Growing, Up

Some of the most interesting and innovative gardening techniques take place off of the ground.

From towering trees to vertical horticulture, there are plenty of reasons to “look up” when visiting the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Photo by J.J. Mueller

Fall has fully arrived in the Japanese Garden when colorful “cascading” chrysanthemums appear along the rock wall on the Garden’s western border. Taking advantage of a shallow root system that makes “mums” ideal for planting in containers and hanging baskets, Garden horticulturists begin training these autumn favorites to take on their signature vertical shape by suspending them from hanging wire racks throughout the summer months.

Download our guide to growing chrysanthemums 

Mind your gourd as you make your way through the demonstration gardens at the William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening in late summer, when many varieties of Lagenaria siceraria in diverse shapes and sizes flourish in the trellis near the Spoerher Children’s Garden. These gourds, commonly called bottle gourds, can grow quite heavy and flatten on one side if left to develop on the ground, but suspending them from a trellis produces more robust fruits as well as a visually striking display.


Elevated gardening approaches can be beneficial for the gardener, as well, making common tasks easier to perform. “Green” or “living” walls like the one on display in the Ruwitch Garden for All use wall-mounted planters to bring plantings to a comfortable working height for gardeners of varying mobility levels.

In addition to turning your garden into a work of art, green walls can also help reduce building temperature, improve air quality, and purify water resources.


Green walls are a lovely addition to an indoor or outdoor landscape, but they require a significant amount of space. Tower gardens take the concept of vertical gardening higher while reducing the necessary footprint by employing an approach called aeroponics.

Aeroponic tower gardens grow plants in an air/mist environment without the use of soil. A standard aeroponic tower garden like the ones on display at the Kemper Center can sustain up to 20 different vegetables, herbs, fruits. Every fifteen minutes, water, tonic, and air flow from an attached 20-gallon reservoir through the tower, enriching the plant roots. Tower gardens also reduce water usage by as much as 90% and can increase the speed and yield of an agricultural crop by as much as 30% over traditional soil-based methods.


John Dedeke
Senior Digital Media Editor

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