Balcony Gardening Tips for Summer

Barrels overflowing with flowers or rustic pots made from an old tub adorned with succulents of different types and colors. All these and more give a rugged look to a garden and are also a great option if you do not have a large space, to begin with.

With summers approaching the idea of adding a little green to your balconies must have crossed your mind a million times. But not sure where to begin? This article has all you need to know about balcony gardening tips for summer.

Balcony gardening is an amazing concept when it comes to creating your own green blanket. It serves as a relaxant a way you can destress and declutter your thoughts. On the other hand, gardening also serves as a bonding and family-building activity with kids and teenagers.

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Simply plant a few flowering plants and non-flowering plants throw in a few ornaments and rugs and enjoy a lovely sunny day from the comfort of your own home. Working in a balcony garden has proved to improve productivity by 30 – 40 percent as compared to sitting indoors.

Balcony gardens spice up an otherwise boring balcony. Setting up a balcony garden is simple and can be done on a budget. You can choose to splurge on expensive planters and exotic plants or go the DIY route.

How you decorate the balcony is up to you. This being said we have put together a few things to consider while planning and setting up a balcony garden in summer.

How do I get a garden on my balcony?

Getting a functional garden on your balcony is simpler than it seems. First of all, pay attention to the amount of sunlight the balcony receives. The trick to growing plants well is by getting enough sunlight.

Even though it is summer and the sun is out, it is necessary to check the position of your balcony beforehand. This can be done by simply asking yourself these questions:

  • How many hours per day does the balcony receive direct sunlight?
  • Are there any trees or other buildings blocking direct sunlight? 
  • What direction does the balcony face? 

These questions will help you determine the amount of sunlight the balcony garden will receive. A south or west-facing balcony will receive more heat. This means that they are perfect for sun-loving plants.

Once you have a clear picture of the amount of sunlight received you can choose the types of plants that you can plant in your balcony garden.

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Plants to include in your balcony garden depending on the amount of sunlight received. 

  • For full sunlight: Succulents specially echeveria, morning glory vines, strawberries, lettuce, grasses, oregano, sage, basil, mint, almost all flowers.
  • For less sunlight: Fuschia, English ivy, Coleus, most types of ferns, begonias and peace lilies

Investing in right Planters

After zeroing down on the type of plants you would like to include in your balcony garden, it’s time to consider the type of planters that can be used. While looking for planters keep in mind the specific requirements of plants.

If the plant requires a large planter that is what you will need to invest in. Smaller plants and most succulent variants can be planted in pots that can be hung from the ceiling or beams.

These pots can also be placed in planters that attach themselves to the balcony wall or railing. Leaving the balcony skirting looking beautiful and colourful.

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Soil and Fertilizers

Like planters, the soil you use is important to ensure that the plants receive proper nourishment. This being said any dirt or garden soil available cannot be used for potted plants.

For plants to grow well in planters use a good quality potting mix which can easily be prepared at home or bought off the internet.

Along with a good potting mix invest in fertilizers and compost. Theses not only increase the nutritive value of the soil but help the plants grow healthier. 

If you are an experienced gardener and are planning to reuse old potting soil, be sure to check the soil for mould or other impurities.

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Furthermore, treat the soil before planting new plants in it. this will help protect them from diseases that may affect the plant due to contaminated soil.

Water right

Watering plants is the most mundane task, it can be done in any way that the gardener deems fit but doing it right is what gets you fantastic results. Whether you use a watering jug or a bottle, water plants slowly instead of dunking in everything at one go.

The slow watering technique is ideal for plants in a balcony garden as it allows time for them to absorb moisture and nutrients at their own pace.

Secondly, it reduces the chances of overwatering and spillage. This method is also more plant-friendly and does not damage the roots of the plant.

In summers it is necessary to pay attention to the plant as it can easily dry out due to lack of water. This can be easily done by keeping an eye on the soil, if there are cracks or the soil seems dry water it more than once.

As temperatures during the day are high it is recommended that plants are watered in the morning. This ensures that the plants are ready to face the harsh heat during the day without feeling parched.

Pay attention to drainage

To ensure that your plants stay healthy, pay attention to pot drainage. Puncture a few holes at the bottom of the pot if they don’t come with a drainage outlet. This will reduce the chances of the roots getting soggy and rotting. 

Another thing to pay heed to is placing a tray under the pots to collect the excess water. This reduces spillage and keeps the balcony clean.

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Tip: Empty the tray from time to time to avoid insects from breeding in it. 

Get the right equipment

It is easy to go overboard while starting a balcony garden from scratch. To make things easier survey the balcony and map your garden before starting. After you have a rough idea of what goes where purchase thing in bulk or as part of a package. 

On Amazon, for example, a balcony gardeners starter pack is available for about 35$ for a 24-piece bonsai kit that includes pots, rake, clippers, trimmers, planting essentials, seeds, and more.

Other kits range from 20$ – 30 $ and can be used to plant other plants as well. Single planters cost about 3$ – 8$ depending on the size and type. There are also combination packs available. See what suits your needs the best.

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Seeds or plants that are about 3 – 4 inches can be purchased from Amazon or eBay. 

Tip: Buy seeds and plants in bulk this way you end up spending comparatively less.

Use a germinating container till the plant is about 2 to 3 inches tall and then transfer them to planters. 

It is better to wait for deals or buying gardening equipment offseason as it saves costs. 

How do you select and use a balcony planter?

As discussed in the previous section, it is imperative to use the right planters in your balcony garden. Here are a few pointers to getting the right one. 

Size: The size of the planter matters at this directly influences the growth of the plant. Pay attention to the size of the plant before investing in a planter. if plants with denser and wide foliage are placed in small planters there are chances of them toppling over. On the other hand, a small plant will tend to lose its charm if placed in a planter too big.

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Drainage: look for drainage holes as this is very important. Most planters come with drainage holes but if the one you have purchased doesn’t have them. You can easily poke a few using a hot fork for plastic planters and a nail / a drill for concrete ones. A spill tray to collect the spillage needs to be placed under pots to avoid a messy garden.

Planter Material: The material used to make the planter is as important as the size. Terracotta and clay pots are good for plants but need more attention as they can be damaged easily. Concrete variants are sturdy but at the same time heavy and tend to get heavier with wet soil and the plant. Plastic pots are more durable and inexpensive. They can also be stored and reused easily. 

How do you care for planters?

Here are a few ways in which you can look after your planters through the summer as well as all year round.

  • Get the potting mix ready before adding it to the planter. This will ensure that the mix is well prepared beforehand. This ensures that the planter is not damaged by the scraping and mixing. After the mix is added the plants can be transferred to the pot easily. If you are planning to sprout the seeds in the planter itself it can be done easily at this stage.

Once the plant or seed is in the pot, make sure that it is watered regularly. This will guarantee that the pot remains moist and is not completely dry. This increases its life.

  • If you are using a plastic pot keep them away from direct sunlight as it will cause the pots to go brittle over time. 
  • As pots are the main attraction of your balcony garden, show them some love by painting them and looking after them as well as you look after your plants. 

Check Growing and caring for edible flowers in your balcony garden

What are the best plants for a balcony?

To keep the containers looking attractive all summer long, plant annuals that love warm climate and bloom in summer. Alternatively, you could also choose plants that have foliage that remains attractive even without flowers.

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Marigolds, wax begonias, coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides), Geraniums, scarlet sage (Salvia splendens), flowering tobacco (Nicotiana spp.) are good choices for plants that are annual and add to the beauty of your garden. Balcony gardening is all about experimenting and that’s what we recommend you do.

Plants that grow well one season may not the next year, hence keep your options open and spirits high. If you notice that the plant is drying or is not growing well, you can always start over.

If you have a small balcony and cannot have larger plants succulents and shrubs are a good option. They can be planted in planters attached to the railing or hanging plant-holders.

Hostas and daylilies are a good option for these types of spaces, you could also try Sedges, European wild ginger, lungworts, lavender, ferns, Lamiums as these are perennials and grow well from one season to the other.

Ornamental grasses and all variants of succulents are an excellent addition as well. 

Other than these you could also plant herbs like sage, oregano, lavender, basil, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Broccoli, Summer squash, Radishes, A variety of greens (lettuce, kale, mustard’s, spinach, bok choy, etc), Celery, Mint, Rosemary, Cilantro, Peppers, Parsley, Tarragon, Zucchini, Spring onions.

Herbs are the best plants to include if you have a small space as these grow vertically and occupy little space.

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Most herbs require about 4 to 8 hours of sunlight and are relatively easy to plant and grow. If you are planning to include leafy vegetables and root variants, they can be easily grown in the shade with very little direct sunlight.

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Conclusion

The idea of starting a balcony garden can be overwhelming whatever the season. To reduce the stress associated with planning make a checklist and stick to it. be mindful about sticking to a budget as it is very easy to go overboard. This will help you gain direction while planning and setting up a balcony garden in summer.

There are a lot of DIY options available when it comes to planters or soil mixes. This not only reduces costs but also adds a personal touch to the balcony.

Old bottles, pots, cans and other household items can be upscaled and used as planters or decorative material for balcony gardens. In terms of the sitting arrangement, all you need is throw rug and a few pillows.

Then again invest in good lighting as nothing beats a cosy blanket on a cool summer’s night surrounded by plants. This will surely make balcony gardening in summer totally worth it!