Vital verticals

Vertical gardens are easy to set up and a great way to get growing in any space.

Growing a vertical garden is perfect for plant lovers who have limited space and is a fantastic way to create a lush, green garden almost anywhere.

Planting vertically hugely increases your growing area, meaning you can grow your own herbs and veggies even if you live in a terraced apartment in the city. 

As well as their practical appeal of providing food (if growing edibles), vertical gardens are beautiful to look at and can add life and colour to even the plainest of settings.

They can also provide a much-needed connection to nature for people who otherwise may not spend a lot of time in green spaces. The benefits of this connection are vast, including boosting mood, strengthening the immune system and reducing stress.

Here are some tips for creating your own vertical garden:

Choose a frame and style of vertical garden: what are the options?

Build your own – make sure your structure is strong and sturdy so that it will be able to support the planters.

If growing edibles, use untreated timber to avoid any chemicals in your food. Ensure adequate drainage and irrigation (you can just water it yourself if you don’t want to set up irrigation).

Buy ready-made – these are often a frame with pots/pockets etc to plant into.

Use recycled wooden pallets – when the pallet is standing vertically it makes a great garden space.

You can create “pockets” that you can plant into by adding a base to each row, using either sections of another pallet that you’ve dismantled or ply. Line the “pockets” with landscaping fabric/a weed mat and staple to secure. This helps to retain the soil and moisture.


Check to see how much sun your vertical garden will receive throughout the various seasons. Ideally you want to choose a space that has ‘half-exposure’, as opposed to full shade or full sun.

Place sun-loving plants at the top of your vertical garden where they can soak up all the light they need to thrive, then you can scale down according to your plants’ light requirements. 

What to plant into

It’s important to not use garden soil in vertical gardens, which can be poorly drained. Instead, use good-quality organic potting mix or an outdoor container mix. 


Vertical gardens can dry out quickly, so it’s important to plant into potting mix, as it helps retain moisture.

Plants that don’t need as much water are best placed at the top of the garden since that part dries out most quickly, while plants more suited to wetter conditions should be placed at the bottom of the system.

Because vertical gardens have less soil, they may need to be watered more often. Be sure to check the plants regularly to ensure they don’t dry out – or set up an irrigation system.

What to grow

Choose plants with shallow root systems, owing to the limited space. The plants listed on the right are a good choice!


Choose edible plants that are suited to your conditions/climate. If the garden isn’t going to get much sun, then leafy greens are a good choice, but most other vegetables will need plenty of sun.

  • Parsley
  • Coriander
  • Chilli
  • Lettuce
  • Bok Choy
  • Rosemary
  • Basil
  • Pea Shoots
  • Dwarf Beans
  • Radishes
  • Rocket
  • Strawberries
  • Spring Onions


Create a lush, island vibe wall using:

  • Monstera Vine
  • Sword Fern
  • Devil’s Ivy
  • Gold Allusion


Succulents are extremely handy, love dry conditions and retain water in their leaves, so you don’t have to water them too often.

  • Echeveria
  • Kalanchoe
  • Crassula
  • Portulaca
  • Aloe
  • String of pearls
  • Golden and blue feather sedums
  • Sempervivum

Shade Plants

For a vertical garden that doesn’t get much sun, shade-loving plants are a great option.

  • Heuchera
  • Liriope
  • Lamium
  • Vinca
  • Viola
  • Ajuga


Create a bright, colourful wall by planting flowers:

  • Petunias
  • Begonias
  • Orchids
  • Violets
  • Marigolds

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