Welcome to the Jungle—Meet the Man Behind the (Plant-Covered) Curtain

These Living Walls Are Bridging Agriculture and Decor for a Natural Flair

Written By: Jane Adler
Photography Provided By: Instant Jungle

In the plant kingdom, one man reigns as king of the jungle. That man is Greg Wallace. Nearly 40 years ago, a seed was planted that Wallace grew into a blooming—eh hem—we mean booming business. Stemming from his own Southern California roots, Wallace took over an Orange County botanical business in 1980 and, what started as a simple side gig, developed into four decades of working in the field of plants. This past July 1 marked 39 years of bulbs, sweat and tears for Wallace, and his company, Instant Jungle, is still thriving today.

Instant Jungle is an industry leader when it comes to the latest plant furnishing trend: living walls. These installations act as living, breathing art that can complement any personal or public space. When it comes to choosing your living wall, there are three different types of applications to consider after deciding whether the plants will live inside or outside. Clients then choose whether they want a tray, module or TerraScreen wall. The TerraScreen version requires no drainage because plants are self-contained, whereas module and tray need a source of water for irrigation. Light levels are taken into account as well as which direction the living wall will be facing. Design concepts and aesthetic are meticulously mulled over, and a method to frame the wall and how it will adhere to its new vertical home are picked.

Depending on which system is chosen, a living wall can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to install from start to finish. Instant Jungle works hand-in-hand with landscapers and customers to ensure that the wall is functional, aesthetically pleasing and matches its surroundings. This form of agricultural art can range in scope from a single wall to an entire rooftop and everything in between.

And while the living walls still remains a popular trend, Wallace acknowledges that “architectural plants are really popular again…[they are] coming back and making a stronger statement because it also kind of ties in with the drought-tolerant trend.” If you recall, drought-tolerant plants began sprouting like weeds with all sorts of species of succulents invading the industry. Wallace jokes, however, that “we’ve had rain and we have short-term memory,” so he predicts this trend may soon be watered down, so to speak.

Instant Jungle has worked on special projects with Disney, Wheel of Fortune, countless hotel chains and some of the most famous casinos on the Las Vegas strip. They have featured installations at both Comic-Con and Vidcon and have completed projects all over the US. As Wallace explains it, plants are essentially treated as décor for events, props for sets or art for homes.

“Plants create a nice environment and ambiance and they just really enhance [an area]. We stage with plants to soften things, make them look warm and friendly,” says Wallace.

Instant Jungle aims to make any of their offerings affordable by allowing customers to rent any of the plants in their nursery for events, photoshoots, staging and more.

Wallace explains, “The cool thing is we can use anything that is on the property. We have different decorative containers. We have different ways to wrap [our plants]. We offer under-planting so you can do a forest, a jungle…we can create the whole element or illusion, whatever you want to create.”

The maintenance portion of Instant Jungle’s business is their bread and butter. Think of it like a pool man for your plants. They really want to ensure that your plants prosper and do so by providing a rotation guarantee at no additional cost as part of their maintenance plan. This guarantees their work so they will replace any plant that is not thriving with the same plant to ensure that you get the most out of your plant purchases.

When it comes to caring for your new flora friends, Wallace has a few pieces of advice to protect your plant purchases. According to Wallace, “Consistency is key. If you water them heavy, water them heavy every time. More importantly, put them on a calendar. Stay on that consistency. And then when you’re choosing a plant, check on light levels. Lighting is key.”

Or just let Instant Jungle take care of it for you.

Stay Palm Instant Jungle

“I’ve always been intrigued by fishtail palms,” Wallace muses. “It’s one of those plants where you either love them or hate them.”

Plant-setter Instant Jungle

Wallace reveals the next trendy plants are Philodendron Monstera, Calathea varieties and Fabian Aralias.

Stayin’ Alive

When in doubt, Dracaena. Wallace says that if your home has become a graveyard where plants go to die, opt for a Dracaena plant since they are durable and require very little maintenance.

Instant Jungle
2560 S Birch St
Santa Ana, CA 92707

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