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A Very Woolly Update

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The living wall in our home studio is over 9′ wide, and it feels so much a part of the room, that we often don’t even think about it. Like, we’ll have a friend over for the first time, and they’ll want a tour of our home. As soon as we pop up the stairs and they notice our Woolly Pocket, they’ll say, what is that?! This is usually asked with extreme amusement, and typically, we have no idea what they’re talking about (huh, is there something on my face?), until we follow their pointed finger. Oh, right! Yeah, that’s Wally.

We’ve been asked by the same friends, family and via email, comments and Facebook notes: Hey, how’s that living wall? Do you still have it? Maybe because spring is here (mostly) and we’ve all got plants on the brain, but recently, I’ve received many, many questions on the overall health of our living wall. In short? He’s great! We love him! But we’re not here for short stories, right?

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In the photo above, that’s what Wally looked like up until last week. Not bad, but not hot. We shared a studio update last summer, but by the end of the year, our snake plants started to look more and more sad; if you look closely, I tied a string around the sagging plant as an attempt to keep them upright – HA.  They wanted to grow (grow, grow!), but I think the depth of our pockets didn’t allow for them to shine! On the other hand, our ZZ plants, pothos and philodendron (moving outward from the snake plants) have stayed happy. Below: sad sansevieria (snake plant) on the left, happy pothos on the right.

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Even still, the round of plants above is v.2, as I’m pretty positive we had too many plants in v.1. These heartier plants – aside from the sansevieria getting too big! – have been working great for us for the most part, which I think is the trick if you’re looking for a lower maintenance living wall. I say for the most part, because we are totally guilty of allowing our plant care to slip during larger renovations. When you’ve been skipping meals to tile for ten days straight, the thought of watering our plants and singing them a little tune couldn’t be further from our minds.

But! With the hardest bed-and-bath work behind us, we took a moment to reassess Wally and breathe some new life back into our living wall. The studio has felt chaotic for months (it’s where we’ve been stashing project supplies since Christmas), so we wanted to bring some order into the space I spend all my hours in. We knew we wanted slow growing plants to deter our prior issues, and because our Woolly Pocket has 5 sections, we decided to mix-n-match with succulents!

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After removing our snake plants, I plucked off the dead leaves and repotted them in a large standalone planter. Afterwards, I carefully shook loose the remaining zz plants, pothos and philodendron, and I moved them around to create new groupings – just for change. This was also a great time for me to swap in fresh potting soil and fertilizer! With those guys squared away, I filled the middle pockets with cactus soil to make way for slower-growing succulents. Note: The pockets aren’t completely independent of one another, but it’s still divided enough to pack the different soils separately.

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One of my favorite changes was grouping the pothos and philodendron so that they could grow freely down one side together:

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The Woolly Pocket has a built-in moisture barrier that keeps our walls bone dry. When it’s time to water, I use my elephant watering can to reach the back flap of each pocket, which pulls the water down towards the roots!

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This summer, we’ll have had Wally for two years, and although there’s been a learning curve, we couldn’t be happier with it! Of all the changes and swaps we’ve made throughout the home, this one has stuck. The studio is the brightest room in our house (unless it’s a rainy day, I never need to turn the lights on before sundown!), so while most plants enjoy life on our second floor, we’ve found our sweet spot to be slow-growing succulents and hearty plants-of-steel.

If you’re considering a living wall, there are so many directions you can go! This is our most streamlined version yet – but we love the overgrown, can’t-see-the-pockets-anymore variation, too. Would you – or do you – have a living wall in your home? I’m happy to answer any other questions you might have!

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