Ask a Question forum: Living wall/indoor vines

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Ledbeter
Nov 19, 2015 3:28 PM CST
Hello,
I would like to create a living wall or have vines/climbers indoor on a brick wall. Any suggestions as to the best plants/vines/ivies to achieve this ? The effect desired is something similar to the attached picture. Optimal conditions ?
Thank you
Thumb of 2015-11-19/Ledbeter/43116e

Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Nov 19, 2015 10:36 PM CST
Hi and welcome to ATP. Nobody seems to want to take a stab at your question, so I'll send you some thoughts. That's a really beautiful wall of ivy in your picture.

A good plant to attempt this idea with might be:
Creeping Fig (Ficus pumila)

A problem you might encounter is damage to the brick wall from vining plants that will attach themselves to the brick. Things like ivy, and other aggressive climbing vines (including the Creeping Fig) have very tenacious attachment systems that can leave marks. Twining vines wouldn't cause these problems but you'd need a strong support system to get them to climb nicely.

As far as optimal conditions go, it really depends on a lot of factors including:
- where do you live? (btw. if you would put your city, state or country into your personal profile, it will help in future when you have other gardening questions)
- how much light is available to plants that would be on the brick wall
- do you heat your house in winter with forced air?
- do you air-condition your house in summer?

The conditions inside your average house are really only friendly to certain low-light, low moisture plants. See that beautiful big window in your picture above? Lots of natural light coming in there . . .

When it's comfortable for humans it's like a dark, dry desert to a plant. Every other type of plant takes a lot of care and attention to get it to grow indoors nicely for any length of time. If you live in the Pacific NW, or Hawaii where you can have the doors open a lot, and the humidity is naturally high, and IF you are also willing to install some supplementary lighting for the plants as needed, it might be workable. Or have skylights installed above the wall?

I'd suggest you get yourself a small "living wall kit" like this http://www.hayneedle.com/product/grovert-vertical-wall-plant... and try it out on a small scale before you go "all in" on this. It's a big commitment, and will not be a low-maintenance thing if you do get it going.

The only living walls I've seen that were successful were outdoors, to be honest. (but I am in Florida . . ) Two friends of mine have tried it indoors and gave up due to a variety of problems that included keeping the plants growing nicely through the changing seasons, mold growing on the wall behind the plants, and bug infestations.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill

Ledbeter
Nov 20, 2015 7:09 AM CST
Hello Elaine
Thank you for your response. First and foremost I would like to provide additional information: the living wall idea is for a restaurant /pub in Montreal Canada. It is a 9 ft (width) by 11.5 ft in height between two columns, whereby we already have a drain in place for irrigation. On the other side of each column is a garage door with glass panels which we will be opening in the summer. We have gone to businesses who specialize in live walls, unfortunately these come with a hefty price (Ave. Of 120$/daft). In any event live walls although they are beautiful, cover essentially the whole wall. Our goal is to preserve the brick wall, at least for a while. Thus the idea to replicate what is seen in the picture. Any further thoughts ?
Thanks
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Nov 20, 2015 8:15 AM CST
Ah ha, the drainage problem solved, at least. That's good. Having the drain there will also help a lot with keeping humidity up.

Still supplying enough light to keep the plants healthy especially through the short days would be your challenge, I think. Are there windows in the garage door? As I mentioned, supplemental lighting is probably going to be needed. You could run it on a timer after hours and early in the day when the pub is not open so as not to destroy the ambiance. (I'm Canadian, originally from Vancouver, btw. I know those short winter days!)

You could plant the vines in 3ft. window boxes over the drain and let them grow up the wall. But as I mentioned, a twining vine that would use a trellis might be a better option if you don't want to damage the brick. Easier to keep it in bounds as well, and to remove if you had problems. Most of those would need more light than ivy or creeping fig, though. Hm, there are some beautiful variegated ivy types that aren't nearly as vigorous as the kind you see outside in landscapes. They might work for you and be really pretty.

See if you can find a building with ivy growing on brick, and take a close look at how it attaches. You'll see what I mean about how tenacious these clinging vines can be.

For watering, a drip system on a timer would be easy and inexpensive. But every so often, you'd need to spray down the leaves to keep them looking good. They gather dust and dirt, as well as cleaning the air in general in your space, a nice perk. But they need "rain" once in a while
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Nov 20, 2015 1:51 PM CST
Hi Ledbeter, I would suggest experiment first with a small version like the wooly pocket. http://canada.woollypocket.com/
That way not an outright expensive attempt. Maybe use some golden pothos, those likes to grow a lot indoors, though it does slow down a bit during winter. The website has plant suggestions, see if you can find some of them there locally.

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