Small Space Gardening
Best Plants for Vertical Gardening
When there's no room to grow out, grow up! Here are some of the best plants to help you do that.
Vertical gardening is a fun way to add plants to your balcony, patio, porch, or even your bathroom or kitchen. You don’t have to build an elaborate structure to enjoy “growing up,” either. See, vertical gardening is basically just container gardening with plants either positioned above the ground or trained to grow upward. Instead of having one pot on the ground, for example, you might have several hanging from a fence. Instead growing your vegetables in rows, your cucumbers might twine along your balcony railing and your strawberries might flower and fruit from a gutter garden. As you may have guessed, vertical gardening can be a fantastic solution for small spaces. You just need to choose the right plants—and we can help with that!
Picking Out Plants for Vertical Gardening
Look at the location in which you want to put your vertical garden. Does it get morning or afternoon sun? Is it in full sun all day—or none of the day? Is the spot protected, such as under an eave or another balcony? Will it get rained on or is it completely sheltered from the elements? Some plants handle certain conditions better than others, so check the plant tag or seed packet for sun and water requirements, plus other important info. Once you know what you’re working with, you can select the best plants for your vertical garden.
Whichever plants you select, provide their roots with an excellent growing environment by filling containers with light, fluffy, nutrient-filled Miracle-Gro® Potting Mix. Then, a month after planting, begin feeding plants with Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food (be sure to follow label directions!) to keep ‘em growing strong. Bonus: When used as directed, this power combo of Miracle-Gro® soil and plant food will coax 3 times the blooms (or harvest, if you’re growing edibles) from your outdoor vertical garden (vs. unfed) over the growing season!
Best Edible Plants for Vertical Gardens
Edible plants that work well for vertical gardening tend to fall into two categories:
1) Plants that have shallow roots or don’t take long to mature, so they won’t develop massive root systems that require a lot of space:
· Annual herbs like basil, parsley, cilantro, chives, dill
· Salad greens like leaf lettuce, Swiss chard, spinach, kale
(Bonus tip: To shrink the time to harvest even more, start with young plants from Bonnie Plants® instead of seed.)
2) Plants that can root in a pot and then climb up a trellis, fence, or balcony railing:
· Vining cucumbers
· Pole beans (look for eye-catching varieties such as “yard long” and those with purple pods)
· Malabar spinach
· Sweet potatoes (need a 18-inch diameter pot or larger per plant)
· Vining cherry tomatoes (need a 24-inch diameter pot or larger per plant)
Best Flowering Plants for Vertical Gardens
Annual flowers are best for vertical gardens because they’ll give you great color fast, don’t require tons of soil, and let you start fresh each year. They also fall into two categories:
1) Annual flowering vines like black-eyed Susan vine, hummingbird vine, morning glory, scarlet runner bean, hyacinth beans (these grow best in large, self-watering containers)
2) Annual flowers like alyssum, nasturtiums, pansies, violas (for spring), then petunias, begonias, vine-type geraniums, verbena, trailing lobelia, scaveola (for summer)
Best Foliage Plants for Vertical Gardens
Foliage plants are all about the leaves. Consider your growing space, then check out these two categories:
1) Foliage plants that can handle slightly drier conditions than most but still put on a big show, like bromeliads, succulents, sedum
2) Foliage plants that do well in primarily shady or morning-sun-only spots like ferns, caladium, coleus, spider plant, pothos (vine), philodendron (vine)
Best Plants for Indoor Vertical Gardening
Vertical gardening isn’t just for the great outdoors! Here are some of the best plants for growing up indoors:
· Orchids: Most varieties need bright but indirect light. Vanda orchids are great for a shower garden.
· Ferns: Most ferns also thrive in bright but indirect light. If your bathroom has a big window, create a tropical oasis in the shower by hanging ferns at varying heights.
· Air plants: Grow air plants in the kitchen or bathroom where you can easily dunk them in water (or spray them down frequently).
· Golden pothos: Perfect for indoor gardening because of their low light requirements. Train these to be living curtains for the bathroom or kitchen window.
Vertical Garden Ideas to Try
Now that you have some ideas of what to plant, steal these ingenious, super-simple garden styles. Whichever you choose, just fill the garden with Miracle-Gro® Potting Mix and plant!
· Pocket garden. Buy a garden pocket at the garden center or make your own out of an over-the-door shoe hanger or organizer. If you’re DIYing it, be sure to add drainage holes.
· Gutter garden. Hang actual gutters along the fence or balcony rail and add drainage holes if needed.
· Hanging baskets. Create a little “hanging garden” composed of several baskets positioned at different heights.
· Window box or hayrack. Both types offer more planting depth than a gutter garden or pocket garden, so you can grow bigger plants.
· Suspended pots. Assemble stacks of pots that get smaller as they get higher, hang pots from a trellis, dangle pots from a horizontal bar—the sky’s the limit!