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10 best plants for balconies
Low-maintenance plants for greening up your apartment balcony
You’ve got your apartment nicely outfitted with some furniture. Now it’s time to tackle your balcony. Adding some greenery to your balcony is a great (and cheap!) way to extend your living space and make everything feel more alive and homey. If you have a small balcony, just looking outside can feel good. If you’ve got a larger balcony, you can read a book, enjoy your morning coffee and breathe in all the fresh oxygen your plants are producing. Figuring out the best plants for balconies isn’t hard, we’ve done the leg work for you.
Whether you’re thinking of your balcony as a beautiful ornamental garden or a mini herb farm, planning your space is important. Here are key factors to consider and a list of the best plants for apartment balconies.
How to select the best plants for your balcony
When considering the best plants for balconies, keep in mind sunlight, exposure to the elements, different seasons and the extra weight plants might add to a railing or window trim.
Plants require different amounts of sunlight, so you’ll need to have a sense of how much sun exposure your balcony gets. If your balcony gets sunny and toasty all day, the best plant for your balcony may be those that thrive in sunlight. If your balcony is shaded, you’ll want to do the opposite. Most plants have labels that explain how much sunlight they need, so read the details carefully.
Exposure to the elements
In addition to sunlight, you’ll also want an idea of how exposed your balcony is to wind and rain. If you see a lot of wind, you may want to get sturdy plants or put up something to act as a windguard. Also, you won’t want to get plants that prefer less water. If your balcony is bombarded with rain all the time, your plants will basically drown.
Different plants also prefer certain seasons. It’s probably obvious, but if it’s winter, you don’t want to put out plants that thrive in summer, or vice versa.
Top 10 best plants for balconies
You won’t have any trouble finding some plants that you like — the plants you can grow on your balcony are pretty varied. Although you might want to explore creepers, conifers, shrubs and even dwarf trees, here are our favorite plants that are simple to maintain and, er, keep alive.
Arguably the lowest maintenance plants around, succulents are lovely little balcony dwellers. Cacti, aloe vera, echeveria, and agave are some of the popular ones you can easily pick up at Lowes. They require minimal water and thrive in the sun.
Another water saver: Petunias. These gorgeous, perennial beauties can tolerate drought conditions and look bright and alive when in bloom. If you live in a cooler climate where the temperature is less than 60 °F during the spring and summer months, petunias aren’t your best bet.
One of the most resilient plants, marigolds thrive in tough conditions and are naturally pest-resistant. (We plant them around some of our herbs to keep the bugs away.) With a beautiful yellow-orange bloom, these flowers look great in the sun and thrive in locations with lots of sun and hot temperatures. They’re also dirt cheap: For less than $4, you can add these to your balcony and watch them bloom all summer.
If your balcony is shaded, impatiens, otherwise known as “touch me nots,” are one of the best options. These plants do best when planted close to one another and should be watered daily. Check out Lowes and Amazon for different color options (we love the orange).
A late bloomer, chrysanthemums – or mums – can add color to your apartment balcony later in the year. Mums can grow to be 2-3 feet tall and prefer to be in locations where they get maximum sun. Yellow. Pink. Red. Purple. Pick your color combo and plant away.
Another shade lover: begonias. These colorful flowers come in colors ranging from white to dark red and every shade in between. And they don’t need much maintenance. Perfect.
7. Ivy Geranium
As the ivy portion of their name suggests, ivy geraniums can climb — they love posts, banisters and downspouts. They thrive in full sunlight but can survive in shaded areas and only need watered once a week. They’re easily available and tolerant.
The best option on this list for a vertical plant, verbena works really well in hanging baskets or on a railing-mounted flower bed. It’ll stretch out beyond its container, adding some volume and color.
If your balcony is almost exclusively soaked in the sun and you want to grow something that you can actually eat (and you actually like them) tomatoes are the perfect choice! There are tons of sizes and a nice range of colors in the red/yellow/orange family. To get harvesting more quickly, buy starts instead of seeds, like these ready to go ready-to-go tomato plants on Amazon.
If you’re into cooking and like to spice things up a bit, herbs should be one of your roommates. There are countless varieties and they have a super small footprint. There are also a ton of pretty cool planters that are half herb home/half works of art.
How to keep your balcony plants low maintenance
Start with just a few to see what works well in your space. The key will be keeping it all pretty low maintenance.
- After you’ve confirmed your balcony can handle the weight, select a couple of bigger container pots. Bigger container pots hold more soil and water for the plants. (The weakest point of any balcony is the middle, so keep the heavy pots around the perimeter.)
- When added to the soil, water-saving granules increase its ability to absorb water, thus reducing the need to water as often. A water ball or plant minder also holds a reservoir of water
- Keep your watering can nearby. (Watering cans can also add some style to your balcony. Check out one of our favorites!). If you have access to a hose, of course this is faster.
If your apartment has a balcony, take advantage of the space to bring a bit more calm and relaxation to your home and busy life. Start with just a few that require minimal upkeep. You can always add more. The colors, the smells, the taste — adding plants to your balcony will help liven up your space and maybe even your kitchen.
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