I planted 344 plants in 11 living wall planters for our preliminary trials.
I concentrated on plants that are commonly available in garden centers, but will never try them all! How many varieties of petunias are there? I’ll never have enough time to try them all! Also, I was planting in summer which limited me to warm weather selections.
But this initial work is a good start. I learned quite a few general principles which should help you a lot.
By ‘foliage plants,’ I am refering to those plants usually found in the indoor plant section of a garden center. Most have interesting leaves instead of glamourous flowers because they grow in shade, and flowers require more light than leaves in most situations. On the whole, the plants that have proved ‘tried and true’ for generations did quite well. These include pothos, spider plant, ferns, ivy, syngonium, and dracaena.
The newer plants, many with lots of pretty color, did not do well on the whole. I was disappointed in the performance of ajuga, Hemgraphis ‘Purple Waffle,’ and a beautiful, purple and silver rex begonia, loosing most of both varieties. About 50 per cent of the fittonia survived.
One caution: Be sure to accurately assess the light conditions. Only a few foliage plants live in really dark situations.
Overall, I’m encouraged by the results of many of my favorite foliage plants, and am proud to show you the successes on these pages.
I tried lots of different sizes and shapes of succulents and learned some valuable information. Succulents that grow in really small clusters did not do well. The Echeveria type that look like flowers really thrived. Sedum ‘Angelina’ did well too, and proved a great textural contrast to the Echeverias. Since I like to cover up the coco fiber, the sedum was doubly useful.
Be sure to use potting mix especially for succulents, and don’t over water them. Wait until the potting mix is REALLY dry before watering.
Succulents are the ideal choice for living walls because they need little water or root space.
I have planted tens of thousands of annuals in side-planted baskets. Since these baskets share the same construction as the living wall planters, I assumed the same plants would thrive. That proved to be the case. Almost all the annuals really thrived, including dragon wing begonias, coleus, purple queen or purple heart, wax begonias, sweet potato vines, lantana, and gomphrena. Only blue scaevola disappointed me, with about a 50 per cent death rate. The plants were quite root bound when I planted them, however.
The majority of the plants I planted had three-inch root balls, either from individual pots or multipacks. I also used some in four-inch pots. The size difference didnt’ seem to matter.