can thrive in a vertical garden, as can other veggies and
plants, for a space-saving alternative to traditional methods
Vertical gardening is getting a lot of
buzz as the "next big thing," but Lisa Neske, horticultural
consultant at Bayside Garden Center, says the technique is really as
old as the hills. "People have done it forever, but itís
getting trendy now because of limited space," Neske says.
There may be nothing new in the
principle of gardening up, not out, as in a traditional flower,
vegetable or foliage bed. Today, though, there are new applications to
the process and gardeners are becoming more creative in their choices
of a base as well as the plants they are using to produce lush, living
Condo owners and apartment dwellers are
picking up on the trend to dress up balconies and small outdoor
spaces. The vertical garden can also be used to create outdoor
"rooms," to block undesirable views and make the area more
private, Neske says.
Some ambitious gardeners are building
systems for vertical gardening that consist of a series of boxes, with
the bottom of each box slanted at 30 degrees so the plants do not fall
out. The boxes can be rigged with a drip irrigation system, such as a
hose or tubes riddled with small holes, so the plants can be easily
watered and fed with liquid fertilizer. The boxes are then filled with
potting soil and planted.
The result is a "living
quilt" of plants that stands upright against a wall or fence.
There are less complicated
do-it-yourself methods as well. Use a wood frame or plastic pipe to
build a grid and stretch chicken wire or rabbit fencing across the
frame. Make "pockets" of chicken wire to hold the plants and
line the wire with peat moss, like a hanging basket.
Manufactured systems for vertical
gardening are also available.
An even simpler method would be to
soften a concrete block retaining wall by planting flowers in the
holes in the blocks. "It looks like theyíre spilling out all
over the wall," Neske says. "You can use annuals, like Wave
petunias. Million Bells are good if you want something that
Be sure to choose a hardy annual, she
adds, because plants are particularly susceptible to heat and cold in
vertical gardens. Perennials work well, too, Neske says. Plantings of
several types of sedum ó such as hen and chicks, dragonís blood
and star ó will result in a show-stopping variety of textures from
the top to the bottom of the base.
A vertical garden can also be planted
with vegetables. Neske envisions a salad garden, which could feature
varieties of lettuce, herbs and edible flowers, such as nasturtium and
There are few rules to vertical
gardening, she says, other than keeping the plants well-watered. Thatís
why itís important not to stand the garden next to siding or wood
ó frequent waterings could result in rotting.
Vertical gardening offers experienced
and novice gardeners the chance to play with colors and textures.
"Just have fun!" says Neske.