When you design a balcony garden, you need to think about the challenges of the altitude and direction the balcony faces. You also need to consider the weather your plants will have to put up with and how you are going to make sure your plants get the water they need to flourish.
Never has there been a time when people are more interested in plants and gardens. And it’s important to be able to spend time outside. For people living in apartment blocks with balconies in London, this is especially true. Even when it’s hard to get out to buy plants, you can still order them through online retailer.
For my business, this has been a difficult time. Normally we’d be busy in and out of apartments in developments across London in areas like Greenwich, Docklands and Nine Elms, installing container planters on our customer’s balconies.
As we can’t do that, here are some ideas for starting the process of creating a garden on your balcony on your own. I am breaking these posts down as much as possible to cover all aspects. In this second article I give you some guidance on which plants to use to get your balcony garden going.
Think about the weather?
Once you have chosen your planters and filled them with compost, you are ready to start planting. But how do you know what to plant? Well you need to start by understanding the weather conditions on your balcony, how high up it is and which way it is facing? The plants that will successfully grow on a south-west facing 2nd floor balcony are quite different from those that will thrive on the 40th floor facing north.
The main factor to consider in balcony gardening is wind. For two main reasons. First the wind creates a whirlwind effect inside your balcony, which means that it can damage your plants more easily. So you need to create a planting scheme with solid structure that won’t blow around easily and get damaged.
Be careful of dehydration
The second reason wind has such a big impact on your plants is the speed at which it will dehydrate the leaves of your plants. Simply put, the roots of the plant, which search out water to keep it alive, can’t work fast enough to replace the water being dried out of the leaves. So the plant will quickly die. Dead plants are the most common thing I see on my customers’ balconies.
Just be aware that the higher up you get, the more intense the wind. There are plants which will manage in these conditions but not many. My advice is always to follow the terrain. So high up, look for alpine plants that grow on mountainsides, lower down more coastal plants will flourish. And right at the bottom in a sunny spot, you’ll be able to grow plants that do well in traditional container gardens.
How exposed is your balcony?
While the sun is wonderful and good for us, it can also damage plants. One of the reasons we need to be so careful about watering plants is because in exposed conditions, they dry out really easily. Balcony planters don’t offer the same ecosystem as garden plants. In gardens, plants have lots of ground from which to find nutrients and their roots are naturally insulated against excessive heat or cold. This is not the case in containers which are bound to get more hot or cold. So you just have to be more careful to make sure your plants are happy. You don’t want them too wet or too dry, just damp most of the time, will be perfect.
How much time do you have?
Time is a really important aspect of any gardening project. You will probably spend money on buying stylish planters and good quality balcony plants. There is no point doing that if you aren’t going to look after them.
Plants are living things and need constant nurturing and attention. We’re not talking about spending hours working on balcony planters (unless you have a huge balcony or terrace!). The average balcony will just need a few minutes every day to maintain and make sure plants are doing well.
It’s a good idea to get into the habit of going round all of your planters, snipping away any dead bits of plants, checking the compost is moist and that all your plants are in good condition.
If you have considered all of these problems for balcony planters, then you will be ready to start creating a balcony garden. In the next post, I will identify some plants that you might want to order from your online supplier.