How To Grow A Vertical Garden

Lynn Coulter
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Vertical gardens are just the ticket for gardeners who are short on space, and they’re great for brightening a bare wall with flowers, greenery, or edibles. The easiest way to reach for the sky is by leaning a section of trellis against a wall. Add plants transplanted into lightweight pots, hang them on the trellis with S-hooks, and you’re ready to go. (See our step-by-step instructions on how to make a vertical garden.) Explore more ideas for a vertical garden here.

Use our tips below to enjoy your new garden. Don’t be afraid to experiment with all sorts of plants; herbs can be kept near your patio grill, while other small edibles, like greens, strawberries, or compact cherry tomatoes, can stay close to the kitchen door. Succulents will thrive near a sunny window in your home or outside on a deck. Try Grape ivy, philodendrons, pothos, English ivy, or other foliage houseplants for an indoor garden.

Choose The Right Plants

Vertical gardens can go almost anywhere, but if you have a hot, sunny location, stick to sun-loving plants like lantanas, petunias, and trailing geraniums. For a spot that gets part sun and part shade, try ‘Diamond Frost’ Euphorbia, lobelia, bacopa, torenia, or nemesia.

Want your trellis to look lush and full? Grow trailers like calibrachoas, Licorice plant, Black-eyed Susan vines, nasturtiums, and fuchsias, which cascade beautifully from pots. Check the tags on your plants, to be sure you don’t combine sun-lovers with shade-lovers on the same trellis. Fuchsias, for example, won’t be happy in the sunny conditions that petunias relish.

Once you’ve decided what to grow, use a good quality potting soil in your pots. For convenience, keep your vertical garden near a hose or other water source, or choose drought-tolerant plants that don’t need frequent watering. Fertilize regularly, with a product recommended for the flowers, foliage, or edibles that you’re growing, and follow the manufacturer’s directions.

 Add Color

Before you hang your potted plants, consider giving your trellis a splash of color, especially if it isn’t made of redwood or another rot-resistant material. Exterior paint can add zing to a landscape or view. Muted colors and earth tones blend into the background, while bold blues or purples stand out in a field of green. Think about what colors your flowers will be when they bloom, so you can choose a complementary or contrasting paint.

Welcome Wildlife

Even the smallest yard or apartment balcony can attract butterflies and hummingbirds with the right plants. Butterflies like lantana, impatiens, nasturtiums, lavender, cornflowers, coreopsis, and herbs like oregano, rue, parsley, and sage. Hummingbirds are drawn to bee balm, salvia, fuschia, and nicotiana (flowering tobacco). Keep your vertical garden a little distance away from people and activities, so these tiny creatures will feel it’s safe to visit.

 Image: Shutterstock Stephen Rees

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