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The Iowa Gardener: Skip paintings, use plantings to decorate your walls
Wall planters are a clever way to work plants into your home decor. They add greenery and life to otherwise bland walls and take up zero floor space.
You can devote a whole section of wall to planting, if you want, or just plant a single lone wall planter. Wall planters can be used indoors or out and in just about any room in the house.
Any smallish plant can be planted in them, as long as it receives adequate sun, water, and drainage. Popular choices include succulents and sedums, ivies, air plants and herbs.
Here's how to make sure your wall planter looks goods for years to come.
Choose your planter and your plants
- Plants need drainage, but you may not want your wall planter to dribble down the wall onto your floor or furniture. The best wall planters are self-watering so that you just add a little bit of water now and again and they don't dribble. Or select a wall planter that you insert a smaller pot into, so that you can lift out the interior pot to water, allow it to drain, and then put it back into the exterior pot/planter.
- Planters with holes are important outside. Without holes heavy rain would fill the container and drown the plants. Just be sure to put these planters somewhere, like a fence or exterior wall, where rain or a quick hosing can wash off any muddy dribbles.
- There are thousands of wall planters to choose from, but you also can create your own from re-purposed pots or containers, rope, macrame, salvaged wood or metal, and just about anything else you can think of. Pinterest and Instagram are chock-full of great design ideas.
- The top consideration in choosing your plants is available light. Most houseplants need at least a few hours of filtered or direct sunlight a day. Only a few will survive in a dark corner. Read up on the light needs of any plant you are considering. Areas close to windows or glass doors are ideal. Or consider a hanging a wall planter right over a window.
Position the wall planter
- Wet soil can be heavy, so the larger the planter, the more securely you'll need to mount the planter on the wall. A small plastic planter that will hold an air plant is fine with just a nail. But something even slightly larger will need a screw. If it's going into drywall, be sure to use a plastic anchor. Lath and plaster, or something hanging from a ceiling, might require a Molly or toggle bolt. And anything beyond a couple of pounds should probably be screwed directly into solid wood, such as a stud.
- If you are going to hang more than one planter, it will be worth your time to trace the shape of the planter or planters on paper or cardboard, cut them out, and then tape them on the wall to get the arrangement just right. You'll potentially save a lot of holes in your wall.
Follow up with good care
- Water your wall planter appropriately for the plant. Most houseplants like consistently moist — not wet — soil but read up on the requirements for your particular plants. Wiggle your finger into the top half inch or so of the soil to see how dry or wet it is.
- In spring and summer, fertilize your plants lightly and regularly. Few plants needed feeding during the winter, when the shorter days create slower growth and less need for nutrients.
- Trim off browning or yellowing plant parts to keep your plant growing well and looking good.
- Don't be afraid to throw out plants if they’re not thriving. It’s hard for most people to keep a plant looking good indoors for more than a year (though many find just the right place for just the right plant and it thrives for decades. Good for them.) The point of a wall planter is for the plant to look healthy, so you might need to replant every now and again.
Veronica Lorson Fowler is co-publisher of the Iowa Gardener website at www.theiowagardener.com.