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Creative Vertical Gardening Ideas for Small Space Urban Gardeners

Get inspired by these creative and easy vertical garden ideas!

Vertical gardens run the gamut massive installations works of art, and then to the more approachable methods using trellises and hanging baskets. They can also provide an extra dimension to your garden and make space appear larger! Here are some easy and affordable ways to garden vertically without having to spend a fortune.

Affordable wall planters can be found at garden centers and online, and are modular so you can add more as you see fit! I made one using epiphytic cacti and orchids in a light orchid mix, and mounted it as a rainforest version of the succulent frames made popular by Flora Grubb. Its tilted at an angle on shelf brackets so moisture doesn’t collect on the wall, and wired in place for stability. During a frost, I simply untie the wire and bring it indoors.

Hang pots on the wall for a simple and understated effect, or throw caution to the wind and cover the walls with your own virtual hanging garden of Babylon! I’ve simply mounted a small bucket (available at a craft store) containing a staghorn fern in an open area above my shelves, but you can also experiment with bolder ideas. How about mounting an entire wooden lattice and hanging up a collection of prized orchids, or maybe some vines or a mass of annual color?

Hanging baskets are the easiest way to ‘garden up’ as well as the cheapest. Choose plants that tend to hang down in curtains, like the cosmopolitan golden pothos vine, an ornamental sweet potato vine, or my favorite, rhipsalis baccifera, also known as ‘mistletoe cactus’. Imagine a hanging green curtain that sways in the lightest breeze and drips in rain and mist… that’s rhipsalis.

Espalier means to prune and train trees to grow along a flat plane, and this treatment is really useful when space is in short supply. Pick trees that naturally stay on the small side, and keep an eye out for those with decorative fruit or berries like pyracantha, feijoa and kumquat. If you want a year round screen of foliage, choose an evergreen that will reward you with privacy and greenery through the winter.

Make a Plant Rod. Whatever plants you use, try this idea. Use two bicycle hooks or metal plant hangers mounted on the wall to support a long pole so you can easily fill it up with plants. Then you can mix and match, sliding the plants back and forth like a real curtain, and easily remove them in the event of a freeze. Why not make another one indoors?

Tillandsias, or ‘air plants’ are strictly epiphytic, needing no soil to speak of, which translates to light and clean vertical gardens. Tillandsias are not the tacky refrigerator affair they used to be. Now they’re employed in posh hotels as living art, in hanging glass globes, and even as living jewelry! Simply hang tillandsias from the ceilings by fishing line and they’ll eventually form little balls of silver foliage, making for an ethereal curtain.

 

Upright plants like sky pencil holly and ti plant don’t exactly bring cutting edge “vertical gardening” to mind, but stick with me here. The benefit is that they grow upwards and form a wall of foliage without invading your open living space, and they don’t require hanging anything on the wall. Some other columnar plants to keep an eye out for are cereus cacti, chamaedorea and lady palms, Italian cypress, and dracaena.

You’re only limited by your imagination when it comes to wall gardening and the sky really is the limit, with no pun intended. 

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