Ranil Gabo Guarino, a government employee, has always been fascinated by nature. Aside from growing up in a family of farmers, Guarino is a graduate of environmental science and a former educator of ecology and biology. 

His familiarity with environmental planning and ecology aided him in maximizing his less than 80 sqm home garden.

At 40, his affinity for plants further intensified during quarantine. This enthusiasm led him to explore a wide array of ornamentals and plant arrangements like vertical gardening. 

His lush garden in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, is not just filled with potted plants sitting on the ground because even the walls of this garden are exquisitely covered with ornamentals. 

According to Guarino, this is one of the easiest DIY living walls that is great for beginners.

Read: Small space gardening: Palawan’s plantito pursued his love for ornamentals during quarantine and now owns over 1000 plants in his 80 sqm home

This plantito has been growing a so-called living wall for almost a year now. In his YouTube channel, he said in one of his vlogs that his vertical gardens were “actually birthed out of necessity.”

Since he has a small backyard, raising plants vertically is the only way to grow more varieties. 

A living wall is a green space or a wall that is covered with plants in pots that cling to a steel matting or other material mounted to the wall. This method is typically used to raise plants in confined spaces or enliven dull, wide surfaces. 

Guarino shared five requirements that are essential when building a living wall: 

Plant types. Plant varieties that naturally grow on cliffs, rock crevices, sloping areas, or those that crawl or climb are the best types of plants to cultivate in a vertical garden setup, said Guarino. Examples of these are begonias and philodendrons. 

Other plants can also thrive on it, even those that aren’t accustomed to growing in an upright position, given that proper care is provided. 

“The varieties of plants I use for a living wall depends largely on the spot where the living wall will be constructed.” The reason for this leads to the next requirement: 

Sunlight. One shade-loving plant that growers can use as fillers is satin pothos (Scindapsus pictus). He added, “If all the big plants and small plants in your wall are all light-loving, they will compete for light which may result in the killing of smaller plants.” 

This plantito chose to maximize the walls of his residence by growing plants on it. This is a space in his backyard that he designed for pictorial.

Before putting up a garden, Guarino studies the amount of light that goes into the area where he’ll execute the project. This allows him to determine the plants that he’ll cultivate in that particular spot.

He emphasized that when planning the design, it is crucial to consider not just its physical features, but also the stability of the living wall itself so the plants can flourish for a longer period.

Watering method. A self-watering or drip watering system is suitable for an indoor vertical wall since it can minimize the maintenance and lessen the mess, as opposed to manual watering. For outdoor living walls, a water hose can be used.

Grouping plants with similar watering requirements will save gardeners from troubles such as overwatering and underwatering. This allows one to water the plants easily per group, too.

A low-cost and sun-exposed living wall made with mesh wire, hanging baskets, and sun-loving plants.

Growing the plants. The millennial plantito checks up on the garden twice a month to keep the plants pest-free. 

One of his garden concerns is that some fast-growing plants tend to cover slow-growing ones thus, limiting the availability of sunlight for them. That being said, Guarino ensures to periodically trim the fast-growing plants. The cuttings he collects from this, he uses for propagation.

Plant distance. Guarino’s garden mimics a jungle, so his plants are “densely put together with no blank space left in between them.” 

Plants will look neat and organized depending on how they are arranged, which considers the amount of space and needs of individual plants, said Guarino. 

Materials. Vertical gardens require different tools depending on the design that one opts to build.

In Guarino’s case, all the plants are potted and hung. He also tends to different living walls; one uses a metal frame as a plant rack, the other requires logs and other reusable old materials to hang plants, and the other vertical garden makes use of wild vines, driftwoods, and plant baskets.

Ranil Guarino, 40, a gardener from Palawan, standing in front of one of his vertical walls.

When there’s limited floor space, gardeners can still make a jungle out of it. One way to raise plants in a small space is to go up, much like what this plantito did to his backyard.  

Photos courtesy of Ranil Guarino.

For more information, visit Plantito.