A growing trend (no pun intended) are vertical planters! They’re a smart and beautiful way to enhance sides of buildings in urban spaces, decorate lobbies of hotels or office buildings, or even help to decorate a feature wall in your home. They’re also being used in restaurants to serve a dual purpose of wall decor and growing fresh herbs inside them for an organic method of growing their own spices for dishes that they serve.
For quite some time now, I have had my eye on a company doing some amazing things. That company is Florafelt! Not only do I love what I see on their website with all of the various installs that are taking place using Florafelt’s products, but when I read more about the CEO and Founder of Florafelt, Chris Bribach, I knew that their product was legit, and was born from an architecture and design school of thought. Chris earned a 5-year degree from SCI-Arc, a world-renowned center of innovation and one of the nation’s few independent architecture schools.
“I was excited about organic ideas in architecture and created chaos sculptures made from many pieces of building elements connected in a free-form structure. I assembled the pieces in what seemed chaotic designs, but the goal was to create a redundantly efficient organic space frame. Similar to how a bird builds a nest, I wanted the assembly to become a process that organically helped create the scope and shape. On the human scale, I created what I called ‘performance architecture’ where the audience would create their own experience resulting in a structure.”
Chris realized a problem, that massive industrial urban centers of today are plagued with paved and roofed surfaces that require enormous amounts of energy to create and maintain. Thus, his idea to cover urban exteriors with foliage to help cool interiors, prevent decay and even grow food was born! In 2010, his “vertical garden panel” was patented.
I’m so honored that I was able to team-up with Florafelt and Allisonville Nursery to create my own vertical wall in my home. In the photos below, I will walk you through the process of building your own vertical wall. All of Florafelt’s products can be purchased directly through their website, and they also have some excellent tutorial videos that you can watch online. Then find your favorite local nursery, mine being Allisonville Garden & Home, and work with their pros to pair the best plant species for the specific needs of your project.
STEP 1) Plant Selection
Since I chose to use four “4-Pocket Vertical Garden Planters” rather than one of their products that includes an irrigation or drip system (for ease of install in the location I had chosen within my home), I wanted to stick with a plant species that didn’t require a ton of watering. Therefore, I chose succulents. They are gorgeous, unique, eye-catching, and offer deep rich colors that I knew I wanted on my wall!
STEP 2) Identify Your Wall Product
As mentioned above, I wanted to keep my vertical wall system simple without having to worry about adding a new electrical outlet on the wall that I wanted to use (to run a recirculating water system and pump). Therefore, I chose Florafelt’s “Vertical Garden Planters,” which they offer in 4-Pockets (vertical orientation) or 12-Pockets (horizontal orientation). The particular spot I wanted to hang mine was in a two-story stairwell, so I knew the space lent itself well to a vertical orientation. I actually decided to pair four of the 4-Pocket panels together to create a design that was overall 2 pockets wide by 8 pockets tall, totaling 16 pockets.
STEP 3) Plant Layout
I found it helpful to layout all of my plants in a similar arrangement to how they’d eventually hang on the wall. Some plants needed to be separated into smaller sizes and then dispersed amongst multiple pockets. With each pocket, I tried to have a vertical-natured plant, a small and lower plant, and then in most, I included a cascading plant. I felt that diversifying each pocket would give me an overall more visually interesting end product.
STEP 4) Pocket Arrangement
Now the fun begins! I had 16 individual pockets to design. I wanted my colors, shapes and textures amongst all of the plants to be mixed as much as possible. Florafelt has an excellent tutorial video on their site that you can find here, and it shows how to arrange each pocket using their felt sheets. There is a specific folding technique and a rubber band to use before slipping the arrangement into the wall planter.
STEP 5) Home Stretch
All you have left to do is slide your arrangements into each of the wall pockets. You are first supposed to pull the felt pockets open and stretch them out a bit, as they are pretty snug when they first arrive. Stretching them allows ample room to slide your arrangement in, yet the fit should still be firm since the roots of your plants will eventually grow into the felt material. My piece of advice when deciding where to place each arrangement within your wall panel design is to alternate sides that have cascading plants. For example, if you use a cascading plant on the left in the top pocket, try using a cascading plant on the right in the pocket immediately below. That helps to keep your design balanced and seem more random.
It is an incredible feeling to create your own masterpiece, that is not only unique to you, but also fits perfectly in your home the way that you envisioned from the start! Definitely go checkout Florafelt’s website to shop their products and for ideas and inspiration. And a HUGE thank you to Allisonville Garden & Home, for not only supplying me with the most gorgeous plants for my living wall, but also for the expertise and guidance that I received from Ra Gadd and Scott Bardash there!