Vegetalized walls have been fashionable for about fifteen years. Often outside but not only, small or monumental, these vertical surfaces covered with vegetation have become common.
How can plants live vertically? Which plants to use? We answer all your questions.
13 plants for your green plant wall
1. Cyrtomium falcatum
The holly fern, nicknamed so because of its very cut-out fronds reminiscent of holly or Mahonia gives very beautiful results vertically but the transition from classical culture to hydroponics is not always easy…
2. Nephrolepis exaltata
A must. This fern is present in our interiors since its discovery at the end of the 19th century. We can immediately imagine it in its pedestal pot decorating the interior of a wealthy house in Philadelphia. It is also a flagship plant of Creole gardens. On the plant wall, it offers us a different facet.
Its bright green fronds rise from the base and fall back to the ground forming a refreshing cascade of greenery. When the situation suits it, its fronds can reach one to two meters. The disadvantage is the maintenance: its vigorous nature pushes it to continually produce new shoots that hide the old ones. The old shoots become useless and dry out, causing a lot of waste and dust.
3. Begonia maculata
The Begonia bamboo: “Maculata” for its leaves spotted with white and “bamboo” for its green stem with well marked knots. This species native to Brazil is simply superb vertically. The alliance of its fresh green foliage and its pink, white or red flowers transports us immediately to the tropics.
4. Adiantum capillus-venus
The capillary is a fern of infinite delicacy and amply deserves its place among the plants for the plant wall. The slightest breath of air lifts its triangular fronds bearing fan-shaped pinnules.
It is very well adapted to plant walls since, in its natural environment, it grows spontaneously in the crevices of rock walls. Nevertheless, its culture is not easy; hygrometry and luminosity must be optimal otherwise its foliage, which is very sensitive to disturbances, will deteriorate rapidly.
5. Philodendron scandens
A high standard of plant walls. This plant succeeds where others fail. Little fertilizer, little light, little maintenance. This liana with cordiform leaves has the ability to cling directly to the support. Its growth can be rapid, which allows it to be used as a permanent plant cover in the background of a composition.
It also has the particularity to cut itself extremely easily.
Several species exist in the family of peperomia. Those with a drooping growth habit have a superb, dark green, tough foliage, with veins of lighter and well marked shades. In its natural environment, the Peperomia have a very slow growth; on the plant walls, they take time to settle but once the root system is well developed, it is a sure plant that rarely disappoints.
The medinilla family includes shrubs and climbing plants. The magnifica species is the most commercialized. Its large glazed leaves with well marked grooves and its majestic floral stems offer an impressive show. This epiphytic variety lends itself very well to cultivation on plant walls. However, care should be taken not to water it with water that is too hard.
Rare and very popular plants. They are the only cacti to grow on trees, in a very humid environment, like other epiphytes. Its rather anarchic growth takes the form of long green, thick stems, sometimes rectangular, sometimes flat according to its inspiration.
We rarely cultivate the “night beauties” for their foliage but for their incredible night flowering. Some varieties have flowers with an impressive diameter (4 – 6 inches). The natural predispositions of this cactus allow it to live effortlessly upright in our homes.
9. Gloriosa superba
Or lily of Malabar is a very voluble climbing plant with a spectacular bloom. Its fine stems are easily rolled up on the supports or the other nearby plants. The situation of implantation will have to be very luminous.
It adapts itself perfectly to a direct sun if this one is not too strong. The spear-shaped leaves offer a very beautiful deep green that highlights its warm colored flowers. It is a plant which releases a strong exoticism and makes sensation on the plant walls.
10. Philodendron erubescens “Red Queen
This philodendron is not a climber and its installation on a plant wall is not necessarily easy, however, when it is well established, it quickly becomes a flagship plant with a strong identity. The slightly blood color of its large leaves contrasts pleasantly with the shades of green of the other plants.
11. Aeschynantus type
Originally, this species from the tropical areas of the Pacific (Borneo, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc.) has a crawling port. Its predisposition to grow lying on the ground or along tree trunks under the canopy allows it to adapt to environments where the light is very low.
Cultivated on the plant wall, it is perfectly adapted to vertical life in felt culture bags. The plant forms beautiful coulees dotted with bright red flowers. Its foliage remains impeccable and it is free of diseases and pests.
12. Hoya carmossa
A magnificent umbelliferous. To bloom regularly and abundantly, it requires some consideration as for the luminosity. It is generally placed in the most illuminated places, under the canopies or under the spotlights in the case of an artificial supplement.
13. Ludisia discolor
A beautiful terrestrial orchid. Contrary to its epiphytic cousins of the genus phalaenopsis which grow on trees, this orchid grows in the open ground in the dimly lit undergrowth of Indonesia.
Its extremely dark foliage and its white flowers slightly tinted pink make it a plant for the plant wall particularly sought after by amateurs. Its adaptation is relatively fast on plant walls. It can be enjoyed even in dimly lit areas of the plant wall; in the shade of large subjects, for example.
How are plants planted on a green wall?
As for off-ground market gardening or “kitchen gardening”, some plant walls use hydroponic cultivation techniques: the plants are grown on an inert substrate (sphagnum moss, horticultural tablecloth, felt, clay balls, coconut fiber, pozzolan…), which only serves as an anchor for the roots. A nutritive solution irrigates this substrate, providing the roots with the necessary water and nutrients.
The nutritive solution flows from the top of the vegetated wall, once it reaches the bottom, it accumulates in storage and recovery bins; a pump and a hose allow it to be “lifted up” and recycled.
Cultivation on classic substrate (or almost)
Plants can also be planted in small cells (felt pockets, plastic modules, etc.) filled with a nutritious substrate, as one would do for potted plants: potting soil, peat, compost, etc. In this case, a programmable, invisible drip watering system must be integrated into the structure.
Is it necessary to call in a professional for the green wall?
A professional can be called upon to install a green wall, especially if you opt for hydronic cultivation, which is more delicate. You can also choose to do it yourself: in this case, growing on a conventional substrate is more appropriate (techniques have evolved considerably in recent years, and today there are plastic modules that are easy to install and assemble, with an integrated irrigation system).
Green walls to restore ecological corridors
To a certain extent, the green walls are integrated into the “green and blue frames”: they contribute to the preservation of ecological corridors that allow wildlife to move from one habitat to another.
We give you 13 plants that you can use for your green plant wall composition.