How to select the right plants for a vertical garden?

Vertical gardening is a flourishing trend that allows gardening enthusiasts to maximize their green spaces by growing upwards instead of outwards. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner looking to spruce up your living space, vertical gardens offer a creative and efficient way to cultivate plants. However, choosing the right plants for your vertical garden is crucial for its success. With a diverse range of plants that can thrive vertically, it’s essential to consider factors like light, space, water, and soil conditions. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of selecting the best plants for your vertical garden to ensure a lush and vibrant living wall.

Understanding Your Vertical Space

Before you choose plants for your vertical garden, it’s vital to assess the conditions of the space where your garden will grow. Vertical gardens can be set up indoors or outdoors, and the location will greatly influence the type of plants you can grow.

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Light is a critical factor that determines plant health and growth. If your garden is indoors, identify the direction your windows face and the amount of natural light the area receives. For outdoor vertical gardens, observe the patterns of sunlight and shade throughout the day. Plants labeled as full sun require at least six hours of direct sunlight, while those that thrive in partial shade can do with less.

The wall or structure on which your vertical garden will be mounted should be sturdy enough to support the weight of the plants, soil, and water system. Consider the material of the wall and whether it can withstand constant moisture.

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Space is another crucial aspect. Some plants need more room to spread out than others. Be mindful of the amount of space each plant will need to grow healthily without overcrowding its neighbors.

Lastly, the water and soil conditions in your vertical garden are important. Vertical gardens often use well-draining soil to prevent water from pooling and causing root rot. A reliable watering system that ensures all plants receive an adequate amount of water is also essential.

Choosing Plants Based on Light and Climate

Selecting plants that are compatible with the light conditions and climate of your area is fundamental for a thriving vertical garden. Plants that are not suited to the available light will struggle to survive and may not grow as well as you hope.

For sunny, outdoor vertical gardens, choose plants that are categorized as full sun or sun-loving. These include a variety of flowering plants, succulents, and some vegetables that can withstand and even require intense sunlight to flourish.

In contrast, if your vertical garden is in a shaded area or indoors, look for plants that can thrive in low-light conditions. Ferns, certain ivies, and shade-loving flowers are good options for these environments.

Consider your local climate and temperature ranges as well. Some plants are more tolerant of cold or heat than others. Ensure that the plants you choose can withstand the typical conditions of your area, whether it’s full exposure to the elements or the controlled climate of an indoor space.

Water and Soil Requirements

Watering and soil are the lifelines of any garden, and vertical gardens are no different. However, because of their unique orientation, these gardens require special considerations to ensure plants receive the right amount of water and nutrients.

For a vibrant vertical garden, use well-draining soil. This type of soil ensures that excess water drains out quickly, preventing water-logged roots which can lead to plant diseases. Many vertical garden systems come with their own soil mixes designed for this purpose.

When it comes to watering, vertical gardens can dry out more quickly than traditional gardens because they are exposed to air on all sides. A drip irrigation system or a self-watering planter can be a great investment, providing consistent moisture without over-watering. Make sure to water your plants according to their specific needs. Some plants may require frequent watering, while others will do well with less.

Selecting Plants for Aesthetic Appeal

Creating a visually appealing vertical garden involves more than just choosing healthy plants; it’s about selecting plants that will create a harmonious and attractive display.

For a lush look, incorporate a mix of foliage and flowering plants. Combine different textures, colors, and sizes to create depth and interest. Fast-growing, cascading plants like pothos or ivy can create a waterfall effect, while upright plants like ferns add height and structure.

When considering flowers, choose varieties that bloom at different times to ensure your garden remains colorful and lively throughout the growing season. Perennial plants can be a great backbone for your garden, providing greenery year-round, with annual flowers adding seasonal splashes of color.

Remember to consider how the plants will look as they grow and mature. Some might spread out or grow taller than anticipated, so it’s a good idea to plan your garden layout with future growth in mind.

Edible Plants for Vertical Gardens

Incorporating edible plants into your vertical garden can provide both beauty and bounty. When choosing edible plants, consider the growing conditions just like you would with ornamental plants.

Herbs such as basil, mint, and chives are excellent for vertical gardening because they don’t require a lot of space and can be easily harvested. Vegetable garden plants like lettuce, spinach, and strawberries can also be successful in a vertical setup, provided they receive enough light and water.

Remember that edible plants often have different care requirements than ornamental plants, particularly when it comes to harvesting and pruning. Be ready to regularly maintain these plants to make the most of their culinary potential.


Selecting the right plants for your vertical garden requires a careful evaluation of your gardening space, climate, and personal aesthetic preferences. By considering factors such as light exposure, wall stability, space constraints, and water and soil needs, you can choose the best plants that will thrive in a vertical setting. Whether you opt for sun-loving flowers, shade-tolerant ferns, or a mix of decorative and edible varieties, your vertical garden can become a stunning living wall with the right plant selection. Remember to keep in mind the growing habits and maintenance needs of each plant, and you’ll be well on your way to creating a verdant and productive vertical garden that will bring you joy for seasons to come.