Growing vegetables vertical garden

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Vertical gardens allow you grow veggies at several levels, so you can get more out of less space, a definite advantage if your growing area is limited. That is not to say that vertical gardening is just for those with space constraints.

Concentrating your food generation to a limited area frees up space for other uses while the veggies get more attention and care. You don’t have to walk around too much to care for your plants, a great plus in foul weather. Vertical gardening changes the old notion that gardening is back-breaking work. Even the mobility-challenged can enjoy growing food and ornamentals at a convenient height.

Plants grown vertically are more accessible, and gardening chores like planting, weeding, feeding and harvesting are much easier. Diseases and pests get noticed earlier on plants growing at eye level, so remedial actions can be taken right away.. No more escape for pests hiding under leaves.

Almost any vegetable that can adapt to containers can be accommodated in a vertical garden, but some veggies seem to do better than others. Grow more of them to get the best out of your efforts.


Climbing vines

Vines that have a climbing habit are nature’s own attempt at vertical gardening. These sun lovers climb towards the light on any available support, be it another plant, a trellis, fence or wall. They will happily thrive in a vertical garden whether you grow them in containers or bury their roots in the ground, with the aerial parts scaling the vertical frame or trellis. Here are some tasty ones to grow.

  • Pole beans – Sow the seeds in small mounds in the ground close to the vertical garden stand, or in large bags kept on the lowest rung. Start them only when the temperature is around 60F or more. Rich soil, plenty of sun and regular watering results in vigorous growth and good crop. Train them on strings to help them reach the top of the stand as quickly as possible.
  • Peas – Sow shelling peas and snap peas in separate containers and allow them to climb separate trellises to make harvesting easier. Snip off the growing tips (use them in stir fries) to promote branching.
  • Asparagus beans – Sow seeds in rich, moist soil in large bags and train the vines up and away from the shelves in the vertical garden. Prop trellises at the sides prevent its vigorous growth smothering other plants and to make harvesting the pods easier. Keep picking the pods when they are tender to promote continuous flowering.
  • Cucumbers – Sow the seeds in rich, well-draining soil in a large pot when the temperature is above 70F. Stake the plants early and give them a trellis to grow on. Pick the tender cucumbers frequently to get a continuous crop.
  • Malabar spinach – Sow the seeds of this quick-growing climbing green in spring to get a tasty spinach substitute all through summer. Use the leaves as greens and the fleshy stem in a vegetable stir-fry.

Trailing vines

There are some vines that grow along the ground, but most of them can be adapted to growing on trellises that are strong enough to support their weight. Some of them have heavy fruit that requires additional support, but keeping them off the ground has definite advantages. It prevents them rotting at the point where they touch the soil. It also makes it easier to track their growth and to harvest them when they are ready.

  • Watermelon – Plant smaller varieties in the ground but train the vine on a strong trellis or other sturdy support. Make small hammocks of nylon netting tied to an overhead structure to support the heavy fruit.
  • Pumpkins – Smaller-sized pumpkins can be grown in 10-20 gallon pots and grow bags. Train them onto a trellis early, and provide extra support for the fruit with plastic netting.
  • Butternut squash – Use large pots for this vigorous vines, or grow them in the ground, directing them to a study trellis when the plants start spreading. Regular feeding is essential for a good crop.
  • Sweet potato – Many gardeners avoid growing sweet potatoes in the garden because of the sprawling habit of the vine. You can grow them in large bags or in the ground and allow the vine to climb on the sides of the shelves or on a trellis to keep it off the ground.

Brassica family vegetables

These cruciferous vegetables are highly susceptible to pests, especially the caterpillars of the cabbage butterflies that do tremendous damage to all members of this family. The pupae of these worms often overwinter in the soil debris, making the areas unsuitable for subsequent crops.

Pest control is much more effective when these vegetables are grown vertically because infestations are easily noticed, starting with the eggs that are hidden under the leaves and the young caterpillars that emerge. You can even use nets to cover the vertical arrangement, preventing the cabbage butterflies from laying eggs.

Slug attacks are rarely a problem when these vegetables are grown vertically and high above the soil line. They are easily controlled with traps rather than spraying of chemicals.

  • Cabbage – Get cabbage transplants from the garden center and plant just one in each medium-sized pot. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Feed with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer or top-dress with well-rotted manure when the heads start to form.
  • Broccoli – It is better to start early in spring from transplants. Plant in rich soil, one to a pot and keep the soil evenly moist. Use early-maturing varieties in warmer areas because broccoli bolts early if the temperature climbs above 75F.
  • Cauliflower – Grow cauliflower from transplants unless you can start the seeds indoors 12 weeks before spring. When the flowerheads are 2-3 inches across, cover them with the leaves to keep the heads white.
  • Kale – Plain-leaved kale can be grown several plants to a pot, but the curly-leaved ones look best and grow most vigorously in individual pots. Temperatures above 80F make the leaves bitter, so plant them early enough in spring or go for fall planting.

Nightshade family vegetables

Nightshades are edible vegetables belonging to Family Solanaceae, which also includes the deadly nightshade and many other highly poisonous plants. Interestingly, some of our most commonly used vegetables such as tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum), potato (S. tuberosum), eggplant (S. melongena) and peppers (Capsicum annum) have inedible parts that contain high amounts of the poisonous substance solanine. However, these popular plants are well-adapted to vertical growing.

  • Tomatoes – These high-light plants thrive in full sun and plenty of warmth. Indeterminate type of tomatoes require trellises to grow on while the determinate types can do with some staking. In a vertical garden, you have the choice to grow the plants at a lower level, allowing them to grow upwards. Or you can plant tomatoes at a high level or in a hanging basket and let the plants hang down.
  • Tomatillos – Grow tomatillos in large pots and use a wire cage to stem in the sprawling branches and provide some support. Although they are drought tolerant, regular watering keeps them healthy.
  • Peppers – A variety of peppers from sweet bell peppers to fiery jalapeno peppers can be grown in a vertical fashion. Give rich soil and plenty of light.
  • Potatoes – Potato tubers growing close to the soil surface develop solanine, so gardeners have to mound soil at the base of the plants to prevent this. In vertical gardens, this can be easily done by growing them in opaque containers and adding a thick layer of mulch on top.

Note: Eggplant is another popular night-shade family vegetable, but it seems to be happier growing in the ground than in a vertical garden arrangement.

Root and bulb vegetables

Root and bulb veggies have compact top growth and medium light requirement, so they adapt very well to vertical gardening as long as you provide sufficient amount of growing medium for their root growth. You can grow them in individual pots or grow bags, or in long rows if you can find rain gutters deep enough.

  • Radish – You can grow several batches of this fast-growing vegetable in containers that are just 6 inches deep. Sow seeds every two weeks and thin out the seedlings.
  • Carrots – Use pots that are at least 10 -12 inches tall and use a loose, well-draining medium to get evenly shaped carrots.
  • Beets – Grow beets in wide pots that are 6-8 inches deep. Avoid using nitrogen-rich fertilizers.
  • Turnip – Sow turnip seeds in 12’ wide pots and thin them to 2-3 per pot. You can harvest the leaves, but it may result in smaller tubers.
  • Garlic – Plant garlic cloves in fall. Use light soil and provide just enough moisture to keep them growing. Use the flower stalks of hardneck garlic in stir fries and dig up the pods when the leaves have died down.
  • Shallots – Use pots wide pots to grow shallots. Spring-planted shallots give a all crop and fall-planted ones give a late summer crop.
  • Onions – Grow onions from seeds or sets, but they need containers that are at least 10-12 inches deep.
  • Leeks – Start leeks in early spring from 6” transplants. Use medium-sized deep pots, planting just 3 per pot, and then harvesting two of them when they are still young.


Greens are the perfect plants for growing in a vertical garden, especially those with a low growing habit. They appreciate their raised position which allows more air circulation and prevents the lower leaves from touching the ground and decaying. You will find them having fewer diseases and attacks from pests since soil is the main reservoir of many of the fungal spores and insect larvae.

Vertical gardening prevents greens like spinach from getting smothered by weeds. Harvesting is much easier too. Instead of pulling up the entire plant, you can pick mature leaves for the kitchen as and when required, allowing the plants to continue growing for a longer period.

  • Lettuce – Loose-leaf lettuce varieties are best for vertical gardening. They do very well in shallow pots and can be grown closer together than in the ground. Sow seeds every two weeks to ensure a steady supply.
  • Spinach – This green seems to be specially made for vertical gardens. Sow a liberal amount of seeds and thin out the seedlings as they grow bigger. Start planting from early spring and continue until it becomes too warm. Resume in fall and continue until just 6 weeks before first expected frost date.
  • Swiss chard – This rainbow-colored vegetable will brighten up your vertical garden. Use large pots to grow chard, sowing seeds liberally and then thinning out the seedlings until just one remains in each pot.
  • Red amaranth – This warm season greens needs rich, moist soil. Sow seeds in mid-spring and thin out the seedlings as and when you can use them for cooking. Pinch the growing tips to prevent the plants from flowering too early.

Microgreens and baby greens

These are different stages of edible seedlings. They are nutritionally superior to their mature counterparts, but unlike sprouts, they are leafy plants requiring good light. Perhaps they would give you the maximum nutritional output from the minimum possible space, whether you grow them vertically or not. That’s because they get ready in a matter of days or weeks, and you can have subsequent batches back to back all through the season, or even all year in sheltered areas.

Vertical garden shelves are ideal for a growing microgreens and baby greens because they require frequent sowing and harvesting. Only the top growth is harvested, and that is usually done by snipping off with scissors as and when required, so you can see how advantageous it is to have them growing at a convenient height.

You can sow almost any type of edible seed to grow microgreens, but some favorites are:

  • Red amaranth
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Sunflower
  • Beet
  • Daikon radish
  • Tatsoi
  • Basil
  • Mustards
  • Kohlrabi

Buy different seeds of your choice or get pre-packaged selections like rainbow mix, spice mix, Asian greens mix, fiery mix etc.


Herbs are typically used in very small quantities, so allowing them a lot of real estate in a garden does not make sense. By growing them in a vertical arrangement of 3-4 levels, your herb garden can be limited to a single stand. Besides, you will have them all in one place, and as close to the kitchen as you want.

  • Chives – Sow the seeds in well-draining soil in small pots, or plant divisions. Chives multiply fast, so you need only a few. Snip off the leaves close to their bases.
  • Basil – Grow several types for a wider variety of flavors. Grow in rich soil in medium-sized pots.
  • Oregano – Grow either Mexican or Mediterranean oregano, or both, in light soil and keep them on the drier side. A few small pots may provide enough fresh herb, but have more if you intend to dry them.
  • Sage – Grow this perennial herb from cuttings taken in spring. Prune it occasionally to promote new growth.
  • Mint – You can grow a large selection of mints in small pots if you’d be using only a few leaves at a time. Pinch off the growing tips to keep the plants bushy.
  • Parsley – Grow parsley as an annual by starting them every spring. Sow several seeds in rich, moist soil in medium-sized pots and thin out as necessary, leaving only a few large plants to ensure a regular supply.
  • Cilantro – Sow several coriander seeds in medium sized pots and keep the soil moist to prevent premature bolting.

Vertical garden orientation

Most vegetables need full sun, or at least 5-6 hours of bright light to do their best. Unless they have sufficient light for photosynthesis, they cannot manage to make food themselves and for us. The orientation of your vertical garden determines the amount of light each plant receives.

An A-frame vertical garden set up in full sun out in the garden helps you grow maximum food in minimum space since you can grow plants all around the frame. It should look like two wide ladders propped against each other, the steps of the ladder supporting different levels of planting.

If you are arranging the garden against a wall, choose south or southwestern exposure to grow high-light plants. The abundant morning light received in eastern exposure may be good enough for root vegetables, herbs, and greens.

If your vertical garden does not get sufficient natural light, supplement with artificial lighting. When using overhead lighting, arrange high-light veggies on the top shelves and the others at lower levels according to their light requirements.

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Vertical gardening is nothing more than using vertical space to grow vegetables (or herbs, or flowers, even root crops), often using containers that hang on a sunny wall. Traditional gardeners have done similar things with climbing plants like squashes and beans for centuries by building trellises. Vertical gardening takes it one step further by giving non-climbing plants a space on the wall.

Vertical gardens take up less space, are easier to harvest, and easier to maintain. However, they do have their own limitations:

  • You need sunny wall space
  • If they are built too high, they can be difficult to maintain. Don’t make them taller than you can reach
  • The support system must be strong enough to handle the weight of everything
  • The supporting wall must be able to withstand a lot of moisture. You can use polyethylene cloth to create a vapor barrier along the back of your garden if this might be a concern.

That being said, vertical gardening is one of the most forgiving and flexible gardening systems. If you can already get a harvest from container gardens, vertical gardens should be no problem. Here are several ways you can try doing vertical gardening in your own home for the upcoming season.

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Hanging Pots

At its simplest, a vertical garden spot is just a container full of soil with drainage holes and a spot on the wall in the sun. A section of fencing or a pallet as shown here could provide a spot for a clamp that can screw into the pot and the pallet to give it support. It’s important when building your garden that your support system can handle wind.

Gutter System

Here’s an interesting idea that repurposes old gutter sections for gardening space. It’s like a window box only more so. Make sure there is enough space between the gutter sections for sunlight to reach between them. Also make sure that there are drainage holes in the bottom of the sections so the plants don’t get waterlogged and lower levels can get adequate water.

More Gutter Gardens


Even More Gutter Gardens

Here’s another example of a gutter vertical garden attached to the side of a house. One thing to watch for when doing this style is to make sure there is adequate drainage so the siding doesn’t get damaged. This is a great setup for people who cannot bend over very far.

Traditional Trellis

Every gardener should have a traditional trellis system if they grow vining vegetables. You get a much larger harvest out of those plants, a cleaner garden, and it’s easier to find all those hidden tomatoes. Be sure to place it where it won’t shade the rest of your garden, and make it strong enough to withstand the weight of the plants. If you can, sink your posts 24” down to support the weight of the heaviest pumpkins.

Tower Gardens

Not DIY, but if you want to take vertical gardening to another level (both in cost and results), you could try a Garden Tower. There are both aquaponic towers that pump a mineral solution up the tower and drips it over the roots of the plants, as well as towers where you grow in soil

Tray Herb Garden

In this quite-large vertical tray system herbs are growing good and strong. You cay buy specially designed trays that can plant food thickly like this. If you do go big with your garden, make sure your wall and fasteners are strong enough to support the weight of all that material!

Pallet Tray System

You can also do the same thing DIY with some plywood, landscaping cloth, a pallet, and a staple gun. Staple the plywood to the pallet, then wrap the back, sides, and bottom with landscaping cloth. Use a lot of staples as shown in the bottom row of the picture.

Fill with soil and lay flat, then put in seeds, or preferably seedlings, into the slats. Once the plants are well established (at least two weeks for seedlings), they should stay stable after hanging up the pallet. Great for getting spring planting started then freeing up space for summer crops after hanging.

Hardware Cloth Frame

Here’s an example that uses hardware cloth and a frame to create a very sturdy trellis for tomatoes. Find instructions on how to make this project here.

Bottle Garden

Images: Rosenbaum

Here is an example of an herb garden using recycled bottles They’re suspended on strings for easy maneuvering. While some of the plants wouldn’t reach their full size due to the small container, there’s enough plants to get herbs for a family.

Florafelt System

For those who like to make living walls and want an all-in-one system, you can’t go wrong with Florafelt. These recycled nylon felt units come with easy to use pockets for root-wrapped plants. A built-in drip irrigation system runs along the top of the wall to water the pockets. Leftover water falls into a drain line at the bottom. A major distributor of this system is

Succulent Gardens

This may be more art than a food garden, but living walls can help reduce the amount of cooling needed in a house. Succulents are very low-maintenance plants and could be hung inside of the house as an attractive feature. Just mist the board from time to time.

Freestanding Garden

If you’d like to build your own structure, here is a good idea. Build a small raised bed, then put in these vertical angled supports. More information about this model can be found at

Pyramid Garden

Here is the same concept taken up one step further. This type of garden would be great for smaller plants like lettuce and strawberries. Plans for this structure can be found on

Another Pyramid Garden

Image: mikeysklar

Pallet Planter

Here is an alternate pallet system using the back side of the pallet. Notice the other boards nailed under the crossbeams to hold up soil, turning this pallet into a bunch of row boxes. Placement of this type of design would be crucial due to the shade that is created, but it’s perfect for these succulents.

DIY Wall Planter

Here’s the same sort of design, but with much better solar options. The bins are four inches thick. You could fill in the entire bottom and fill with soil or put in four inch containers and rest them on the cross sections as shown here.

Beam Planter

If you’re a woodworker and have some extra beams, you could also hollow out angled sections as shown and put in potting soil. The same could be done by putting a solid back and sides on a pallet, removing the sections, then filling the unit with good soil.

Stair Garden

Here is an old staircase transformed into a wonderful vertical gardening system. The stair steps provide a good way for excess water to drain off down the unit.

A Shoe Organizer

Image: pippa5

Finally, you could always hang a burlap sack on a nail and fill it with dirt. Or you can make canvas pouches or use an old shoe organizer and get something very similar to florafelt. You can learn more about this design here.

By now your head is probably buzzing with all the ideas of how you can build your own vertical gardening system.

As long as you stick to the principles of gardening, plants are pretty happy to grow wherever you can get enough dirt, water, and sun. You can ask any plant growing out of the crack of a sidewalk.

Try a vertical gardening system this year and let me know how it worked for you!

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25+ Creative DIY Vertical Gardens For Your Home

01. DIY Stackable Herb Tower

Unlike other garden tower projects which require nailing and drilling, this one turns out pretty easy and practical. Just stack different sizes of flower pots on top of each other. The inner pot in each layer is inverted as the base to support the outer pot for the upper layer. A great space-saving solution thanks to its vertical planting structure. DIY Tutorial via Martha Stewart

02. DIY Strawberry Tower from PVC Pipe

A PVC strawberry tower is an innovative and fun way to grow lots of strawberries on limited yard spaces. It also works on a patio or deck where can you grow it on a plant pot. (DIY Tutorial via Urban Green Space)

03. DIY Vertical Pallet Garden on the Balcony

If you have a small balcony but still want to grow a lot of plants in the limited space, here’s the solution for you. Find a pallet and make this vertical pallet garden! (DIY Tutorial via Life On The Balcony)

04. Cinder Block Succulent Outdoor Planter

This is a smart and inexpensive way to add wall planter feature to your backyard. I like the different varieties of succulents. (Photos and Tutorial via Apartment Therapy, Apartment Therapy, Urban Gardens)

05. Build a Vertical Herb Spiral Garden

This spiral garden design looks really unique and elegant. It’s perfect for growing lots of herbs in limited space. (DIY Tutorial via The Micro Gardener)

06. DIY Simple Vertical Planter Structure

This vertical planter garden looks so unique and pretty, like a staircase. You can customize it by adding wheels on the legs so that the planter can be moved around to receive more sunlight. (DIY Tutorial via Ruffles and Truffles)

07. DIY Vertical Pyramid Tower Garden Planter

If you can’t go horizontally, then go vertically. This pyramid garden tower is the perfect example to give you extra gardening space for growing fresh plants. (DIY Tutorial via RemoveandReplace)

08. DIY Garden Planter & Bird Bath

Add a colorful touch to your garden with this vertical garden planter and bird bath. (DIY Tutorial via Home Stories A to Z)

09. DIY Succulent Wreath

Decorate your door or wall with this stunning succulent wreath. (DIY Tutorial viaOur Fairfield Home & Garden)

10. DIY Living Wall

Make this stunning outdoor living wall to grow herbs, succulents and many more. (DIY Tutorial via Dremel Weekends, Ana White)

11. DIY Vertical Garden Tower

This stunning vertical tower will be a great addition to your garden. You can customize its height to suit your needs. (DIY Tutorial via Sunset)

12. DIY Rain Gutter Vertical Vegetable Garden

Use rain gutters to grow veggies on the wall. (DIY Tutorial via Suzanne Forsling)

13. DIY Mason Jar Herb Garden

Mason jars are so versatile and there are many creative ways to recycle them. Here is one example to make mason jar herb garden. (DIY Tutorial via Camille Styles)

14. DIY Suspended String Garden

This string garden is an adorable way to utilize the space above. (DIY Tutorial via Design Sponge)

15. DIY Vertical Herb (or Lettuce) Planter

This vertical herb planter allows you to grow a variety of fresh herbs right outside your door or windows. (DIY Tutorial via Bonnie Plants)

16. Build a Vertical Garden From Recycled Soda Bottles

This is an amazing vertical garden which involves hanging hundreds of recycled soda bottles on the wall. Check out the tutorial via Rosenbaum (or English version)

17. Upcycled Shoe Organizer Planter

If you have an old over-the-door shoe organizer that you don’t need anymore, you can turn it into a vertical garden to decorate a wall or fence. (DIY Tutorial viaInstructables)

18. DIY Vertical Planter Using Terracotta Pots

Super easy DIY tiered garden using terracotta pots. (DIY Tutorial via Grace and Good Eats)

19. DIY Pallet Planter

Turn pallets into the perfect planter for vertical gardens. (DIY Tutorial via Kelly Moore)

20. DIY Vertical Herb Garden

DIY vertical herb garden on wood panels. (DIY Tutorial via Brooklyn Limestone)

21. Trellis Vertical Container Garden

Start filling your garden with colors of spring with this trellis vertical container garden. (DIY Tutorial via Better Homes and Gardens)

22. DIY Colorful Vertical Garden On A Fence

Decorate the fence with an easy hanging garden using flower pot hangers. (DIY Tutorial via Shelterness)

23. DIY Framed Vertical Succulent Garden

This beautiful vertical succulent garden frame is absolutely a living art display. (DIY Tutorial via Luna-See)

24. DIY Wall-Mounted Succulent Letter

What a creative idea to plant succulents in letter shapes. It will be a nice way to decorate your walls. (DIY Tutorial via House & Fig)

25. DIY Palette Herb Garden

Repurpose wood pallets into these cute herb garden on the wall. (DIY Tutorial via Second Chance to Dream)

26. DIY Herb Spiral

Another herb spiral design for small garden spaces. (DIY Tutorial via Gardeners)

Which one is your favorite? If you have other vertical garden ideas or if you create any vertical gardens, please share with us on our Facebook page. Thank you!

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Growing A Vertical Vegetable Garden

Do you live in the city? Are you confined to an apartment dwelling with little space for gardening? Do you want to grow a vegetable garden, but feel you don’t have the room? If so, then I have news for you. While limited spaces of a city life can be frustrating for the urban gardener, growing a vegetable garden is anything but impossible. In fact, with a little planning and imagination, vegetable gardens can be grown anywhere, regardless of space.

Vertical Vegetable Garden Info and Plants

Consider growing a vertical vegetable garden. You can easily produce the same amount of fresh vegetables without taking up excess space. A vertical vegetable garden is easy to create. You can create one using shelves, hanging baskets, or trellises.

The first step is to determine what the conditions are like in the area you wish to place the vegetable garden, such as on the balcony. The amount of sunlight will be the greatest factor in determining which plants will thrive in your urban environment. For instance, if you live in an area surrounded by other buildings, balcony or patio may be shaded most of the time; therefore, you should choose your plants accordingly. Leafy vegetables like lettuce, cabbage, and greens do well with limited sunlight, making good choices for shady areas.

If you are blessed with an abundance of sunshine, your selection of plants will be greater, as vegetables thrive best in full sun. Choices here can include:

  • tomatoes
  • peppers
  • potatoes
  • beans
  • carrots
  • radishes

Even vine crops, such as squash, pumpkins, and cucumbers can be grown as long as the container is deep enough to accommodate them and proper staking is available. Fill containers with peat moss and a suitable potting mix amended with compost or manure.

Growing a Vertical Vegetable Garden

Almost any vegetable that can be grown in a garden will also work well as a container-grown plant. Nearly any type of container can be used for growing vegetable plants. Old washtubs, wooden crates, gallon-sized coffee cans, and even five-gallon buckets can be implemented for growing crops as long as they provide adequate drainage.


Since most vegetables can be easily grown in containers, shelves offer the benefit of growing numerous types of vegetables on each shelf as high up as you can reach or as space allows. You can position the vertical vegetable garden so that all of the plants receive adequate amounts of sunlight at the same time. Although any type of shelving may be used, the best type is the kind with slats. This will allow better air circulation and during watering intervals, the excess water on the top shelves will trickle down to the bottom ones.

If shelves are not for you, containers can also be situated on tiers, forming a vertical appearance as well. Alternatively, vegetables can also be grown in hanging baskets or along trellises.

Hanging baskets

Hanging baskets can be placed on the balcony or on suitable hangers. Numerous types of vegetables can be grown in hanging baskets, especially those with trailing characteristics. Peppers and cherry tomatoes not only look good in hanging baskets, so do trailing plants, such as the sweet potato vine, but they also thrive nicely in them. Keep them watered daily, however, since hanging baskets are more prone to drying out, especially during hot spells.


Trellises can be used for the support of trailing or vine crops. A fence can also serve as a trellis for beans, peas, tomatoes and vine crops like squash and cucumbers. Using corn stalks or sunflowers is another great way to take advantage of vertical space while making interesting pole supports for beans and other climbing vegetables. Use a stepladder as a makeshift trellis to support vine-growing plants like pumpkins. The rungs of the ladder can be used to train the vines while placing the vegetables on its steps for further support – this also works well with tomato plants.

Be creative and find something that works for you and your unique situation. Growing a vertical vegetable garden is the perfect way for urban gardeners and others to still enjoy a bountiful harvest of freshly grown vegetables without taking up their already limited space.

Do you love vegetables, but are short on growing space? No problem. We’ve rounded up some of the best and most delicious climbing vegetables out there, so you can grow them vertically instead! Now you can grow oodles of veg up your garden walls, over trellises and tipis, and even along wire supports.

mark_dixon4 /

Growing your own vegetables isn’t just a great way to get fresh, great-tasting food: it’s also good for your physical and mental health.

Many people mistakenly believe that in order to grow their own food, they need a large garden or allotment space. This mindset may prevent them from even trying to grow anything! In truth, you can successfully grow your own vegetables in a very small backyard, on a patio, or even a balcony. All it takes is some clever planting solutions, such as raised beds or trellising, and the right assortment of climbing plants.

With the right choice of climbing and vining crops ,the sky really is the limit. Here are some of the best climbing vegetables that will provide you with bountiful crops, without taking up too much valuable space.

1. Nasturtiums

pasja1000 /

Nasturtiums aren’t just pretty to look at: they’re also edible (and quite delicious). In addition to the peppery petals, the young leaves of the plant are also edible.

These quick-growing plants can flower within just four weeks of planting. The climbing nasturtium is a vining variety that can reach up to 6ft. Similar to other varieties, it produces brightly colored, edible flowers that are ideal for decorating salads, soups and desserts. Train them up trellises or poles, and allow them to spill over balcony railings.

2. Tomatoes

PietjeBogerman /

In my opinion, nothing can beat the taste of a fresh, home-grown tomato. These are some of the most popular varieties of climbing vegetables, and you can grow both bush and vining tomato varieties in a small space. Both varieties can also be trained to grow up a wall or trellis. Just make sure that they have enough support as they grow. If you’re really short on space, aim for cherry or grape tomatoes instead of full-sized ones.

Some of the best tomato varieties for a vertical garden are:

  • Early Girl Bush: A heavy-cropping variety that is ideal for areas with a short growing season. Tomatoes can mature within 62 days in the right conditions.
  • Big Boy: An aromatic, heavy-cropping bush variety that is happy to grow in a cage or along a trellis.
  • Tomato Burgess Climbing: a vine tomato that can reach 20ft. It produces large, deep-red tomatoes.
  • Honey Grape: A high-yielding cherry tomato. This plant produces clusters of sweet, red tomatoes.

3. Malabar Spinach

Photo credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons

Classified as a tropical perennial Malabar spinach plants thrive in milder climates. Red Stemmed Malabar is a particularly productive variety. An easy to grow, cut-and-come again vine grows quickly, reaching up to 4ft in height, producing attractive glossy green leaves with red stems.

4. Loofah (Luffa)

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This might be an unusual choice for vegetable gardeners, since the loofah is better known as a natural sponge. However, loofah gourds yield edible, versatile vegetables that can be eaten raw, like a cucumber, or cooked, like squash.

Best grown in warmer climates, loofah (luffa) is an interesting addition to any large container. Just make sure that the plant is in well-draining soil and has enough support.

5. Chayote

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Another unusual addition to your garden, the vining chayote plant produces pear shaped, pale green fruits that resemble pumpkins. Chayote thrives when grown up fencing or trellising.

You can grow this variety in subtropical to moderately cool climates without too much trouble. If you live in a cooler climate, however, it’ll need a bit more care. Plant your chayote in a large pot and bring it indoors in autumn, or offer some form of warm winter protection.

6. Pole Beans

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These reliable, productive climbing vegetables are incredibly easy to grow. As a result, pole beans are a common part of most vertical gardens. Also known as runner beans, they’re happiest in a mild climate. Just make sure to provide a sturdy support, lots of light, and plenty of water. The last is particularly true in a vertical garden, since small-scale planting can cause plants to dry out quickly.

Some of the best pole bean varieties to train up a garden wall are:

  • Scarlet Runner: A reliable variety that reaches up to 12ft. The crimson red flowers are also edible if you can’t wait for the beans to develop.
  • Black-seeded Blue Lake: Reaching 8ft in height, this stringless, vigorous variety is grown for its excellent flavor.

7. Lablab Beans

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Following on from pole beans, the lesser known lablab bean originates in South East Asia. This short-living perennial will thrive in containers, and it’s particularly fond of warmer growing conditions. Also known as the Hyacinth bean, Seim bean and Australian bean, this crop is noted for its flavor. In addition to its rich purple or pink flowers, the leaves of the plant are also edible.

8. Peas

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Perennial favorites, peas are easy-to-care-for, heavy-cropping, plant. These prolific climbing vegetables grow very happily along trellising, wires, or any other support structure.

All kinds of climbing pea varieties will thrive in a vertical garden. That said, some of the most popular are:

  • California Black-Eyed Peas: A vigorous vine that doesn’t require too much attention. Its crop doesn’t take long to mature—about 75 days. If you can’t wait, however, the pods can be picked young and eaten like snap beans.
  • Sugar Snap: A sweet, early variety that can grow up to 5ft.
  • English “Blue Pod Capuciners”: A true deep-purple heirloom pea that produces sweet-smelling flowers. This variety can grow up to 6ft in height, and its pods can either be picked young, as snow peas, or allowed to develop.

9. Cucumbers

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All cucumber varieties are climbing vegetables, meaning that they will thrive in a vertical garden. Just make sure that the plants have enough support as their fruits develop. If you only have limited space, dwarf varieties are the way to go.

Some of the the best cucumber varieties for a vertical garden are:

  • Marketmore 76: Produces dark green, uniform cucumbers up to 9 inches in length.
  • Mexican Sour Gherkin (Melothria Scabra): A small, prolific variety. Its lemon-flavored fruit resembles mini watermelons in shape. These are excellent for pickling.
  • Long English “Tasty Green”: A burpless variety, this vigorous vining plant produces sweet, and mil-tasting cucumbers.

10. Squashes

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Squash may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you are thinking of climbing vegetables. That said, if you you provide enough sturdy support, for them, they’ll produce more than you can imagine. Just note that they do need a fair bit of support, which is why some people like to set their trellising into concrete.

In addition to being prolific climbing vegetables, squash can also be attractive additions to your garden. Pick their blossoms early, stuff them with cheese, and fry them for a delicious summer treat.
As the vines grow, you’ll need to support each squash fruit with a stretch sling that’s also attached to the trellis.

One of the best options is the summer squash zucchini, also known as courgette. These are best harvested when they’re small, as you’ll get to enjoy their sweet, tender flesh. Growing zucchini vertically not only makes the fruits more noticeable among the foliage, but also allows you to easily gauge when they are the perfect size to pick.

11. Melons and Watermelons

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Like squash, melons and watermelons aren’t generally thought of as climbing vegetables. There are, however, many vining melon varieties. In addition, most other cultivarss will happily grow upwards as long as you provide enough sturdy support.

Amongst the best options for a vertical garden are:

  • Red-Seeded Citron: A lush vining variety that’s an attractive addition to any garden. Similar in growth to a watermelon, it can be eaten fresh or pickled.
  • Cantaloupe “Earlychamp”: A sweet, orange variety with heavy netting.
  • Moon and Stars Watermelon: A distinctive watermelon that produces dark pink fruit that can weigh up to 30lbs. Needless to say, sturdy support is absolutely vital for this variety.
  • Blenheim Orange Muskmelon: An early maturing variety, with fragrant, orange fruit that usually weighs around 2lb.

12. Hops

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A fast-growing vine, hops (Humulus lupulus) are best grown in containers to prevent them from overtaking the garden. You can use hop flowers to make beer, or steep them to make sleep-inducing tea. You can also steam young hop leaves: in fact, many people eat them as vegetables.

Training climbing vegetables up garden walls and trellising is a simple and effective solution if you only have a limited amount of space. Taking your crops off the ground not only helps you to make the most of your space but, by allowing the air to circulate around your crop, can prevent pests and disease from striking.

With all these benefits in mind, why not start planning your own vertical vegetable garden?

Best Vining Fruits and Vegetables for Vertical Gardens

Sure, vertical gardening saves a lot of space, but trying to construct a vertical garden capable of supporting multiple tiers of vegetables is tricky. That is why I decided to start growing vining fruit and vegetables. These plants are easy to train to a trellis and have no problem with a vertical climb, helping me save space and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Why Choose Vining Varieties?

Vertical gardens use garden space efficiently and help you grow more food per square foot. The downside is that building a vertical garden sturdy enough to support all of your vegetables requires construction skills and supplies, which not all gardeners possess in abundance, not to mention the physical strength necessary to build and add soil to your frame.

Vining fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, are easy to trellis. This means that you can put vegetables like carrots and lettuce at the bottom of your vertical garden and vining varieties closer to the top, saving you the effort of lifting heavy bags of soil and building a heavy duty frame.


Let’s start off with the obvious winner: beans. Pole beans will climb onto just about anything, including other vegetables, which makes them easy to trellis and harvest. Beans do not require as much soil as some of the other contenders either, meaning you can stick them just about anywhere in your vertical garden and expect them to thrive.


Who doesn’t love a nice, crisp cucumber? Cucumbers are easy to grow and do very well when trellised. I find they are also easier to pick when grown vertically. As an added bonus, vertical cukes turn out uniformly green, unlike their counterparts grown on the ground, which tend to be a little yellow dirt-side down.

Climbing Nasturtium

A few climbing nasturtium vines will add zest to your salads and color to your vertical garden while serving double duty as a pollinator attractant. These flowers are also especially easy to care for once established, as they don’t need additional fertilizer or particularly rich soil to thrive.


Kiwis make the list with a few caveats. Kiwi grows best in climates with short winters and long, frost-free growing seasons. This perennial vine also requires space—and lots of it. The vines can spread up to 20 feet, so your kiwi vines might need their own corner of the garden or balcony all to themselves. On the other hand, kiwi fruits are delicious and well worth the effort.


Grapes, like kiwi, are perennial vines that take a few years to establish but are an excellent investment if you have a permanent vertical garden, pavilion, or pergola. Grapes do require regular pruning and care, so do your research before selecting a variety and location. In return, you’ll have years of delicious fruit to look forward to.


Melons like to sprawl and climb and do very well trellised. The only additional growing step you need to take is to make sure that your fruit gets plenty of support as it grows. Old pantyhose makes an effective fruit sling for your melons, preventing their weight from damaging the vine.

Passion Fruit

If you live in growing zones 9b to 11, then you should consider trying your hand at growing passion fruit. This South American native is cold intolerant, but in the right climate produces spectacular blooms, grows quickly, and provides hefty yields. This perennial vine, like grapes and kiwi, can grow quite large, so make sure you give it plenty of room to grow.


Peas, like pole beans, are traditionally grown with support, so transitioning them to your vertical garden is simple. Snap peas, shelling peas, sweet peas, no matter the variety, the pea family has one thing in common: a love of climbing. These early spring vegetables are a great way to start your vertical gardening season.


You don’t need a long furrow for your potato crop. Potatoes can also be grown in barrels. Instead of hilling, simply add soil as the plant grows, and then dig the potatoes out of the barrel when the plant is finished growing in the fall.


Strawberries don’t vine, they creep, but that works in the vertical gardener’s favor. These plants don’t have a problem spilling over the sides of their containers and are a sweet way to fill in the edges of your garden frame.

Summer Squash

Summer squashes provide an abundance of vegetables during the warmer season. They also have a tendency to take over the garden, overloading us with pounds and pounds of zucchini. Growing them vertically can actually help control this riotous take-over, keeping rogue zucchini the size of baseball bats out of your garden pathways.


Tomatoes require trellising anyway, so why not grow them vertically? You can even grow tomatoes upside down, making it super easy to prune and harvest them. Make sure you check whether or not you have a determinate or indeterminate variety when planting, however, as indeterminate varieties tend to grow larger and longer than their determinate relatives, posing a problem for neighboring plants.

Winter Squash

Melons are not the only vine that produces heavy fruits. Winter squash will happily trellis itself, vining throughout your garden and popping up in unexpected places like the manure or compost pile. Winter squashes provide storage vegetables for the winter, and all they ask in return is that heavy varieties, like pumpkins and Hubbard squashes, receive a little extra support (remember that pantyhose) as they develop.

10 Plants That Are Fantastic for Vertical Farming

Vertical farming is a wonderful way to make the most of limited outdoor space. You can easily transform a small backyard or balcony into a thriving fruit and vegetable patch. Beyond their space-saving capability, there are additional advantages to vertical gardens; plants will receive much greater exposure to sun and oxygen and be protected from many garden pests, like slugs. What kind of produce should you plant in your vertical garden? Here are 10 excellent choices for vertical farming.

Tomatoes are a favorite among gardeners of almost every stripe. Easy to cultivate, they do well in a wide range of plant hardiness zones. Training your tomato vines to grow up a support system of stakes, trellises, or cages minimizes the garden space you need, while at the same time it safeguards your plants against soil-borne disease.

Peas, both the garden variety and snow peas, enjoy cool temperatures (70 degrees Fahrenheit at most). They do not need a great deal of water or fertilizer, but should be provided with a trellis or poles for climbing.

Cucumbers, zucchini and summer squash are ideal for a vertical garden because these three members of the cucurbit family all yield produce which is relatively lightweight and can be supported by a trellis. An interesting fringe benefit is that vertically farming this type of crop tends to result in straighter veggies.

Melons and winter squash species which produce fruit weighing up to 3 pounds are great in vertical gardens. They’ll need a strong trellis – planting next to a chain link fence is ideal. As it ripens, support the fruit with a stretchy fabric sling (fashioned from a discarded T-shirt or pantyhose).

Kiwis are another vine which will add interesting variety to your vertical garden. Trellising gives kiwi plants access to the full sun they crave. Often thought of as a tropical fruit, kiwis are actually capable of thriving in Zone 8 to as far north as Zone 5, so you can even plant them in your Cleveland garden.

Hops are a type of vine which is often used as a decorative planting. However, the hop fruit is prized as a flavoring agent for beer, while the tender young shoots are served as a vegetable in European cuisine. Fast-growing hops can reach an impressive 25 feet in height and require a sturdy support system such as wooden poles.

Passion fruit is a tangy fruit which, depending on the variety, likes the warm weather of Zones 6 to 10. Prune the plant on a regular basis to encourage fruit development and watch that it doesn’t take over your garden. Even if passion fruit is too astringent for you to eat as is, it’s fantastic lightly sweetened and made into a simple sorbet – try mixing with strawberry or peach for a different flavor profile.

Green beans, in the form of pole beans, are simple to grow vertically in a small space and have a longer harvest season than the bush variety, offering you a steady supply of beans for several months. As the name suggests, they climb well on poles. Fasten with hemp twine, which can be composted together with your bean vines at the end of the growing season.

Corn, okra, Brussels sprouts, and sunflowers are ideal candidates for vertical farming. They naturally grow vertically and do not need any support. In fact, these tall plants can themselves serve as a support system for lightweight vines.

Greens like lettuce, kale, and basil also have a place in your vertical garden. Leafy herbs and salad greens prefer at least partial shade, so you can tuck them under large sun-loving plants. Or grow them in a shady corner using vertical planters created from pallets, stacked or hanging pots, shelves, or garden pockets.

Laura Firszt writes for

Updated December 4, 2018.

Vertical gardening—also called intensive gardening—is not a new idea, but it has gained momentum in recent years with a lengthening list of ideas for how to grow up. The approach makes good sense, especially for gardeners with limited space or when outdoor gardening is too much to handle.

To successfully “grow on the vertical,” there are some things to bear in mind:

  • Choosing the right crops and cultivars is key; vining, rambling, and sprawling plants are readily trained to grow up and off the ground, unlike bush-type species.
  • Using containers that will accommodate adult-size plants is also critical—growth will be stunted if pots are too small.
  • Placing plants where they won’t shade out other crops is important; a smart strategy is to place them away from sun-loving species and near shade dwellers.
  • Watering, too, is something to consider—you may have to do it more frequently, as the soil surface of plants growing vertically is often more exposed and therefore quick to dry out.

With these few precautions taken, vertical gardens offer myriad benefits.

Benefits of Vertical Gardening

First and foremost: increased yields. Making maximum use of space means a heartier harvest. Maintaining and harvesting from a vertical planting is also physically easier—plants reach a higher level, so the need to bend and kneel is minimal.

Furthermore, because foliage and fruit are up off the ground, they are less susceptible to disease; upward growth provides better air circulation, which means that plants dry faster after watering, thereby reducing the risk of moisture-loving fungi like powdery mildew and rusts taking hold.

Typically, too, symptoms of disease and evidence of pests are more visible and can therefore be addressed sooner rather than later. Also, more leaf surface is exposed to the sun when plants aren’t sprawling on the ground, which can result in healthier growth.

When it comes time to choose plants for your vertical garden, consider their growing habits—the most important factor affecting success.

Recommended Vertical Garden Plants

Crops and cultivars that are easy to train on a vertical structure include:

  • Cherry tomato: ‘Sungold’, ‘Black Cherry’, ‘Gardener’s Delight’, ‘Blondkopfchen’
  • Cucumber: ‘Burpee Hybrid II’, ‘County Fair 83’, ‘Dasher 11’, ‘Saladin’
  • Green bean: ‘Romano Italian’, ‘Meraviglia Venezia’, ‘Gold of Bacau’
  • Lima bean: ‘Doctor Martin’, ‘King of the Garden’
  • Melon: ‘Delicious 51’, ‘Tigger’, ‘Sleeping Beauty’ (musk melon); ‘White Wonder’, ‘Yellow Doll’ (watermelon)
  • Pea: ‘Dual’, ‘Garden Sweet’, ‘Maestro’, ‘Sugar Snap’, ‘Super Sugar Snap’
  • Squash: acorn, delicata, yellow summer, zucchini

Supporting Your Vertical Garden

When deciding on the type of support to use for your vertically growing plants, think about sun and wind exposure, plant size, and maintenance requirements. Try to match the structure with the plant’s characteristics. For example, leafy plants with tendrils, such as pole beans, do well on light supports like trellises and tripods, while more substantial plants, such as grapevines, benefit from sturdier structures—perhaps an arch or pergola. Keep in mind that a structure must be able to accommodate a mature plant’s weight, and it should be well anchored to keep it from toppling over.

There are many types of supports from which to choose. In addition to trellises, tripods, arches, and pergolas, there are gazebos, wire cages, netting, and poles, among others. Some gardeners have even invented ways to use 2-liter plastic soda bottles, gutters, and PVC pipe to great effect.

TIP: Look for materials to repurpose, such as wood pallets, which are often discarded by businesses.

Indoor Vertical Gardening

Indoor vertical herb gardens are also great way to grow fresh ingredients in the kitchen without crowding the counters.

Use hose clamps to fasten small pots or mason jars to an old cutting board and then hang the board on a sturdy hook in a well-lit area.

Add about an inch of pebbles to the bottom of each container and then fill with potting soil and herbs such as basil, chives, mint, oregano, and sage.

Alternatively, you can attach a few gutters to the wall or suspend hanging planters from the ceiling.

There you have it … the ABCs of vertical gardening. Now try your hand at growing up—the sky’s the limit!

To learn more about vertical gardening, watch our video: Vertical Gardening: How to Grow More in Your Garden.

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