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Creative Plant Choices to Elevate Your Living Wall Design

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Introduction to Living Walls

Living walls, also known as green walls or vertical gardens, have become increasingly popular in recent years. Though the concept dates back centuries, modern living walls really emerged in the 1980s as a way to bring nature into urban environments.

A living wall is essentially a vertical garden, with plants grown on structures mounted on walls. The plants are rooted in a growing medium within the vertical support system and are automatically irrigated. This allows greenery to cover blank walls with minimal horizontal space required.

Living walls offer numerous aesthetic and ecological benefits, making them ideal for commercial spaces like offices, hotels, and retail stores. Visually, they add natural beauty, colour, and texture to otherwise bland walls. The lush greenery can help reduce stress, increase creativity, and generally enhance ambiance – perfect for places where people work, relax, or shop.

Ecologically, living walls improve air quality by absorbing pollutants. They can also reduce noise levels and provide insulation. As urban heat islands, commercial buildings with living walls stay cooler, saving energy. Living walls may even increase biodiversity by attracting birds, butterflies, and pollinators.

For these reasons, forward-thinking companies are incorporating living walls into their commercial spaces. The green designs align with eco-conscious branding while creating healthier, more inspiring environments. Though requiring some maintenance, living walls ultimately elevate and differentiate any office, hotel, or retail establishment.

Understanding the Basics of a Living Wall

A living wall, also known as a green wall or vertical garden, is essentially a vertical structure that is partially or completely covered with vegetation. The main components that make up a living wall system are:

Support Structure

This provides the framework that the plants grow on. It can be made of various materials like metal, plastic, wood etc. The structure needs to be sturdy enough to hold the weight of the plants, soil and water. Common support systems include panels, trellises, wires and frames.

Growing Medium

This is the material that the plant roots grow in. Typical growing mediums used in living walls include soil, coconut coir, rock wool, expanded clay pellets etc. The medium provides water, nutrients and anchorage for the plants. It needs to be lightweight and well-draining.


A diverse range of plants can be grown on living walls. Some commonly used species include succulents like sedum and sempervivum, tropical foliage like pothos and philodendron, herbs, ferns, mosses and more. Plant selection depends on factors like climate, sun exposure, water needs and aesthetic preferences.

Irrigation Systems

These systems deliver water and nutrients to the plants as needed. Drip irrigation with a network of tubes and drippers is commonly used. The system is controlled by a timer and solenoid valves. Proper irrigation is vital for the health and growth of living wall plants.

Drainage Systems

Excess water must be able to quickly drain away from the root zone. Living walls incorporate drainage layers, pipes and gutters. Good drainage prevents water-logging and root rot issues.

With these key components in place, living walls can thrive and enhance any indoor or outdoor space with natural beauty.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Plants

Selecting the right plants is critical for creating a living wall that thrives. The types of plants used will not only affect the overall aesthetic, but also influence the maintenance requirements and longevity of the wall. Here are some key reasons why plant choice matters:

Visual Appeal

Different plants have unique shapes, textures, and colours that contribute to the look and feel of the living wall. For example, delicate ferns can create a soft, naturalistic look while succulents and bromeliads provide bold shapes and colours. Mixing plant varieties carefully can result in a visually striking living wall that enhances any interior space.

Growth Habits

It’s important to select plants that will grow well in a vertical environment. Trailing or cascading plants are ideal choices as they naturally cover the wall as they grow. Upright or bushy plants may require more maintenance like pruning to keep them from outgrowing their space. Slow growing plants need less maintenance than fast growing ones.

Light and Water Needs

The location of the living wall and the direction it faces will determine how much sunlight it receives. South facing walls get more light while north facing ones remain shadier. Plants must be selected according to the light levels. Drought tolerant succulents fare better on sunny exposed walls while shade lovers like ferns suit shadier spots. This also affects irrigation requirements.

Weight and Depth

The size and spread of mature plants must be considered to ensure they don’t overload the living wall system. Larger plants may require deeper planting beds. The growing medium also adds weight which must be accounted for in the wall design.

In summary, carefully choosing plants adapted to the unique conditions of a living wall is key to creating one that grows successfully and looks spectacular.

Creative Plant Choices for Your Living Wall

When selecting plants for a living wall, the possibilities are endless! With some creative thinking, you can come up with unique plant combinations that will make your living wall truly stand out.

Succulents Offer Texture and Variety

Succulents like sedum, echeveria, and sempervivum are ideal for living walls because they are low maintenance and come in a huge range of shapes, sizes, and colours. Mixing different succulents creates visual interest through contrasting textures and forms. For example, round jelly bean plants can be combined with spiky agave varieties for an eye-catching look.

Tropical Plants Bring the Outdoors In

Tropical plants are a great way to bring the vibrancy of the outdoors inside. Bromeliads, anthuriums, and orchids can lend a rainforest feel with their large, lush leaves and brightly coloured flowers. Just be sure to provide the right humidity and care for these tropical beauties.

Edible Plants Offer Function and Beauty

Why not make your living wall productive too? Edible plants like strawberries, herbs, lettuce, and trailing vegetables can turn an interior wall into a vertical garden. As well as being ornamental, you can harvest fresh ingredients right from your living wall. Just be sure to use non-toxic wall materials.

Native Plants Support Local Biodiversity

Native plants are an eco-friendly choice that will attract pollinators and support biodiversity in your area. Depending on your location, options like maidenhair ferns, coral bells, and columbine could give your living wall a distinctly local flair. Consult a native plant nursery for the best species to include.

Annuals Provide Seasonal Interest

While most living walls feature perennials, don’t overlook fast-growing annuals. Their short life cycle means you can change up the look of your living wall for each season. For spring and summer, petunias, calibrachoa, and verbena add splashes of colour. In fall and winter, ornamental kale, violas, and pansies shine.

With some thoughtful plant selection, you can create a living wall that expresses your unique style and brings vitality to any commercial space. Let your imagination run wild!

Tailoring Plant Choices to Commercial Settings

When selecting plants for a living wall in a commercial space, it’s important to consider the unique needs and branding of that business. Offices, hotels, and retail stores all have different goals in installing a living wall. By choosing plants strategically, you can enhance the ambiance and align with the identity of the company.


For offices, plants can boost productivity and creativity. Choose species like pothos, philodendrons, or dracaena that are easy to maintain and can thrive under artificial lighting. Ferns and palms also filter indoor air pollutants and create a relaxing environment. Consider the office’s brand – a tech startup may prefer modern looking succulents or air plants, while a law firm may want classic ivy or ficus.


Living walls in hotel lobbies and rooms can provide a welcoming oasis for guests. Use subtropical plants like bromeliads, anthuriums, or orchids to evoke a resort atmosphere. More fragrant options like jasmine, gardenia, and lavender will also enhance the sensory experience. For low-light areas, go for shade-loving plants like calathea or cast-iron plants. Select varieties that reflect the style of the hotel.

Retail Stores

For retailers, living walls present great branding potential. A plant store may feature a wide variety of species to showcase their inventory. Cafes can use herbs and edibles like strawberries or lettuce to reinforce their farm-to-table ethos. Boutiques can select plants like flowering hoyas that complement their products and decor. Whatever the business, be creative and choose plants that reinforce their image.

By tailoring plant selections, living walls can become an integral part of a brand’s identity. Careful consideration of a commercial space’s needs and aesthetics ensures the living wall enhances the customer experience.

Expert Tips for Designing and Maintaining a Living Wall

Sharing practical tips and common pitfalls to avoid when designing a living wall

When designing a living wall, start by considering the location and lighting conditions. North or east-facing walls get less direct sunlight, so choose shade-loving plants like ferns and ivies. For western or southern exposures, go for sun-lovers like succulents and flowering plants. Ensure the wall structure can support the weight of the plants, soil, and water. Waterproof backing is a must to prevent leaks and moisture damage.

Avoid these common pitfalls when installing a living wall:

  • Not accounting for plant growth – leave enough space between plants
  • Using poor quality growing medium – go for a commercial grade mix
  • Undersizing the irrigation system – install more capacity than you think you’ll need
  • Not providing easy access for maintenance – include removable panels or access doors

Guidance on maintaining a healthy and attractive living wall, focusing on watering, feeding, and pruning

Proper maintenance is key to keeping a living wall looking lush and vibrant. Monitor soil moisture closely and water before plants show signs of drought stress. Depending on sunlight and temperature, watering may be needed daily or several times per week. Install an automatic irrigation system for convenience.

Apply a balanced liquid fertiliser monthly during the growing season to nourish plants. Slow release granular fertiliser incorporated into the soil mix will provide nutrients for 6-8 months. Prune back wayward growth and remove dead leaves/stems as needed to keep the wall neat and orderly.

Other living wall care tips:

  • Inspect for pests/diseases and treat any issues promptly
  • Remove and replace dead/declining plants to maintain full coverage
  • Trim plants like trailing succulents to encourage bushy growth
  • Wash leaves periodically with a gentle spray to remove dust

With proper plant selection, installation, and routine care your living wall will thrive for many years. The lush greenery will enhance your commercial space both visually and through improved air quality.

Elevate Your Space with a Living Wall

After reading through this post, it should be clear that living walls offer tremendous aesthetic and ecological benefits for commercial spaces. By incorporating a vertical garden into your office, hotel, or retail establishment, you can create a one-of-a-kind design element that brings nature indoors. If you’d prefer a fully done-for-you service, consider contacting living wall experts such as Aztec Plants. They are able to take you through the whole process and make sure your living wall stays healthily maintained for years to come. 

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