Florafelt Vertical Garden Guide

BY CHRIS BRIBACH


Our Vertical Garden Install Guide is the most comprehensive information to learn how to use the Florafelt System. Read it below or download our free PDF that also includes: specs, installation types from drain-away to custom recirculating systems, and how to locate and choose plants. Download PDF


Florafelt Vertical Garden by Chris Bribach for CBRE office towers in Downtown San Francisco

Florafelt Vertical Garden by Chris Bribach for CBRE office towers in Downtown San Francisco

A Whole New Way To Garden

Growing a living wall is easy with Florafelt Vertical Garden Planters. Our hand-made planters are designed to use the micro fibers in PET felt so that all the plants are watered equally. The felt is made from recycled plastic water bottles, a non-toxic fiber that is indestructible and tough. This amazing material provides a safe growing medium that is pH neutral and non-reactive, so you can garden organically right on your wall. It's even safe for vegetables and herbs! Roots grow right into the felt, which comes alive thanks to the microbiology in the soil.

Root Wraps

Florafelt planters come with our custom Root-Wrapping system. It lets you change and rearrange your living wall at will, while maintaining the integrity of every plant in its own soil.

Worker prepares a Florafelt Root-Wrapped plant, Siteworks Landscape

Worker prepares a Florafelt Root-Wrapped plant, Siteworks Landscape

About Florafelt

Growing in synthetic felt allows unlimited possibilities. Parisian designer Patric Blanc has some of the longest-living, largest and most gorgeous living walls to date, many planted in the mid 1970s. They grow in synthetic felt, which is ideal for breathability and allows for fully mature root development. Florafelt has taken this concept and added pockets created from the same material for ease of installation and plant replacement.

 

Using A Little Soil Makes Vertical Gardening Much Easier

We created the pockets so that they would accommodate a handful of soil. The soil balances pH and introduces microbiology to let nature do its work and bring the felt alive. And it is crucial to use synthetic materials so the support system doesn't dissolve.

 

What's Wrong With Small Compartments or Planter Boxes?

Plastic compartments and planter boxes restrict root growth and create the same problem as planters - root binding. Plastic also doesn’t allow breathability, and our felt pockets eliminate the many difficulties with root rot issues. Additionally, the soil is tightly held in place by the felt wraps within the pockets, keeping the entire system extremely tidy. And the pleats direct the water inward, making it drip-free.

 

Very Large Vertical Gardens

With a bolted attachment, our Florafelt planters can be used at any height. Florafelt is made from synthetic nylon and is virtually indestructible. Once it is planted, the root material makes it a permanent living membrane.

 

P.E.T. Plastics and Toxicity

Not all plastics are the same. PET plastic is a non-reactive, non-toxic plastic which is why it is used for anything from milk jugs to water bottles. Trace amounts of toxins are known to emerge from PET, but soil microbes break down those complex molecules long before they reach plant roots. We chose synthetic nylon felt fibers for our Florafelt, turning unused water bottles into something useful. Additionally, plants grown in this material absorb carbon from the atmosphere, making Florafelt a 'carbon absorbing’ product.

 

Vertical Gardens That Evolve

It is very important for the vertical garden to be interactive so that it can be modified as needed. Like any garden, there are unpredictable changes in climate, mishaps with watering systems, or plant disease.

The slit-and-staple method, which was used several years ago for the vertical garden at the Drew School in San Francisco, often show large planted areas that did not take. It is very difficult to add new plants to fill in these spaces.

But our Florafelt pleated-pocket design makes it very easy for any gardener to remove the problem plants and tuck healthy starts into the existing pockets. It also allows caretakers to replace the dead foliage with plants that are thriving in the same vertical garden. Starting with a bio-diverse selection allows you to try many plants and minimize the failures. You simply add more of what works.

A sustainable solution to vertical gardening is one that uses the skills of an existing landscape service or even maintenance crews on staff. This keeps long-term maintenance affordable and easy.


DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS


Chris Bribach, Plants On Walls, Beverly Hills home, Florafelt System

Chris Bribach, Plants On Walls, Beverly Hills home, Florafelt System

Natural Light

Bright indirect light from a bank of windows is an indoor tropical favorite. The plants will reach for the light and align their leaves to the source, making a perfect display. Direct light may cause burning, but can be workable if it is limited to a few hours a day.

 

Indoor Lighting

Without bright windows, existing room light provides the minimal illumination for growing plants, so you may want to add a track lighting system. Halogen bulbs project a wide spectrum of light, which makes it ideal for any number of different plans. Metal halide and fluorescent lights are also excellent. New LED lights may also work for some situations. Indoor tropicals that are native to the forest floor are ideal for low artificial lighting.

 

Outdoors

A deck with full day of sun is perfect for growing herbs and vegetables, flowers and succulents. Partial sun is great for lettuce or ferns and most other plants. Ferns also do well on shady walls.

 

Light Meter

Consider a light meter as part of your tool kit. They are easy and inexpensive. Ambient light is measured in Foot Candles. Indoor tropical plants need a minimum of 300 foot candles to thrive. Direct sun measures in at 10,000 foot candles and will burn most indoor plants, but succulents, herbs and vegetables require a full day of direct sun to thrive. Test the area you want to plant and add supplemental lighting or shade if necessary. Explore the internet to learn more about which plants you should choose for your installation.

 

Moisture

Florafelt planters are intended for water-safe areas. Generally, water will remain within the unit, but there is always the chance for some dripping. If you intend to use the unit indoors on wood floors or carpeting, use extra caution and keep watch during pump operation. Use common sense when placing the unit and clean up occasional plant mess or moisture leakage.

 

Regular Watering

Daily watering, along the top row only, is normally required when using Florafelt planters. For most situations, we recommend connecting the planters to an automatic irrigation system. A simple drip tube across the top, set to water twice daily, will provide adequate moisture for most situations. Recirculating systems are more water efficient, with a tank, pump and timers set to run once-a-day for 30 minutes for most situations.

 

Fertilize

Light fertilizing is preferred for vertical gardens. We recommend the use of an organic based fertilizer such as Maxsea to minimize salt buildup and promote active microbiology within the soil and felt. Fertilizer can be added manually or by use of an injector in your irrigation system. For recirculating systems simply add fertilizer when you top off the water tanks.

 

Winter Exposure

Most plants will go dormant in the winter. Planted in the ground, they are protected from extreme freezing temperatures. In walls, as with planters, only certain rugged natives will survive a hard freeze. Consult with a landscaping professional in your area for advice on specific plants that can make it through winter.

 

Seasonal Plantings

Flowering annuals are an excellent choice for seasonal plantings. In early spring, Florafelt pockets can be planted with small starts, seeds and cuttings for a dazzling display of color all summer long. When growing season has ended, the Root Wrapped plants can be removed, cleaned and stored for next year, along with the lightweight panels.

 

Children and Pets

All gardens are at risk to the terrors of youth and fauna. Use caution, as some plants are toxic. Florafelt can be damaged by claws, teeth, and beaks. The Recirc unit can tip if it is destabilized by climbing children or jumping pets. Use common sense and be selective about placement.

 


HOW IT WORKS


Florafelt Vertical Garden Planters How It Works

ROOT WRAPPERS


Florafelt Vertical Garden Root Wraps

SPECIFICATIONS



Florafelt 4-Pocket Spec Sheet


SIZING GUIDE


Florafelt-Vertical-Garden-Guide-Sizing-Guide.jpg

MOUNTING METHODS


Florafelt Mounting Hang On Hooks

Florafelt Mounting Wood-Framed Vertical Garden

TO 1-1/2” DRAIN TO SPEC.

DRAIN AWAY IRRIGATION


Florafelt Drain-Away Irrigation Vertical Garden


IRRIGATION PARTS


WHERE TO GET IRRIGATION PARTS

Most of these parts (or similar) are available at your local pro landscape supplier, Lowes or Home Depot, or online through Google Search and Amazon.com.

 

HOSE SPLITTER

Connect the hose splitter to your faucet. This allows you to have access to your water but also provides an 'always on' connection to your water timer. Be sure the faucet and splitter valve remain open to ensure consistent watering. Consider covering the valves using stretch wrap to prevent accidental shut off.

 

DIGITAL HOSE TIMER

The timer uses 2 AA batteries. The Orbit Digital Hose Timer (shown) works best for this application since it allows for 1 minute run times, which reduce water waste. It also allows for 6 hour intervals so you can water 4 times a day, if necessary. We recommend each living wall have it’s own independant battery operated timer to insure reliable and easy-to-adjust watering cycles.

 

PLANT FOOD INJECTOR (OPTIONAL)

The Dosatron DM11F is a water operated unit that adds a specific concentration of food to the system with each watering cycle. It uses water pressure to operate and is designed for low water flow. Venturi injectors can be used for large, high flow systems. Liquid food tanks can be made from 6 inch ABS tube for a thin profile that will be completely hidden among the plants.

 

PARTICLE FILTER

A mesh filter prevents clogs in drip lines. Inline stainless filters provide long service and can be easily flushed clean on a regular schedule. Make sure your particle filter is downstream from your food injector.

 

PRESSURE REGULATOR

The pressure regulator keeps the water pressure low to prevent hose connection blow-outs, and slows the watering rate. Slower watering allows plants to absorb the water, reducing waste. 30 PSI is common for most irrigation applications.

 

TUBING

¾ inch irrigation tubing is inexpensive and easy to use. This common type of irrigation is standard for most landscape applications. Slip connectors are quick and easy to install. Garden hose with threaded connectors are extremely easy to use.

 

BUTTON DRIP EMITTERS

Button emitters come standard in ½ gallon per hour. Barbed connectors are easily punched into the ¾ inch irrigation tubing. Place one 1/2 gallon per hour button emitter at the very top of each pocket row. Make the drip visible for ease of inspection and replacement. If the top edge is sloped, pressure compensating emitters will maintain a consistent drip from top to bottom. Use irrigation emitters at the top row only. Water will wick down the entire wall. Longer and slower watering times allow for more complete water absorption and less waste.

 

DRAIN TRAY

Extra water will drip from the bottom edge. You can simply let it drain into a planter or garden below, or you can use a small drip tray (2 x 2 inches) to direct the water to a sewer connection, or into a floor drain. Allow the water to drain completely by keep the bottom pocket clear of the bottom of the tray. Tuck the bottom flap into the tray to prevent drips.

 

PLANT FOOD

We recommend using MaxSea 16:16:16 Seaweed Based Fertilizer. It is a gentle food that can be used for hydroponic feeding and is mostly made from organic nutrients. Organic nutrients are preferred because they encourage active microbiology in the soil and reduce the problem of salt build-up from chemical fertilizers.

 

BEFORE YOU PLANT DO A COMPLETE CROSS-CHECK

• Run the watering system on full to test the system.

• Check that the drip line is watering evenly across the top.

• Check that the drain is clear.

• Check that the drain hose is adequate for draining the water.

• Sometimes drip lines will become clogged if there are particles in the water.

• Check that the in-line filter particle cartridge is in place and clear of debris.

• The back layer of felt will get slightly moist when pressed.

• The bottom crease inside the pocket will also feel moist

• The front of the pockets will remain dry.

 

DURING PLANTING

• Soak the Root-Wrappers before wrapping the plants.

• Run the system on full while installing the plants.

 


DRAIN AWAY MAINTENANCE


Daily:

- Observe the plants

- Notice if plants look wilted

- Or if they have faded leaves

- Or show rotting bases or browned leaves

- Also notice if they have new buds or have made new roots

Monthly:

- Add plant food to the Feeder (Maxsea)

- Notice plant health and adjust water timing if necessary

- Remove dead leaves

- Remove dead plants and replace

- Clear drain of any debris

Every 3 Months:

- Clean the filter

- Use ladder to visually check drip emitters

Every Year:

- Change the timer battery

- Change out the drip lines

Use your E-Calendar

- Add these events to your electronic calendar and use the repeated events feature with reminders.

- Copy and paste this info for each frequency listed.


RECIRCULATING SYSTEMS


Florafelt Recirculating Vertical Garden with Base Tank

Florafelt Recirculating Vertical Garden with Base Tank


Florafelt Recirculating Vertical Garden with Hidden Tank

Florafelt Recirculating Vertical Garden with Hidden Tank


RECIRCULATING SYSTEMS MAINTENANCE


The water tank should be checked weekly and topped off. Do not add water while the unit is on since water will continue to drip from the planter and cause overflow. Wait one hour after the pump cycle or when all water has drained from the felt planter. Tank draining and water replacement is recommended every 4 to 6 months to prevent salt buildup from fertilizers.

Daily:

- Observe the plants

- Notice if plants look wilted

- Or if they have faded leaves

- Or show rotting bases or browned leaves

- Also notice if they have new buds or have made new roots

Weekly:

- Top off water tank. Do not add water while pump is running.

- Add plant food to the tank (1/4 tsp Maxsea)

Monthly Tasks:

- Notice plant health and adjust water timing if necessary

- Remove dead leaves

- Remove dead plants and replace

Every 3 Months:

- Empty tanks and replace water

- Clean pump and check water flow

Tip: Use your E-Calendar

- Add these events to your electronic calendar and use the repeated events feature with reminders.

- Copy and paste this info for each frequency listed.

 


LIABILITY STATEMENT - Florafelt and/or Plants On Walls is not responsible or liable for care and maintenance of plants used in our Florafelt living wall panels, Floraframe living wall systems, Root Wrappers or any other products or services. Florafelt and/or Plants On Walls is not responsible or liable for water damage to interior or exterior of buildings, homes, or finishes due to misuse or accidental moisture dripping from plants, lack of maintenance of watering systems, or for any reason for moisture damage or loss due to damages of any kind. It is up to the purchaser to properly protect all surfaces from water exposure or overflow by providing water catchment drain trays and/or vapor barriers to areas of potential damage. We also recommend the hiring of qualified landscape maintenance professionals to assist with plant selection, planting, watering, feeding, pest control, lighting, and general maintenance to assure optimal health for the living wall. PlantsOnWalls is not responsible and to be held harmless to damage to buildings, water leakage, loss of plants, bodily harm, or any accidental damages of any kind. ©2013 Florafelt Corporation.