Gardening on a balcony comes with unique challenges, but the results make it all worthwhile. A balcony filled with lush foliage and flowering plants is the perfect place to escape the busy world around you. Here are our top tips on balcony gardening and the best plants to choose from.
Tips for gardening on a balcony
- Pots filled with wet compost can be heavy, so take care not to overload your balcony. Use plastic or fibreglass pots rather than terracotta, firmly secured so that they won’t blow away. Mixing vermiculite with compost will make it lighter and also improves drainage.
- Use drip trays to stop your pots from dripping onto the balcony below when you water them.
- Balconies are often exposed to sun and wind, meaning plants can dry out fast, so choose drought-tolerant plants and water them regularly. Putting up a windbreak such as bamboo matting will also help protect your plants from drying winds.
Five great planting ideas for balconies
Herbs are a good choice for balcony gardens, as many are small enough to grow happily in pots. Lavender, thyme, rosemary and sage are all Mediterranean plants that can cope with drought and are ideal for sunny balconies. For shady balconies, try mint, chives and parsley.
Strawberries grow well in pots on a sunny balcony, and their three-lobed leaves are attractive even after you’ve eaten all the fruit! Once the fruit starts to ripen, you may need to protect the pots with chicken wire to stop birds from stealing all your strawberries before you can get to them.
Bedding plants flower for months and are very easy to care for. On sunny balconies, pots filled with tender geraniums (Pelargoniums) will give colour all summer and well into autumn. Begonias and busy lizzies (Impatiens) are great for shady spots. Replace your summer bedding with winter-flowering violas or cyclamens to give your pots colour through the colder months.
Hostas will do well on a shady balcony in pots, and their bold leaves will add a lush tropical feel to your planting. On a balcony, you’re also less likely to have problems with slugs and snails eating your hostas, although these indefatigable creatures can climb surprisingly high, so keep an eye out for them!
If your balcony is sturdy enough, you could even grow a small tree in a large pot. A small lollipop bay will give an evergreen structure as well as a handy supply of leaves for cooking. Bay trees like the sun but will cope with some shade and need protection from drying winds. Try a dwarf Japanese maple on a shady balcony such as Acer palmatum ‘Wilson’s Pink Dwarf’.
You’ll find everything you need in our centre to turn your balcony into a haven of flowers and fragrance, so pay us a visit today!