vertical-plants

Beginner’s Guide to Vertical Gardening

After I attended a gardening seminar, I suddenly got interested in gardening and I wanted to start one as soon as I got home. However, after looking at the space we had in our property, I felt sad to know that we don’t have enough space to make a garden.

I attended more seminars, joined gardening groups on Facebook, and searched the internet on how I could build a garden even with a small space.

And the best method I found was vertical gardening.

Even with zero background in gardening, I started planting vegetables in containers and placed them near the wall on our driveway that is exposed to sunlight. I planted lady fingers (okra), bitter gourd (ampalaya), luffa (patola), Chinese Kangkong, Celery, and some leafy vegetables including lettuce, pechay, and arugula.

When the bitter gourd and patola grew longer, I asked my husband to make a trellis to support their growth.

Two months later, I started harvesting lady fingers, Chinese Kangkong, and celery. Four months later, I started harvesting bitter gourd. And I have since been enjoying harvesting vegetables fresh from our vertical garden.

I’m so happy that even if we have a small space at home, we were able to grow a vertical garden. It is so fulfilling to grow a garden and to experience it first hand – from the time we sow the seeds, to its germination and flowering stages, until it’s time to harvest them.

And I want to share that joy of gardening with you.

If you want to start your own garden but you’re feeling discouraged because you have small spaces, this blog post is for you. I understand how frustrating is must have been for you, but don’t worry because I’m here to help you.

If it worked for me, it may work for you too.

That said, I hope you would allow me to tell you more about vertical gardening and how you can make your own vertical garden at home even with little space, little knowledge, or little budget.

vertical-plants

What is Vertical Gardening?

Vertical Gardening is one of the techniques in growing plants.  But instead of using the most common technique of growing plants horizontally on the ground, vertical gardening is a technique of growing plants vertically or upward.

Vertical Gardening is one of the best ways to grow a garden if you have limited or small spaces. If you can’t grow down or out, then grow up! Grow a vertical garden.

Maximize your available spaces by converting it into a vertical garden without disturbing your driveway or other commonly used areas within your property.

What is a Vertical Garden?

A Vertical Garden is a garden that grows various kinds of plants vertically or upward including vegetables, herbs and ornamentals.

You read it right! A vertical garden is not only for vining or climbing plants. You can grow various types of plants vertically using vertical structures and vertical pots or wall planters.

A vertical garden is also known as a green wall or a living wall, which, according to Wikipedia, is a partially or completely covered wall with greenery or plants. Green walls may be small or large, indoors or outdoors, and freestanding or attached to an existing wall.

What is the Purpose of Vertical Gardening?

The main purpose of vertical gardening is to maximize the vertical space that you have at home or in the office and turn it into a garden where you can grow different kinds of plants such as vegetables, herbs, and flowers.

What Plants can Grow in a Vertical Garden?

Flowering Vines – grow best in full sun

  • black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata)
  • cardinal climber (Ipomoea x multifida)
  • cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit)
  • moonflower (Ipomoea alba)
  • scarlet runner bean (Phaseolus coccineus)
  • hyacinth bean (Dolichos lablab)

Perennial Vines – grow best in full sun

  • clematis hybrids
  • American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens)
  • ivy (Hedera selections)

Vertical Garden Vegetables

  • small pumpkins
  • summer squash
  • peas
  • tomatoes
  • pole beans
  • green beans
  • cucumbers

Herbs

  • thyme
  • chives
  • mint
  • parsley

Fruiting Vines

  • kiwi (Actinidia deliciosa)
  • Siberian gooseberries (Actinidia arguta)

Edible Flowers

  • vining nasturtiums

Columnar Plants

  • Columnar apple trees
  • arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)
  • junipers (Juniperus scopulorum)
  • Lombardy poplars (Populus nigra)

What are the Benefits of Vertical Gardening?

  • Vertical gardening helps filter out indoor air pollutants.

An indoor vertical garden with small-stature houseplants can help filter out bad odor indoors such as in the bathroom, kitchen area, or in the bedroom.

  • Vertical Gardens contribute to good air circulation.

More and more office buildings and hotels are incorporating vertical gardens and living walls to help keep the environment clean.

  • Vertical Garden plants add humidity when the furnace dries the air out during cold-winter months.
  • Vertical gardening helps save our mother nature by adding more plants to the environment.
  • Vertical gardens provide a wonderful sight and a fresh ambiance.

Advantages of Vertical Gardens

  • take up less space – good for urban gardeners or those with limited spaces
  • easier to harvest – if they’re not too high to reach
  • easier to maintain
  • cannot easily be reached destroyed by pets at home like cats or dogs
  • adds beauty to the surroundings

Disadvantages of Vertical Gardens

  • Vertical Gardens that do not get enough sunlight may not grow plants well.
  • Vertical Gardens that are built too high or too far can be difficult to maintain or water.
  • Vertical Plants in trellises can cover or make the space under it darker.  If you have plants under the trellises, they will not get enough sunlight.
  • Making a vertical garden may be a bit more expensive if you build strong and sturdy structure

Tips Before Building a Vertical Garden

  • Look around your property and find the best area or wall where you want to start your vertical garden. One area at a time. Don’t try to build vertical gardens in all the available spaces or areas in your home all at once.
  • Know how small or big that area is and choose the plants that you’d like to grow and that can survive in the available space.
  • Before planting, make sure you build the vertical structure of your plants like the trellises, wall shelves or hanging planters. This is to avoid disturbing the roots or stems of the plants. Also, having no support or structure may cause a delay in the growth of your climbing plants.
  • Build sturdier structure for heavier or bigger plants.
  • Plan on how you will water your vertical plants. Make sure your plants are not too far or too high to make it easier for you to water them.
  • Since tall and climbing plants cast shadows on your vertical garden, make sure that your other plants are placed in areas where they can still get enough sunlight.

The 6Ps on How to Build a Vertical Garden

1. PLAN: Make a detailed plan of your vertical garden.

Know what type of vertical garden you want, which part of the house are you going to build your garden, what plants to grow, what pots or structures to use, where to buy seeds, and when you’re going to start building your garden.

Learn as much as you can by reading gardening books or blogs, watching YouTube tutorials, or taking gardening-related courses, so that you have a pretty good idea on what you’re going into.

Write down your plans and draw your desired vertical garden if you can so that you can visualize how it looks like in reality. This will make you feel more excited and motivated to start your garden.

2. PLANTS: Choose the plans that you want to grow in your vertical garden.

Do you want to plant flowers or ornamentals to add beauty to your space?

Do you like to plant vegetables and herbs so that you can have your own food supply in the future?

Or do you want both?

Most of my plants in our vertical garden are vegetables simply because I love eating vegies. And I like the idea that if I want to eat something, I can just pick it up or harvest it from the garden.

If you don’t know what to plant yet, you may refer to the list of vertical plants that you can grow in the list above.

3. PLANTERS: Decide on your Vertical Garden System, Structure, and planters.

If you want to grow climbing plants, you need to build trellises to support them. If you want to plant herbs and other plants, you may use wooden planters, plastic containers, or pocket pallets.

You can make wall shelves where you can place your planters. You may also hang some of them.

4. PURCHASE: Buy the materials needed for your vertical garden.

When you’re starting a garden, you may have to invest some money to buy the things you need such as:

  • Potting Mix
  • Seeds or Seedlings
  • Pots or Planters
  • Materials for making shelves, trellises, or hanging planters
  • Gardening Tools

If you already have the basic tools and empty containers where you can plant your seeds, then no need to buy them. Make do of what you already have at home if you don’t have the budget to buy new tools or materials.

Unless you have good quality soil in your property, I suggest that you invest in a good quality potting mix (soil) and seeds to have a higher chance of plant growth.

Success in gardening is not just about having a “green thumb” but having the best soil and seeds. I don’t have a green thumb and I have no idea how to grow any plant, but the potting mix and seeds I used did the magic.

I still remember my excitement and joy when the first seeds I sowed germinated. I fell in love in gardening since then.

Where to buy seeds, soil, and gardening tools?

You can buy seeds, potting mix, and gardening tools at any agricultural or garden center. They are also available in some hardware and DIY stores.

What’s good about buying personally is that you get to check their quality and their actual texture, color, etc.

If you don’t have time to go out, you may order them online.

How much does a vertical garden cost?

The cost depends on the number of plants that you want to grow, the size of your vertical garden, and the materials and brand that you want to use.

If you’re going to DIY your vertical garden, you wouldn’t have to spend as much as compared to buying everything from the garden store.

Set a budget for your vertical garden and work with it.

5. PLANT: Get your hands dirty. Start Planting.

Planning and learning more about gardening is a good way to start. But don’t get intimidated if you think you don’t know enough.

The first secret to having a successful garden is getting started.

Get out there and get your hands dirty. Once you have everything ready, prepare your pot or planter, put soil on it, sow your seeds, and water it everyday.

It takes a few days to germinate, so don’t feel sad if you don’t see anything new the next day. It will only get exciting and fulfilling once the seeds start germinating. And the next thing you’ll look forward to is harvesting.

6. PROPAGATE and PROTECT: Maintain and provide care for your vertical garden.

Gardening is not a one-time thing. It takes time to grow plants and it takes commitment to maintain the garden.

You must water the plants regularly depending on how much water your plants need. Most vertical gardens need frequent watering.

If your vertical garden is not that big, you can water it manually. But for bigger vertical gardens or living walls, you may consider a drip irrigation system. Sophisticated irrigation systems come with hoses and timers and are even computer-generated. But for basic irrigation systems, they come with holes in the planters that allow water to drip down.

Aside from watering, you must also check your plants regularly for pests or diseases. Prune, remove weeds, add compost or fertilizer, and plant more.

Vertical Gardening Structures

  • Fences
  • Arbors
  • Trellises
  • Tuteurs
  • Obelisks

Vertical Garden Planters or Wall Planters

  • vertical plant shelves
  • wall hangers
  • hanging mechanisms
  • garden towers or tower gardens
  • hanging pots
  • pallet tray or pallet planter
  • frames
  • hanging bottles or containers
  • florafelt system
  • industrial cement planters
  • freestanding planter
  • pyramid planter
  • beam planter
  • stair planter
  • shoe organizer planter
  • cinder-blocks planters,
  • wooden pallets
  • rain gutters
  • self-watering pocket planters

Tip: When planting edible flowers and vegetable plants, use only new, clean cinderblocks lined with plastic and wooden pallets that have not been chemically treated. If chemically treated, dry them under the sun long enough (months if possible) to make sure they’re free from any chemicals that might be absorbed by the plants).

How to Know if Vertical Gardening is Right for You

Even if vertical gardening is an ideal technique for small space-urban gardeners and apartment or condo dwellers, there are things that you must consider before building a vertical garden.

Ask yourself these questions to know if vertical gardening is for you:

  • Do you have an available space like an empty wall indoor or outdoor where you can grow plants vertically or upward?
  • Does that space get enough exposure to sunlight?
  • Can you build a structure or support system like wall shelves or trellises on that space to support the plants that will grow vertically?
  • Are there things on the ground or on the wall or in your neighbor’s property that will be affected or destroyed if you water the vertical plants daily or regularly?
  • Since most vertical gardens might need more frequent watering, do you have time to water your plants regularly or more frequently?
  • Growing plants take time, hard work and patience. Are you serious in building a vertical garden and can you maintain it in the long term?

The Last Thing You Need to Know about Vertical Gardening

Anyone can start a vertical garden. However, it takes passion and commitment to grow and maintain a good garden.

While you may have learned a lot of information from this blog post, I hope that you don’t get overwhelmed and delay your plan of starting your own garden. Remember, you don’t need to know everything all at once. You will learn more as you go along. So, don’t be afraid to try and get your hands dirty now. Enjoy gardening!

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