Best Plants for All Vertical Gardens, The Complete Guide

Congratulations on entering the exciting world of vertical gardening! These “zero space” gardens are the perfect way to add more greenery to your life. Now, it’s time to decide just what greenery you want to add to your own vertical wall.

While there is no “right” or “wrong” way to make your own plant wall, there are plants that are more likely to thrive in vertical growing conditions than others. If you’re wondering what types of plants would be the perfect fit for your dream vertical garden, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll walk you through the best plants to add to a variety of different gardens and what conditions they need to thrive.

Trust us; you’ll be growing plants like a pro in no time.

Choosing Plants Based on Your Specific Type of Wall

The best way to choose plants for your vertical wall is to first decide what type of wall you want to create! Whether the wall will be indoors or outdoors, for example, can make a serious impact on your plants’ health and growth rate.

Indoor Green Wall

One of the biggest benefits to vertical growing is that it takes up significantly less space than a traditional horizontal garden bed or clunky window boxes. That’s why vertical planting is perfect for small-space gardening in interior spaces.

If you want your own indoor green wall, it’s best to fill it with the types of plants that flourish in low-light or partial shade environments. Fortunately, this fact means that many popular houseplants can call your indoor living wall home.

Plants that can do well in indoor gardens include:

  1. Epipremnum aureum (pothos, devil’s ivy) – These popular houseplants thrive in indirect sunlight and well-drained soil.
  2. Anthurium (laceleaf, tailflower) – This genus contains nearly a thousand flowering plants native to the Americas. Many can grow in low-light conditions. If you want to truly see these plants flower, however, place them inside where they can receive medium to bright light. They need coarse, loose, well-draining soil.
  3. Asplenium nidus (bird’s-nest ferns) – These ferns enjoy bright, indirect sunlight with well-draining soil. Either potting soil or soil with organic material works well for them.
  4. Philodendron – Philodendron refers to an entire genus, or large grouping, or plants rather than a single species. As such, growing conditions can vary for individual species. That said, most enjoy bright, indirect light, although they can tolerate lower light levels. Many enjoy loose, well-draining soil.
  5. Syngonium – This flowering genus is native to the Americas. Syngonium species are typically low-maintenance plants, so long as their watering needs are met. They can tolerate all kinds of lighting conditions, but prefer medium to bright light. To thrive, keep soil well-drained but moist.

Outdoor Vertical Garden

Outdoor vertical garden plants will oftentimes be exposed to bright, full-light conditions. That means that plants who enjoy partial or full sun environments will do best outside.

Plants that often take well to outdoor growing conditions include:

  1. Parthenocissus tricuspidata (Boston ivy, Japanese creeper, grape ivy) – These vines are tolerant of full shade, but they need partial to full sun conditions to get the colors they are known for. Loamy, well-drained soil helps this species thrive.
  2. Bromeliads – Bromeliads include thousands of mostly tropical plants. Growing conditions vary by species, although many like lots of sunlight, particularly bright, indirect light and well-draining soil or fast-draining potting soil.
  3. Heuchera (coral bells, alumroot) – This North American genus is full of species that can grow in most lighting conditions so long as their watering and soil needs are met. They enjoy bright, direct sunlight for roughly 4 – 6 hours a day and shade during a blistering afternoon. Fertile, well-drained, and moist soil can help many species in this genus thrive.
  4. Verbena (vervain, verveine) – This genus of flowering plants like full sun conditions and well-drained soil.
  5. Fragaria × ananassa (strawberries) – Strawberries take well to vertical growing conditions and enjoy direct sunlight and rich, well-draining soil.

Herb Garden

It’s easy to grow delicious edible plants in little space with a vertical planter. Even better, many types of herbs readily grow in vertical growing conditions.

Some classic herbs that can grace your vertical green wall (and that we offer for our Varden vertical gardens) include:

  1. Coriandrum sativum (coriander, cilantro) – Full sun and rich, loose, well-draining moist soil are ideal growing conditions for cilantro. While full sunlight is best, this herb can tolerate partial shade.
  2. Allium schoenoprasum (chives) – Direct lighting and fertile, well-draining soil help chives thrive.
  3. Thyme – Direct, full lighting, heat, and well-draining soil are conditions that help produce the best-tasting thyme.
  4. Salvia rosmarinus (rosemary) – Full sunlight and loamy, well-draining soil are just what rosemary needs to thrive, although it can tolerate partial shade.
  5. Ocimum basilicum (basil) – Moist soil is a must for basil. This plant likes warmth and direct sunlight, although, in extremely hot environments, it is best to give it some afternoon shade.
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Vegetable Wall Garden

You can even grow vegetables in small spaces like your kitchen, living room, or small outdoor patio with a vertical gardening system. And, with the drip irrigation system created by our Varden kits, you can be sure that your plants receive an optimal level of moisture — without wasting water.

Some plants that take well to vertical gardens include:

  1. Spinacia oleracea (spinach) – Spinach loves cool weather, full to partial sunlight, and well-drained, fertile soil.
  2. Lactuca sativa (lettuce) – Moist, well-drained soil is best for lettuce. Full sunlight helps this plant grow fastest, although it can still grow in partial shade (and, in fact, should have some afternoon shade in extremely hot climates).
  3. Foeniculum vulgare (fennel) – Fennel is a popular plant that loves direct, full sunlight and well-draining, fertile soil.
  4. Kale – Kale grows well in the spring or fall with fertile, loamy, well-draining soil and direct, full sunlight, although it can tolerate some shade.
  5. Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris (Swiss chard, chard) – Full sunlight and moist, well-drained soil full of organic content works best for Swiss chard, although it can grow in partial shade as well.
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Flower Garden

Traditional flower gardens are great, but did you know that vertical flower gardens can be just as — if not more — stunning?

Many kinds of flowering plants do well in vertical planters, including:

  1. Petunia (petunias) – 20 species belong to the Petunia genus, so exact growing conditions vary depending on what type you have. That said, most petunias need full, direct sun and do not tolerate shade well at all. They are more forgiving with soil, however; many tolerate different soil conditions, although they enjoy fertile, well-draining soil best.
  2. Morning glory – Morning glory refers to over a thousand different species of flowering, climbing plants. While exact growing conditions vary by species, most of these climbers like full sunlight and well-drained, fertile soil. They can, however, tolerate small amounts of shade and various kinds of soil.
  3. Lantana (lantanas, shrub verbenas) – With nearly 150 species in this genus, optimal growing conditions can vary depending on which species you have. That said, many enjoy full sunlight and well-draining soil.
  4. Begonia – Begonia is a genus with thousands of species that mostly do well in fertile, well-drained soil. Light requirements can vary more by species and climate, although many like dappled light.
  5. Viola × wittrockiana (pansies) – Pansies love well-drained and fertile soil, direct morning sun, and afternoon shade. They grow well in spring and fall.

Succulent Garden

These hardy, beautiful plants have shallow roots that grow outwards rather than downwards, making succulents excellent candidates for growing in our Vardensoks.

Some succulents that would make great additions to your vertical garden include:

  1. Sempervivum (houseleeks, liveforevers) – Plants in this genus typically enjoy dry environments with full sunlight and well-draining soil, although some can occasionally tolerate moist soils.
  2. Curio rowleyanus (Senecio rowleyanus, string-of-pearls) – These creeping vines like partial shade conditions and well-drained soil. Remember to avoid placing them near edible plants, as string-of-pearls are poisonous.
  3. Sedum (stonecrops) – As a large genus, care for stonecrops will vary by species. That said, many enjoy full to partial sunlight and well-draining soil.
  4. Crassula ovata (lucky plant, jade plant) – C. ovata loves medium-shade conditions with well-draining soil.
  5. Echeveria elegans (white Mexican rose, Mexican snowball) – These plants enjoy full or partial sun and properly drained soil.

5 Factors to Keep in Mind, No Matter Your Garden Type

No matter what type of vertical garden you decide to grow, you always need to keep the following factors in mind before you decide where to put your garden and what types of plants will grow in it.

  1. Lighting – Plants need light to grow, but how much light they need can vary wildly! Some need to be protected by shade. Others like partial or dappled light conditions. And others still need bright, direct sunlight to thrive. Do some research to discover what your preferred plants need before you buy them, as many popular plants do not grow in the same conditions.
  2. Soil – Not all dirt is equal. Discover what type of soil your plants need: moist, dry something in between? What pH do they need? Do they need well-draining soil? Don’t leave soil to chance, or you could end up with lots of brown on your green wall.
  3. Growth – Many plants grow at different rates, and some plants can easily become so massive that they block light access for other plants.
  4. Temperature – What temperature range can your chosen plants withstand?
  5. Humidity – Many first-time gardeners overlook humidity requirements for their plants, but not you. Find out which plants in your garden need to be kept in more humid conditions (and therefore might need regular misting) and which ones thrive in arid climates.

Now that you know the basics, you’re ready to start your very own vertical garden! We’re confident that you’ll love watching plants take to your new garden and that it will be easier than you think. Of course, if you want more help or advice, we encourage you to join our Facebook group to connect with other vertical gardeners.

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About the Author: Mark Woolbright

Mark Woolbright is an inventor and innovator of living walls with over 30 years in design, manufacture, marketing, and installation of plantable, living wall systems. Mark graduated from Eastern Illinois University and is currently Managing Member of Greenwall Ventures, LLC, and most recently, CEO/Founder of Verdtech, Inc. Throughout his career, he has been awarded twelve patents, with more applications pending. Mark has served on the Board of the St. Louis USGBC, as a member of the Green Wall Committee of GRHC which develops course curriculum for its Green Walls 101 course and is a certified Biophilic Design trainer through GPGB. He is passionate about educating the building community on the environmental benefits of Living Walls and best practices for their use. If you have questions on living walls, contact Mark at (314) 279-8905 or markw@verdtech.com. View his creations and services at www.verticalgardensupply.com