Q&A – Learn About Living Walls

What is a living wall?

A vertical garden is a method to grow plants on walls. Found in nature and ancient civilizations, living walls have been thriving for centuries on walls all over the world.

Technical definition: Vertically oriented high-density plantings suspended in a synthetic medium containing microbiology in soil to build dense ecosystems that support vegetative life.

How do living walls work?

Nutrient water flows over a porous vertical surface to feed the roots which keeps the plants alive.

What kind of plants can be grown in a living wall?

Most plants can be grown where it receives its proper light, water and nutrient requirements.

What does a living wall cost?

The Florafelt Pockets Living Wall System costs $40 a square foot. Plants and installation can range anywhere from $40 to $80 per square foot depending on the type of plants and how grown-in it is. Other factors might include access if the living wall is very tall. If a living wall is very simple and started by seeds and cuttings, it can be very affordable.

How do you water a living wall?

Water is supplied at the top row of pockets which wicks down through the felt and can be supplied by a drip irrigation line.

How often do I water a living wall?

Irrigation frequency depends on type of plants and their water needs. Example: ferns (2 – 4 times/day) need lots more water than succulents (1 – 2 times/week). 2 – 15 min. duration works for most situations. This can vary a lot depending on the detail of interior or exterior location as well. Learn more here.

Can you grow living walls indoors?

Living walls can be grown indoors in waterproof prepared areas. Water collection trays at the base are needed to drain away excess water. Or a recirculating tank with a pump and timer can be set up.

Do plants filter the air?

Studies at NASA have shown how plants filter toxins from the air. Read more here.

Can a living wall be used to display flowers?

Flowering plants such as orchids work great for display purposes. Cut flowers placed in the pockets can receive moisture at the base of each pocket.

You can grow plants which produce flowers in exterior living walls which have adequate light.

How long will a living wall last?

Florafelt Living Walls are durable and can be used for many years if properly cared for. They can also be cleaned and reused for seasonal plantings. The recycled PET plastic felt is non-reactive and can last beyond our lifetimes.

Can a living wall survive a hurricane?

Florafelt Living Walls can be easily removed with plants in their pockets and stored during storm conditions. If securely attached the panels can survive hurricane force winds. Some well-rooted plants may even be able to hang on. If the root ball is intact, the foliage may return.

Will birds tear a living wall apart?

Generally this has not been an issue however we do not recommend using them for parrot cages. Large outdoor walls planted with native species may attract native bird wildlife that will feed on the seeding plants seasonally. Living walls can also provide a sanctuary for birds in urban areas.

What types of living wall systems are available?

Plants On Walls offers Florafelt Pocket Panel Systems for simple indoor and outdoor use and DIY wall installations. We also offer a more robust Florafelt Pro System. Our Florafelt Recirc Systems are self-contained recirculating units that have all irrigation mechanics in a portable water proof unit.

Do living walls create humidity?

Living Walls can provide a desirable amount of humidity to your environment, especially near the plants themselves. Excessive humidity has not been an issue.

Do living walls get moldy?

Florafelt Living Walls wick water through the back surfaces and become dry between watering cycles which keeps mold from growing.

How far will the plants project out from a living wall?

On average allow 12 inches. Sedums or Grasses will protrude about 6″ where as a Japanese maple might reach out 3 feet or more. It’s best to keep larger plants trimmed back so they don’t get too big. Tropicals and succulents are generally compact and easy to maintain.

Can you grow food on living walls?

Vegetables and herbs can be grown in Florafelt Living Walls with proper light, nutrients, and water.

Can I grow vegetables in a living wall?

Yes. Vegetables and herbs work great. Choose the patio variety tomatoes and make sure they all have full sun. Lettuces also are great because they are off the ground and away from pests and rodents. Just be sure to use a light fertilizer each time you water.

How much should I fertilize a living wall?

Adding plant food is a great way to make plants look their best. But adding too much food will cause plants to produce extra sugars and attract insects. As a rule of thumb, use very small amounts of fertilizer. When you added new plants, they usually come with time release fertilizer pellets in their soil. So this will feed the plants for up to 6 months or so. It is best to wait to feed until the plants begin to look a little pale, or hungry.

How can I fertilize my living wall?

Light fertilizing is preferred for living walls. We recommend the use of an organic based fertilizer such as Maxsea to minimize salt buildup and promote active microbiology within the soil and felt. Fertilizer can be added manually by adding plant food spikes at the top of the wall beneath the drippers or by use of a food injector in your irrigation system.

What is the difference between the Florafelt System and how Patric Blanc installs living walls? 

Patric Blanc uses the ‘slit and staple’ method and specs PVC board or lightweight expanded poly board which is expensive. With the Patric Blanc’s system it uses a lot less soil, it’s more difficult change plants around, and it drips water off the front. Our Florafelt pleated pocket method solves many of these issues and is so easy. You can install a fully planted living wall in a day without any noisy staplers.

How much light does a living wall need?

Plants are rated from shade to full-sun. Houseplants are generally grown in low-light indoor situations whereas succulents mostly prefer part sun. All plants need adequate light to thrive however some plants will burn in direct sunlight. Choosing the right plants is critical for success in any garden. Ask your local greenhouse, garden center, or landscaper for advice on the type of plants that will be best for your situation.

Where can I get plants for my living wall?

You can find great plants at your local garden center or plant nursery as well as good advice from their staff. You can also Root-Wrap your own plants.

How do you attach a living wall?

Florafelt Pocket Living Walls can be hung from the top tabs with 2 hooks or nails. They can be more permanently attached with screws and washers behind the felt edges.

Can you grow herbs in a living wall?

Yes. Herbs grow great in Florafelt Living Walls as long as they receive they receive their proper light and water requirements. Most herbs like full sun.

Can living walls take heavy rains?

The felt in Florafelt Living Walls can take heavy rain because water is not held by the fabric and quickly wicks out of the felt. The vertical orientation in combination with the leaves causes most of the rain to not be taken up by the wall. Therefore be sure to keep the irrigation system running when it rains.

Do I need to hire an architect to design a living wall?

Architects are good for large scale projects where waterproofing and drainage requirements are needed for building permits. Smaller home projects can be easily installed by anyone. When panels are hung on hooks they are not considered permanent fixtures which can avoid legal permitting. The waterproof Recirc systems can easily be placed in your home or office.

How do to find a living wall installer?

Many landscape designers are now becoming living wall installers. Contact us and we will check our customer database for a possible installer near you. Our system is so easy to adopt you can also connect us with your landscaper contacts and we can help them learn how.

Can living walls be used with aquatic life in ponds or aquariums?

Our plastics are non-reactive but may have residue from the manufacturing process. Note there are galvanized staples that hold it together. We recommend thoroughly washing and rinsing the panels prior to use in aquariums, then test it in a side tank prior to use with your main collection.

Can Florafelt be used for Aquaponics?

Nutrient water from a pond or aquarium is circulated through the inert PET plastic felt materials where nutrients from fish Nutrient water from a pond or aquarium is circulated through the inert PET plastic felt materials where nutrients from fish excrement are filtered and used by plant material. This nutrient laden water can deliver nitrogen to feed the plants. The fish themselves create adequate amounts of natural fertilizer. Symbiotically, the fish feed the wall while the wall cleans and oxygenates the water. It is recommended to allow the living wall to become established before carefully adding aquatic life to the system. Learn more about how this works on our Vertical Vegetable Aquaponics Page.

How much does the living wall weigh?

Unplanted, the Florafelt Pocket Living Walls weigh 1.5 pounds per square foot. Planted and wet they weigh about 5 pounds per square foot.

Can I plant a living wall on curved columns?

Yes. Florafelt Living Walls come in many sizes that can be mounted to various shapes. Contact us about your project. We can also create custom Flex Pocket systems to suit your project.

What if a plant dies in my living wall?

Florafelt Living Walls are designed for easy removal and replacement of existing plants. Simply remove the root-wrapped plant and replace with fresh plant material.

Can you install Florafelt Living Walls on a wood fence?

Yes, it’s easy to install a living wall kit on a wood fence. The spacers can be easily screwed to the fence and provide an air gap where no roots will live. This ultimately protects the fence even better than open exposure.

What are Florafelt Living Walls made of?

Florafelt is made from recycled PET plastics that are indestructible and tough.

Florafelt Horticulture Grow Fabric Specifications
High tensile strength and resiliency – Superior thermal insulation and acoustical properties (0.66 noise reduction coefficient) – Will not break down or bottom out – Hypo-allergenic – Moth-proof; mildew and odor-resistant – Contains No Irritants Or Carcinogens. – Lightweight and formable. – Passes FMVSS 302.

Backing Board Specifications
The backing board is a sturdy plastic sheeting extruded from polyethylene (HDPE). Its fluted ribs support both surfaces, making it lightweight, tough and abuse resistant. Additionally, it is both chemical resistant, water resistant, and recyclable.

Can living walls tolerate freezing weather?

Florafelt Pocket Panels can be used seasonally and stored for winter or you can create a winter cover that includes lights to keep the temperature high enough to keep the plants safe from frost. The Florafelt Living Walls themselves are made from PET plastics that can withstand below freezing temperatures.

Perennials and conifers will be your best performers in cold weather. In winter plants will go dormant or may freeze so there may be replacements in spring.

Some great examples of plants that can survive freezing: Conifers, heuchera, japanese feather grass, ivy, various year round perennials, hellebores. There can be some dieback, that is expected.

There are solutions that add warmth to the living wall. One method includes the use of halogen up-lighting at the base of the wall to provide extra warmth during the coldest periods. Another option is to run radiant heat tubing behind the wall to add a bit of warmth during freezing temperatures. The downside is the additional energy required.

A more community inclusive and ecological option is to get the on-site gardening team or outside creative garden service to plant flowering annuals each spring to create a colorful display for most of the year. In winter season the pockets can be filled or covered up with holiday themed seasonal decorations. This is a great opportunity for local creative talent to express artful designs throughout the year. Florafelt Pockets can allow for many interpretations.

Will the hot sun harm the Florafelt Grow Fabric?

The synthetic materials on Florafelt Living Walls are made from polyethylene which can withstand temperatures up to 220 degrees fahrenheit and are UV resistant. Plants leaves will further protect the materials from sun exposure.

Can living walls be moved?

Florafelt Pocket Panel Living Walls are great for mobility because they are a lightweight and rigid plastic panel. A 24-pocket (32″wide x 48″high) full sized planted panel can weigh up to 50 lbs (5lbs/sf) which is easily transportable.

Can you move or rearrange plants in living walls?

Yes. In Florafelt Living Walls, plants can easily be rearranged with our Root Wrapping System. If plants have been growing for years in the panels, roots may be well established and difficult to remove.

Are Florafelt Living Walls ok to use around kids and pets?

Florafelt Living Walls can be mounted above the reach of children and pets. Choose safe type plants only. The panels themselves are non-toxic but not recommended where they can be exposed to damage by children or pets.

Where can I get planting ideas for living walls?

Have a look at our Guides, Blog, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram pages for planting ideas.

If you have other questions, we’d love to hear from you.