There was once a time when only those living in suburban areas with green space to fill were able to benefit from having a garden, but now it’s a treat accessible to everyone.
Even those living the urban life or without a patch of grass to be seen can have their own garden as well, thanks to the introduction of balcony gardening.
Balcony gardening is nothing new though, as people have been growing flowers on their patios and herbs on their windowsills for years now, but the modern era of this type of garden is flourishing for those living in apartments and condos specifically.
This type of gardening is now about getting the full experience without having to leave your balcony, and you can grow everything from vegetables to perennials.
Is balcony gardening worth it, though?
Balcony gardening might sound simple enough, but there’s a lot of planning that goes into growing greenery in this unique space.
A balcony garden requires the right combination of plants that tolerate shady conditions, but it can also benefit from fewer pests and the joys of having a low-maintenance garden.
If you live in an apartment and your balcony is the only source of outdoors that you get, you could have everything you need to plant a garden of your own.
This guide to balcony gardening will walk you through what’s required, the best plants for this special setup, and how to make the most of the space you have so that your garden flourishes.
Table of Contents
What is Balcony Gardening?
Balcony gardening is a term used to describe any type of garden that’s grown on a balcony.
This can be as basic as just a few hanging pots or as advanced as having many plants, vegetables, herbs, and flowers growing in an assortment of planters and pots all over the available free space.
These types of setups are a great way to invite all of the benefits of gardens and green spaces to your home, where you might be otherwise unable to grow something.
Those without backyards or garden plots can still have fragrant flowers, fresh produce, and beautiful greenery just a few steps away with access to their own garden on their balcony.
A balcony garden can be as basic or advanced as the gardener wants, and you’re only limited to how much room you have and how creative your mind can be.
You might prefer something basic just to grown some herbs for cooking or want a grand setup with an irrigation system and rows of plants to tend to. They can look dramatically different from balcony to balcony, but the benefits remain the same.
Is This Space Ideal for Gardening?
Gardening on your balcony is working with what’s considered a microclimate, which means an area where the climate might be different from that around it.
On your balcony, the garden will usually be higher and with different weather conditions to what’s on the ground, so it has a unique set of requirements for the plants growing on it.
A balcony also has other unique climate considerations, like the heat that comes off of the building walls.
You might also have to think about the color of the exterior paint and whether this could reflect sunlight more, so it operates entirely different from plants grown in the same location but down on the ground floor.
Growing plants on a balcony is easy to do, provided you’re working with the space that you have and catering to its strengths and weaknesses.
A balcony usually has access to a good amount of sunlight at different times of the day, there are shady parts to utilize, and it can be watered easily by the gardener who lives close to the plants.
Even smaller balconies can still be a garden base and there are plenty of options for making the most of what you have. You could use vertical planters to grow herbs up the wall or hanging pots for your favorite flowers.
There’s no need to only have standing planters or containers on the ground that can limit what your garden is capable of.
The Best Plants for Balcony Gardening
The joy of growing a balcony garden is that there are no limitations just because it’s on a balcony.
Many people assume that growing here means you can only have the hardiest plants or those that live with minimal sunlight, but that’s not true, as many do exceptionally well in this setting.
- Flowers: Roses, Hydrangeas, Posies, Mandeville’s, and Torenias are all beautiful flowers that will thrive on a balcony.
- Herbs: Most herbs will love the environment on a balcony so you can choose from fragrant options like basil, lavender, chamomile, oregano, and chives.
- Vegetables: Tomatoes, carrots, peppers, and squash are some of the easiest veggies to grow and thrive in the unique setting of a balcony.
- Fruit: Delicious fruits like strawberries, peaches, blueberries, cherries, and plums can be grown with some TLC and space on your balcony.
- Plants: Plants of all varieties can be hung, potted, or planted vertically depending on how much shade and light they’ll get.
Growing Food on Your Balcony
One of the reasons for the balcony gardening boom is that people can now grow vegetables and herbs from there.
This means full-time access to the farm-to-table experience without needing anything that resembles a farm, but just a small space on your balcony that allows you to grow.
Herbs are a great choice for a balcony garden because they’re low maintenance, do well in the shade, and don’t need a lot of room to spread out.
The best picks for balcony-friendly herbs are basil, chives, parsley, oregano, lavender, and chamomile, giving you a huge variety to choose from.
Vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, squash, and carrots are all perfectly matched for the shade and light environment of a balcony, as are fruits like peaches and strawberries.
You can plan a garden depending on the seasons and when done right, you’ll be able to make the most of the microclimate up there and have fresh vegetables available all year round.
The Ideal Placement of a Balcony Garden
No matter the size, shape, or aspect of your balcony garden, you’ll be able to find plants that will flourish there. To determine which plants are best, take a look at your balcony and assess what the aspect is, or where the sun hits at different times of the day.
Plants are all unique in that they need varying amounts of shade and sunshine, and every balcony will provide a different setting.
Spend a couple of weeks looking at what happens on your balcony, the times that it gets direct sunlight when it’s shady, and which areas stay covered or lit at all times.
The other important factor to consider is how much rain the plants on your balcony will receive if any at all. Test this out with some carefully placed containers that can measure the rainfall as it occurs, and make a note of this when thinking about how often your plants will be watered and by what methods.
Use your findings to determine the best plants, and make a note of what the aspect is on the balcony. Full sun refers to anything with at least six hours of direct sunlight a day, but ideally up to 10 hours a day.
Anything less than six hours a day would be considered partial shade, and under three hours a day is known as full shade. With these findings, you’ll be able to plan a garden that works with the sun and shade to its advantage.
Another consideration that must be made is the weight of the garden you’re planting, including the pots, soil, and plants.
If you have restrictions on weight or are running out of space, you could use plastic planters, and make use of the walls and hangers to keep some of them off the ground.
Fertilizers for a Balcony Garden
Plants need nutrients to survive, and regular watering and sunlight alone won’t do it all. Your balcony garden needs a fertilization schedule in place to provide this, and it’s easy enough to do depending on what’s growing there.
The vegetables and fruits of your garden will require a fertilizer with a higher nitrogen content than other plants, so it’s okay to treat these with the same products and preferably something with organic ingredients.
Flowers and others are best treated with a fertilizer made specifically for them, and all other plants can get a general fertilizer treatment.
It’s a good idea to have a fertilizer schedule in place, and it can help to make a note of this on a calendar if you’re doing them at different times.
Some plants require weekly or bi-weekly fertilization and others can go a few months without it, so this will take up a lot of the planning of your balcony garden but the results will be worth it.
Keeping Pests Away
The number of pests found in a balcony garden is generally fewer than those on the ground, but that doesn’t mean you can be complacent.
Keep an eye out for signs of the usual suspects and treat your plants with pesticides as required, whether this means a natural solution or otherwise.
One of the most common pest issues for balcony gardens comes from birds and other wildlife that can scale buildings.
A bird will be attracted to growing fruit and vegetables and will feast on it as often as they please, while also using the structures you’ve created to roost, so try to limit the access that they have.
Other animals like squirrels and rats can reach the heights of balconies and will also be drawn to what you have grown there.
To keep these pests out of your plants, cover the soil with a fine mesh material like chicken wire so they can’t dig in it and destroy all of your hard work.
A Bountiful Balcony Garden for All
Just because you live in an apartment, there’s no need to give up on the joy of gardening.
If you’re tired of just having a few pots in your home, the next step is planning a beautiful garden on the balcony, and you’ll be pleased to know there are no limitations.
A balcony garden is only as simple as the gardener wants it to be and you can get creative and go wild in this special space.
You’ll enjoy all of the benefits of gardening without ever having to leave your home, and it’ll bring some much-needed vibrancy to your surroundings.
Balcony gardening is just one way that people are making the most of their limited space to enjoy the benefits of growing plants, whether it’s vegetables, flowers, or other plants you’re interested in.
If you’re still unsure about starting a garden on your balcony and have further questions, we’ve answered some popular ones to help you out.
If you want to grow plants indoors as well as on the balcony, you can choose species that do well in low-light surroundings.
Some common low-light plants include Devil’s Ivy, Staghorn Fern, Zanzibar Gem, and Snake Plants, all capable of achieving good growth even in low lighting conditions.
Choosing flowers for a balcony is easy as long as you pick those with a tolerance for shade and regular clipping, and flowers that are sturdier than others.
The best flowers for the unique setting of a balcony positioned pot include Magnolias, Pansies, Petunias, Impatiens, and Begonias, just to name a few.