The best pot plants for your balcony

If you've got a balcony in full sun, with no sun, a teeny inner-city space or you're short on time to care for a garden, we've got the low down on which plants can flourish in your outdoor space - no matter your schedule.

Balcony and verandah gardens are a great way to create an environment through planters and pots.

The horticulturists from Phillip Withers Landscape Design share their tips to ensure you've got the plants and regime to see a fresh new garden thriving.

What should I plant on my balcony...

...in areas with full sun? 

Crepe Myrtle, Smoke Bush, Lavender, Salvia, Lamb's Ear, Agave

...in areas with no sun?

Clivia, Tractor Seat Plant, Bird's Nest Fern, Bromeliads, Mother-in-law's Tongue

...in exposed areas that aren't protected from wind or rain?

Armeria, Lomandra, Aloe, Westringia, Protea, Seaside Daisy

...if I'm short on space?

Small Maple, Standard Roses, Dwarf Bay Laurel, Pittosporum, Hen and Chicken Plant

...if I've not got much time to spare?

Agave, Spineless Prickly Pear, Bird of Paradise, Liriope, Barrel Cactus

...if I'm looking to grow some fruit, herbs or veggies?

Dwarf Lemons, Creeping Rosemary, Salvia, Tuscan Kale, Strawberries, Citrus underplanted with Thyme or prostrate Rosemary for a layered effect, Mediterranean herbs like Corsican Mint and Thyme

...if I want some year-round colour?

Sea Lavender, Crepe Myrtle, Euphorbia, Sedum Autumn Joy, Hydrangea

...if I'm looking for something green and lush?

Fatsia, Giant Elephant's Ear, Indian Hawthorn, Xanadu Plant, Tristaniopsis Laurina Liscious

...if I want to try some hanging plants?

Rhipsalis, String of Beans, Happy Wanderer, Spider Plant, Strawberries, String of Hearts, Hairsfoot Fern.

How to care for your balcony garden

Watering

Check your plants each day in summer and every few days in winter. Water your plants early in the morning to allow the roots to take advantage of the moisture before it evaporates. Water sufficiently and allow water to get through to the roots.

Roots are most active as the sun is rising, so it’s a good habit to water your plants while eating your breakfast. A drip tray is a good way to keep water at the base of the plant, providing a constant wick of moisture during the hotter months.

Remember to water the soil, not the leaves, and try to use water from an outside tap as it contains less salt than the water running out of your kitchen tap. Sodium can build up in the potting mix over time and kill your plants.

Inspection

Check for pests and diseases every few days and if you notice something, head down to your local nursery or visit our new Shrub Hub to work out what measures need to be taken or call a professional.

Feeding

Plants growing in containers need more fertilising than those in the ground. The more you water, the more quickly you flush the nutrients out of the soil.

It’s good to use a time-release fertiliser when planting, but it’s the bare minimum. A slow-release fertiliser will ensure your plants are being fed over time, but if you want really healthy and happy plants, feed them a liquid or water-soluble fertiliser every couple of weeks, according to package directions.

Always check your garden products - be it fertilisers or potting mix - meet the relevant Australian standards. These products will have the red tick logo on the packaging.

Pruning

Pruning is an essential gardening skill. When you prune correctly, you encourage healthy growth and flowering.

For most shrubs and trees, it helps to prune them at the right time. Some are best pruned in winter, such as deciduous trees and some right after flowering. It's best to check with your local nursery or call a professional for some advice on each particular species.

Repotting and conditioning

It’s important to stay on top of a plant growing too big for its planter: check once per year that the roots are not swirling around the pot and suffocating the plant or the plant isn't growing too large and about to burst out of the pot.

In either case, it’s important to upsize your pot or trim back the planting, add new soil, compost and a liquid fertiliser to finish to give it some new life.

Images: Courtesy of Phillip Withers Landscape Design

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