Create a tranquil and attractive balcony garden this summer with the right flowers and plants in your containers. Here’s the breakdown on what you’ll need for planting; how to keep your plants healthy; and which plants to choose for a beautiful display.
Create the right environment for your potted plants
Choose containers in the right size and material to allow your plant to grow, and for good drainage. Take special care when choosing pots for growing vegetables as some containers can release toxins when they heat up or vintage pots may contain lead. Choose food-safe pots to avoid this risk.
Starting with the bottom of your pot, it should have several small holes for drainage. Place two to three inches of filler in the bottom, such as gravel or packing peanuts, then cover with a quality potting mix that contains organic nutrients and a slow release fertilizer. Leave about one inch of space unfilled at the top of the pot.
Plan to water your container garden frequently. Since potted plants’ roots cannot dig into the earth for water, you must provide it. In hot weather, plants may need water up to twice a day. Be sure to fertilize weekly or bi-weekly with liquid or foliar fertilizer, or even with a slow release fertilizer in the soil. This will keep the plants in your balcony garden happy and healthy!
Choosing plants and designing your container garden
Now comes the fun part. You might be familiar with the terms thriller, filler, and spiller. If not, these are the three basic types of plants you need to create a beautiful container for your balcony garden . The thriller, as the name suggests, is the main attraction of the pot. Generally, this plant provides height and is placed in the center of the pot or at the back. The filler is the plant that provides texture and complements your thriller. It should help fill in the mid-range of the pot. Finally, the spiller is a trailing plant that grows down over the edges. Plant it at the outer edge of the pot and/or towards the front.
Before you start choosing specific plants for your thriller, filler, and spiller components, think about the overall look and color scheme you want for your balcony garden . You can go for a classic neutral container (like the green and white one pictured here), which really pops against the terra cotta pot; or for something more vibrant with colorful flowers in pinks, reds, or yellows. It’s important to choose fillers and spillers that contrast either in color or texture with your thriller to add visual interest to your container garden.
When choosing plants, be sure to consider the plant’s heat tolerance, light and water preferences, and space requirements. Generally, all of this information can be found at the point of purchase, or within the pot. It’s also important to determine the amount of light your balcony garden will receive. Ask yourself: when does it get light? Will this be mainly in the sun or shade?
Balcony garden ideas: three tried and true recipes
Recipe #1 for Part Shade: black elephant ears, green lantern coleus, coral rose diascia, black magic coleus, and marguerite sweet potato vine. This is a stunning mixture with a color palette of deep purple/black, electric lime green, and soft pink.
Recipe # 2 for Full Sun: classic red geraniums and variegated vinca vines or english ivy. This mixture is for those who like traditional planters and want just a pop of color.
Recipe # 3 for Edibles: Lettuce, Kale, thyme, mint. You’ll enjoy picking these leafy greens all summer long, and the thyme and mint will pull double duty both flavoring dishes and making your balcony garden smell wonderful.
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