Balcony gardening has become popular and it’s about time! There are many lifeless balconies across the UK in need of greenery, not least because plants improve our mental health and support our struggling pollinators.
If you have a balcony or a patio you can create a relaxing, cheerful, and health-giving space. It’s just a case of choosing the right plants – and we can help you there.
Take A Seat
Before choosing any plants pick out comfortable and practical seating.
There’s nothing better than relaxing in a balcony garden and the best way to enjoy it is immersing yourself right in the thick of it with a drink and a comfy seat.
Do You Have Wind Troubles?
Balconies are often high and dry spaces. If yours feels like a tornado corridor, consider installing trellis or screening to create a windbreak. Trellis and screens are available in many materials and colours, just be sure to secure whatever you choose with cable ties or a good quality screening kit .
If screens and trellis are not your thing then choose tough windproof plants like Pinus. AGM winning Pinus Mugo Mops is extra tough as is bluey-green Juniper Moonglow. They look great as standalone specimens and they’ll help protect other large foliaged or flowering plants – plus they’re evergreen which means year-round colour.
What About Soil?
Rather obviously, balconies don’t have any soil so you need to provide it using containers, window boxes, grow bags, and hanging baskets.
The bigger the pot the better in a balcony garden as it cuts down watering. Mulching container tops will seal in moisture and wood, plastic, fibreglass or metal containers are better than terracotta as terracotta gets drier than the Sahara in windy conditions.
Feed all your containers well because nutrients won’t be replenished by Mother Nature.
Is It Sunny or Shady?
The next step is to figure out how much sun your balcony receives as this will indicate which plants are suitable. South and west-facing balconies get more sun than north-facing balconies for example.
Sun-Filled Balconies – Think Mediterranean
Sun-soaked balcony gardens are sun traps that Mediterranean plants will love. Why not go all out with an olive tree and surround it with RHS’s Perfect for Pollinators lavender? There’s also Perfect on Roast Potatoes rosemary, succulents such as Aloe Vera, the hardy seaside daisy Erigeron, most roses, berberis – we recommend Rose Glow, buddleias, and sun-loving Chaenomeles like this red AGM winning Superba. These plants will all tolerate hot sun so long as they are watered well.
Great choices for a sunny balcony garden that also receives shade are a scented daphne, AGM winning Pieris Forest Flame, potentilla, and weigela. You can grow tomatoes, peppers, chilies, basil, and coriander there too. Phew!
Shady Balconies – Think Woodlands
Plants that grow in woodland have large leaves because they live beneath the tree canopy and need to catch as much light and water as possible.
This type of plant doesn’t like the direct sun because it scorches foliage – which means they’re perfect for a shady, wind-protected balcony.
There’s lots of choice! Fatsia Japonica is lovely with its huge architectural leaves. This variegated cultivar is extra special. An acer like Sode Nishiki is another good pick, and hydrangeas will enjoy the shadier aspect – and because your hydrangea will be in a pot you can manage an acid-loving blue variety with ericaceous compost.
When it comes to filling the ground level space choose begonias, any woodland bulbs like bluebells, ferns, and hostas that will all enjoy the coolness so long as the wind levels aren’t too extreme.
If it’s still breezy in your shady balcony garden choose tougher plants with small leaves like alpines, topiary ilex like these lollipops, box, yew, festuca glauca, euonymus – we stock a lot of pretty evergreen euonymus. Dwarf conifers are a great choice too as they bring lots of interesting textures and shapes.
How To Style A Balcony Garden
It’s better to have a few larger plants in a small space. This is a garden design trick that makes you think the space is larger. Luckily for you, we specialise in large plants.
Grouping three of the same plant in matching pots pulls a balcony garden design together and creates a stylish space. That said, you might prefer the wild jungle look, in which case mix and match as you please!
Balcony Garden Inspiration
If you have a head for heights and fancy a day out then visit Kensington Sky Garden in London, but be prepared to face all-consuming balcony garden jealousy!
We hope this has helped you get excited about creating a balcony garden, just remember before you start putting plants in the shopping cart check out your sun levels and provide some wind protection.
If we’ve missed anything get in touch and we’ll do our best to help. We love to hear from our customers and always enjoy a chat about plants.