While vertical gardens have been largely seen in institutional settings so far in India— think hotels, conference centres, office blocks— they are increasingly being adopted by homeowners too, albeit at a smaller scale, says Dipen Dedhia, founder, Rising Gardens, a Mumbai-based landscaping company that provides vertical garden structures to both homes and institutions.
Keeping space constraints in Indian homes and apartments in mind, Rising Gardens is offering single-frame ‘breathing walls’, reasonably priced between ₹3500 and ₹9000, to get you started on growing a vertical garden on your balcony or even inside your house.
If you don’t want to go with professional vertical gardens just yet, it is perfectly possible to DIY your way through one. Get an aluminium or wooden frame and a number of small planters with succulents that don’t need much taking care of (and in fact thrive the more you leave them alone!) and get started on your breathing walls project. Alternatively, you can grow creepers like the ubiquitous ‘money plant’ (Epipremnum aureum) that will eventually grow bigger and cover the stand.
Planning to grow a vertical vegetable garden? Even though plants that require less maintenance and care are better options for beginners, once you are a more seasoned gardener it is possible to grow berries, tomatoes, honeysuckle, wisteria, morning glories, cucumbers, peas and melons that can be grown vertically, says gardening and landscaping company The Leaf And Scape.
The ‘Growpipe’, an innovative and sustainable hydroponic kit by gardening company All That Grows, can be used to grow leafy greens, herbs as well as decorative plants. The Growpipe can be placed on flat surfaces as well as hung on a wall, and can maintain 5 plants at a time, making it the idea starting point for those who want to create a vertical garden that has a utilitarian aspect.
Herb gardens can also be incorporated into vertical gardens, says landscaping company Vert Vista. Plant walls break the dull monotony of concrete walls, add freshness and lightness despite space restrictions, and self-standing bio walls can be used on terraces or balconies to create a natural and intimate usable open space, says Vert Vista. Green walls can also be used to create a privacy screen from intrusive or unsightly surroundings without creating a sense of confined space.
“One does not need huge walls for having a vertical garden. In fact, it was keeping these constraints in mind that we have created self-standing frames inside which the plans are grown,” says Dedhia of Rising Gardens. “The selection of the plants is very crucial as it’s entirely based on the light availability during the day, the kind of rooms you want to place them in, whether the space is in semi-shade or completely outdoors etc. Depending on the location, for indoors and semi-shaded areas, once can go for ferns, monstera, philodendrons and the like while for outdoor areas plants like schefflera, asparagus and chlorophytum are suitable,” adds Dedhia.
Nursery Live also provides a beginners wall garden set, such as the ones specially designed for balconies that are enclosed by a structural wall on one side, with 36 foliage plants potted in sturdy plastic pots on a wire frame.
If you are absolutely strapped for time and don’t see yourself tending to any kind of plants at all, and are still craving greenery inside your home, consider getting a small moss wall in the size of a painting. A moss wall is created within a frame with chemically preserved moss, which is first preserved with glycerine and then coated with a colorant; because the preserved moss does not grow, it does not require watering and sunlight to be maintained in its natural state. Companies like The Leaf and Scape provide moss wall installations.
However, the joy of seeing something grow is what kicked off the ‘plantdemic’ in the first place, so an easy to maintain vertical garden is perhaps what the doctor ordered.