Outdoor Vertical Gardens
Everything You Need to Know About the DIY Panel for Vertical Succulent Gardens
Our vertical succulent gardens bring visitors to the nursery a sense of wonder, and many people are inspired to build and grow their own at home.
We offer for sale here in the store and in our Web Shop the same type of panel we use to create our own vertical succulent gardens. It’s a gratifying project to do it yourself, but you might want instructions, which we offer below.
Hang the panels outdoors
While some succulents are capable of growing indoors, they do much better when they enjoy the sun and air circulation of the outdoors. The panels are built with slotted cells that allow the water to trickle from cell to cell and drain out the bottom, making them unsuitable for placing against sheetrock or other indoor wall surfaces. Drainage out the bottom poses a problem for indoor flooring as well.
How they are made
The DIY Vertical Panels are made of a combination of all-natural coconut powder and coconut fiber, and food-safe HDPE, which is the same plastic used to make milk jugs. The combination makes the plastic flexible yet firm and reduces its impact on the environment. Each panel will weigh approximately 50-70 pounds when planted. The walls of the planting compartments are slanted to keep soil from falling out. Each compartment has slots that allow water to drain through from one cell to the next. The image below shows the structure of the panels but when you see them here in the nursery or buy them in our Web Shop they will be a toasted-coconut brown color.
How to plant the panels
The panels can be planted in two ways: plug-in planting and homegrown.
1) Plug-in planting
Each compartment will hold two succulents from 2-inch containers. One panel takes 90 plants to fill, and gives you speedy (but not instant) gratification. Allow the succulents to grow into the panel by maintaining it on a flat surface for a month (spring through fall) or longer (winter). In winter, take care to protect the garden panel from periods of freezing temperatures. Anytime the panel is being cultivated horizontally, protect from rain and hail.
After a month or so, you can mount the panel in its permanent, vertical position.
For a more economical and do-it-yourself approach, the panels can be filled with loose potting soil while they are lying flat. You can insert cuttings of succulents from your own collection in a pattern of your choosing. Be sure to keep the panels flat (and out of the rain!) for three to five months, in order to allow them to root in. You don’t want all your hard work to pour out when you hang it up! Most succulents grow more actively in the warmer part of the year.
Here at our nursery, we can offer pre-planted, established vertical succulent panels by special order only. Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate requests for custom designs, and we cannot ship. Orders for pre-planted panels require a wait of between one and three weeks if they are available; availability is limited to pre-planted panels on hand at our growers.
Hanging them up
The panels measure 20” x 20” and extend 2 ½” from the wall. They come with a metal mounting bracket that screws into the wall horizontally. The panel can be hung from this bracket and is easily removable for watering and maintenance. Alternately, each panel has a pair of slots allowing you to insert screws through the panel and directly onto the backing. This can be useful for a more permanent mounting. The panels can weigh anywhere from 50 to 70 pounds when fully planted and watered. It is important to mount the panels to structural beams capable of holding the considerable weight of water-saturated soil and plants.
Watering and maintaining the panels
The panels can be watered by hand or by a drip system. The top of each tray has a little channel that perfectly fits a 1/4″ drip irrigation line. The slotted cells allow the water to flow from cell to cell and drain out the bottom. At Flora Grubb Gardens we water by hand since we can so easily reach them. We use a low-pressure spray and slowly wet the garden for a few minutes. Then we wait five minutes and repeat. We’ll do it one more time if it’s been particularly warm for a couple of weeks. We don’t water it at all if there’s been rain within the previous week.
How to create an installation with the panels
Flora Grubb Gardens does not create custom installations using the DIY Vertical Panel. Our installation here at the nursery was done by a contractor who started with a panel of MDO (marine plywood) as backing. He then mounted it with French cleats (included with each vertical panel) – a common construction method to “float” the garden off the wall with an air space behind it for ventilation. The frame on our own vertical garden was created by mounting the wood frame (redwood, driftwood, etc.) directly to the back panel of plywood after the panels were mounted. Use your imagination!
Customizing & modifying
The panel can be cut with a proper saw blade, but should be cut before planting along the lines of the little compartments to make sure all the soil will stay contained. Panels can be configured to create displays of any size, though it is important to consider the feasibility of care and maintenance for such a non-traditional garden.