Short on room to get growing or have no garden at all? Taryn Jacobson of Tiakaya Design, who’s created everything from hanging gardens to living paintings using plants, shares ideas that’ll help you green up even the smallest balcony
If floor space is tight, blank walls present ample opportunity for you to get growing. Add wall-mounted planters or install a trendy vertical garden like this one at Living Room, a stunning roof garden and café in Joburg’s CBD that doubles as Tiakaya Design’s showroom. “A foliage-only vertical garden is best for ‘instant gratification’ gardeners as you don’t have to wait for anything to flower in order for it to look good,” says Taryn. “Succulents work well in sunny spots, ferns and indoor plants are great for places where there’s a little less sun, while indigenous plectranthus are good in both sun and shade and have pretty blooms to boot.”
A collection of hanging planters will instantly liven up a dead corner. Looking for a budget-friendly option with a mod, organic look? Forgo buying decorative planters and simply remove the plant from its original plastic pot, leaving the mass of roots and soil intact, then wrap it in coir and suspend it with string. “Coconut fibre is best, but you can also use an old coffee bag or hessian,” says Taryn. “Suitable plants can grow for years in these balls, if watered and fed properly. Choose those that require little water and soil, like orchids, indoor succulents, bromeliads and aloes.” Mist them regularly with water or soak them in a bucket every fortnight or weekly, if they’re in a sunny spot, then suspend them somewhere and allow the excess water to drip off before returning them to their original position.
“True to their name, air plants (epiphytes) don’t need soil to live, which means they can grow quite literally anywhere, even in glass vases on your coffee table,” explains Taryn, who recommends tillandsia (pictured) because it produces beautiful flowers in different colours. “For best results, tie your air plants to a piece of wood so that their roots can grow into it and water them regularly by misting them with a spray bottle filled with a mixture of water and a little liquid fertliser.”
From mugs to baking tins, you can drill drainage holes into almost anything to upcycle it into a quirky custom planter at absolutely no cost. “Be creative: I’ve even removed the bulbs from an old chandelier and replaced them with tiny potted plants,” says Taryn. For a low-maintenance option, plant your makeshift pots up with a selection of succulents.