Humans find peace near greenery. In this modern era of urbanized towns, it is quite difficult to find both (peace and greenery).
Gardens are often far away from houses or are usually full of crowds or filth.
However, there is one positive side of flat systems- Balconies!
A personalized balcony garden can ensure that you get to enjoy the blessings of nature whenever you want. It is the perfect set up to escape concrete jungles.
The best part is that you can choose what to grow according to your likes and personalize according to your taste.
Some important things, however, need to be kept in mind for creating your own balcony garden.
Considerations When Setting Up a Balcony Garden
Below are some things you should asses before you decide you set up your balcony garden.
No or Minimal Discomfort to Others
Make sure there are no restrictions in your area, from your owner or neighbor.
Certain places restrict overhanging, plants that obscure windows, those which attract a lot of bees etc.
Make sure it is not a cause of discomfort to all those living in your building especially neighbors. It is always safe to take permissions in writing rather than just verbal agreements.
Weight Bearing Capacity
The balcony you are going to use as a garden should have a good weight bearing capacity. If you can walk, jog on it then it has a good capacity to bear weights.
Also, the size of the plants needs to be assessed. Certain plants grow to be very large while some don’t grow at all. It is a good idea to find out how large it can grow and assess if your balcony can handle the size.
Space in the Balcony
Space on your balcony will be a huge factor when it comes to designing a garden and placing plants in it.
For example, the small spaced balcony can have wall climbing plants, overhanging pots, high narrow pots etc.
The idea is to maximize balcony space and not to clutter it to the point where there is no space to enjoy it.
Sunlight Your Balcony Gets
Sun factor is important for some plants. See how much sunlight falls on your balcony.
Whether it is sunny everywhere or in certain places. Also whether sunlight is available for the whole day or part of the day.
Place sun-loving and shade-loving plants accordingly. Some plants require fewer hours of sunlight and some require indirect sunlight.
Observing the balcony at different times in the day shall do the trick. Also, assess whether the balcony gets heated up a lot. Some plants thrive in heat while others cannot survive in the heat.
Wind & Cold
Design of a balcony garden will also depend on how much windy or cold the balcony gets.
Certain sensitive plants can be placed behind big strong plants for protection. Smaller plants can likewise be placed closer to the floor.
Windy plants dry out fast so that needs to be taken into consideration. Also, certain plants cannot survive winters and need to be taken indoors.
Easy Access to Water
Water should be easily available to all the plants in your garden.
If you have to carry a bucket and get water from your washroom, the entire process may soon start looking too tiresome.
If you have a balcony that already has a tap or if you can use a pipe and attach it to any tap nearby, then that’s great too.
Create some sort of water system whether bucket, pipe or self-watering system. Balcony must have a proper drainage system as waterlogging can kill the plants.
Lastly, depending on your lifestyle, design and choose plants according to your time and motivation. Whether you have lots of time and can water them every day or you need to travel a lot and cannot put a lot of effort and time in nurturing them.
Some plants require minimum attention while others need a lot (watering, fertilizing, pruning, spraying pesticides, etc.)
Advantages of having a Balcony garden
The first and foremost advantage is that keeping plants near your vicinity improves the quality of surrounding air. They help reduce pollution. (clean air studies were done by NASA and they recommended few air purifying plants that you can keep indoors or in your balcony)
Plants also help eliminate stress and tension (according to Journal of physiological anthropology).
Growing some edible herbs like curry leaves, coriander, chilies also ensures that you’re consuming fresh healthy herbs.
Plants act as a natural humidifier. They release moisture through a process called transpiration. They also keep the area around them a bit cooler.
Being around plants improves cognitive ability. This means it enhances the problem-solving ability and increases productivity.
Being close to plants can help one feel calm and heal faster from injuries (Kansas state university research)
I would highly recommend children to grow in houses with plants to know the importance and benefits of plants and it will keep them healthy.
Related: Benefits of Indoor Plants
Useful Tips To Setup a Balcony Garden
Note that plants which grow in containers require more care than plants grown on the ground. They should be regularly fertilized and watered.
Privacy and bad views from the balcony can be taken care of by growing tall plants like bamboo and palm or vines. Not only will it give privacy, but it will also protect you from the sun and wind.
If you have a lot of vertical gardens airy space, it is a good idea to grow climbers and vines. Hanging baskets look beautiful on a balcony. If you have a narrow balcony, place the plants near the wall and railings to create a beautiful corridor.
Do add a little bit of furniture to the garden according to space available. It should not take up a lot of space as a movement can get restricted. Preferably opt for a foldable and lightweight furniture to sit and relax, do gardening or have tea, read books, chat with family and friends, etc. if the balcony is sunny, choose bright colors on furniture as it will heat up slowly.
A simple and cheap way is to use wooden planter boxes. They don’t utilize a lot of space and look great.
Use an organic spray for pest control. You can either use neem oil, mineral oil or make your own salt and garlic spray.
The plants which are above the ground should be well supported and securely fastened. This way they won’t fall by accident or due to wind or pressure.
20 Best plant for Balcony Garden
There are a lot of varieties of plants one can grow.
Flowering plants look great on display and are a feast to eyes due to their color and intense fragrance. Growing herbs will ensure a fresh supply at home.
Fast growing plants give lush thick foliage to the balcony. Climbers ensure privacy if one has sufficient vertical space. We are going to list a mix of all of these.
Below are the 20 best plants for the balcony garden for your home/apartments.
Aloe vera clears the air of formaldehyde and benzene. It was called a plant of immortality in ancient Egypt.
According to a study published in general dentistry, its gel is as effective in fighting Caries as normal toothpaste. It is used in Germany for treatment of constipation (German regulatory agency for herbs).
A study carried out by Sinhgad college of pharmacy, published aloe veras capabilities to treat diabetic induced ulcers. It also has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties (University of Las Palmas de Gran, Canaria, Spain study published in the journal: molecules)
Aloe vera reduces depression and improves memory (study in nutritional neuroscience). A team of plastic surgeons published in Pakistan medical association that burn wounds heal quickly with aloe vera.
Light: It can tolerate full or partial sunlight.
Water: Water it only when the soil has become completely dry.
Temperature: It can tolerate all temperatures up to 4-5 degrees. Then it needs to be taken indoors. One can also drive stakes into the ground and drape a blanket over it to protect it from extreme cold and frost.
Soil: Aloe vera does well in all sorts of well-draining soil.
Care: It requires very little care.
Snake plant is also known as mother in laws tongue. It is used widely used as an outdoor ornamental plant. Nasa clean air studies found it absorbs toxins and chemicals from the air and converts carbon dioxide into oxygen.
It has analgesic and antipyretic effect according to research.
Light: It grows well in bright sunlight as well as low light conditions
Water: It requires frequent watering during growing season however do not over water. From fall to the end of winters, it requires occasional watering.
Soil: Snake plant requires a well-draining soil as it cannot survive to waterlog. Gritty, sandy soil or cactus mix is a good idea.
Temperature: It grows well in temperatures above 12 degrees. Below which permanent scarring of leaves occur.
Care: It is a strong plant and can survive neglect. however, it is prone to bugs and spider mite infestation. Insecticides and biological pesticides are solutions.
It is an ideal plant for a colorful balcony. It is drought resistant and can survive neglect. It can be grown either in containers or can also be grown vertically up a trellis or around the grills or any rods.
It adds freshness with its vibrant colors. It has delicate paper thin flowers which fall off after a few weeks. It can be grown all year round. It is drought tolerant, salt tolerant and wind resistant.
Light: Bougainvillea needs full sunlight and at least 5-6 hours of sunlight every day.
Water: It needs moderate to limited watering. Bougainvillaea loves watering but should not be overwatered. Overwatering will cause root rot and it won’t flower. Too less water will cause the bracts and leaves to fall off. In winter periods when it is resting, it requires even less water.
Soil: Bougainvillea requires well-drained soil. It should never sit in water. Allow 50 percent of the soil to dry out before watering again. Monthly organic fertilizers will strengthen the roots and help produce more flowers. It requires acidic soil. pH above 6.0 causes a high possibility of micronutrient deficiencies in the plant.
Temperature: It does very well in moderate to hot climatic conditions across (21-39 degrees). However, it does not do too well under 4-degree centigrade.
Care: Bougainvillea is disease resistant and pest resistant. Bougainvillaea can grow quite large quickly, so it should be trimmed regularly and pruned. This way you can help direct its growth. It can also be grown vertically up a trellis. It has toxicity level 3 and gloves should be used while handling the plant.
The scientific name of money plant is Epipremnum aureum.
It is commonly known as Golden pothos. It is low maintenance, easy growing plant.
One can decorate the balcony with money plant vines and it grows quite well vertically or around a rail horizontally. It is used in public places, offices, and malls due to the spectacular decorative display options it provides.
It also cleans the air of harmful pollutants.
Light: Avoid keeping it in areas of direct sunlight as that can burn the leaves. It’s best to let it grow in a shady corner of the balcony. Once grown it does very well in partial shade/indirect sunlight. It can tolerate a variety of light conditions.
Water: Pothos like a lot of water. But make sure not to waterlog the plant or the roots will die. Allow first 2 inches of the soil to dry before watering again.
Soil: It requires a well-drained soil so adding sand is a good idea to the potting mix. It does not require much fertilization. Fertilizing in 4-5 times a year is enough.
Temperature: Since they are tropical plants they prefer temperatures in the range of 21-32 degree Celsius. They grow quite well in high humidity.
Care: Pothos have to be tied from stalk as they climb and grow. These plants do not require much care and are usually disease and pest free.
It is commonly called as holy basil. It is native to the Indian subcontinent.
It is cultivated in many households traditional purposes.
The leaves are famously used as a herbal tea drink.
Dried tulsi leaves mixed with stored grains is supposed to be an excellent insect repellant.
Light: Tulsi thrives in full sun. It can also be grown in partial light conditions but it needs 5-6 hours of sunlight every day.
Water: Water this plant when the top one-inch layer of the soil has dried. Avoid watering during rains and water less during winter.
Soil: Tulsi requires well drained and fertile soil with a ph of 6.5-7 being ideal. Fertilizing it once in three weeks is sufficient. Add compost once in six months
Temperature: Since this plant is of Indian origin, it thrives across Indian temperatures. The ideal temperature ranges are above 21 degrees.
Care: When the plant starts to flower, the leaves lose its flavor. It is a good idea to nip off the flowers to encourage new growth. Regular removing of old leaves and flowers makes this plant healthier and bushier.
It is a pest and disease free plant, especially when grown outdoors.
Dypsis lutescens, its common names are golden cane or butterfly palm.
It is an easy growing ornamental plant which can be used to screen for privacy, cover a blank wall, side of the house or garage. According to NASA clean air study, the areca palm filters formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene from the air.
Light: Areca palms can grow in full sunlight, however, they grow best in areas of partial shade. Direct sun may change their color to yellow.
Water: They like frequent waterings. Once the top layer dries, it’s time to water. Do not wait for the soil to be dried up completely. Also, make sure not to over water. The roots tend to rot and die if there is waterlogging.
Soil: Areca palms need well-drained soil. They require slightly acidic soil with ph 6.1 to 6.5. Adding lime to compost helps in raising the ph. Fertilize in spring and then four times in a year.
Temperature: These tropical beauties love growing in the temperatures of 21 degree and above. They love high humidity.
Care: Areca palm creates new growth from the center of the palm. Trimming or cutting new growths can stunt the plant. Always remove old and brown leaves. They are non-toxic and do not require any special care.
This ornamental plant is commonly grown for its attractiveness and scented aroma.
Rose petals are also used in sweets and food. There are a lot of varieties and colors options for this perennial plant.
Light: Roses love to grow in full sun and they need full 6 hours of direct sunlight
Water: Water roses infrequently but thoroughly and it is important to water the soil and not the foliage to keep diseases away. Water to keep the soil moist so that it is neither overly drenched nor completely dry.
Soil: Roses thrive in well-drained soil which is rich in organic matter. Use a slow releasing fertilizer three to four times a year.
Temperature: Roses are happy in temperature ranges of 18 degrees Celsius to 25-degree Celsius. They will flower all year provided they have been watered, fertilized and groomed. Provide some shade for them if the afternoon sun gets too hot more than 28-degree Celsius. Certain varieties can withstand cold temperatures and some go dormant in winters.
Care- Roses need to be trimmed in order to make them into a healthier plant. Cut off faded blooms, weak canes and dead stems for a lush and blooming plant. Pruning them helps to prevent disease issues. It is susceptible to pests and diseases. One needs to be aware of these pests and diseases and cure them accordingly.
Dracaena reflexa is a popular ornamental plant. Being a tropical plant, it has the ability to grow both in the shade and sun.
It can be grown as a screen barrier. Nasa clean air studies have shown it to filter air pollutants namely formaldehyde, xylene, and trichloroethylene.
Light: It thrives in bright indirect sunlight. Occasional bright sunlight is also good for its growth. However, place it under shelter in hot afternoons.
Water: This plant requires consistent watering. It should not be over watered nor left dry for long spells. The soil surface should be dry to touch before watering again. Once grown, this plant is drought resistant. It should be watered sparsely in the winters.
Soil: Dracaena is tolerant of most soil types. It thrives in organic fertile soil that is well drained. They grow in slightly acidic soil with ph 6.1 to 6.5. They require monthly fertilizer, especially in spring and summer seasons.
Temperature: These tropical beauties require temperature range between 18-29 degree Celsius. They love humidity.
Care: Prune regularly to promote new growth. Scales or mealy bugs can infect this plant. Prune away the infected parts. Dracaena reflexa are toxic to pets.
CURRY LEAVES PLANT
Curry leaves plant originates from curry tree (Murray koenigii now changed to Berger koenigii).
Its leaves are used in cooking.
Once the plant starts growing one needs to shift it to bigger pots with time and growth. Eventually, it grows into a small tree with 4-6 m height.
It has three varieties: Regular, Dwarf, and Gamthi. Of these, the ‘Regular’ variety grows quite fast.
Light: It grows quite well in sunlight and heat.
Water: Curry leaves plant to require moderate watering. Allow the soil to dry completely before watering. It benefits from warm water feeding. Reduce the water in winters.
Soil: Use an organic, well-draining soil. Adding cow manure and river sand works very well. It grows quite well in slightly acidic soil. Fertilize it with a liquid fertilizer every three weeks. Buttermilk is a great homemade fertilizer option.
Use Nitrogen-rich fertilizer for lush foliage.
Temperature: Curry leaves plant thrives in average temperatures range of 26 to 37 degree Celsius.
Care: Regular pruning and harvesting of leaves promotes fresh growth and helps the plant become bushier. Pinching of tips of branches when it is young encourages multiple branch growth.
Jasmine (Jasminum auriculatum) is also called as Juhi, camera, mogra, Champa Bela, advisable.
It is used as an ornament to be worn on hair. It is also used for decorative purposes. It is quite popular for the exotic fragrance and the beautiful pristine white color of the flower.
It is grown as a shrub or as climbing vines. It usually blooms all summer long ( June to October)
Light: Jasmine grows very well in direct sunlight. 4-6 hours of sunlight is enough for the plant. It can grow and survive in partial shade ( 2-4 hours of sunlight) as well.
Water: Water the plant only when the top half inch has dried up. It is susceptible to root rot and fungal infection if the roots stay too wet. Too much water can stunt the growth of the plant or lead to no flowering.
Soil: Jasmine requires well draining fertile soil. Adding loam-based compost to the soil improves its drainage. Fertilize it with a potassium-rich fertilizer every month during the summer season and do not fertilize in winters.
Temperature: Jasmine prefers warm summers with sunny days and good humidity. Normal temperatures in the summers work fine.
Care: Prune as necessary to control size and shape. Remove the dead flowers, leaves, and stems. It is a low maintenance plant except for sun and water requirements. It is usually pest and disease free. Use neem oil or wash with soapy water if you see insects or bugs.
Hibiscus is commonly known as shoe flower, rose mellow, China rose and sorrel. Over 200 species of its family are found in warm and tropical regions.
Ayurveda uses hibiscus flower for making medicines. Almost all parts of hibiscus flower, leaves, roots etc are used in Ayurveda. It is a beautiful decorative flowering plant with many color options. However, it does not have any fragrance.
Light: For a good bloom, it requires a good amount of sunlight every day ( preferably 6 hours).It thrives in humidity. A little afternoon shade is preferred when it gets too hot.
Water: Daily watering in warm weather and in blooming season. Once winter begins, water it only when it feels dry to touch.
Soil: It requires loamy well-draining soil. Use a high potassium slow release fertilizer monthly. No fertilizer is required in the winters.
Temperature: Hibiscus flowers best in the temperature range of 16 to 32 degree Celsius. Once winter starts, it is better to bring the plant indoors.
Care: As long as hibiscus is provided with good sunlight and adequate water along with monthly fertilizer, it does not require much care. Pest problems can be easily controlled by using an insecticidal spray early morning or in evenings. Avoid spraying in hot temperatures as the spray might burn the plant.
It is also called an arrowhead plant, arrowhead vine, goosefoot. It has an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effect.
It is a feng shui plant. It is an excellent air purifier according to the NASA indoor plants research.
The best part is it absorbs toxins and toxins go to the root zone and are converted into nutrients for the plant.
Light: Certain variegated varieties tolerate direct sunlight but most of them grow well in bright indirect sunlight. Keep it in a place where sunlight does not fall directly.
Water: Allow the soil to dry up between waterings.
Soil: Syngonium requires organic well-draining soil with aeration capabilities.
Temperature: Being tropical, these buddies thrive in temperatures of 20 to 30 degree Celsius. It loves humidity.
Care: This evergreen vine is an enthusiastic climber. When left unpruned, its vines can grow up to 6 feet long. It does not have any pest or disease problems. However, all parts of the plant are toxic due to the presence of calcium oxalate crystals.
Its botanical name is zamioculcas zamiifolia.
It is also called as emerald palm or Zuzu palm.
It is a tropical ornamental perennial plant. A study at the University of Copenhagen in 2014 revealed its ability for air purification removing volatile compounds like benzene, toluene, xylene etc.
Light: ZZ prefers natural bright light. However in hot season during the afternoons, place it away from direct sunlight.
Water: Overwatering can destroy this plant. Water it only when it is completely dry. It is drought resistant.
Soil: It does not require any special soil. Any well-draining potting soil will do. Fertilize it monthly with liquid fertilizer 20-20-20.
Temperature: Best growth is in the temperature ranges of 18 to 26 degrees. Hot temperatures increase leaf production.
Care: ZZ plant is very much resistant to pests and diseases. It has a natural shine. Never put a commercial shine on the leaves as that blocks the pores. Since it produces calcium oxalate crystals, it isn’t necessarily toxic but exposure to crystals can cause skin irritation. It should be kept away from pets and children.
This is an easy growing ornamental succulent for people who are quite busy and cannot give enough time to their plants.
Concern for water conservation in arid areas has given rise to gardening requiring less water. One can create living cactus fences as a barricade.
Light: Cactus like a lot of sunlight. Spiny, hairy variety require more sun than soft leafy varieties.
Water: Allow the cacti to dry out before watering.
Soil: They require well-draining soil. A commercial cactus soil mix is the best option. A liquid fertilizer once a month is enough.
Temperature: They grow best in the temperature range of 18 to 30-degree Celsius with 22-degree Celsius being the ideal temperature.
Care: Take care of the thorns while handling them. It is a good idea to wear gloves. Once they enter the skin they are quite difficult to remove and cause long-lasting irritation.
They are quite prone to attacks by pests, fungus, and bacteria. Fungicides and insecticides are a good option in these cases.
These evergreen perennial flowers are for those balconies which do not get direct sunlight.
It is among the top 10 air purifying plants which effectively removes benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene from air
Light: It is best to keep them in shade under medium indirect light.
Water: One specialty of this plant is that it will sag a little when it is thirsty. Watering it once a week is sufficient.
Soil: It requires a well-draining all-purpose potting soil. Keep the soil moist but do not overwater. It is not a heavy feeder so fertilize it once in 6 weeks.
Temperature: It grows best in the temperature range of 18 to 29 degree Celsius. This plant loves humidity.
Care: Peace lilies are sensitive to chlorine. If you get chlorinated water, allow the water to stand overnight before using it for the plant. It is toxic to pets and children. It does not have the pest and disease issues.
Crassula Ovata is also known as ‘lucky plant’ and is a succulent.
It is hugely popular due to the lack of care needed. This succulent can be grown by those who do not have much time to do gardening.
Light: Direct sunlight for at least four hours daily
Water: Water it thoroughly, but allow it to dry up completely before watering. Overwatering will kill Jade plant.
Soil: It requires sandy and quick draining soil. A commercially available potting mix works best for this succulent. Fertilize it once in 2-3 months with a liquid fertilizer
Temperature: It does very well in temperature range of 18 to 26 degree Celsius
Care: Insects and pests are a common problem for the Jade plant. Rub alcohol on the affected area or use neem oil.
It is also called as elephants foot palm. Its scientific name is Beaucarnea recurvata.
It is an evergreen perennial ornamental succulent. This palms is quite easy to grow and can survive neglect. Ponytail palm is a slow-growing plant
Light: It thrives in full sun
Water: It is a drought tolerant plant. It should not be overwatered. Water it in one to two weeks and make sure the soil is dry.
Soil: Ponytail palms require a fast draining soil like a cactus or succulent potting mix. Fertilizing it once in 3-4 weeks with liquid fertilizer is sufficient.
Temperature: Ideal temperature range for this succulent is 18 to 24 degree Celsius
Care: Be careful while handling the plant as its leaves have tiny serrated edges. There is a high amount of saponin in the leaves of ponytail palm which makes it poisonous to pets. There is usually no pest problem with ponytail palm. Diseases only happen if the succulent is overwatered.
Chlorophytum comosum, this is commonly called as ‘ribbon plant’.
It is in NASA’s list of air filter plants and is known to reduce formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene.
Light: Spider plants need bright indirect sunlight. It can burn in direct sunlight of hot afternoons.
Water: It is sensitive to fluoride and chlorine in the water.
Soil: Give it a well-draining slightly acidic soil. It does not like to be fertilized much. A monthly or bimonthly 10-10-10 fertilizer is enough.
Temperature: It grows best between 18 to 23-degree Celsius. It needs a warm tropical climate.
Care: Spider plants are susceptible to bugs and mites. Using an insecticide works well for them.
Also called as ‘Aglaonema modestum’, Chinese evergreen is native to tropical regions of Asia.
This plant should be grown in a shaded area of the balcony. It is known to filter the air by removing benzene and formaldehyde pollutants.
Light: This plant needs indirect light. Keep it in a shaded spot away from direct sun.
Water: It is best to water when it dries up. Usually, that happens once a week. Check for to 2 inches and if it’s dry, water the plant
Soil: It requires a well-draining potting mix. An equal mix of soil, perlite, and sand. Monthly liquid fertilizer works well.
Temperature: it grows in normal temperatures, 18 to 24 degree Celsius. Chinese evergreen love high humidity
Care: look out for bugs and pests. Use pesticide/insecticide accordingly. Chinese evergreens are toxic to pets. Clean the leaves with a moist cloth to remove dirt and dust.
It is also called as west Indian jasmine, jungle flame, jungle geranium etc.
Ixora flower all year round and are used in Ayurveda as medicine.
Light: It requires bright sunlight. Good sunlight helps in developing attractive colors. The plant may not bloom if the light is not sufficient. However, in the extreme heat of afternoons, it is advisable to shift the potted plant to partial shade.
Water: Overwatering can cause damage. Water when top 1 inch appears dry. In warm weathers, watering should be regular.
Soil: It requires slightly moist, well-drained organic slightly acidic soil. Ixora should be fertilized every two weeks thrice in a year- march, June and October with a ‘NPK’ fertilizer.
Temperature: Normal temperatures work fine. It needs a temperature range of 17 to 21 degree Celsius. This plant likes high humidity. Ixora cannot survive in freezing temperatures.
Care: Chlorosis is a common problem. The leaves become yellow if the soil becomes alkaline or deficient in minerals. Treat it by micronutrient foliar spray on the leaves. It is also susceptible to insects and bugs. Treat that by using the insecticidal spray in the later part of the day to avoid burning due to sunlight.
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