Vertical Gardening for HDBs: overcoming the challenge of space

4 min read

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Vertical Gardening is the new thing, and you do not need to live in a condo to make the most out of it. While you probably won’t be able to design your very own tropical wilderness, there are plenty of plants which can flourish up your home.

And there is more! Take  Cynthea Lam of Super Farmers for instance, who became involved with urban planting because she loves experimenting with herbs and vegetables that she can eat and use when she cooks for her family.

Although there is a challenge in the quest for a good gardening spot in most Singaporean homes, Cynthea advises to inject a subtle accent of greenery into your space. Plants, after all, improve air quality and add charm to your abode.

Our friends over at Cromly have chatted with Cynthea to give homeowners recommendations on which plants to have indoors and which ones to grow by their corridor.

5 Plants for Indoor Garden

1. Air Plants

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Photo by Xiangyun Lim

2. Fittonia

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3. Pilea

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4. Sanseviera (Mother-in-law’s tongue)

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5. Areca Palm

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These plants, especially Sanseviera and Areca Palm, have properties that help filter the air in the household by removing the harmful oxides and formaldehyde present in the air we breathe. Make sure you have these air-purifying plants around when you have projects like installing carpets or painting walls as these activities release chemicals that pollute indoor air.

Basic Care Techniques
Air plants can survive on the moisture in the air. However, they would still require regular misting once or twice a week. Occasionally, give your air plants a bath by dipping them in water before slowly picking them up to dry.

If air plants live in an air-conditioned environment, they would need to be soaked in water for 2 hours every two weeks.

For the rest of the plants on the list, they only require basic TLC. Bring them closer to the window every now and then for some filtered sunlight and water them at least three times a week sparingly.

5 Plants for Outdoor Garden

1. Mint

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2. Basil

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3. Rosemary


4. Oregano

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5. Thyme

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“For this list, I’m picking herbs for outdoors because I’m a farmer!” gushes Cynthea. “As with all herbs, sun is necessary especially for rosemary that thrives in full sun.”

Another perk of growing these herbs right in your own residence is being able to use them when preparing food. After all, food is always better when properly seasoned with herbs and spices.

Growing plants outdoors, however, will require more time and effort for homeowners. Although there is a wide selection of plants you can have in your outdoor garden, you also have to remember that there is a limited square footage by your corridor, and you don’t want to invade your neighbour’s space.

Basic Care Techniques
All these plants are easy to care for as long as the watering is done thoroughly.

At least once a day, water the plant until it gushes out of its pot (and into the ground, or else, onto catchment trays below) to ensure that all parts—most especially the roots—have received hydration.

Once every 2 weeks, fertilise with natural fertilisers like worm castings. Be careful though not to overdo as you don’t want the roots to burn. Place fertiliser on the top of the soil, and through constant watering, the roots will receive the required nutrients in right amounts. Important reminder: Never stir the fertilisers into the soil!

The best fertiliser for your house plants? Water from your fish tank so do not throw the water right away!

“All my plants that have been watered using fish pond/tank water have thrived much better than those who only received normal tap water. And if you can, always leave the tap water out in a pail for 24 hours before using it to allow the harmful chlorine, fluorine, and chloramine to first dissipate before using it,” suggests Cynthea.

Pinching the herbs also helps them grow bushier and taller as it allows them to divide and produce even more leaves. Pinch from the top and pinch off some big, mature leaves but leave some big leaves intact as they act as solar panels that capture sunlight for photosynthesis.

“Pinching is perfect because we typically don’t need too much of herbs when we cook,” adds Cynthea.


This article first appeared in Cromly

Cover photo by Samantha Echavez

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