Are you thinking of starting a balcony garden? Are you looking for effective tips to make your balcony garden more splendid?
To find out, we reached out to gardening experts and asked for their experience in building a balcony garden. Here are the questions:
- How do I start the balcony gardens?
- What plants to grow in the balcony garden?
- How to take care of the balcony garden?
Some highlights in the article include:
- Notice about the bearing capacity of the balcony.
- Consideration of the amount of sunlight.
- Compost for balcony garden.
- Plants recommendation for balcony garden: rosemary, basil, tomato, tulip, strawberries.
Expert Tips of Balcony Garden Ideas For Beginner
Rosie Leary from Candide Gardening
How to start a balcony garden?
Plants can be heavy! Especially when they’re all watered.
Make sure the balcony is secure to hold extra weight and that the things you place on it won’t fall or be blown off. Many balconies have maximum loads and this is best checked before you start adding a lot of weight.
Review your space, balconies can be more exposed to the elements or tucked away, forming their own microclimate, depending on where they’re positioned and how much sun they receive.
The exposure, direction of light and quantity of light received will all influence what you can grow on your balcony. Sunny, sheltered spaces suit succulent plants which need a lot of light, they’re also easy to grow in pots, which can transform a small space.
If your balcony is more on the exposed, shady side, you’ll need to consider more resilient plants that can cope with less light or think about constructing a windbreak to shelter your space.
Smaller spaces can be as effective as larger gardens, you may just have to get a bit creative. Think about using vertical space as well as the ground area.
Pots and hanging planters are easy to place and fill, providing quick results and they can be moved around or placed at different heights. Making a plan is a good way to start, in order to maximize the space you have, plan vegetables for sunnier spots and include an evergreen or 2 to provide interest throughout the year.
When starting a balcony garden, your budget should be taken into consideration. It doesn’t have to be large to make an impact, many things can be built yourself.
Woven bags make great substitute pots, or try lining trays or boxes and planting into them. Any container with some holes for drainage should work fine.
What to plant?
Herbs are a firm favorite of mine, being on the balcony, they’re within easy reach for picking to use in the kitchen when cooking.
Sweet Basil, Spearmint and Garden Parsley are classic choices. Try Purple Basil, Pineapple Mint or Lemon Balm for more adventurous pots (and cooking!).
I adore Sweet Peas, they are colourful, beautifully scented and easy to grow from seed. Sweet Peas have a climbing habit, growing through the use of twining tendrils.
Grow them in a pot with a trellis or other wooden support to add height, colour and scent to your garden balcony. Pick them as they grow to prolong flowering and bring their gorgeous scented and colourful blooms into the home for display.
Bulbs are low maintenance, they may be grown in pots and provide bright pops of colour in a range of seasons, depending on what you grow.
Hyacinth, Tulip, Crocus, Daffodil, Fritillary and Cyclamen all grow well in containers and together can fill any space with colour all year round.
I’m always growing Spring Onion from kitchen scraps. I think they are one of the easiest vegetables to grow on a budget.
Whenever you use them to cook with, keep the rooty ends to replant and you can create a continuous supply of Spring Onion on your balcony. Simply snip the leafy stems as you need them, they are a great base for cooking many meals, or they can be used in salads or added as a garnish.
If yours start to flower, the taste degrades, you can leave them for the bees or trim the stem back to continue harvesting.
Plants such as Tomatoes and Strawberries can be really productive to grow in a small space. They may both be planted in a variety of ways including into potting bags, hanging baskets or window boxes.
Blueberries need a little more care, requiring acidic soil specifically to grow well, this is easy to give when growing in a pot. The flowers are attractive, leading onto rounded fruits, which are great to pick off and eat raw or freeze for later use.
Trees and shrubs are not just for larger gardens, you can grow many in pots on balconies with relative ease. As well as being a popular choice for Bonsai enthusiasts and Japanese themed gardens, Japanese Maple suits growing in containers.
Flowering Dogwood is a shrub or small tree that produces great foliage, flowers and winter stems colour. Flowering Dogwood ‘Rainbow’ is one of my favourites for its vibrantly variegated, colourful leaves.
Star Jasmine is an evergreen, climbing shrub plant that produces beautifully scented creamy-white flowers which peak in their scent during the evening. This is an adaption for attracting pollinators such as moths, which don’t rely on showy flower colour as much as scent when searching for flowers.
This climbing plant is moderately hardy and may be used as screening to provide privacy to balconies, the leaves turn a bronzy shade in the winter.
Fuchsias may be evergreen or deciduous, depending on the specific plant. They’re great for hanging baskets, bringing welcome colour to a space and there’s a huge range of colours to choose from.
Heuchera are commonly known as Coral Flowers, they are usually evergreen and typically grown for the foliage over the flowers.
Most grow well in shadier spots and they do fine in pots too. There are many cultivars that have been developed for garden use, with a huge range of leaf colours and textures.
Timing, tending, and watering
My top tip for tending to a balcony garden is to spend time in your space, it’s easier to keep track of plants and how they’re getting on if you check in with them regularly.
Look out for damaged leaves and stems, these can indicate pest damage or disease and the quicker these are detected, the easier they are to deal with.
Many plants benefit from a trim, particularly if they’re growing steadily from one main central stem, often nipping the tip-off can encourage plants to branch and bush out.
I’m pretty old school with my watering and tend to refill a standard watering can from the inside tap. It can take a bit longer but I don’t mind spending some time outside with my plants, especially when the weather is nice.
Watering can be made a lot easier with an extendable hose and larger pots can help retain moisture for longer, meaning less watering.
Gena Lorainne from Fantastic Gardeners
Starting your balcony garden
Before you start your balcony garden there are a few factors you need to consider:
- How much weight can your balcony bear?
- What are the weather conditions – is it windy? Too hot or too cold?
- Is your balcony shady or getting sunny most of the time?
- What time of the day will you be using your balcony?
All these factors can guide you to your perfect set up of plants and equipment.
Choosing the right plants
The most important phase of creating your dream balcony garden is choosing the right plants.
For sunny balconies
If your balcony enjoys the sun for the majority of the day, the best plants to opt for are drought-tolerant and sun-loving ones.
You can create this picture-perfect colorful Sicilian garden by combining petunias and marigolds for color with oregano and lavender for scent. The bright and colorful plants are not only eye-catching but low maintenance as well, they can be left hours or even days in the sun without wilting.
Should you opt for a sitting area with a table, I recommend adding a small pot with a succulent plant in the mix.
For shady balconies
For those balconies facing east or west sun can be hard to come by and if it is north-facing you may not get direct sunlight at all. But do not worry there are plenty of plants that prefer the shady areas.
I recommend going for large-leaved plants such as bamboos, hostas, and fatsias. Not only will they create a great outdoor environment but you will have the added benefit of them being evergreen.
Another great option is to go for a home-grown vegetable garden with lettuce, rocket, parsley, and chervil. The shade will prevent them from running to seed too quickly.
Last but not least if you are looking for pleasantly scented plants I recommend going for Christmas Box in the winter and Nicotiana Sylvestris for that sweet summer smell.
For windy balconies
Wind is one of the most challenging factors, as it does not only rip delicate petals from flowers but will also dry them out of water.
Creating a windbreak will secure your plants and pots in one place. Choose low-lying plants that naturally grow in the forest or by the sea.
Owen Mosser from The Golden
How to start a balcony garden?
When you are starting a balcony garden, it’s important that you assess the basics:
- How much space you can use?
- Your water source?
- The added weight of pots?
If you do not have a lot of space to work with and your balcony cannot carry extra weight, you can opt for a vertical garden.
What to plant?
You also have to carefully assess the plants that you will be putting in your balcony garden.
First and foremost, you have to assess how much direct sun your balcony receives. If your balcony gets direct sun all day long, it’s best suited for cacti, flowers, and vegetables.
But if you have a shady balcony, you can grow low-light plants like ferns, begonias, and impatiens.
Timing, tending, and watering
Finally, you have to assess whether you have the time to take care of your plants.
If your plants are placed in a container instead of directly into the soil, they will require more watering. And if you decide to grow vegetables, make sure to pick the ripe ones so that your plant continues to be productive..
You also need to make sure that you prepare to water your plants either by drip irrigation or self-watering pots. Also, make sure that you use saucers or trays under your plants so that the excess water does not drip to the homes below your balcony.
Bill Taylor from My Backyard Dream
Regular soil isn’t the best medium for gardening because it gets very heavy and hard to manage, especially if you have plants with long and trailing stems – or both!
This is particularly true if you live in a windy area like I do. So unless you are a creature of exceptional strength and balance, I wouldn’t recommend using it.
Go with something lighter such as topsoil, vermiculite, perlite, or sand to start. A mixture of these will be perfect for your balcony.
Don’t forget to mix in some compost or other organic matter to make sure you have a healthy growing environment.
You have a lot of choices for plants – vegetables, herbs, flowers, flowering vines, even small shrubs. If you are concerned with taking care of your balcony garden, you can easily go with what I call ‘low maintenance’ plants.
Plants that thrive in your environment, need little care, and offer beauty to your balcony space are your best bet.
You want to be sure to have a good source of water since plants don’t like being neglected. If you live in an area with low rainfall, you may consider adding a drip or soaker hose system to your balcony.
Veronica Fletcher from YuzuMag
Compost On Your Balcony
Lots of people shy away from composting when they only have a balcony because they worry it might smell or attract bugs. But as long as you pick an appropriate bin or style of composting, this won’t be a problem.
For example, vermicomposting is a great option for balcony composting.
Worms work very effectively to process all the waste you give them before it starts to smell. You can feed them continually, so you don’t need to worry about storing any scraps.
This makes it very space-efficient. Vital when you’re working with a small balcony.
You need to watch your worm bin’s temperature because if it gets too hot or too cold, the worms can die. But if there are certain months of the year where it gets too hot/cold, you can always bring the worm bin inside..
Once you have the compost, you can use it to fertilize all your balcony plants and help them thrive.
Other options for balcony gardening including bokashi, compost tumblers, and even DIY compost bins.
Dan Bailey from Wiki Lawn
Balcony gardens are easy and versatile. All you really need are seeds, potting soil, and some kind of container to plant in.
I recommend garden boxes or large pots, but it really depends on what will fit on your balcony.
Great choices for a balcony garden are all different kinds of herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary all grow well), or something like tomatoes which grow vertically and cut down on a lot of space you might otherwise require. Other easy things to grow that don’t take up a ton of space are bell peppers and cucumbers.
After the last frost is usually the best time to plant a balcony garden. As for tending, it will depend on what you plant.
You’ll need to water regularly, but maybe not as much as you think. Look up how much water your plants need and keep to a schedule. Prune away dead growth to keep plants healthy.
Kelly Gordon – Gardening Expert from Daisy Rain Garden Systems
When starting your balcony garden consider how much sun the plants will get: total, partial, or little. Think in terms of the percentage of the day the plants will be in the sun.
If flowers are your choice, the choice is more than just colors. Pruning and removing dead blooms can be a pain so impatiens, begonias, or verbena are all great choices.
Many other flowers that don’t require deadheading like Supertunias are available from Proven Winners.
Growing in pots or other containers takes daily watering so consider the water source. If an exterior hose is available, think about Sprinkler Pots or Sprinkler Saucers and add a simple hose end timer.
Don’t just think of flowers; many herbs and vegetables (not just lettuce!) can be easily grown in flower pots.
A seven-gallon pot can take any plant to full maturity like tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini. Fresh herbs like cilantro, basil, parsley, or chives can be grown easily, and once you cook with fresh herbs you’ll never want the dried store-bought herbs again!
There are many factors to grow a gorgeous balcony garden: You need to consider the bearing capacity of the balcony. You also need to make sure your plants have enough sunlight from your balcony.
Moreover, do not forget to water, fertilize, and remove withered leaves and flowers, so your young shoots have room to grow.
A green balcony garden requires a lot of effort, but the results are worth it!