re looking to invest in a pro indoor gardening system for your wall, however:
- Don’t choose an overly heavy system for weak walls!
- Consider practicality as well as aesthetics. It’s easy to fall into the trap of buying the prettiest indoor plant wall system out there, but natural materials can pose a mold hazard. Many systems are made of felt, which helps to provide an excellent growth medium for your houseplants as well as allowing you to add numerous small plants. These systems also, on the downside, retain moisture — leading to mold that will quickly spread onto the wall itself, damaging it. If faced with a mold infestation, your plants will perish and you will have to hire someone to perform costly repair work, not to mention mold remediation professionals.
- Plastic is, therefore, often the best choice.
- So much more than a wall planter or pots on a wall.
- Patented system of pleated felt and felt wraps.
- Easy to irrigate with a single drip line at the top.
- Handles like a real garden with changeable root wraps.
- Roots grow into the felt to become a living eco-system.
- Villanucci, Alessandro (Author)
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- 105 Pages - 06/12/2023 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)
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You don’t have to invest in ready-made indoor plant wall systems to build a great vertical garden in your home, though. Those hanging shoe and toy storage systems, which you’ll find at IKEA or on Amazon (among many other places) have become a popular way to get started with an indoor plant wall. With a little creativity, you may come up with many other useful ideas!
Do keep in mind that keeping your wall dry should be among your primary goals. See also: water damage and mold infestation.
Plants for Your Indoor Vertical Garden
As you choose your plants, you’ll want to consider a few things. You need to be able to provide the right growing conditions for these houseplants to thrive, of course, which includes lighting and temperature.
You’ll also want to consider which plants work well together if you are planting them close to each other — a good way flesh out your indoor plant wall would be to search what the ideal companion plants are for the plants you already know you definitely want. Finally, you want your indoor vertical garden to look wonderful, which is a matter of personal preference.
Are you stuck? Don’t worry, we’ve selected some of the best houseplants to grow on your in-home plant wall.
These gorgeous perennials feature distinctive large, glossy leaves that instantly make you feel like you’re right in the middle of nature, and as a bonus, you’ve got hundreds of different species to choose from. While there are vining and non-vining philodendron species, you’ll likely want to choose a climber — like Philodendron scandens, which features heart-shaped leaves that can be variegated if you get lucky — for your plant wall. Because philodendrons do well with partial shade, they’re a good choice even for people whose designated plant walls aren’t excessively bright.
Tillandsia bulbosa, also known as the bulbous air plant, is an absolutely stunning, almost grassy-looking, plant that is famous for its twisting foliage. If you’re going for a controlled wild look, Tillandsia bulbosa most certainly indulges you — but other members of the same genus are of interest to people hoping to grow indoor plant walls, too. As air plants, they don’t rely on the soil for moisture much, and instead harvest the humidity found in the air, produced by the other plants you’ll be including in your vertical garden. Tillandsia bulbosa thrives in full sun, partial shade, or indirect sunlight, making it rather versatile. It only blooms once (ever), though, so choose it for the greenery, not for the flowers.
Given that there are over 10,000 known fern species, this suggestion doesn’t help you narrow your choices down much — but we stand by it. Ferns are flowerless plants that uniquely reproduce via spores, and that can often thrive indoors because your home will protects them from wind and temperature extremes, which they don’t like. Ferns also rank highly on the “greenery index” (yes, we just made that up), meaning they’ll definitely make you feel like you’ve been for a brisk walk around a forest, even if you haven’t been outside in days.
Asparagus aethiopicus (the asparagus fern), Nephrolepis exaltata (the sword fern), and Davallia fejeensis (rabbit’s foot) are some of the best choices for your indoor plant wall, as they work well with other plants and have dense foliage to cover that wall.
Epipremnum aureum, commonly called jade pothos, is a subtropical evergreen vine that will make your indoor plant wall come to life instantly. These plants prefer indirect sunlight, are drought-tolerant, and will thrive even if you neglect them for a while — making jade pothos a great choice for novice indoor gardeners. When grown in pots, Epipremnum aureum needs a stake to support it. If you’re planning to add a wooden screen or a metal trellis along your indoor plant wall, however, jade pothos will be able to shine in all its glory.
Anthurium, or the flamingo flower, is a large genus of over a thousand different tropical plant species, beloved among indoor gardeners because they are able to flower almost year round. If you’re looking for eye-catching red blooms, Anthurium is the way to go. These plants need indirect sunlight and are fairly easy to grow and take care of. While greenery will likely fill up the bulk of your indoor plant wall, flamingo flowers placed in gorgeous planters will add a splash of color.
Any Herbs, Really
If you’re going for vertical fabric systems into which you can place numerous small pots, herbs should absolutely play a prominent role in your indoor plant wall. They’re multi-purpose, after all. Herbs will give you the green space you’re looking for, fill your home with beautiful fragrances, and give you something to trim if you’d like to add extra-fresh accents to that lovely meal you’re cooking.
What herbs will thrive indoors? Almost any, really — and mint, lemongrass, basil, thyme, chives, and rosemary are all choices you’ll continuously be thrilled with, as they are incredibly versatile in the kitchen. If you’d like an extra dash of color and fragrance, you will be happy to know that lavender (which can indeed be used in cakes and baked goods) can grow as a houseplant, too, in which case Goodwin Creek Grey is a popular cultivar.
Planning Your Indoor Plant Wall: Some Final Tips
If you’re planning a floor-to-ceiling indoor vertical garden, you may just want to prepare. Even all those low-maintenance plants that thrive under a regime of benign neglect (AKA: not much water or fertilizer) will need some water occasionally. Self-watering systems are on the market in case you’re interested in making the job that much easier.
Even if you install one, you will still need to be able to get up high to take your plants out of their pots once in a while — the plants that make up your indoor plant wall will need to be repotted every 12 to 18 months, and you’ll have to make sure that your wall remains dry and mold-free, too. If you don’t have a good ladder (from which, by the way, you can also hang plants in hanging baskets) yet, get one.
Finally, you might be tempted to plan your entire vertical garden out in advance, but it may be better to start off slowly, adding a few plants at a time. That gives you the chance to evaluate their progress, and to decide what other colors you’d like to see on your wall.
Now go forth and be creative. Most of all, enjoy your living art that’s better than (almost) any painting!