Vertical gardening can actually be more beneficial than you might realize. One of the largest benefits of vertical gardening, other than space saving, is the ability to better control pests and other damage. With the plants being off the ground, it makes it a little harder for many bugs and diseases to attack the plants. This does not prevent these problems; it just makes it easier to control it.
Keep reading to learn more about the best plants to start a vertical garden and tips on make the most of it.
Vine and Vine-like Plants
Plants with long vines make great vertical gardening plants. Even for shorter vine plants, you can usually get them to grow upward on a trellis or string nailed to a wall or board.
All of these are easy to grow; simply plant a seed in fertile soil, and watch it sprout. Trailing them along a trellis to hold them up actually helps them grow better and be healthier. To run the vines upward through the trellis, just take the stems and gently push them through gaps. Alternatively, you can tie the vines to the bars with string.
Sweet potatoes, cucumbers, most squash—including yellow crookneck, butternut, and spaghetti—and melons—including watermelon, cantaloupe, and pumpkin—grow on long vines that usually trail along the ground. The stems are usually too weak to hold themselves up, so typically the plant only grows a few inches tall before flopping over.
These plants are typically easy to handle and maneuver when young, but as they grow most of them will produce thorn-like appendages on the stems. On some of these plants, the fruits will need hammock-like nets placed around them as they grow or their weight will pull them off the vine long before they are ripe.
For vine plants with heavy fruit such as watermelon and pumpkin, you can either make the hammocks as mentioned above, or you can use a set of stairs (can be handmade easily with pallets). By growing these plants in stairs, each row will have a stair to lay the fruit so it is not putting weight on the vine.
Grapes, tomatoes, peppers, peas, and pole beans—including lima and runner—can actually grow fairly tall on their own. They will grow vine-like branches that can get fairly long, but that will fall to the ground if not held up.
These can usually be planted in pots and set in cages or tied to stakes or trellises. Some of these plants can be a little difficult to start from seed, but they are all within reach. For those who would prefer them, starter plants can usually be bought at nurseries and planted in pots.
For vine-like plants with lightweight fruit such as peas and beans, run a strong string up the side of a wall or fence. Nail or tie it in place for support, and wrap the running vines along the string as they grow.
Small plants or plants that have small root balls—such as leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, kale, strawberries, and potatoes—make great vertical gardening plants because they can be planted in pots and set on ledges or pallets. Just remember that edibles need maple moisture to produce so monitor your soil and water when necessary. One of the easiest ways to fail is to not supply enough moisture.
Image source: Bonnie Plants
Many of them can hang in pots over other plants, like strawberries, which saves space on the ground for other plants. Grow strawberries either in a hanging pot with stems hanging over the sides, or plant them in a barrel that has holes cut out up the sides, allowing the roots to be covered but allowing the stems to hang out.
Others can be grown in a bag, such as the potatoes. Potatoes grow best when the roots are close to top of the soil. To save space, use a grow bag or a clear(ish) barrel or bucket to stack the plants on top of each other. Make sure they are close to the sides so that the light hits them some.
Plants grown in containers will require more watering than plants grown in the ground. They drain easier and will also need more feedings. And while almost all of these types can be started from seed, starters are available if you prefer or are planting late in the year.
Also, these container plants can be brought in the house during colder months to keep the produce coming.
Will You Start a Vertical Garden?
Vertical gardening is not for everyone; it may be too much work for many. It is not recommended for those growing large quantities of specific crops, although it can be done. However, if you are short on space or just want to better manage your harvest, vertical gardening provides more pros than cons.