Plant Species

The species of a plant is one, if not the most important thing to consider for vegetated assemblies. By choosing a species many other characteristics such as color and climbing mechanism and therefore material choices for structure are inter-connected.

A short list of useful species has been provided by Dr. Alexander Niemiera, of the Virginia Tech Horticulture Department.



Simplest: an ivy or other plant growing up the side of a building directly on the surface.

Intermediate: engineered trellis system with plants rooted in the ground, climbing up a separate structure. allows more variety and options.

Complex: these include all four elements: growing media, structural support, integrated irrigation and drainage system.


Plant species charactersitics:

  1. Vine or non-Vine multiple species
  2. evergreen or deciduous
  3. native or non-native
  4. aesthetic features
    foliage (spring, summer, fall)
    tracery (winter pattern)
  5. Climbing Mechanism (wall features)
    tendrils (not wood of vinyl)
    rootlets (not wood or vinyl)
    twining (needs matrix for support)
  6. Growth rate
    slow (1 ft / year)
    Medium (1-2 ft / year)
    Fast ( >2 ft / Year)
  7. Cultural Requirements
    Full sun
    Morning sun, afternoon shade
    Morning shade. afternoon sun
    Full shade
  8. Soil Aspects
    top soil or fill soil
    soil type (sandy, loam, clay)
    affect water retention
    soil ph
  9. Maintenance
    Leaf/flower/fruit litter
    prune from windows
    irrigation system upkeep
    winter prep and repairs
  10. potential pest issues
    insect, mite, diseases, birds