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Balcony Gardening

Balcony Gardening

With the rise in condos and smaller urban dwellings, it’s brought in a wave of creative garden solutions. Just because space is limited doesn’t mean you can’t exercise that green thumb. Jump right in with this guide to creating your own little oasis!

Containers

  • Check if your building has any regulations concerning your balcony.
  • Think about the style of pots you’d like to use and whether you are going to mix materials or stick with just one main type. There is so much to choose from: clay (terra cotta), wood, glazed ceramic, wrought iron, resin, plastic, and concrete-in every size and colour. If you’re feeling extra creative, there are tons of tutorials to help you DIY an innovative container!
  • Whatever your preference, ensure that there is a drainage hole in the bottom so water can escape, and a saucer so you don’t flood your neighbour below when you are watering.
  • Plant on a layer of gravel or broken pot shards in the bottom of your container to cover the drainage hole and some enriched potting mix.

empty terra cotta potWhat to Plant

  • If your exposure for these boxes is facing south or west, be prepared to water twice a day during the hottest part of summer or plant more drought tolerant annuals like Portulaca, Gazania, Dusty Miller, Lantana, and Swan River Daisy.
  • Any annual can be used in a container as long as you consider its light preference and keep its full size in mind so it will remain in proportion with the size of the pot.
  • Window boxes along the railing are a great opportunity to use upright annuals like Heliotrope, Nicotiana, Sunshine Impatiens, and Geraniums with lots of trailing plants in front.
  • Some great trailing plants include Licorice Vine, Trailing Lobelia, Bacopa, Blackie Potato Vine, and Trailing Verbena to name a few.

Hanging Baskets

  • On sidewalls, you can install attractive brackets from which hanging baskets can be hung.
  • Sunshine Impatiens can handle full sun but need a lot of watering. Position them to receive morning sun only to avoid burnt leaves.

balcony gardens

  • Ivy Geraniums are more appropriate for the full blast of afternoon sun and heat.
  • For partial shade try Fuchsia, Trailing Lobelia, or Shade Impatiens.
  • Non-stop/Angel-wing Begonias are the best hanging baskets for heavy shade.

Herbs

These guys will all grow happily in containers:

  • Basil
  • Chives
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • French Tarragon

Large Containers

A large balcony affords the opportunity to work with larger containers.

  • With a half whiskey barrel or a decorative ceramic planter, you can plant some larger specimens that would look attractive all year long. Try small standard trees like Weeping Peashrub, Cranberry Cotoneaster, Euonymus or grafted evergreens, always keeping proportion and light in mind.

ivy in pot

  • Under plant your tree with a perennial or evergreen ground cover.
  • If it’s sunny, establish Dwarf Japanese or Blue Chip Junipers to cascade over the sides.
  • For shade, plant Wintercreeper or Bearberry Cotoneaster.
  • You can also under plant with a variety of annuals or smaller scale perennials for colour all summer long.
  • A large container also makes it possible to grow vines because you can set a trellis, obelisk, or stakes in the form of a tripod right into the pot. Now you have a vertical support for growing annual Morning Glory, Sweet Peas, Moon Vine, or Cup and Saucer Vine as well as perennial Clematis.

Over-wintering:

  • The keys to success with over-wintering are to place the container(s) away from winter wind (or move it against an inner wall in autumn) and water very heavily in late November and again in late March.
  • Terracotta pots won’t survive winter as well as ceramic or plastic.
  • Since natural precipitation doesn’t collect enough to keep a root ball moist in any container, big or small, test the soil regularly or invest in a moisture meter.
  • Be sure to drill holes in the bottom of a barrel, line it with 5 cm (2″) of gravel, and raise it off the floor. This allows air circulation and drainage so the roots won’t rot.

Houseplants

Houseplants not only look beautiful but also benefit significantly from being outside for the warmer months.

  • Initially, place the plant in shade and move it gradually from low light to high light over 10 days so the leaves won’t burn. Anything you bring outside onto your balcony will need to be sprayed several times with an insecticidal soap before returning it inside. The soil will also need to be treated with a powder for soil-dwelling insects.
  • Position a Palm or Ficus Benjamina in a shaded corner.

red hibiscus

  • Tropical Hibiscus, in bush or tree form, adores the sun and will bloom profusely.

Accessories

  • Patio furniture or bench
  • Patio umbrella
  • Small fountain
  • Wall fountain
  • Decorative plaques or wall planters

Make your balcony a special oasis of colour, fragrance, and foliage and enjoy all the benefits of gardening even with a limited space.