Small is beautiful. Summer is just around the corner and your gardener hands are eager to bring a touch of color and flavor to your busy urban life. The only “but” is that you have no garden. However, don’t lose hope! There are a wide variety of plants, whether edible or decorative, that can be grown on the balcony, in planters, or in hanging baskets. You just have to choose the right pots and plants and follow some simple rules for planting and caring for them, so that you can enjoy your own little garden in no time, whether you live on the ground floor or on the 23rd floor.
Choose the right pots
First of all, think about the space you have and the size of the plants you want to grow, and adapt the size of the pots accordingly. Mix different sizes to achieve a harmonious overall effect and think about the possibility of using a larger pot to combine several plants. If you do, place the taller species in the center so they don’t hide the smaller ones.
Make sure the pots have multiple drain holes, and add a layer of gravel, chunks of earthenware, or terracotta to the bottom for even better drainage. In larger pots, it is preferable to use pieces of polystyrene, since they produce the same effect but allow the pot to be moved much more easily. Line the porous pots, such as clay pots, with a plastic layer to avoid water loss on the sides and use a good quality compost. When it comes to acidic soil plants, such as azaleas and camellias, use a specific compost without lime.
If you opt for hanging baskets, put a layer of fresh moss on them or special fiber or cardboard liners that you can find at your garden store. Place a plate at the bottom of the basket to prevent drained water from running through it. Just like before, use good quality compost, but fill the basket only halfway. Pass the creeping plants through the side holes and plant the taller species in the center. Make sure the basket looks full when you’re done, for a more colorful and impactful result throughout the summer.
Choose the appropriate plants
Among the best flowering plants for balconies and small spaces are fuchsia, lavender, daylilies, sage, dwarf rose bushes, and undoubtedly geraniums. You can add leafy plants, such as ornamental grasses, ferns, and hostas, for depth and contrast. Climbing plants like clematis also do well in pots, and creeping species like petunias and lobelias add color to window boxes.
You can also grow many types of fruit and vegetables in pots. You could create a summer garden of aromatic herbs in a barrel, with cascades of thyme or oregano running out the edges, mixing others like parsley or basil inside, and taller plants, like dill, right in the middle. Try growing small fruit trees, such as blueberries or dwarf citrus, in large pots; Of course, do not forget that they need a lot of sunlight. As for vegetables, tomatoes, peppers, dwarf beans, onions, and lettuce, they do very well in pots. For tomatoes and peppers, use wooden or clay pots, as they will heat the soil less than plastic. If they receive a lot of light, they will ripen before those planted in the ground outdoors and will give you a delicious harvest.
Whether you are looking for colors, aromas or flavors in plants, or a combination of all three, you will have to periodically water the hanging pots and baskets; in fact, when it is very hot, up to twice a day. Also, since your plants won’t have much soil to get nutrients from, compost is especially important. Choose the right fertilizer for your plants, especially vegetables, and apply it once a week. For flowers, you can also use slow-release fertilizer sticks. In this way, your plants will be healthy and happy throughout the season and will allow you to enjoy a summer full of color in your own little garden.