Lighting Guide for Living Walls

Florafelt Pro System living wall by Tim O’Shea and Rock and Rose San Francisco.

Plants Need Ample Light to Thrive

Natural light outdoors is the ideal source for growing plants. Daylight produces 10,000 foot candles of light. This is perfect for herbs, vegetables, grasses, succulents and many other plants that thrive in full sun or even part shade.

For indoors we select low light tropical plants that are native to the forest floor beneath the tree canopy receiving 250 foot candles and temperatures around 70 degrees. These conditions are typical to our interior spaces. What we consider ‘house plants’ are suitable to our optimal living conditions as well.

Low light tropical plants typically like bright indirect light however too much light or direct sun will burn their foliage. In places where there is not quite enough light supplemental lighting will be required.

Choose the Right Plants for your Installation

Select the right plants for your location. See Choosing Plants

Florafelt Pro System Vertical Garden by Brandon Pruett, Living Green Design. Emeryville Marketplace Living Wall.
Florafelt Pro System Vertical Garden by Brandon Pruett, Living Green Design.

Free Light Energy from the Sun

Ideal lighting would come from a skylight above or window across from the vertical garden. It costs nothing and is the most ecological solution. Diffused light near a large window becomes ideal conditions for low light tropical plants.

It may be that a beam of light passes over the vertical garden for a couple of hours each day.

Hydrofarm Garden Light Meter.

Know your Light

To determine light levels get a light meter. Light levels are measured in Foot Candles. Low light tropical plants will survive with 150 – 250 foot candles of lighting and will need 8-10 hours each day.

Kelvin color temperature.

Kelvin Color

Choosing the color mostly affects how we will view the plants. Warmer colors recreate summer light that encourages blooming. Bluer light will help plants develop their foliage. Vertical gardens are typically for enjoying their beauty therefore 4000K is a balanced warm daylight that looks best with plants. 

Typical light absorption by plants.

Evolved to Love the Sun

Plants have evolved in nature to optimize their photosynthesis at the ends of the spectrum.

In plants, Ultraviolet (UV) blue light are required for green vegetative growth while red wavelengths aid in their flowering and fruiting phases.

For vertical gardens it is desirable to provide plants with a wide spectrum of light so we can also enjoy the visible beauty of plants.

Learn More about Plant Light Absorbtion

Florafelt LED Light Kit 8-foot 12 lights with bracket

LED Lighting

Recent advancements in technology now offer low cost and highly efficient ways to provide light for living walls.

Spot/Flood type bulbs are best to focus the usable lumens to the living wall. These LED bulbs come in a 36 degree spot which is ideal. Consider an even narrower spot for further distances and a wide flood when they are very close. Combine both wide and spots on the same track to better reach the bottom of a wall with spot fixtures and use wide floods that are directed near the top of the wall.

Locate lighting above the living wall about 3 feet back then focus the beams onto your plants.

High Power LED Spotlight Bulb

High Power LED Bulbs

These incredible super bright LEDs produce 4000 Lumens using 42 Watts. Within a 36 degree flood and they are perfect for concentrating light energy to the wall. They can achieve this because have tiny cooling fans built in.

There’s a cooling fan in the bulb. It makes a subtle fan sound. It’s good that it blows warm dry air at your plant wall. This helps to improve circulation and to help dry out the wall between waterings which is ideal for plants.

This also improves the wall’s ability to clean the air. VOC’s are absorbed by the microbiology at the plants roots. The open felt design let’s the air into this biologically active area. Air movement from the light’s fans help to increase its air cleaning efficiency.

Florafelt Vertical Garden by Hande Ersoy. Untitled by Flaunt Boutique, Toronto.
Florafelt Vertical Garden by Hande Ersoy. Untitled by Flaunt Boutique, Toronto.

How Many Bulbs Should I Use?

Size of Wall (in square feet) X Desired Foot Candles = Total Lumens

Total Lumens / Lumens Per Bulb = Number of Bulbs

400 foot candles is a good place to start. This will be good for most low light houseplants.

For Example: A wall that’s 10 feet wide by 8 feet tall for which you want 400 foot candles. Here are the calcs.

80 sf x 400 foot candles = 32,000 lumens / 3000 lumens per bulb = 10 bulbs.

Florafelt Pocket Panel Custom Living Wall System with LED Lighting Kit.
Florafelt Pocket Panel Custom Living Wall System with LED Lighting Kit.

Simple Track Light Systems

Standard track systems are best because they allow you to change your lighting arrangement as the plants grow in.

We can help you design a system that’s ideal for your growing conditions. We also offer Lighting Kits to make it easy.

We can help with your project.
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Woods 50015 Outdoor Digital Timer
Woods 50015 Outdoor Digital Timer

Automatic Daily Timer

The Woods Digital Timer is a simple and reliable way to control your lights. For most situations, your plants should get 10 hours of light per day. Then a night of rest.

Recirc Interior Lighting Diagram

Two high-power LED spot lights are adequate for a Florafelt Recirc Wall Unit. The track light is mounted to the ceiling above the unit 36 inches away from the unit. The lights are directed downward to project the light toward the bottom. Set the timer to operate 8-10 hours a day.

Questions? We can help with your project.