What's new
TerraForums Venus Flytrap, Nepenthes, Drosera and more talk

Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

A Vertical Garden For Your Desk!

How many of you are already familiar with the concept of vertical gardens? Here's a vertical garden that I took a photo of at Flora Grubb nursery in San Francisco...

Flora Grubb Vertical Garden Succulents by epiphyte78, on Flickr

Flora Grubb is a really neat nursery because it's by far the most vertically oriented nursery that I know of.

A significant portion of the growing popularity of vertical gardens stems from the spectacular vertical gardens of Patrick Blanc. He's created vertical gardens all over the world and written a book on the subject...The Vertical Garden: From Nature to the City. If you look on his website under "Inspiration" you'll see a link to a page that he has dedicated to photos of epiphytes in nature.

A couple decades before Patrick Blanc started creating vertical gardens...Bill Paylen created an amazing vertical garden here in Southern California. Unlike Blanc though, trees, rather than walls, were Paylen's canvas. You can read about his garden here...Growing Orchids Outdoors in Southern California.

Even though I lived relatively close to Bill Paylen, I had no idea he even existed until many years later. So as a high school kid I killed countless Cattleyas while struggling to reinvent the wheel. But I finally managed to learn the basics. Here's a recent photo of my tree...

Cattleya Portia coerulea by epiphyte78, on Flickr

Whether a garden is on a tree...or a wall...I love it! Vertical gardens allow so much more value and interest to be added to a space! Needless to say I was really excited when I recently learned about a project that can go a long way to helping people think epiphytically.

Up in Washington a fellow named Everett Carney (Alive and Modern) created a living wall that can easily fit on a desk. There's no pump...water works its way up the wall via wicking (capillary action). Initially I thought that plants could be attached to both sides of the wall...but it turns out that they can only be planted on one side. Perhaps a two sided model will be available in the future if there's sufficient demand.

Living Wall Final by AliveAndModern, on Flickr

As many of you already know...part of the challenge of growing plants mounted indoors is that you have to worry about water dripping everywhere. Everett's living wall provides an effective solution to this problem. Plus, it's really easy to attach plants to the wall...

Which carnivorous plants would you try first on this wall? The epiphytic ones?

I haven't yet had a chance to test the wall out for myself...but the concept is solid and definitely worth supporting. The world would certainly be a much better place if more walls and trees had a wide range of plants growing on them!

If you'd like this project to succeed...then here are some ways that you can help...

To be clear, I am not affiliated with this project in any formal/official way. I'm helping to promote it because I love the idea of making vertical gardens really simple, accessible and low maintenance. As it stands, the desktop living wall isn't cheap ($135 with shipping included)...but if there's sufficient demand...the cost should come down over time.

I'll share a link to this thread with Everett so please feel free to reply with any questions or suggestions. If you have any photos of vertical gardens I'd certainly love to see them!

Here are some links that might be of some interest...

Are there any other "outside the pot" pages that you find inspiring?
This concept is not new there are a few other methods of doing the same thing.

Epiweb or similar has been used for over 10 years to create walls of green. Google "epiweb" and head to images.

They have been using clay tubes for well over 10 years for the same thing. They can range from really cheap (tube + jar) to really expensive. Google "lepanthes clay tube" and you can probably find more, since Lepanthes growers seem to be the "author" of this method.


For anyone interested, it looks like the materials used in the Living Wall are http://www.firstrays.com/aquamat.htm or something similar.

Solid tree fern pieces wick water well when given the proper setup. Short of a few of us growing Utricularia on tree fern slabs standing in water I don't know of any real documentation out there. Soak a piece of dense tree fern and hang it on a piece of wet glass in a humid tank and it will grow moss forever.....
Awesome! Hey man, I really love your epiphyte tree and the small bonsai style jade plant with all the mini orchids on it! I pour over your flickr every few weeks! You've inspired me to do the same with a jade tree. I'll post my progress here soon!

I've had a good amount of experience with epiweb/hygrolon. Sorry if you already know all of this, this is more for folks who don't know what this stuff is: Hygrolon is the actual wicking material thats on the front of the epiweb (black fabric looking stuff). You can buy pieces of epi web with attached hygrolon like that, or you can buy pieces of epiweb alone, and rolls of hygrolon by itself.

I grow some orchids, as well as a few different species of epiphytic utricularia on the epiweb/hygrolon combo, and I've been more than satisfied with the results. I'm going to make a few (hopefully really sweet) hanging "logs" and a desk setup similar to the one you just posted soon. I think this is a cool thing to support!

I spend even more time looking back through Mikaels flickr than I do to your's, Epiphyte! Cheers!

For those of you that missed the link above, this is REALLY worth checking out. It pretty much single handedly got me into orchids!


*Edit* That "Path of least resistance" stuff is phenomenal!! Thanks a bunch for posting the links.

Sorry for such a long and jumbled post, but I had a question to ask you about your epiphyte trees. I too am a SoCal'er (Santa Barbara) and I've been wondering if you need to spray your plants regularly. I'd think being mounted, that they'd dry out pretty fast, especially in your LA climate. Do you just acclimate them to that super low humidity? I remember reading somewhere that your main goal was to test different plants and see which ones were the most drought tolerant. I think thats pretty neat. I'm trying out some similar "tests" here, although Santa Barbara is hardly as arid as LA. Thanks!
Last edited:
Hygrolon was discussed over here a while back & also a bit in the utric sticky. I'm currently growing U. jamesoniana & campbelliana on treefern slabs, more campby on cork covered with moss and james on a Hygrolon covered slab of foam pipe insulation. In addition I just spiked slabs of treefern & Hygrolon/Ecoweb with pieces of campby this weekend. The U. jamesoniana has been on the Hygrolon slab the longest & has been growing like a weed. Even though the stuff wicks very well, it has been concentrating its growth in the lower section where it stays sopping wet.

I definitely love the idea of vertical gardens & growing epiphytes. I'd really like to create some fake epiphyte-covered trees in a greenhouse garden at some point. I've been studying fake trees in zoo exhibits but haven't been too pleased with what I've found so far. Most of the designs I've seen start falling apart after a few years. If anyone comes across websites for creating fake trees - please share. :hail:
I just looked into the above mentioned project a bit more. It's definitely a really cool thing. I like the floating box aquarium idea. The "living wall" is also really neat, but I think the price point is WAY too high.

I understand that they're hand made, and therefore need to pull in more money per piece to turn a profit, but I made one myself ("living wall" and not the aquarium) that's almost identical to the one shown in the video, for under $20. The XL piece of hygrolon/epiweb slab costs about $9.00 and the wood pieces wouldn't be much more.

Again, I think it's a really cool idea, and I hope it sells, but I know personally (and I'd assume this applies to most people on this forum, although I don't want to speak for anyone else), I'd much sooner make one for myself, than pay $135 for one off the bat. I think that a design like this (at least at the aforementioned price point), would cater mainly to people who are already into these plants, but we're generally the kind of people that (cost aside even) would rather build something ourselves than pay for one pre-assembled. Anyone who's not into epiphytes and cool tropical plants, would probably be just as happy paying $20 for one of those plastic bubbly "Zen" fountains at home depot and buying a small houseplant for their desk. I think having one of these on my desk is freaking awesome, but I can hear "normal" people saying "I can think of a bunch of things I'd rather put on my desk for $135."..

I think it just boils down to the fact that the people who would be willing to pay for this kind of thing, would be put off by the high price, and the people whom it actually interests would rather build one themselves, especially knowing how much it costs to make one.

So I really wish Everett luck with this kickstarter, and I'd be totally stoked to see this kind of thing more often, but I think he would need to find a way to produce them faster/easier so he could ask for a lower starting price.




Also, in response to Ron^^: Nice! Yeah I'm conducting an experiment to see how a few utrics grow on hygrolon/epiweb vs. tree fern in the same conditions. I've had a lot of growth on both (mainly U. asplundii) but so far neither in the control batch have attached themselves to the media via stolon. I did plant a U. asplundii plug on some epiweb/hygrolon in some sphagnum moss on top, and the thing has just exploded with growth over the past few months. It's got a ton of leaves and tubers and will hopefully flower at some point in the near future. It's growing outdoors in a mason jar that has no top, so it's exposed to somewhat lower humidity than some of my other utrics, although it's growing VERY prolifically. I have a bunch of treefern that I don't know what to do with, so I'm going to conduct some more experiments like this in the near future. Probably with U. humboldtii and a few others.
Last edited:
Guess what I found this morning doing my usual forums check. http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/plants-supplies-classifieds/142426-v-scapes-small-living-wall.html

Even at $75 + shipping is still WAY overprice IMO. What am I missing here that makes this worth over $50? Replace the glass tray with a nice plastic one and your down to under $35. Do plants come with it?

Isn't this just a wicking wall sitting in a water tray?

If he can get the price point under $100 fully planted and grown in with nice looking lower humidity plants he might do pretty well at the shows.

Maybe I've gotten cheap in my old age. Maybe retirement does that.

I've went to Starbucks before so maybe this is more of that...Anyway enough with the negative, back to what I think the point of the thread is.

I'd really like to create some fake epiphyte-covered trees in a greenhouse garden at some point. I've been studying fake trees in zoo exhibits but haven't been too pleased with what I've found so far. Most of the designs I've seen start falling apart after a few years. If anyone comes across websites for creating fake trees - please share.

Here is somewhere that makes fake trees http://www.universalrocks.com/aquarium-reptile-pet/tree/, I know they had a few full sized trees in there show room last time I visited but I was just there to pick up a background so I didn't pay much attention. If I'm ever back over there I'll take a few photo's, my wife should be over there around easter so I'll try and remind her.

http://www.universalrocks.com/aquarium-reptile-pet/backgrounds/ might be of interest to TF visitors.

For those interested the background I picked up. The tank is still a work in progress I can't get the ferts right :censor:.

DSC_0788 by randallsimpson, on Flickr

DSC_0789 by randallsimpson, on Flickr
What a coincidence; it was only a couple of days ago I was wondering to myself if anyone still had plants of C. Portia coerulea! You answered my question!
Nice work, love the tree garden :)
Atlanta Botanical Garden had a great exhibit this year doing almost exactly what you just proposed. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-PSzlj65IjZE/UkMI5s1jo9I/AAAAAAAAGBs/eK8cPnmJ-fQ/s640/DSC_0025.jpg or http://atlantabotanicalgarden.org/events-classes/events/imaginary-worlds It was fantastic and provided ~5 minutes of distraction from my beeline to the greenhouses :). All the plants were transplanted as small plugs into a network of artisan-welded steel framing which supported a water-wicking fabric, media, and a drip irrigation network.
Everett seems to be stuck in moderation limbo so he asked me to post this for him...

Hi everyone,
I noticed most of the feedback is around the Kickstarter price point. When I started the Kickstarter it took me 30-45 minutes to construct and water-proof each wall. My design has evolved quite a bit (as you can see in the project) and I’m now down to ~10 minutes per wall with better materials and a better design. I’m working on getting my final price point to $40 per wall before shipping. The shipping cost on each wall is fairly high, it’s usually $15 or so per package because of the awkward size. Due to the Kickstarter rules I can’t change the price I set for the project or my funding goal, however I’m considering remaking the project to better outline my updated structure. Thank you all for the feedback, I would post here but for some reason my account is locked because I’m still in the moderation queue.
  • #10
Hi Everett,

Is this kickstart project still available, we are planning on decorating our living room with artificial plants and faux vertical garden behind the TV is something we'd love to add. If it is available, please send me your price per square ft and also if you have installation guide.
Last edited: