When space is limited, for example in small, urban gardens or balconies, vertical gardening is an essential space-saver.
Climbing plants are a good starting point, but there are trailing plants, herbs, fan-trained fruits and quick-fix annuals to consider, too.
Walls are blank canvases and have the potential to retain heat well, so there are plenty of plants that will relish the conditions. Do remember that pots next to walls may be in a rain shadow – tackle this with careful plant selection, diligent watering or an automatic drip-irrigation system.
Check out more plants to grow in urban gardens.
Discover some of our favourite planting ideas for garden walls below.
Classic climbers like clematis and roses will thrive on walls while providing up to six months of flower.
For shady walls, epiphytic plants such as bromeliads and ferns can be mounted during summer onto walls, posts or rustic branches. The combination of plants pictured consists of hart’s tongue ferns, mind your own business and brunnera.
Trailing edibles are ideal for walls – go for plants like squashes, and tomatoes, which can be grown down in the vertical space. As well as multi-storey planters and pocket planters, you could also try hanging baskets.
Espalier and fan-trained fruit trees thrive in the shelter of warm walls. Try this with apples, pears, cherries, peaches, plums, nectarines, figs and apricots. Discover three ways to train a fruit tree.
Summer climbers such as eccremocarpus, sweet peas, Thunbergia alata or cobaea provide accents to a wall without encroaching into the space. Start them off early in the year and gradually harden off before planting in late spring.
Mangers or baskets can be hung or attached one above the other to maximise planting space. Trailing plants like ivy, Lysimachia congestiflora and prostrate rosemary are ideal.
Cut and come again salads don’t require a lot of root space to grow. Try growing them in a space-saving salad planter made from pieces of guttering, which can be attached to walls and fences. You can also find purpose made wall planters for this purpose – find out how to use one to create a living wall.
Vertical gardening tips
- Wall attachments: specialist anchor bolts (from DIY stores) are essential when attaching pouches, baskets, mangers, shelves or trellis, and will carry more weight than screws and rawl plugs
- Get permission: walls are often shared with neighbours or form part of their property. Check they’re happy for you to drill into their walls
- Simplify watering: keep this simple with an automated drip-irrigation system or use a crook-necked hanging-basket lance on a hose to reach lofty pots and pouches
- Secure display: avoid pots falling from display shelves by adding a front ‘lip’ or cutting out round holes that pots can slot into – try this creating this hanging plant shelf
- Seasonal care: tropical epiphytes will thrive against an outdoor wall from June to October, but require a well-lit space indoors or under glass in winter. Most won’t tolerate temps below 7-10°C
- Manage climbers: self-clinging climbers such as ivy, virginia creeper and climbing hydrangea don’t require trellis but should be carefully managed to avoid damage to roofs and façades