What is a green wall, how is it different from a living wall, and how can you have one at home—or at least keep your house plant from dying? We asked the expert: Hilton Carter, plant whisperer and visionary green thumb, who shared his tips for making the most of plants indoors.
You’ve seen them growing in every trendy hotel, lining your Instagram feed, even gracing the likes of Google headquarters. This year’s undeniably pervasive interior design trend? Green walls. Maybe it’s because of the studies touting a correlation between plants in homes and the longevity of their occupants, or maybe it’s just because they add life to a space as nothing else can.
Obviously, for most of our readers, the kitchen is their home’s most sacred and lively space, so we thought…what about adding even more vibrancy to your favorite room with a green wall? Who better to give us pointers on building a one than Instagram’s green thumb sensation, dedicated father to Frank the plant, and Baltimorean author of the awe-inspiring “Wild at Home”—Hilton Carter. And yeah, he’s just as cool and fun as his Instagram looks.
TIL: Any wall can be a green wall if it tries.
First things first. Hilton wants everyone to know that ANY wall can be a green wall because any wall can technically house a plant, and that’s what makes a wall “green.” (If you need inspo, he’s got a whole Instagram and book’s worth…don’t forget to drool.) The type of plant wall we’re specifically talking about, he says, is called a “living wall.”
But, what’s the difference between a living wall and a green wall?
“Anything that has plants growing from the wall is considered a green wall, right? A living wall. I think what makes mine different is that those are all propagations in cradles. Some of the plants that have been living in that wall have been living there for a long time…A normal green wall is stuff growing in soil kinda hanging almost like pouches that overlap each other and are growing down the wall. And most of them have a water system connected to make sure they stay hydrated.”
Okay, got it. So for those of us who rent or can’t afford to professionally install a living wall, back to plants in the kitchen! Do you have plants in your kitchen?
“I do not show my kitchen. You can scroll through my feed as much you want and you’ll never see my kitchen. There’s no light in my kitchen, so where there’s no light, there’s no green…You won’t see shots of my bathroom as much and none of my kitchen because there’s not enough light being carried into my kitchen for it to be worth me showing it.”
Wild at Home by Hilton Carter, $13.99 on Amazon
Get more expert tips, tricks, and gorgeous green inspo from the master (but no shots of the kitchen).
What about air plants? Those can survive without light, right?
Wrong. Hilton explains, “Some plants are low light and low maintenance, but don’t think of them as plants that can live in no light. If you think about plants in the wild, in a rainforest, plants grow under shaded trees. So, when you think about plants with low light, it means they can tolerate filtered light or less light, but they must still have light and water. You must water them at least once every two weeks, depending where you live. If you have no light, you have to bring in artificial light. There are daylight bulbs that produce artificial daylight.”
What other plants are best for a kitchen’s climate?
“If the place has light, if you have windows in your kitchen? You can do a lot of things if you have light. If the kitchen has low light to bright light, lots of things will work. A variety of pothos would work well. Or philodendrons in general. They’re all viny plants that like to cascade down a wall. Pothos are a low medium light, low maintenance plant. I suggest those to a novice plant parent who are trying to bring plants into their spaces. They aren’t typically those that require as much time watering.”
Costa Farms Clean Air Plant Collection, 4 for $28.99 on Amazon
Ready to get started?
What about edible plants? We want to cook with our green wall!
“I’ve had success with rosemary and basil indoors. I’d also say mint works well. If you go to some of these restaurants now that have the hydroponic plants and leafy greens…you see how close those lights are to those plants. They make devices now that can do that for you.”
What materials will you need to build the wall? You have a great tutorial in your book about how to hang a large plant with rope, what else can you use?
“It depends on what type of green wall you’re building. My cradle wall isn’t a wall that’s asking for a ton, because all you’re doing is filling tubes up with water and cuttings from plants. Now, like I said, a traditional green wall has a system that runs pipes along the wall and these pouches. Many companies can come in and do that for you. There isn’t really a DIY for a traditional green wall…But like I said, placing a plant on a wall is a green wall. People can get creative and make their own sort of living wall, with plants randomly hanging on a wall, like you’d hang a picture.”
Double Walnut Plant Cradle, $32 at Things by HC
Start your own cradle wall!
Wall Hanging Glass Planters, 6 for $22.99 on Amazon
Or try these glass bubble planters on for size.
For all updates on Hilton Carter, his current book tour, and Frank the plant, check out the Instagram where it all began: @hiltoncarter.
Header image courtesy of Jumping Rocks / Universal Images Group / Getty Images