Plant Selection & Pairing
Choosing the right plants for your wall is critical to satisfaction and performance.
LiveWall designers, installers, and owners that follow our plant design guides’ recommendations for the selection and pairing of plants—and follow our maintenance guides—experience the greatest success.
Know what you want to plant, but need help figuring out how to plant your living wall?
Selecting Complementary Green Wall Plants
To eliminate the guesswork in living wall plant selection, we created Plant Design Guides. In creating these guides, we sought to empower designers and owners to be creative and feel secure in the choice of plants based upon site conditions and system design.
Each design guide includes recommendations for plant pairing based on climate, lighting, moisture requirements, and growth habit. Simply follow the guide’s “Golden Rules”, and stick to plantings that are in the same grouping.
Depending on the wall orientation, climate, and design intent, designers may choose from a broad variety of plant types. These include:
- Annual plants
- Perennial plants
- Edibles such as vegetables, herbs, and strawberries
- Tropical Plants
LiveWall has trialed hundreds of plants and has compiled our findings in living wall plant selection and pairing design guides for each of the plant types above. Copies of the plant selection and pairing guides are available to customers. To determine which plant types are best for your project, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 877-554-4065, or click here to request a plant selection guide.
For inspiration, click below to see a gallery of projects by type of plants.
We have dozens of trial living walls at our facilities and nearby public sites.
In these trial walls, we test plants for both indoor and outdoor performance and hardiness. We are constantly trialing dozens of plant selections at any given time, and require that plants be of sufficient size, hardiness, and low maintenance to thrive in our green wall system.
Annual Planted LiveWalls are very easy regardless of climate, with comparatively fewer maintenance events than perennials.
Perennial Planted LiveWalls are easy in mild climates (like San Diego, Seattle or Tampa), with very few losses, even during winter. If well maintained, certain plant species can last for years.
In cold winter climates (like Michigan, Maine or Minnesota), living walls planted with perennials require diligent oversight and adherence to timely maintenance events to optimize overwintering. If all care is done correctly and on time, we have found that:
- Winter survival can be good (90+ %) during mild winters,
- Winter survival can be fair (70+ %) during average winters, and
- Winter survival can be poor (25% or less) following harsh winter weather.
In all cases, overwintering success varies with exposure (wind/sun), geography (cloudy conditions make it easier), and the characteristics of the supporting wall (structural walls are better than fence applications, as they keep the soil warmer).
Naturally, LiveWall, LLC, wants every customer to derive optimal value and enjoyment from their LiveWall products—whether using annuals or perennials. For this reason we have compiled a list of features that allow for easy comparison of the costs/benefits of annuals vs perennials (below). No matter what you decide, you are not locked in for life — LiveWall is designed so that you can change the plants anytime you like.
The yearly “sustainment costs” of perennials is somewhat less than annuals when winter weather is mild and winter survival is high.
The cost of perennials is influenced by diligence of maintenance and severity of winter weather, level of cloud cover, wind, and heat transfer through the supporting wall.
Perennials can cost more annually, following a harsh winter (and comparatively high plant losses).
Perennials require the investment of a winter cover (in areas with freezing temperatures).
Annuals have predictable costs year after year.
There are few, if any, surprises with annuals.
Perennials require attentive maintenance and availability of labor.
With perennials, each spring reveals the relative success with overwintering—then plants must be ordered to account for replanting.
In cold winter climates, annuals require fewer maintenance events, and therefore are comparatively easier to manage than perennials.
In cold winter climates, the palette of perennials is quite narrow (appx. 10 very winter hardy species). In warm winter climates, the palette is more diverse.
Perennials flower seasonally, less than annuals which often flower all season.
A broad palette of annuals can be used.
Annuals are more colorful and can be more visually stunning. Perennials are more subtle.
Annuals can be food (herbs, peppers, tomatoes), and growing them can contribute to health and wellness initiatives.
In cold winter regions, perennials should be covered during winter, and therefore don’t provide any food or habitat during winter. In mild winter regions, covering is less important.
Annuals can provide prodigious amounts of pollen and nectar, as do many perennials.
A broad palette of annuals can be used.
Regardless of whether annuals or perennials are used, soil and plant matter can be composted and reused for landscape beds or garden space.
IN SUMMARY, whether you choose annuals or perennials you can have an amazing experience with your LiveWall. We are here to support you with recommendations for plants and an easy-to-follow, time-proven protocol for caring for them. If you have multiple walls, you might want to have annuals and perennials, perhaps in alternating fashion. Occasionally, people combine annuals and perennials in the same planting. LiveWall gives you quite a great deal of flexibility.