Not every architectural project can incorporate a landscaping project, consider a garden or access to ample green space. Smaller spaces need more creative strategies to incorporate vegetation. Regardless of the context, plants offer benefits in all types of spaces, such as indoor temperature regulation, an option for sustainable production on a smaller scale than a greenhouse, in addition to their aesthetic qualities. In this article, we present 4 simple strategies and a selection of examples for incorporating plants in small-scale spaces, all of which can be found in Architonic's Planting section.
Available in a wide variety of shapes, materials, and sizes, plant pots can be overlapped or hung for even greater space savings. While any material is suitable for indoor pots, there are some factors to consider for optimal plant development:
- Contrary to popular belief, most plants can grow well in pots smaller than their crown diameter. While larger size provides greater root comfort, a more equivalent diameter-to-depth-to-cup ratio will be important primarily for trees, not houseplants.
- The choice of material especially impacts root temperature. For example, plastic pots exposed to direct sun will heat up much more than a pot made of porous material such as clay or ceramic. In very rare cases (such as orchids), a plant needs a specific material to grow.
- The right mix of growing substrates will be key in maintaining the right degree of humidity. Different plants must have soil conditions that are typical of their natural environment; different proportions of leaf soil, peat, perlite or sand are necessary to recreate their optimum moisture conditions at the roots. If the soil becomes muddy with watering, the porosity should be increased with sand or perlite.
- There are also self-watering pots, usually made of fiberglass, that work with a hidden water reservoir inside and absorption tubes. These are useful only for plants that need frequent watering and to facilitate maintenance tasks.
To see more examples of this typology visit the 'Plant Pots' product category in Architonic.
Shelving and Flower Displays
Another option is to design shelves to place plants along the walls. A shelf for plants is different from a shelf for books or objects, as they require more space, air, and light. They are useful to create a more controlled environment and to homogenize the care conditions of the plant:
- The ideal temperature for a plant, depending on the species, is normally between 15° and 25°C.
- Different species have different light requirements. Usually, those that stand out for their more vivid colors need more light than those with greener leaves, which are usually more resistant to unfavorable conditions.
- Indoor plants tend to have less available natural light. It is important to know the light and shade requirements of a species in order to choose the correct location inside a room. It is always advisable to avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight to prevent damage.
To see more examples of this typology visit the 'Flower Displays' product category in Architonic.
Trellises are a reinterpretation of the traditional vine arbor, a symbol of the countryside, and a classic form of hanging vegetation. The grids are an easy and light solution to incorporate vegetation in walls, stairs, interior or exterior divisions, hanging or on the ground. They specifically require climbing plants, usually green-leafed and easy to care for:
- There are two types of climbing plants that are ideal for this type of structure: climbers with a voluble stem (that wraps around a support), and those with aerial roots (small roots on the surface that adhere to a support). There are also other types of climbers that organize themselves around the support using their leaves or stems (such as lianas).
- As with other supports, pruning is very important to give them a direction of growth (formation pruning) and for their correct development (cleaning pruning). Make sure that pruning is not done at just any time, but always in its less active stage.
- It is important to consider that climbing plants do not normally need abundant watering; it is more common for them to die from excess than from lack of water.
To see more examples of this typology visit the 'Trellises' product category in Architonic.
Living Green Walls
Although a bit more complex to develop and more common on façades or large wall extensions, green walls are part of a growing trend around the world for different types of projects. The system is similar to the previous one, based on cables, vertical planters, or grids for climbing plants to grow, although the search is for volume and they can incorporate a greater diversity of species. In small interiors, they can be added as a frame or in specific walls with the correct lighting:
- There are in general two ways to build a green wall: transplanting small plants to a vertical structure (i.e. building the wall based on the support), or choosing complementary climbing species (building the wall by directing the plant).
- The type of wall and its volume will depend on the substrate chosen for planting (e.g. loose or in sheets) and the structure (e.g. planter, pockets, mat, or wiring).
- Both for this and the previous strategies it is very important to consider the amount of natural light available and the possibility of incorporating artificial lighting to help the plants grow, as well as the appropriate irrigation system for the scale and structure of your wall.
To see more examples of this typology visit the 'Living Green Walls' product category in Architonic.
Regardless of the method, biophilia is certainly one of the best trends of our time. Whatever the space, the plant, or its volume, it requires time and dedication to understand the care it needs and its behavior. Knowledge that will undoubtedly be valuable over the coming decades.