There really is something quite special about having a morning coffee seated outside enjoying the sun’s early rays. Balconies are simply an important part of our relaxed, alfresco style of living. So it only makes sense that we need to celebrate this area and give it the attention and styling it deserves. And no, this doesn’t just mean an outdoor seating arrangement and leaving it at that. In fact, you can transform a blank outdoor canvas into a truly special space by paying attention to just a few details…the secrete being all in the plants.
A balcony garden should be an extension of your home, choosing the correct plants will create an urban oasis you will want to escape to. Here are 10 plant suggestions that work well on a apartment balcony.
1. Silver falls
When it comes to under-planting, there really isn’t a better plant than ‘Silver Falls’ Dichondra argentea. The grey silvery foliage, which weeps downwards, looks stunning against a charcoal-coloured pot.
Can be used in full sun to part shade. They require very little water. Once established, the foliage will weep down as much as two metres! For best results, try planting a feature tree in a large pot, and under-plant around the inside edge of the rim. Over time, this will form a complete curtain around the pot. It’s a good idea to regularly go around the pot with a pair of hardy scissors and trim the foliage to promote new growth.
They thrive, add colour andmost importantlythey are easy to look after. Few flowers look as good in a pot as these do.
The ‘Ivy-leaf Geranium’ Pelargonium peltatum, blends handsome foliage with large clusters of show stopping blossoms in colours, of red, pink, magenta and white. Although many people use geraniums as bedding plants, they perform even better in containers.
With so many exciting varieties, including some with scented leaves, the humble geranium is earning new admirers. It does require help to keep them looking fabulous and needs to be reshaped and cut back to maintain that neat clean cut look.
A popular indoor plant, Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’ works just as well on balconies and rooftop gardens. Its coral-like foliage creates a striking feature that looks amazing planted in small egg pots.
Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’ is a slow-growing plant and, except for a monthly water, requires literally no maintenance. We’ve had great success with this hardy succulent in full sun to full shade and when left long enough they start taking the form of a large bonsai trees.
4. Meyer Lemon
This popular variety of 'lemon' is not a true lemon but a hybrid between a lemon and an orange, with colorful fruit, fragrant blossoms, and glossy evergreen.
The ‘Meyer Lemon’ Citrus × meyeri is the perfect fruiting tree for the balcony, it’s an easy care, heavy fruiting lemon suited to small gardens as it grows well in pots and containers. So why not enjoy harvesting your own fruit while having the delightful natural smell of lemons scent your balcony, The ‘Meyer Lemon’ tree is good news for gardeners who want a steady supply of fruit all year round.
Has to be one of the toughest edible plants, making it the perfect candidate for balcony gardens. These plants will tolerate wind, heat and dry conditions and grow well in containers.
Rosmarinus officinalis Pink Rosemary is a favourite, an evergreen shrub with pink or mauve flowers and strongly aromatic foliage, it is a small to medium shrub reaching up to 80cm tall, so perfect for container gardening.
You can encourage growth by regularly cutting a sprig or two for use in the kitchen. They also can deter bugs from the balcony letting you enjoy those warm summer nights outside.
Frangipanis are a spectacular plant and you know that summer is well and truly on its way when they start to flower.
The most common Frangipani, Plumeria rubra is usually seen in white with a yellow centre, but are also available in many hues of pink, orange and yellow. Their flowers and fragrance bring a romantic feeling to any garden, and they'll never go out of fashion because they're drought tolerant.
They also look fantastic in large potted containers, as a small tree on any balcony gives it that feeling of grandeur.
With beautiful cream flowers and glossy deep evergreen leaves, the ‘Gardenia Radicans’ Gardenia jasminoides has become a must have throughout the world and a favourite with florists. Gardenias make wonderful and attractive container plants and have a pleasant fragrance once in bloom.
Best suitedfor warm, bright and sunny locations and are perfect for balcony’s that have good air circulation, as it’s an essential for your Gardenia to thrive.
Containers provide a great opportunity to grow them in an otherwise unsuited balcony garden, which is fantastic as there is nothing like ‘Lavender’Lavandula in full bloom.
There are many varieties of Lavender, including dwarf cultivars which are ideal for container growing and can be clipped in decorative balls and cones. To state the obvious, compact varieties make the best choices for a balcony and small spaces.
Lavenders appreciate full sun. Grow them in shade and they grow out towards the sunlight, and they also like well-drained soil.
‘Jasmine’ Jasminum polyanthum, is a traditional favourite with container gardeners, and the powerfully evocative fragrance of the scented species wafts through gardens, often signalling the onset of warmer weather.
Jasmines vary in hardiness and drought tolerance depending on their origins, though few species will withstand repeated severe frosts or drought. They prefer moist, well-drained soil, and a position in full sun or partial shade.
Jasmines can be kept neat and tidy if pinched back and pruned in spring before new growth occurs and can be enjoyed to evoke the senses.
The Yucca plant is a widely popular evergreen garden perennial. Yuccas should receive full sun to part sun. Low light levels cause spindly growth and fewer flowers. And nobody likes a skinny Yucca.
These plants are interesting and slow-growing houseplants that have the added benefit of being extremely drought tolerant. Under the right conditions, yucca are not difficult plants to grow. They tend to thrive on a little neglect, rather than too much attention.
We’ve all seen a failed balcony garden; outdated pots and drooping plants that just don’t go together. The secret to a successful balcony garden is to choose plants that will not only survive but thrive.