Here are some of the most commonly asked questions and living wall solutions.
How often should I water?
Water timing varies drastically with each installation. Testing and careful observation is required throughout the life of the wall to adjust to varying conditions and plant types. Water schedules can be anywhere from one hour 4 times a day to 3 hours once a week.
Irrigation Schedule Variables
- Type of plants
- Amount of light
- Interior or Exterior
- Dryness of the air
Interior Plant Walls
Interior plant walls, which are usually planted with low light tropicals, require less frequent watering. Typically start with 30 minutes once or twice daily then adjust accordingly. Start with 1 watering cycle a day for 30 minutes. Keep a close watch and check the soil with your finger. If it seems too wet or soggy, reduce watering to every other day for 30 minutes or even 2 times a week for 30 minutes.
If you see the tips of the leaves turning yellow or brown it means there is probably too wet. If you notice this condition stop watering and let the plants dry out immediately. Use of a fan can help circulate air and remove critical plants to help them dry out faster. Sometimes plants can not recover from overwatering and may need replacement.
If the leaves are droopy and wilting, and soil feels dry then your plants not getting enough water. Increase water frequency and duration. Hand water dry areas with a sprayer to revive the dry areas.
The amount of light and dryness of the room can also affect your watering schedule. Heaters can dry the air during winter season similar to air conditioners in the summer. During these conditions you will need to increate watering frequency and duration.
For dry area interior walls set your timer to water 2 times a day for 30 minutes or more. Watch it closely in the following weeks and adjust as needed.
Water frequently to keep the flow going
To keep water flowing it is best to use more frequent watering cycles with shorter run times. For example, 4 times per day with a 5 minute duration.
Why are some plants dry and others getting water?
A single irrigation line at the top is typically required. You will notice each bottom fold of each pocket will become moist. Therefore it is required that you wrap each plant long and flat so it will touch the very bottom of each pocket. Also if you use a lot of peat with your plantings the soil will become hydrophobic meaning it will repel water when it becomes dry.
To prevent plant dry-outs:
- Make sure the wrapped plant is touching the bottom fold of each pocket.
- Use a soil mix that will easily absorb water.
- Hand water dry plants daily with a hose and sprayer until the soil mixture has decayed enough to conduct moisture.
- Run the irrigation more frequently and for longer periods at the beginning to get the moisture flowing properly throughout the system.
Do I need to change the soil?
We do not recommend to change soil. The system will slowly revert to a hydroponic condition. However if you use organic fertilizers you can maintain active soil biology.
What if water is dripping off the front?
Florafelt’s pleated design will direct water back into the system almost always. However if a piece of felt becomes untucked between the panels water may find it’s way out. The felt wicks water so moisture will always find the lowest point so any piece sticking out will drip toward the front.
To fix the problem. Run the irrigation system and observe where dripping happens. Locate the source and tuck in any felt pieces sticking out. Usually this is the corners of the felt panel above. Also be sure the bottom flap of the upper panel is tucked in and behind the top flap of the panel below.
Sometimes a leaf will grow in such a way that it will direct the water outward or a root will grow outward. Simply remove any suspect leaves or roots.
There are other rare cases where a dry panel may drip outward with its initial contact with moisture. In this case the felt has become hydrophobic. To fix this you can usually stroke the felt to re-moisten the area or if very persistent remove and replace the wrapped plant to reorient the moisture. Also consider reducing the flow of your irrigation or spray a very very slight solution of detergent to re-activate the wicking properties of the felt in that area.
What is the best way to plant my vertical garden?
For a fully filled planting use 6 inch potted materials with some soil removed. It’s much easier however to use two 4 inch potted plants per pocket. These will quickly grow in and the smaller plant materials are more suited to adapt. Simply lay the 4 inch materials in the root wrap and fold per our method.
How can I fertilize my vertical garden?
Adding liquid fertilizer by hand is a great way to fertilize. You can also use plant food spikes that slowly dissolve just beneath the drip emitters at the top. If you use two drip emitters per pocket you can place the plant food spikes in the void at each side of the top planted pocket. To better understand drip irrigation see: Drip Irrigation for Large Installations
What is the best type of fertilizer to use?
Organic fertilizers keep microbiology alive and prevent chemical fertilizer salts buildup that is bad for plants. Our favorite organic fertilizer is Maxsea brand which is a urea based fertilizer with seaweed as a micronutrient component. We sell this online here: Maxsea Fertilizer 16:16:16
Why are there white deposits on the surface?
White deposits are caused by lime or other minerals in your water. This will also cause the pH to become very high. Plants will not be able to take up nutrients in these conditions. To resolve this you should consider using a reverse osmosis carbon based filter to clarify your water source. To remove existing deposits use distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle to dissolve the white deposits. The acidic vinegar will also lower the pH in your system.
Sometimes this can be confused with Fungus growing on the pockets (below)
What can I do to prevent fungus?
Moisture and low light conditions along with natural decay of plant materials in the pockets make the perfect conditions for fungus and/or molds to grow on the surface of the felt.
To stop fungus from growing on the felt use a very light bleach solution in a spray bottle. Add a about tablespoon of bleach to a quart of water. Then spray the affected areas. The bleach will quickly dissipate so as not to harm the plants. And the bleach will not affect the color of the felt.
Bleaching of the Florafelt pockets and wraps is also a good way to clear a used panel when you want to start fresh.
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