Author: Kevin Burness Date Posted:9 November 2021
A well maintained greenwall can become a piece of living art to enjoy for years - find out how to green up your space with this greenwall guide by Simple Gardening's Kevin Burness.
With gardens getting smaller and apartment living becoming the norm, it’s still perfectly understandable to want a lush green space – and a goal that’s within reach! A greenwall or vertical garden can help freshen up and bring a sense of serenity to your outdoor area, something most of us want.
While I’m no greenwall guru, these are the things I’ve found important for the setup and the steps I take to keep the plants and greenwall looking the best I can.
To start, the wall is easier to build than you might think. Using sheets of marine grade ply board, stain the sheets to your liking and apply a bit of oil for extra protection. There’s precut panels in plenty of sizes or you can trim to suit your space.
I found some half circle pots and secured them to the wall with a couple of screws – this part is relatively simple and cost effective. Mix and match the pots and shuffle them around until it works for you. There’s also lots of ‘off the shelf’ kits available, if that works better for you.
Getting the aspect and lighting right
In my opinion, one of the most important factors for achieving tropical greenwall success comes down to the aspect and lighting. There are many spaces where a greenwall will struggle, so you need to select your location carefully.
My greenwall is a lush and tropical style that needs a bright but sheltered space, protected from too much heat and sunlight. Find a good aspect and angle that provides some morning sun and bright light but also offers a reprieve with afternoon shade. If the space is more exposed, you may have to remedy this with a canopy, another structure or plant it out with some large shady trees.
If you still want to try vertical gardening in a more exposed space, explore planting options with succulents, cacti and some bromeliad varieties that are able to handle the heat while still making an impressive feature.
Be wary of heat
It’s not just direct sun you need to look out for, but also the heat being absorbed and radiated throughout the structure. Even if the plant display is sheltered but the back gets cooked in afternoon sunlight, this can cause distress to the plants, as the soil and roots get baked by the heat absorbed by the structure.
In my greenwall, I have used a few succulents in the most exposed corners of the wall and placed the shade loving plants on the darker part of the wall. Other than these few succulents, most of the plants I have used are readily available and sold as ‘indoor’ plants as well as many common and tough plant varieties that are easy to care for.
Philodendrons make up the bulk of my lushness with ferns, syngoniums, pothos, adansonii and even a couple of walking Iris to create different textures and layers.
Potting up is an important part
The basket style pots I used are lined with plastic, providing a basic sealed liner. While this can go against many of the recommendations for potted plants, it works for me, but I suggest doing what you are comfortable with.
To create a super looking lush wall, I pot up these baskets with at least two decent sized plants, if not three or four, about as much as I can fit into a basket. With all this plant competition and a good quality free-draining medium, they should thrive.
Use Plant Doctor’s Premium Potting Mix, and to further prevent water logging, add 5-10% of VolcaMin Zeolite. This will help with drainage and also improve nutrient and moisture retention. You can adjust your mediums to suit different pots and plants.
Think you’re finished?
You’ve now got a lush greenwall planted up with great soil and stunning plants, so you can just sit back, water every now and then and watch it grow right? Not quite.
You don’t want all your hard work to go to waste, so spend a bit of time each week and look for the following:
It’s not too difficult, but if you want your greenwall to remain full and lush, it does require a little bit of routine care and you may need to reposition a few plants depending on the above points, more on this below.
Care and maintenance tips
If you’ve got large ferns, such as bird nest ferns, these can get quite large and will shade out the plants underneath it. Trim a few lower leaves off the fern to let more light in. If it’s still too dark, try swapping out the baskets so that a plant that demands less light can go under the fern, or move the fern down the wall so it’s not taking all the best light.
It’s also a good habit to train, trim and guide plants around others and remove any dead leaves so it all looks super healthy and lush.
Feed your greenwall with Plant Doctor
Watering and nutrients are a necessity to keep you greenwall healthy, so feed it with Plant Doctor’s liquid range every few weeks all year around! Occasionally, apply a little extra potassium with Flowers, Fruits and Roots as the weather cools.
Use Champion for pots and plants at the start of each season, as this will keep the medium going strong and if you need to top up some lost medium, use Power Pellets or VolcaMin. The recommended Plant Doctor liquids are Seaweed Secrets, Activ8mate and Stimulizer.
Watering your greenwall
Watering comes down to the conditions. On a hot week, you might need to lightly water three or four times. If mild and humid, you may only need to water once a week and during colder months, once a fortnight. Avoid over watering, as this can be harmful to plants. Be mindful of potting mixing becoming hydrophobic with age or extreme conditions if this happens, you can remedy with a good drench of Nature’s Soil Wetter.
No matter the size or plant selection, a well maintained greenwall can become a piece of living art to enjoy for years.
I'm just an experienced and awesome gardener sharing my own personal opinions. These are all my personal approaches and processes I use in my gardens. I’d like to help guide others to better gardening practices through my experience and encourage more successful gardening in our communities.
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