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Succulents are one of the easiest plants to create a small-scale green wall with. I’ve pulled together some of the best info on succulents and some awesome DIY projects to get you started. I’ve seen a lot of professionals using similar designs on contracts for clients as well. There’s something for everyone!
Succulents are appealing for building green walls or wall gardens because they are extremely hardy. They don’t need a lot of water, sun, space, or fertilizer and, like most indoor plants, have some great benefits:
- More Oxygen! Most people don’t know that when photosynthesis slows down at night, plants switch to absorbing oxygen from the air around them. Succulents, however, have had to develop a special type of metabolism called Crassulacean acid metabolism (or CAM) to adapt to harsher environments. With CAM, plants can take in CO2 during the night and store it to use for photosynthesis the next day, meaning that even when you sleep, these guys are pumping out oxygen into the environment.
- Healthier Homes! According to Bayer Advanced, studies at the Agricultural University of Norway document that using plants in interior spaces decreases the incidence of dry skin, colds, sore throats and dry coughs. And other research reveals that higher absolute humidity is conducive for decreased survival and transmission of the flu virus.
- Clean the Air! Nasa conducted a pretty cool study about the best plants for reducing indoor air pollution. Many of those plants are succulents. The study is summarized in the infographic below.
- Biophilia! From better indoor acoustics, to better recovery in hospital patients, there is a growing body of research evidence that supports the idea that being around vegetation is just generally good for people and succulents are no different.
If you have the time before you start this project, succulents actually propagate very easily and growing your own from a few original plants isn’t hard. You can check out a full guide from the Needles and Leaves blog here, but the general idea is this:
- Break the leaves off your succulent right at the stem from the bottom to the top of your plant. Stop before you get all the way at the top.
- Cut the stem right below the crown of leaves you left at the top. Along with the leaves, this will turn into it’s own little plant.
- WAIT! You have to let the stems and leaves dry out and callous over or else the process won’t work.
- Once they ends where the leaves and roots will grow from are dry, place them in porous soil.
- At this stage, they like indirect sunlight and minimum water. The most common mistake I’ve made with my succulents is over watering and have had the best luck with spray bottles..
- After two weeks or so, mini succulent leaves will start growing from one end of the original leaf. You’ll start to see small roots growing here as well. At this stage, want to be sure to water only when the soil is dry.
- You want to leave them at this stage until you see the original leaf wither significantly. Then, remove the new growth from the old leaf and plant it in its own pot or section of soil.
- Let them grow! Soon, you’ll be ready to transplant them to your green wall.
(all photos and the original guide can be found here)
Succulents are so great for green walls because they are adapted for survival. This means your wall won’t need as much maintenance and it will look as originally intended for longer. Plus, these plants need little in terms of water or nutrient resources and a good cactus soil will take them a long ways.
With all the variety within the succulent family, it’s not hard to create beautiful vertical wall gardens. Green walls become more of a showcase for diverse colors and textures. This isn’t just true because of the plants, but because of the designs of the walls themselves. Check out these green walls below for inspiration and keep farming vertically!
The concepts in the above project (ie mounting the landscaping cloth and fitting in the soil) can be scaled for larger projects, especially if you build a modular wall.
Without knowing how this was built, the above shutter design is probably the same deal as the first project above, just with a different growing medium and a different frame.
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