All perlite for plant wall?

freedeeOctober 2, 2009

On the edge of my deck, I had a "plant wall" installed in lieu of a railing. I bought railings on CraigÂs list from a woman who changed her mind after she had these iron railings made, and I got them for a good price. What I now have is a regular railing, with a second railing parallel to it. There is a foot of space between them. My friend will try to post photos. (I tried for a couple of hours to post them and it didnÂt work.) I will try to describe what IÂve done, and what I plan to do.

IÂve already started to line the cavity between the railings with landscape fabric. IÂve installed a drain on the bottom. I got 32 large bags of perlite. I was going to fill the cavity with perlite. I would open small holes all over the landscape fabric and insert plant plugs, (very small starter plants).

My question is can I do this with perlite only, should I add other ingredients? I will be installing a drip irrigation tube in the cavity. It will on a timer, so drying out should not be an issue. I read on this site that people sift perlite to get rid of the dust. Is that a good idea?

It will be in the shade of deciduous trees. I plant to grow ferns and spike moss. I am in central NJ, zone 6-7.

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It will probably work, but be ready to apply lots of water & fertilizer. Rinse the perlite very thoroughly before you plant in it. Flushing/rinsing well reduces the level of fluoride considerably.

Al

    Bookmark   October 3, 2009 at 12:27AM
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freedee

I soooo glad you responded! I started reading your information on the movement of water in container plants and it made me think. IÂm paying all this money for tuition for my kids college. I think I could get an education here on line, from you, which is just as valuable.

HereÂs the whole story. IÂm in trouble (again). I had this thing built and I really donÂt know what IÂm doing, but IÂm not going to panic. What IÂm trying to achieve is something like Patrick Blanc, the French architect, does. IÂll post a link later. He doesnÂt tell what his system is, but it works. Someone else in Europe did a similar thing on a public building and it failed, at great cost to the local taxpayers. I read some of the local reactions to this event, and I fear for his life J. This is what I learned from this. 1) Yes, what IÂm trying to do can be done successfully. 2) ItÂs got to be done the right way.

HereÂs what IÂve got so far. Part of the wall that is straight across on the bottom, part of it goes on top of steps. All of it is at the same level on the top. On the straight part, I put curved flashing on the bottom that is pitched so that it drains into a gutter. We tested it, and it does drain. We lined the cavity with landscape fabric that sits on top of the flashing. If you would draw a cross section of this, the landscape fabric would form a "U", only it would be 3 feet tall and one foot wide. Inside, at the bottom of the landscape fabric, I laid a perforated drainage tube with a sleeve over it. This is the stuff they usually use in French drains under ground. I bought 32 4cubic foot bags of perlite, (I got a good price on them.) I started to fill the cavity with the perlite. The dust was intense. I read about screening the perlite. I think that might be necessary. I could imagine that dust clogging the fabric tube that is around the drain, rendering it useless. How would I go about removing the dust? You mention rinsing it. How can that be done on this scale? And what the story with fluoride?

    Bookmark   October 3, 2009 at 1:07PM
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freedee

Here's what I'm going for, on a smaller scale, of course.

Here is a link that might be useful: Blanc plant wall

    Bookmark   October 3, 2009 at 3:22PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

You're too kind - thank you.

I've grown lots of plants in just perlite for more than a year, and they were very happy - as long as I kept after the fertilizing. ;o) Perlite does have a fairly high fluoride content, so those plants that are sensitive to fluoride would react negatively - if you were using it as the sole media component. Rinsing the product thoroughly removes much of the fine material and the fluoride, so it's a good idea.

I'm not sure how you could go about screening it. I don't think I would want to screen >125 cu ft of it by hand, but perhaps you're more energetic than I. ;o) If you know someone at a grain elevator, they might do it for you - it's worth a try. I suppose if you felt like tinkering, and could engineer the right set-up, using a fan to winnow it would be an option. Rinsing could be achieved by pouring it into a garbage can with holes covered by screens & running water through it.

We want pictures as you progress!!!

Al

    Bookmark   October 3, 2009 at 3:57PM
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freedee

I just got a wild idea! What if I put a screen over the suction tube of my shop vac, and vacume out the dust and while it was still in the bags?

What plants are sensetive to floride. I'm going to plant ferns and spike moss. Maybe some bergenia too.

I've got pictures. I spent several hours trying to attach them to my post. I gave up on that. If anyone is in central NJ, come by and see it.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2009 at 10:27AM
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freedee

OK. The shop vac idea didn't work. :( It got clogged after 2 seconds.

Here's what did work. I took an aluminum steam pan, the kind that caterers use in chaffing dishes. I get them at Sam's club. I cut out most of the bottom. Left about a 2-inch border. Covered the bottom with a flexible screen. I shook it on top of another steam pan. It wasnÂt fast but it worked. I still have a lot more to do.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2009 at 7:17PM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Freedee, if you ever get it right, I would be willing to pay you to build me one..Unbeleivably beautiful that site is..
Funny how many ideas like that start in Europe ha?
I had my friends over to show them, and they can't get over the idea..

I hope you get it right and then post pictures..I wonder if anyone else in the states has this, or any malls. If not you'll be the first..:-)

    Bookmark   October 5, 2009 at 8:20AM
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freedee

I would love to post pictures. I spent several frustating hours trying. I give up. I had friends who are good with computers try, and they couldn't do it.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2009 at 9:38AM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Can you down load onto to photobucket?

It is a free memmbership. Once you do that I will show you..Deal?:-)

    Bookmark   October 5, 2009 at 10:39AM
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freedee

I signed up for photobucket. I uploaded a photo. What do I do now?

    Bookmark   October 6, 2009 at 7:06AM
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justaguy2(5)

hover the mouse over the image and a box pops up. copy the text in the part labeled html code into the message window and the pic will show up once you hit the preview button.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2009 at 9:11AM
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freedee

let's see if this works

Here is a link that might be useful: Plant wall

    Bookmark   October 6, 2009 at 6:07PM
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freedee

I don't think this is working

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   October 6, 2009 at 6:18PM
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freedee

Hooray, it worked. Now I'll try to post more photos. It seems the problem is that one shouldn't copy everything that copies when you click that spot. I have to copy it paste it somewhere, then copy only part of it. I'm going to try more photos

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 8:15AM
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justaguy2(5)

You got close, but you want to copy the text from the html code box and put it in the message window, not the 'optional link url' box.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 9:44AM
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freedee

When I click on the html code box I get 3 lines of stuff. Should I put all of it in the message box, or just part of it?

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 11:00AM
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gardengal48

Mike, these are not all that uncommon, even here in the US. My previous employer was a wholesale grower that had a business segment dedicated to green roofs and 'living walls' and the technology involved with the two is pretty similar. We designed and built samples of both for several national trade shows.

Obviously a very lightweight growing medium is preferred for either situation :-) All perlite can work - it is used a lot with a number of green roof installations in various parts of the globe - but you can also devise a custom mix that that offers a little more substance. One way to think about this is that the growing media for these conditions is little more than a root anchorage and all other growing requirements - nutrients, water, light - must be supplied by the grower.

FWIW, we established our demo living wall as a flat surface and it only became vertical once the plants became rooted and established :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Google search -

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 11:50AM
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justaguy2(5)

all of it. what you paste into the message window looks like this:

[a href="http://s816.photobucket.com/albums/zz90/freedee/?action=view&current=plantwallrailinginside09007.jpg"; target="_blank">[img src="http://i816.photobucket.com/albums/zz90/freedee/plantwallrailinginside09007.jpg"; border="0" alt="view from the corner"]]

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 12:17PM
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freedee

In case you were wondering what happened to me, and I hope you were :), here's where I am.

I spent 5 days in Belmont Ma, (near Boston) with my best friend helping her turn a yard overcome with ivy, into a fern garden. ItÂs not done yet either.

I have made a drainage system for the bottom of the plant wall. For the straight part, I just put some flashing on the bottom, and pitched it towards the drain. Inside the landscape fabric, I laid a 4' flexible drainage tube with a sleeve around it, the kind that is normally used under ground. I am trying to fill the landscape fabric with perlite. There is one area that I'm having trouble sealing off the opening in the landscape fabric. If I had this to do over again I would have avoided doing the part that was on the stairs. If I would have only done the straight part, I would be done by now, maybe.

I have more photos but I'm still having trouble posting them. (Stop laughing!)

I am sifting perlite and it's getting old! And so am I. Is it really needed? I'm getting only a 50% yield. So what do I do with the rest of it, the fine part? If it's really best for my plants, then that's what I'll do, (she says stretching her fist to the sky).

The reason I wanted to go with all perlite is that I thought it would be hard to take this apart and replant this. I don't want a material that will break down in two years. Now I'm worrying about breaking down myself. (I enjoy being dramatic) Maybe replanting it is not that big a deal? Maybe I should put some organic material in there, something I wouldnÂt have to sift. If I put organic material in there, and it breaks down, then what? I know I canÂt just add more organic material and get it all the way down there, but so what?

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 9:13PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

What size is the screen you're using, that only leaves you with half of the product? You could use the fines for hypertufa projects or donate them to someone who WILL use them for hypertufa. Perhaps suggest it on Craig's List.

Al

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 9:32PM
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freedee

I looked into hypertufa, this is so neat! I really want to do that. I thought I have too much perlite. With all the tufa project I would like to do, I don't have enough.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 8:29AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

So where's the downside then? ;o)

Al

    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 11:25AM
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freedee

The only downside is the sifting of the perlite, but this tufa stuff, that's for me!

Tapla, I want to kiss you. (Don't get too excited, I'm a little old lady.)

    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 9:35PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Well YEAH, I'm xcited! I'm onna role lately with the XXXs and OOOs ..... appearing from (I hope ladies - yikes!) posters that must have been happy about something I said. I just makes you feel good when someone takes the time to express their thanks - especially if IN their thank you, there is something that makes you feel they are really excited or more enthusiastic than usual about what they found in what I wrote.

After you get done with your wall and have a few hypertufa projects under your belt - we want more pics! ;o)

Al

    Bookmark   October 21, 2009 at 3:43PM
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freedee

I'm having a problem. The lowest part is leaking pearlite. I put some flashing and caulked the part where the drainage tube goes down. I think the flashing moved when I was putting in the landscape fabric. I started to fill it with perlite, it was fine. Then when I filled it some more, the perlite started to come out of the bottom. I sprayed "Great Stuff" in the opening. What a mess. The great stuff was sticking to the perlite and an opening remained. On Monday, IÂll have someone to help me. IÂll block the area off, vacuum out the pearlite in that area, and clog the leak. Wish me luck. Does anyone know if great stuff has any detrimental effect on plants?

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 7:10PM
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freedee

Here's a photo of the drainage on the steps.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 2:05PM
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popi_gw

Freedee

How did you wall turn out ? Was it a success, with lots of plants growing happily ?

I am researching Patrick Blanc and want to know it all.

Regards

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 10:31PM
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