December 24, 2010


The Floraframe Recirc-36 shown with paint-grade metal coated with brown texture coat and planted with tropical varieties. The complete unit is now on display at Potter Green's showroom in the Cornerstone Gallery Collection, 23586 Arnold Drive (Hwy 121) Sonoma, CA, tel (707) 996-8888.

Buy Online

December 20, 2010

Plants On Walls Showroom

Plants On Walls Showroom is located at 1190 Bryant Street (at 10th, across from Costco, in SOMA), San Francisco, CA 94110. Contact us to schedule a visit and tour: or call (415) 658-5498.

Vertical Gardens ~ Living Walls

by Trevor Smith

The concept of a garden is rising to new heights, literally, as we look up rather than down for new gardening opportunities. Referred to by many different names — vertical gardens, living walls, or green walls — this relatively new form of gardening is taking root in many locations across the globe.

The concept was first demonstrated more than 15 years ago at a garden festival in France, by Patrick Blanc, a French landscape designer who had studied plant aerial growth habits in the tropics. Blanc’s hydroponically-grown plant mosaics soon appeared on prominent buildings world-wide.

Less than a decade later, living wall “systems” were being manufactured by many companies and have become readily available in the past few years. The initial interest in vertical gardens was focused on urban gardening, where traditional garden space is limited. But the beauty and versatility of vertical gardens is now drawing interest from gardeners beyond urban centers. In addition to the aesthetics, some of the benefits of vertical gardens include: lowering the temperature of buildings; air filtration; shielding building materials such as brick and concrete from heat extremes; reducing noise; creating wildlife habitat; providing edible gardening opportunities; water management when used in conjunction with storm-water and grey-water systems; and offering a more visually appealing living environment.

Originally, vertical wall systems were designed for hydroponically-grown plants, but the new systems are made up of modular planted panels that use combinations of growing medium. Individual growing cells are angled to ensure planting medium is stable while allowing maximum light exposure for plant material. Many systems provide 4” deep cells, while other systems offer deeper cells to accommodate wider plant material options. Plant options for vertical gardens include everything from grasses and groundcovers to shrubs and strawberries.

When and how plant material is irrigated is a primary concern in vertical wall installations. Systems are typically designed for efficient water use and the growing medium has been formulated to allow good drainage and aeration while retaining enough moisture to minimize irrigation cycle times. But careful attention must be paid to this area of vertical wall design, to avoid over-watering one section of the planting while under-watering another section.

Most vertical wall systems are irrigated with a drip line, but some are hand-watered. It is important to check to ensure that there is enough water going through the system to irrigate all panels and to carefully regulate the irrigation by setting up the daily watering on timers. Most frames have drip pans and catch basins for indoor applications, while outdoor applications are free-draining. Another consideration when designing vertical wall gardens is the full saturation weight of the installation.

I have used both the panel vertical wall systems as well as the “Woolly Pocket” systems. I find that most commercial soil mixes tend to be light and drain very quickly by design, but by adding biochar to the soil mix, you don’t need as much fertilizer. You will find that there is a lot of variation in the bagged soil mixes for these systems.

The modular panels can be interconnected and provide great flexibility of installation, allowing the designer to create an unlimited variety of sizes and shapes. These systems are designed for use in both interior and exterior applications. Panels are constructed of various materials, including new and recycled polypropylene as well as natural materials such as coconut fibers. Some systems are exclusively designed for mounting directly on a vertical surface while others are mounted on a stand-alone frame. Most can be easily removed and re-installed for maintenance.

There are many new residential applications for vertical walls. They can be used in place of potted plants. “Picture walls” are vertical walls used as art such as this example that I designed and installed at a private residence in Mission Hill, MA.

Some culinary enthusiasts are installing vertical gardens in their kitchens for year-round herb gardening. I have also created another innovative indoor design by constructing a wall-mounted panel to be used as a headboard.

Outdoors, vertical wall systems can be used ornamentally when mounted on walls or fences, or, free-standing installations can be planted with perennials or annuals and serve as portable urban or suburban screening on balconies, decks, or patios.

Vertical garden systems are designed to be used year after year, but special consideration will have to be made in colder climates where panels will need to be taken down or will have to be insulated to avoid winter damage. For example, in the Northeast where I practice, a wall of thyme and strawberries will either have to be brought indoors for winter or will need to be wrapped and allowed to go dormant. Plant material will have to be carefully selected in these cold climates, especially for large outdoor installations.

In addition to these ornamental installations, I envision very practical vertical gardening applications as well.

What if we take a vacant urban lot and fill it with free-standing panels, or create A-frames for use as a community garden? It doesn’t matter what the lot was before, with these systems you can control the soil and water. If the lot is sold, you can just brake down the panels and move them to another location.

I will be displaying some of my other vertical gardening designs at GreenFest Boston, Boston City Hall Plaza, August 19 – 21, 2010. GreenFest Boston is the region’s largest multicultural environmental festival.

A living wall is more like container gardening than a perennial bed, when it comes to managing water and nutrients. But it gets planted like a perennial bed and, like a perennial bed, the wall will be different in subsequent seasons. Just like any perennial bed, it is not a ‘set it and forget it’ landscape element. It is going to need to be tended to – things will die and need to be replaced. Success with living walls requires thought and maintenance. You are going to have to find the rhythm in your wall.

Trevor Smith is the owner of Land Escapes, a full service ecological landscaping company in the Boston area that specializes in Garden Design, Eco-Rain Recovery, Water Features, and Living Wall Installations. Trevor is also the Vice President of the Ecological Landscaping Association. You can reach Trevor through his website:

FROM: Vertical Gardens ~ Living Walls
AUGUST 15, 2010

How to Make a Living Wall -wikiHow

originated by:, Miss Bossy Britches, Maluniu, Flickety

A living wall is a vertical arrangement of plants and other organisms that naturally removes toxins and unhealthy contaminants from the air that we breathe. Living walls can be complete ecosystems or simpler configurations of plants that thrive in and help to decontaminate urban environments. Many living walls are indoors, but they can also be outdoors, such as on the exterior walls of buildings.

1 Decide if the living wall is to be set up indoors or out.. An indoor living wall will help to remove toxins from the air. Indoor air can be very high in pollutants and toxins, and given that most people spend the majority of their time indoors, this can impact on your health dramatically. Outdoor living walls can help to improve the exterior environment, but may be primarily used to reduce energy costs during the summer months. Also consider what an exterior living wall will look like during the winter. Indoor living walls can be relatively small and simple, while outdoor walls may be very large and cover a large area of a building. Also, indoor walls will be easy to water and take care of, while outdoor walls will complicated, and perhaps require special building permits and permission from members of the community. A simple exterior living wall may consist of a climbing plant that grows up a wall from the ground. However, it may take a decent amount of time for this type of living wall to grow and become established.

2 Choose the appropriate plants and other organisms. Living walls are primarily composed of plants that absorb and filter out airborne toxins. All plants are able to remove toxins, but some plants are better at filtering out such harmful substances than others. The plants that are especially good at removing toxins include: azalea, bamboo palm, chrysanthemum, spider plant, aloe vera, English ivy, elephant ear philodendron, golden pothos, and peace lily. Different plants can remove different types of toxins, so use a variety of plants. Choose plants that are well adapted to the environment that they will be living in. Account for light intensity (indoor, outdoor, shade, full sun), available water, humidity and temperature. Other organisms that can be used include soil microorganisms and aquatic animals. Soil microorganisms also help to remove toxins, so fertilize the soil with natural, microbe-rich fertilizers. Certain aquatic animals such as fish, amphibians, and mollusks that consume algae and such can help to make a living wall a complete, essentially self-sustaining ecosystem.

3 Build a structure for the living wall. The living wall will be primarily vertical, but can have a bottom area that serves to house additional plants and an aquatic area. A simple structure can consist of a series of shelves. An array of plant containers can also be attached to a wall or hung from the ceiling. A more complicated structure may consist of a vertical wall and a horizontal base. A reinforced layer of growing medium intact with living plants may be hung vertically on a wall that has been waterproofed with plastic sheeting. In this instance, the plants will grow out horizontally from the vertical growing medium. Be sure to align the structure so that every plant will obtain adequate light once situated, and that every plant can be watered properly and easily. This may involve staggering the shelves or containers in some manner, perhaps somewhat horizontally. The vertical wall should be permeable to some extent so that air can pass through it. At the very least, air should be able to freely pass of over or past the wall. Also keep in mind that the growing medium must be somewhat permeable to air (so should not too dense or completely watertight), as the roots of plants require some oxygen. Air should circulate through or over the wall so that the airborne toxins can be absorbed and removed. If making a large or complex wall, an irrigation system (such as a drip irrigation system) should be part of the wall. Walls that consist of a vertical layer of growing medium should be watered with an irrigation system, and water will most likely need to be supplied from the top so that it can trickle down to the bottom. It may be important to use many small plants, and perhaps just mosses, for the vertical wall. The base of the wall may contain larger plants and an aquatic area.

4 Set up an air re-circulating system. If the wall is indoors, the contaminated household air must be circulated over and ideally through the living wall. This will enable the wall to absorb the toxins from the air, as well as help to ensure that the plants remain healthy. If air is actively drawn through the wall, the living wall can be referred to as a biofilter. One box fan can be used to circulate air, or a more complicated system of fans and ducting can be used.

5 Arrange the lighting for the plants. Plants require light, so make sure that they receive enough artificial or natural light. If possible, place the living wall near a window or skylight that receives direct sunlight. Natural light can be supplemented with artificial light. Regular incandescent light bulbs will not provide adequate light for the plants, but essentially any fluorescent light will work. Regular compact fluorescent bulbs can be focused or directed towards the wall to provide high-quality artificial light. There are also other, more specialized grow lights that are used for plants. A timer can be used to turn artificial lighting on and off during the day and night. Be conscientious of the animals that may live in the wall, and provide them with shade and hiding places.

6 Situate the plants in the living wall. The plants may live in soil or a hydroponic medium. If the wall is to be a primarily self-sustaining ecosystem, it should be much easier to use soil as a planting medium. The wall may be partially hydroponic, but be aware that hydroponic chemical plant nutrients may destroy or disrupt the non-hydroponic component of the living wall.

7 Water and fertilize the plants. Different plants have particular water and fertilizer requirements. Over-watering and under-watering can result in unhealthy plants, and perhaps harmful mold growth. Use living, organic fertilizers to introduce beneficial microorganisms to the wall. If animals are living in the wall, be careful not to contaminate their immediate environment and water and food supply with potentially toxic fertilizer. Use fertilizer sparingly, as it can easily kill the plants and other organisms that make up the living wall.


A living wall is a vertical arrangement of plants and other organisms that naturally removes toxins and unhealthy contaminants from the air that we breathe. Living walls can be complete ecosystems or simpler configurations of plants that thrive in and help to decontaminate urban environments. Many living walls are indoors, but they can also be outdoors, such as on the exterior walls of buildings.

FROM: How to Make a Living Wall - wikiHow

December 19, 2010

PlantsOnWalls Showroom Planting

Here's a close look at the planting for our showroom's facade (from left to right). This full sun exposure gave us the opportunity to try out a lot of things. (2 months growth)

Plants were chosen based on full sun and windy conditions. We based the planting on succulents and sedums but also tried other things. We planted many cuttings from a friend's local garden including rosettes, ice-plant and aloe. More things we tried include euphorbia, procrosma, geraniums, grasses, rosemary, thyme, native california plants including sage, wild strawberry, and a redwood tree that's intended to bonsai.

A variety of starts, cuttings and rooted plants were added to each root wrapper to allow for natural domination to create the design. A couple weeks after the installation we moved some things around and added sedums to an area. Root wrappers make it really easy.

We used full-pocket panels (12 F-12s) with one pocket trimmed off the top to fit between the windows. The galvanized living wall kit frames the panels to finish the edges, float the panels from the building, and collect the dripping in the bottom tray. Soaker hoses are threaded through the top of the pockets every 4 rows down and connected in the top tray where there is room to access tubing. The 1/4" line is connected to a hose connector inside the building and operated by a digital hose timer and connected to a water filter and food injector. Short cycles fairly often keep the moisture absorbing felt at optimum moist/dry cycles.

Swing by the PlantsOnWalls Showroom at 10th and Bryant in San Francisco SOMA and watch it grow.

Global Green Fashion Show

Josiah Cain for Design Ecology used Plants On Walls vertical garden panels for the Global Green fashion show December 13th, 2010 at the W Hotel in San Francisco.

December 5, 2010

Fern Wall

The fern wall on my back patio gets more and more lush as it matures. It also begins to build a more natural character as the plants find their place. This wall goes largely ignored because it is on automatic watering systems. Ever since I began using a food injector, the plants really began to burst out. This wall has been growing for nearly two years now.

December 1, 2010

Instant Ivy Towers

For Executive Hotels in Vancouver, Canada, Joel Franske plants the vertical pocketed walls with ivy varieties. The install consists of 5 - Floraframe Living Wall Kits, 64" x 195 each. Using a total of 40 - 24-pocket panels; that's a total of 960 planted pockets.

November 17, 2010

Trish O'Sullivan Living Wall Design

Looking closer at Trish O-Sullivan's living wall design for the Nate Berkus Show set you can see how she made flowing areas that cross into each other. When the plants grow in and you stand back it makes it look like your looking through the window onto a terraced hillside. Contact Trish to help with your living wall designs. Trish O'Sullivan design group, eco floral design, New York City. (917) 328-4893

Executive Hotels & Resorts, Vancouver, Canada

Joel Franske, landscape designer, installs 5 FLORAFRAME Living Wall Systems (64" x 192") for Executive Hotels, Vancouver, Canada. Total 426 square feet.

November 3, 2010

Living Wall In 2 Weeks

The living wall at 10th and Bryant is already growing in after 2 weeks and gets a sign. Swing by and have a look.. 1190 Bryant Street in San Francisco.

Plant Food Injector

Living walls need to be fed because they have very little soil. Eventually the roots will reach into the felt for moisture and this is where we can offer them nuturents too.

We've devised a simple plant food injector that adds a bit of dissolved nutrient into the watering system with each ebb and flow of the automatic watering system. We've done this by clipping the hose from a standard pressure sprayer and added a simple 1/4" barbed splice connector. This is then connected to the water source hose. When the water system comes on its pressure adds water into the canister where it combines with the plant food concentrate. When the system turns off the pressure in the tank forces water into the hose where it waits for the next irrigation cycle. In time the water will become clear and you will know to add more plant food to the container. Be sure to use water solluable fertilizers so you don't clog your emitters.

Here's the pressure tank we like to use: Roundup 1gal Garden Sprayer (Amazon) ($20)

This is one we installed for Population Hair Salon in San Francisco. Stop by and have a look. They love to show off their lovely living wall. See: Population Hair Salon Living Wall Installation

November 2, 2010

Environmental Charter High School

La Loma Development installed a 21' x 4' living wall kit for Environmental Charter Highschool in Los Angeles. The school hosts numerous eco projects mingled amongst their classroom and learning areas. The students are to begin planting the vertical garden panels in the coming weeks.

November 1, 2010

Raphael Restaurant

Raphael Restaurant on Ventura Blvd in Studio City, Los Angeles doubled the size of it's street front living walls during their current expansion. There are now over 60 feet of living walls that face the street. The partitions are double sided to create a living wall experience for their outdoor eating areas. The felt panels absorb sounds from the busy street nearby. Raphael Restaurant, 11616 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA (818) 505-3337

October 20, 2010

James Snidle Gallery

A custom Living Wall was installed on the facade of James Snidle Gallery. The custom living wall measures 15'-6" x 3'-9" and uses the Full-pockets panels. A wide variety of drought-tolerant full-sun type plants were placed into the 126 pockets. Plant choices include succulents, grasses, woody shrubs, herbs, and california native plants. Come and visit the living wall to see how it grows in. James Snidle Gallery, 1190 Bryant (at 10th Street in SOMA district), San Francisco, CA 94103.

October 2, 2010

Shippan Show House

A Plants On Walls living wall was installed at the Shippan Show House in Stamford, Connecticut. Victoria Lyon, an Old Greenwich designer, and Robin Horton, an Old Greenwich resident who runs a creative consultation and design firm and writes the blog “Urban Gardens,” teamed up to design the greenhouse and two garden rooms off of the garage. One of the features includes a vertical growing wall by Plants On Walls.

September 30, 2010

West Coast Green Convergence

Plants On Walls shows a 20' x 7' tall tropical vertical garden display for the 2010 West Coast Green Convergence in the main lecture hall. Also revealed, the Plant Habit, a compact self-watering garden. The display will remain for the duration of the event from Sept 30 to Oct 2 in the Herbst Pavilion at Fort Mason, San Francisco's waterfront convention center.

September 23, 2010

3x3 Mini-Pocket Living Wall Kit

After 3 Months the succulents have bloomed and are beginning to complete fill the living wall.

Original Installation on June 18th:
Large Succulent Wall - Planted
Large Succulent Wall Installation