Growing Herbs in a Green Wall - By Kate Wall

Growing Herbs in a Green Wall

Growing herbs in a green wall makes a lot of sense in modern homes and even in cafes and restaurants. Where space is limited, green walls shine. By growing plants in a vertical rather than horizontal plane, green walls are excellent space savers. Many herbs, like many other plants, are just as happy to grow in a green wall as they are anywhere else, so long as their basic requirements are being met.

The basic requirements which will need to be met to grow herbs successfully in a green wall include sufficient light, moisture, root space and nutrition through good quality soil and fertiliser.

Green walls which are situated indoors, e.g. inside cafes and restaurants, or even home kitchens will need to ensure the herbs receive adequate light for strong plant growth. Herbs such as thyme, oregano, rosemary and others prefer at least 6 hours of full sun per day to flourish. Parsley, coriander and basil can cope with a little less than this. If your indoor position is not very bright you may need to install additional lighting for best results with your herb green wall.

Once you have found a well-lit position for your green wall you can choose the system that suits your space. There are many different systems available from prefabricated all in one systems, to complete do-it-yourself kits or you can design and build your own green wall garden.

All green wall gardens, even those constructed by a series of pots mounted on a wall, will tend to dry out quickly and attention must be given to how effectively they can be watered. Some herbs such as rosemary, oregano and thyme will be happy to have things a little drier but to ensure great flavour and good growth for constant picking, they will need sufficient water. Plants in pots or green walls are entirely reliant on you for water. A green wall positioned outdoors may not necessarily receive much water during rain so top up watering on a regular basis will be required. A pre-fabricated green wall with an inbuilt irrigation system is ideal for herbs.

Always use the best quality potting mix available for potted plants, especially those that you wish to harvest and eat.

When choosing plants for a green wall, herbs are a natural choice. If the green wall is located conveniently to the kitchen it can provide a smorgasbord of flavours for cooking.

Consideration of how the plants work with each other on a vertical plane will increase the effectiveness of your green wall. Plant herbs which require more sun and less water towards the top of the wall. Those that prefer a little more shade and more moisture are better planted towards the bottom.

Herbs like rosemary, oregano and thyme are ideal for the top sections of the wall. Chives, tarragon, coriander, chili, basil and dill will be happy in the middle and parsley and mints towards the bottom.

Lemongrass is not a good choice for a green wall as it tends to be far too large, however lemon flavours can be supplied by lemon balm or lemon thyme which are both low growing compact plants suitable for green walls.

Try and select plants with a compact growth habit for a green wall. Plants which are large, leggy or sprawling can take up too much space and make the green wall look unattractive.

Try prostrate rosemary at the top of the wall. This will tend to remain more compact and even hang down a little making harvesting easier. Compact dwarf rosemary plants will also work. Large growing rosemary plants will need more root space than is usually available in a green wall and may end up as top heavy and unstable, in addition to growing too large to look neat in a green wall. The same applies to some of the larger chili and basil varieties.

Chili and basil can become tall and leggy if the right variety is not chosen. Both are available in compact dense forms well suited to green walls. The Elite Herbs™ range includes 2 different types of basil – Profusion™ Ocimum minimium 'GB02' PBR intended with a strong flavour and Delight™ Ocimum minimum 'GB01' PBR intended with a mild flavour, both of which have very ornamental and compact habits ideal for use in green walls.

By regularly harvesting the herbs you will encourage a dense growth habit and prevent growth becoming too tall for the space available.

Many herbs are annual or bi-annual and will need to be replaced every year or two to keep them at their best. Ensure your green wall is positioned where it is easy to replace herbs as they become past their prime. Often when a plant goes to flower and seed, it stops putting energy into producing the leaves we want to harvest. To prolong the life of the herbs in your green wall remove flowers as they form. The exception to this is chilli, as the fruit is the desired part of this herb.

Herbs in the Elite Herbs™ range have been bred not just for their compact growth and great flavour but they are all reasonably long lived and will take longer to go to seed than will many of the original forms of these herbs.

Where space allows try including a variety of Elite Herbs™ in your green wall. Their distinct and predictable flavours will give you wonderful variety in your cooking, and will mean you will have a herb for every dish. With a choice of 2 different basils, 3 different thymes and 4 different oreganos, all with compact growth habits, consistent flavour and slow to go to seed, the Elite Herbs™ range is ideally suited to green walls and has a flavour to suit everyone.