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3 things to consider when starting a balcony garden

By Rikki Cook

Living in an apartment building, or thinking about downsizing to inner city dwellings doesn’t mean saying goodbye to the plant life. Balcony gardens are popular, and are a great way to have your daily dose of nature and to add personality to your living space. Before you head to your local garden centre, there are three things you should consider when starting your balcony garden.

Weather

Although we can’t control the weather, we can regulate the placement and the appropriateness of our plants.

Depending on which way your apartment balcony faces, there’ll be a difference in what sort of plants are best suited to the environment. Tomatoes, for example, need lots of sunlight to grow while bok choy and herbs, such as rosemary and coriander, thrive in the shade. Fuchsias are an ideal flower for shadier balconies, and can continue blooming indoors during winter if you want to bring some flora inside.

Being busy

Growing gardens are a commitment, so you need to be realistic about how attentive you can be to your plants. Summer can be pretty unrelenting, and just like you, your plants need to be hydrated to stand the heat. If you’re out of the house at work all day, install a self-watering drip irrigator into your balcony garden. These can be bought on the cheap from your local garden centre, or are easy to DIY using a recycled soda bottle.

The same thing goes for holidays, too – there’s nothing worse than returning home and finding your basil has dried up beyond salvation. Make sure you have enough water in your automatic system for your entire break, or ensure someone is coming round to take care of them while you’re away.

If your schedule requires plants with low maintenance, consider getting a range of succulents or ferns that need little watering. A monstera plant is the perfect addition for those who want a big character plant that doesn’t demand too much attention.

Space

While your patio dreams may be of a spectacular urban oasis in the middle of the city, your balcony garden needs to be grounded in reality for it to work. Think logically about what plants fit in your space, and what they may look like when fully grown. Take time to survey your balcony, and find any nooks or walls that could be used to house potential plants. A popular trend among balcony gardeners, a hanging wall planter is a practical way to house many small flowers or herbs while freeing up floor space for larger fronds like ferns.

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