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Indoor vertical gardening has seen a rise in popularity in recent years as more people seek to grow their own fresh produce in small spaces. Vertical gardens allow gardeners to maximize limited space by growing vertically on walls or tall, narrow structures.

Grow vegetables in limited areas,vegetable gardening ideas.
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What is a Vertical Garden?

A vertical garden, sometimes called a living wall, is a modern gardening technique that allows plants to be grown vertically on structures like walls, trellises, or purpose-built vertical gardening frames. Instead of spreading horizontally along the ground, a vertical garden leverages vertical space to maximize planting area.

Unlike soil gardening, vertical gardens use soilless media. Special vertical garden systems hold these soilless media and the plant roots while allowing water and nutrients to be delivered through drip irrigation or hydroponic flows. This enables vertical gardens to support healthy plant growth.

Vertical gardens are exceptionally well-suited for urban indoor environments. They allow city residents to grow fresh herbs, vegetables, and other plants without the need for extensive yard or garden space. Vertical gardens are easily installed inside homes.

Indoor vertical gardens require care in lighting, irrigation, and fertilization but can greatly increase available growing space. 

In the sections ahead of this article, we will explore indoor vertical garden systems and the fundamentals of successful gardens in detail.

Vertical garden.
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Advantages of Vertical Herb Gardening

  • Vertical gardening techniques maximize crop yield and growth by expanding the available planting area. Instead of being limited by horizontal space, vertical gardens leverage vertical surfaces and space, enabling more plants to be grown in the same footprint. 
  • By using vertical structures and surfaces for planting, much less ground and soil surface area is required to be compared to soil gardening. This allows urban dwellers and those with small yards to grow their own food.
  • Setting up vertical garden systems raises gardens to eye level and minimizes the need for bending, kneeling, and getting down on the ground. This makes gardening more convenient, especially for those with limited mobility and physical challenges. Additionally, this provides easier access and care. 
  • Vertically stacked plants also get better airflow, which keeps foliage dry and less vulnerable to pathogens. Indoor vertical gardens prevent slugs, insects, rodents, and other urban wildlife from accessing and damaging plants.
  • Unlike sprawling in-ground garden beds, vertical gardens leave valuable ground and floor space open underneath the vertical structures. This space remains fully accessible and prevents the need to permanently dedicate floor space to garden beds.

Types of Indoor Vertical Gardening Systems

When planning an indoor vertical garden, choosing the right gardening system is very important. Here are some popular options:

  1. Soil-Based Systems– use soil mixed with materials like peat or coconut coir.
  2. Hydroponic Systems use inert growing media like perlite, vermiculite, clay pellets, or rockwool. They require equipment like pumps, reservoirs, and careful pH and nutrient balance monitoring.
  3. Aquaponic Systems – combine hydroponic plant cultivation with aquatic farming. Requires strict monitoring of water quality, nutrients, and pH.
  4. Aeroponic Systems– growing plants in air or mist environments without soil or an aggregate medium.
  5. Terrariums – miniature ecosystems in transparent containers.
Depositphotos 117632698 L
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Guide for Starting Vertical Gardening

1. Pick A Spot

When choosing vertical garden locations, consider sunlight, ventilation, accessibility, and proximity to irrigation sources. Outdoors, identify vertical surfaces that receive 6+ hours of direct sun daily for vegetables and herbs. East or west-facing often work well.

Supplemental grow lights provide alternate lighting indoors. Vertical systems keep plants elevated for better light interception. Ensure the electrical capacity and outlets can support grow lights where sunlight is insufficient. 

Also pick spots convenient for maintenance that won’t get knocked into or obstruct room use. Planning your vertical garden’s home is critical before installing systems.

2. Select Containers

Choose containers suited to your preferred growing media. Traditional flower pots, hanging baskets, multi-tower frames, and wall-mounted felt grow bags are preferred. Stacking identical containers provides vertical consistency and flexibility.

The containers should have drainage holes based on your watering strategy. Materials like food-safe plastics, powder-coated metals, non-toxic recycled composites, or cedar wood provide durability. When planning, match container dimensions to vertical supports and available space at your garden location. Prioritizing lightweight, non-porous materials simplifies moving if needed.

3. Soil Mix

coconut peat
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The soilless mix forms the foundation that supports healthy vertical garden plant growth. Standard potting mixes work but tailor soil properties like drainage, water retention, and aeration specifically to vertical cultivation.

Incorporate a high ratio of aggregates like perlite, vermiculite or coconut coir to improve drainage and prevent compacting when irrigating from above. Aim for lighter mixes that retain moisture but don’t get waterlogged. This encourages generous root growth within the vertical soil profile. 

Blending in slow-release fertilizers also provides nutrition without needing frequent liquid feeds. Test different mix recipes in small containers first before choosing your ideal vertical gardening medium.

4. Temperature and Climate Control

Digital thermostat and finger pressing button
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Maintaining appropriate temperatures and humidity levels minimizes vertical garden plant stress while preventing disease occurrence. When growing outdoors, choose cold-hardy plants within your vertical garden’s microclimate. Wind barriers help buffer extreme weather.

If you grow indoors, base environmental control needs on each plant variety’s ideal conditions. Grow tents concentrate on heating and ventilation. LED grow lights, fans, and dehumidifiers help balance heat from high-intensity discharge lighting. Monitoring with a thermometer/hygrometer combination lets you stabilize your vertical garden’s temperature and humidity range.

5. Fertilization

Soilless vertical gardens rely on provided nutrition without mineral breakdown from microorganisms. Tailor fertilizer programs to each plant’s needs using controlled-release or liquid feeds.

Monitor emerging growth and runoff EC levels to avoid fertilizer buildup or deficiencies. Pair water-soluble complete blends with time-released options lasting 6–8 weeks for stable nourishment between liquid feeds. 

When first establishing plants, use half-strength nutrient solutions, then increase to full strength as roots develop. Remember to adjust formulations and dilute as needed based on different growth stages.

6. Lighting

Good and proper lighting is the driving engine enabling indoor vertical gardens to convert nutrients into bountiful harvests. Set up grow light arrays on timers to provide 12–16 hours of daylight tailored to plants’ needs.

Full spectrum LED, or high-pressure sodium fixtures give adjustable brightness, ideal for everything from herbs to fruiting vegetables. Reflectors concentrate illumination density, while separate vegetative/bloom spectrum settings cater to changing growth phases. 

Extendable light racks suspend vertically to optimize intensity as plants stretch up. Dialing in sufficient power and duration of grow lighting is essential for managing vertical gardens sans sunlight.

7. Managing Humidity

Ambient humidity for indoor vertical gardens directly impacts transpiration, nutrient absorption and disease vulnerability. Levels below 40% inhibit growth, while consistent 70%+ humidity risks mold and fungal issues.

Dehumidifiers reduce overly wet conditions. Grouped containers also create a self-contained humidity zone. Grow tent ventilation systems or enclosed greenhouses maintain between 40-60% of most produce. 

Finally, water vertical gardens only when they need it instead of on fixed schedules to minimize moisture fluctuations. By actively managing humidity based on conditions, your plants avoid damage.

8. Air Circulation

Good air circulation minimizes disease risks while strengthening vertical garden plant tissues through gentle stressing. Outdoors, vertical systems already benefit from wind and convection currents. Indoors, dedicated fans bump stale boundary layers surrounding leaves.

Oscillating tower fans also avoid hot spots directly under ceiling fixtures. If securely mounted, vertical gardens can tolerate gentle jostling from air circulation to develop sturdy stalks and stems. Just take care to avoid battering delicate young seedlings or top-heavy fruits. Tuned correctly, maintaining consistent air circulation gives vertical gardens a measurable growth edge.

Best Plants for Your Vertical Garden

When selecting plants for your indoor vertical garden, prioritize varieties that suit container confinement and adjustable lighting conditions. Here are top recommendations to help your vertical endeavors thrive:

  • Herbs like mint, oregano, thyme, sage, and chives adapt extremely well to soilless indoor vertical gardens. Most do well in lower light levels.
  • Leafy greens and salad mixes grow bountiful vertical harvests with dense nutrition. 
  • Fruits and veggies like compact tomato varieties, eggplants, strawberries, dwarf fruit trees, and bush beans all produce successive vertical garden crops both indoors and outdoors.

DIY Ideas

  • Vertical Living Wall- Install a modular living wall system or repurpose shelf brackets as planters.
  • Hanging Shoe Organizer- Use an over-the-door shoe organizer with plastic mesh pockets for small potted plants.
  • Window Box Planters- Mount window boxes on walls to maximize light and grow herbs, vegetables, or ornamentals.
  • Border Plantings- Use trellises or netting along raised beds for vining crops.
  • Hanging Baskets- Mount baskets on rails or wire systems for easy vertical gardening.
  • Floating Shelves- Install shelves to display small potted plants like succulents or herbs.
  • Trellis Structure- Build or install trellises for climbing plants like vines or espaliered fruit trees.
Purity Wamoyi
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Purity Wamoyi is a horticulturist. She studied BSc Horticulture at the University of Nairobi. She has a passion for agriculture driven by her urge to be a champion and ambassador in fighting for food security.She believes that the world would be a better place if we did the little things that bring peace and uphold humanity. During her free time, Purity loves watching soccer and is a huge ardent Chelsea fan.

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