Ask a Question forum: Indoor 'Living Wall'

Page 1 of 2 • 1 2
Views: 946, Replies: 29 » Jump to the end
Name: Rick Moses
Derwood, MD (Zone 7b)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Region: Maryland Hostas Ferns
Image
RickM
Jan 29, 2014 6:07 AM CST
We our office remodeled last year, the owner had them put in a living wall. It looked great for the first 6 months or so, but is getting ragged. It is planted with pothos. Even though pothos is a low light plant, I think the lack of light is an issue as it only gets fluorescent light for 8-10 hours, five days a week.

It uses a watering trough design where each plant pot has wicks that suck water from a central channel. If it's left until the channel is completely dry, then the plants start wilting. Watering any more often, and the pots get too wet and the plants start rotting off.

A maintenance contract is available from the company that installed the wall, but at almost $1000 a month, we've been inclined to spend $50 a month on new plants.

Any one have any suggestions?

Thanks

Rick M
What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it. Charles Dudley Warner
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Cat Lover Avid Green Pages Reviewer Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds
Image
SongofJoy
Jan 29, 2014 6:38 AM CST
Are you set on keeping all the pothos? Succulents are something that usually do very well in vertical planters. They use less water and require less maintenance than a lot of things. They do need soil that is very well draining. Ferns also seem to work well in the living walls as long as they are smaller and have smaller root systems. One key is to use plants that have similar requirements for their culture.

Plant grow-lights are something to consider as well if you want to provide brighter growing conditions.
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Rick Moses
Derwood, MD (Zone 7b)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Region: Maryland Hostas Ferns
Image
RickM
Jan 29, 2014 6:46 AM CST

Thanks Tee. I've thought about putting in fern, but the selection isn't that great up here right now.

Plants lights would help considerably, I'm sure. The problem is that the architects were told to design for looks, not function. As a result, there are no electrical outs nearby. I've started looking into ceiling fixtures, but it's going to be a rough sell because of the form over function.

I actually have a couple of companies that I work with at home that specialize in LED lighting. They're checking with their sources about an attractive, ceiling-mount linear LED grow light source. If they can't find anything, I'm going to try to convince them to create the product from the specs that I've developed.

Rick
What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it. Charles Dudley Warner
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Cat Lover Avid Green Pages Reviewer Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds
Image
SongofJoy
Jan 29, 2014 7:10 AM CST
I know how that goes. If you can somehow get more lighting, I think there will be better success with the plants. And perhaps others will then like the function as well as the form.

Yes, it's not exactly fern season right now. But something to plan for.
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
[Last edited by SongofJoy - Jan 29, 2014 8:10 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #546991 (4)
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Jan 29, 2014 8:04 AM CST
Rick, I use some LED's in my orchid greenhouse, but because typical LED's are low wattage, these light-strips have to be within 12-18" of my plants to be effective. I know higher wattage LED's are available, though they really get up in price. Mixing in some staghorn ferns, bromeliads, and even some mounted orchids might work for you. Variable plant varieties would make the "wall" more appealing and even fun to build. You need to increase the light though. Fluorescents, again like LED's, would be poor light sources for growing plants in your office, (mostly) due to the distance of the fixtures from the plants. You simply don't have the light spectrum or lumens necessary for good plant maintenance.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Rick Moses
Derwood, MD (Zone 7b)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Region: Maryland Hostas Ferns
Image
RickM
Jan 29, 2014 8:24 AM CST

Thanks Ken. Part of the specs that I gave the lighting guys was that the light source would have to be within 18-24" and the fixture no more that 3" high so that the eye would be drawn to the plants and not the fixture sticking out of the ceiling.

When I refreshed the wall at the beginning of the month, I tried introducing a bit more color with a variety of red-leaf prayer plant. By and large, they've done well except that they, like the pothos are straining for light.

Using bromeliads and orchids isn't completely out of the question, but I would have to reconfigure the wall because of plant heights. Then again, that may help the rest because of improved air circulation, as well as add some textural variety.

Once more plant varieties are available, I'm definitely going to mix it up. I'm hoping to put seasonal bloomers in as well. Things like cyclamen for the first parts of February, maybe some short hyacinth for March/April.
What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it. Charles Dudley Warner
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Cat Lover Avid Green Pages Reviewer Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds
Image
SongofJoy
Jan 29, 2014 8:26 AM CST
Good idea.
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Jan 29, 2014 9:25 AM CST
It sounds like you have good plans in mind and don't mind "experimenting" with different plants/lighting.

One nice thing about bromeliads, or at least the majority of them, is that they don't require much light (but may need more for good flowering), have very limited root systems, and only need watering when their "urn" dries out. If you mount them just before flowering, lack of bright light becomes a non-problem. Just keeping water in the urn-like leaves is all they really need and twice a year, add a general purpose, water-soluble fertilizer, at 1/4 tsp/gal. Some are compact plants and some can get pretty large, with 2' leaves.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Cat Lover Avid Green Pages Reviewer Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds
Image
SongofJoy
Jan 29, 2014 12:24 PM CST
When the time comes, post photos if you can, RickM.
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator Forum moderator Aroids Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tropicals Foliage Fan Bulbs Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
Image
eclayne
Jan 29, 2014 2:31 PM CST

Plants Admin

Rick, if possible please post a photo of the wall including the ceiling and floor.
Evan
Name: Rick Moses
Derwood, MD (Zone 7b)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Region: Maryland Hostas Ferns
Image
RickM
Jan 29, 2014 2:44 PM CST

Evan,

I'll try to get a couple of pics tomorrow.

/r
What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it. Charles Dudley Warner
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator Forum moderator Aroids Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tropicals Foliage Fan Bulbs Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
Image
eclayne
Jan 29, 2014 2:51 PM CST

Plants Admin

Thanks Rick.
Evan
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Jan 29, 2014 5:46 PM CST
For more light that doesn't offend customers, how about a 500-Watt spotlight that sits on the floor? Set it out on an extension cord after the last customer leaves and put it away the next morning before any arrive. Have a timer that turns it on just a few hours each morning and night so the plants do get some dark. Run it for 14 hours on Saturday and Sunday.

>> each plant pot has wicks that suck water from a central channel. If it's left until the channel is completely dry, then the plants start wilting. Watering any more often, and the pots get too wet and the plants start rotting off.

Hmm, $33 per day? $250 per week? For that much, I would add a measured amount of water 2, 3 or 5 times per week! Let it run dry briefly a few times per week.

A short length of clear plastic tubing silicon-glued into a hole in the bottom of the trough and then bent upwards would reveal at a glance the depth remaining in the trough. I guess it would have to be invisible to customers if appearance is more important than thriving plants!

It sounds like the wicks are too big (wick too fast) for the pots. If they don't clog up on their own and slow down their water delivery, you might replace a few to see what delivers a slower rate. Or use bigger pots or put a fan on them to speed evaporation.

Are the wicks visible and soft? you might tie a few threads around one wick near the top, to throttle down (choke off) some of the flow rate. Figure out what it takes, from a slight constriction to a paper clip or binder clamp.

if the trough is ABOVE the pots, is it possible to lower the trough?

Or you could lay down absorbent pads that run the length of the trough, under each pot (assuming the pots have some bottom holes). Then arrange some hidden "downcomer" wicks that conduct excess water out of each trough to a concealed pot at ground level.

I assume that you are not watering with "softened" water. Usually that means that the "hard" minerals have been replaced with sodium chloride.

using wicks to reduce water-logging
http://garden.org/ideas/view/RickCorey/646/Bottom-Watering-S...

Name: Cheryl
Kingwood, Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Greenhouse Composter Plant Identifier Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Amaryllis
Plumerias Ponds Foliage Fan Enjoys or suffers hot summers Tropicals Garden Ideas: Master Level
Image
ShadyGreenThumb
Jan 29, 2014 9:20 PM CST
I have no suggestion but there is a gorgeous, giant living wall in the Edmonton Canada airport. There is a list of plants that have been planted there. I will look through my photos to find what I can find that might help you choose your plants.
Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love Truly, Laugh
uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you Smile.
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Cat Lover Avid Green Pages Reviewer Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds
Image
SongofJoy
Jan 30, 2014 4:35 AM CST
That's beautiful!

http://www.sys-con.com/node/2279701
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
Image
woofie
Jan 30, 2014 10:23 AM CST
Wow! Thanks for the link, Tee! Thumbs up
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
Image
Leftwood
Jan 30, 2014 10:45 AM CST
Tee, what kind of succulents do well in such low light? Completely baffled on this one..... Confused

At Home Depot, I take care of the houseplants sold at my store. We only have the fluorescent lights that are mounted from the ceiling, 20ft(!) above the hanging plants. Plants that might be applicable, and adapt well and can be grown continuously are pothos, philodendron, Rabbit's Foot fern, hoya. But if even pothos is showing light starvation, I don't think anything will do better without addressing that problem.
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator Forum moderator Aroids Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tropicals Foliage Fan Bulbs Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
Image
eclayne
Jan 30, 2014 11:55 AM CST

Plants Admin

Rick, no natural light?

We had 10 or so 4' hanging planters with fair natural and artificial lighting in the rotunda of our office. They were planted with Pothos and fern. The maintenance folks would change out individual plants as required and I wonder if that might be part of an appropriate solution.
Evan
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
Image
Bubbles
Jan 30, 2014 12:33 PM CST
Whole Foods in Austin has had a few different living walls. I believe the first one was bromeliads above the escalators. They didn't do well, even with natural light coming in.
Have you considered living moss? I tried to capture the photo of the new store's living wall of moss and steel, but was unsuccessful. If you scroll through the photos on the second link below, the moss wall is #12.

http://gsky.com/whole-foods-austin/

A moss wall over the escalator leading to the parking garage...#12 photo
http://impactnews.com/austin-metro/northwest-austin/whole-fo...
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
Image
Leftwood
Jan 30, 2014 1:53 PM CST
Evan, yes, no natural light. From re reading my post, I may have given the idea that all plants there survive well, but no. I would say half the plants would not survive long term. Only the ones I list are the ones that are both applicable to RickM's needs and ones that continue to grow and look nice long term. The Rabbit's Foot fern is remarkably surprising to me, but it does use a lot of water. Of course the fluorescent bulbs must be at least high output, and all lights are on 16 hours a day (7days a week). 5 days a week, lights are on 2/3 power overnight.

Page 1 of 2 • 1 2

« Garden.org Homepage
« Back to the top
« Forums List
« Ask a Question forum
You must first create a username and login before you can reply to this thread.

Today's site banner is by Paul2032 and is called "French Marigold"