What can you grow in a vertical garden?


What can you grow in a vertical garden?

Many people are confused about vertical gardening because it seems to be a new concept but in fact, vertical gardening is just like traditional gardening. In a vertical garden, you can either use dirt or husk and clay to grow any and all plants to your liking. However, there are many caveats.

When people consider building vertical gardens it is usually in tight spaces or in urban environments where there is just not enough soil to grow a traditional garden. In these spaces, the sunlight that the plants receive is also very less. So, plants that will be planted should be such that are mostly termed shade plants by gardeners. These are the type of plants which can survive and grow in dim lights and in the shade but will wither if placed directly under the sunlight.

You can grow ornamental plants in a vertical garden

These include ornamental plants such as:

  • Ferns
  • Succulents
  • Vines
  • Bromeliads
  • Baby tears
  • Hosta
  • Crotons
  • Money Plant

The key with these ornamental plants is that they remain green throughout the year and don\’t wither. They also don\’t show any seasonal shedding of leaves like most flowering plants. However, these plants do not flower and they also don\’t provide any edible fruits or vegetables.

These plants work great for vertical gardens as they are usually dwarfed and don\’t grow tall stems. Thus they can make an excellent addition to your vertical garden. But these plants do require some trimming throughout the year to keep their shape and size in check.

You can grow fruiting plants and herbs in a vertical garden

Although vertical gardens are usually built for ornamental purposes, it is not necessary that you put only put decorative plants in them. As I mentioned earlier any plant can grow in a vertical garden. There are many greens and vegetable plants that fall under this category also. These include:

  • Lettuces
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Lemon grass
  • Herbs such as mint, parsley, coriander
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Various types of Spinach
  • Brussel Sprouts etc.

As you can see from the list above I have mostly included herbs and small stem vegetable plants in the list. This is because most vertical gardens are capped by the height limit. Let me explain. Vertical gardens will generally be built on scaffolding or racks.

Vertical garden with scaffolding.
Vertical garden with racks.

The scaffolding usually has anchor points to which the pots are hung. On the other hand, pots can also be placed on racks which are mounted to a wall in the standard fashion. The space between the pots that lie over each other is the maximum height that a plant in the vertical garden should grow up to and not more. If the plants in your vertical garden grow taller than this maximum height then the overall look and feel of the vertical garden will be ruined.

Also when you are growing dwarf plants still you need to keep one thing in mind. The height that each plant will be able to achieve will depend on two factors:

  • The amount of soil and nutrients in the plant pot.
  • The height of the rack or scaffolding.

What are some design flaws with a vertical garden? Are there any drawbacks to using vertical gardens?

Some of the most common design flaws with a vertical garden are that it will hold moisture and hence dampen up the walls behind the scaffolding or racks as shown in the image above. They also tend to dirty up the racks or scaffolding during watering especially when you use plain dirt. When you water a plant in the soil a little extra muddy water is going to do no harm, but when you water a vertical garden in your living space and there is spillage of dirty muddy water on the ground and the walls every time you try to water the plants then it becomes a hassle.

Luckily, there is a simple fix to this. you will have to get large enough containers so they can be filled only halfway with dirt or soil. Then when you water the plants the soil will not run over the pot easily.

Another design flaw of a vertical garden is that it can be planted with plants that don\’t require aerated soil. Most of the pots you will see designed for plants will have a hole at the bottom of the pot. This is so air can seep into the pot and aerate the soil. If you put the pots on a rack with a hole at the bottom and you water the plants some of the water is definitely going to seep through the hole at the bottom. This will also cause muddy water to spill into your living room and you definitely don\’t want that.

There is a solution to this problem as well but it comes with a caveat. You will have to get plants that don\’t require high degrees of soil aeration such as the herbs and ornamental plants I mentioned above. You will also need to get special soil that contains larger particles and gravel so that air can seep in through the top of the pot and there would not be a need for air to get in through the bottom hole.

What can you not grow in a vertical garden?

Plants that are not fit for vertical gardens are usually trees and shrubs and plants that will have large stems/stalks such as corn or sugarcane. As I mentioned above the major disadvantage of a vertical garden is the height limit. If the plant will be able to bear fruit in the small height that is usually available in a vertical garden then by all means go ahead. But if the height that will be available in the vertical garden is not going to be sufficient for the plant and the plant will need more space for it to grow and bear fruit then such plants should be avoided.

Another major concern with a vertical garden is when it is grown indoors. You should definitely not sow any plants that require a lot of sunlight. If these plants don\’t get enough sunlight they will not be able to grow and will not produce the desired fruits or vegetables.



With vertical gardening there are many challenges, but if you plan it out properly then this single vertical garden can become the source of herbs and fruits for your daily use entirely.

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