Many types of gardens are created on the balcony, all it needs is a little creative thinking and investment in a bit of research on the kind of plants you want to grow. There are people who have a small vegetable and herb garden on their balconies while some grow succulents and cacti to give it a desert look. You are only limited by imagination as to the kind of garden you can grow in the limited space of your balcony.
This article delves into aspects of gardening on a balcony and provides several tips and suggestions on how to go about it. Some attractive balcony garden ideas and planting options are also presented for your consideration. Let’s get started
Evaluate your Microclimate
Your balcony would need to provide the required conditions of sun, shade and protection from winds. Take an inventory of the following factors
- How much direct sun does your balcony receive?
- Is there too much shade in certain sections?
- Are there strong and dry winds in the day time?
If there is too much shade go in for shade-loving plants, if there is too much sun get into drought resistant plants. Too much dry winds will need frequent watering while cold nights might require the use of blankets or plastic to cover up the plants.
You can always control your microclimate but it is best to buy plants that will survive suitably in the conditions presented by your environment.
Container plants for the balcony garden
Wood containers are most suitable as balcony garden pots, not only do they look aesthetic but are also light-weight and don’t crack up over time unlike the ceramic, clay, plastic or terra-cotta containers. The next best option are plastic containers for their light weight and affordable prices. Ceramic would come third for their aesthetic appeal, you can use these containers to plant small flowering annuals or orchids.
Bamboo and willow planters can also be consider for balcony gardens especially if you are planning on some hanging baskets. Strawberry pots are an excellent option for growing herbs and dwarf flowering plants. This is just one of the several unique balcony garden ideas you can come up with.
It is most convenient to work with containers especially when the space is limited and you need to frequently move things around. Pots and planters come in several shapes and sizes so they can fit into the corners as well as the small shelves and railings. These below pointers may be helpful while implementing container gardening on the balcony.
- Lay out a plastic sheet at the bottom on the containers for ease of cleaning and maintenance
- It is advisable to spread two layers of jute rugs or old jute bags on top of the plastic sheet. Jute will easily absorb any water the seeps out of the drainage hole of the containers. This way there will be no muddy mess to contend with. You can periodically wash the jute rugs to keep them clean.
- Make use of staircase shelves to make best use of limited space. As shown in the image, you can arrange containers and pots on each section of the shelf making it easier to water and maintain.
- Make use of large wooden containers to plant perennials, they will need to be over-wintered and they do well when there is ample soil available. Wooden containers won’t crack up under frosty conditions.
- Use a combination of flowering and non-flowering plants for best effect.
Consider planting dwarf varieties of vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes and peppers. You can also plant herbs such as mint, parsley, chives and oregano. This way you can to create a balcony vegetable garden of your own.
- Strawberries grow well in strawberry-pots, some varieties fruit through out the growing season. They also look beautiful in any landscape.
Use plastic containers for most plants, ceramic containers for small plants and wooden containers for large perennials. Some plants you can consider for container planting are
- Dwarf Alberta – A beautiful white spruce that does well in containers
- Hibiscus & daffodils – Excellent flowering plants for balconies
- Caladiums – Grown for their lush and large foliage
- Dracaena – Spike shaped leaves with amazing texture.
- Silver licorice – Excellent over-flowing and cascading structure.
Vertical gardening in balconies
You can make creative use of trellis and lattice structures to grow some beautiful flowering and fruiting vines on your balcony. Climbing Ivies are a great choice for shaded regions of your garden. Some excellent vines you can consider growing on balconies are
- Ornamental sweet potato – Has beautiful light colored leaves and sprawls nicely over lattices or trellis.
- Variegated vinca – Has a quick growing habit with attractive flowers and foliage
- Star Jasmine – If you can keep it pruned it makes for an excellent flowering vine
- Sweet pea – Eye catching trailing vines with beautiful flowers
Use a background wall to fix your lattice and let some vines trail over it. You can fix the lattice onto the planter or containers, that you will use as balcony garden pots, before you fill it with soil, so it has a strong grounding.
Some more useful tips for balcony gardening
Maintaining a balcony garden requires attention and discipline, there is nothing worse than dried up plants, due to lack of care, that need to be discarded. Keep these tips in mind while working on a balcony garden.
- Use glazed ceramic for balcony garden pots in areas that are prone to strong winds. They have a heavy weight and withstand the worst of winds.
- Avoid terra cotta containers as much as possible, go for plastic or wood.
- Use containers of different shapes and sizes to add to the beauty of the garden
- Potting mix should be equal amounts of soil, peat and perlite to have good drainage
- Be sure to mix in some hydrogels (water retaining crystals) with the container soil. This is a must in dry climates and a useful asset if you want to water less.
- Water regularly if the conditions are too windy and dry
- Add some slow release fertilizer like osmocote, this should be enough for most container plants
- You can also add some water soluble fertilizer once a month.
- Perform dead heading of spent blossoms and cut off any dry or yellow leaves to prevent disease or decay.
- Make use of bamboo or willow containers for hanging baskets.
Be sure to check in with your society maintenance committee on whether they allow balcony garden and if they have any restrictions on the weight or the plants allowed, so you don’t get into any trouble later.
We hope this article presented you with some useful balcony garden ideas which you can implement in your outdoor space. Feel free to innovate and come with unique creative ideas of your own to make your balcony look attractive and green.