The Best Gardens for a Balcony

Written by christina ash
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The Best Gardens for a Balcony
Pansies make a bright addition to sunny spots on a balcony. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Growing plants in containers on your balcony enables you to create and maintain an oasis of calm and colour. A variety of pots in different shapes, materials, styles and colours add visual interest, complemented by the flowers and plants. The best gardens are those that are visually appealing, easy to maintain and suited to your balcony's growing conditions.

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Suitable containers for your balcony garden include plant pots, window boxes and urns. The containers should have drainage holes in the bottom and preferably be of a nonporous material. Soilless mix is a lightweight growing medium that contains all the nutrients essential for healthy plant growth. If your container is large, fill the bottom third with filler material, such as crushed aluminium cans or packaging peanuts, and cover this with a piece of landscape fabric. Fill the pot with the soilless mix to within 2 inches of the top.

Garden Design

For containers placed against a wall, place your plants in them so that the upright flowers and foliage are at the back, and the trailing or border plants are at the front. Fill the rest of the container with medium-size flowers and foliage. For containers that are visible from all sides, use a large plant as a centrepiece and surround it with smaller plants in a graduated design, ending with trailing plants that grow downward over the side of the pot.

Sun-Loving Plants

For the sunnier places on your balcony, group plants that thrive in the heat. Annuals provide instant colour, and osteospermum, pentas and strawflowers come in many colours. For foliage colour, try strobilanthes with leaves variegated with purple and pink, and succulents, including aloes and kalanchoes. Suitable trailing plants include million bells and phlox. Experiment with growing culinary herbs such as basil, oregano and thyme.

Shade-Loving Plants

Place shade-loving plants in the cooler parts of your balcony. Impatiens and tuberous begonias provide colour in full shade, while pansies, schizanthus and diascia flourish in partial shade. Coleus, with its leaves in shades of green, bronze, burgundy and copper, provides seasonlong foliage colour in partial shade, while ferns prefer cool, moist conditions. Bacopa provides bright-white trailing flowers that contrast with the fiery colours of lantana.

Vegetables & Fruit

You, too, can have fresh vegetables and fruit in the summer. Varieties of patio tomatoes are bred to grow in pots, and you can plant lettuce, spinach and other leafy greens in long boxes and harvest them early for microgreens. Peppers of all kinds thrive in containers, as do varieties of radishes, carrots and even broccoli.

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