Patio & Balcony Gardening 101

Apartment Patio & Balcony Gardening 101

Just because you live in an apartment doesn’t mean you can’t grow a beautiful garden.  From colorful flowers to delicious veggies, we’ve got a few tips to help your garden grow this spring.

Select the Appropriate Plants

Be sure the plants you choose for your container garden can easily grow in the 6b Plant Hardiness Zone (for the Greater Baltimore Area).  This is the zone the USDA uses to help determine which plants will thrive in our region and when the optimal planting times are.

Ideal spring & summer container vegetables include beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, lettuce, onions, peas, peppers, spinach, artichokes, and tomatoes. Delicious container fruits include raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries.  Herbs also do well in pots.

Decorative plants such as boxwoods, dwarf spruce trees, and ferns can add some beautiful green shades to your patio.  A huge array of flowers can be easily nurtured in pots including roses, coneflowers, daylilies, clematis, hydrangeas, and many others – adding color to your botanical oasis.

Plan Your Patio

Using some graph paper, a ruler, and a tape measure, plan the layout of your container garden.  First, measure your patio or balcony space and any furniture you want to use.  Plot your furniture layout on your plan.  Next, figure out the approximate size and location of additional plants.  You can cut out “to scale” plants, pots, and furniture to lay on your plan so each piece can be rearranged until you find the right fit.  Once you’ve decided on a final plan, glue or tape the pieces in place.

Select Containers & Plants

Consult with your local nursery or a reputable online nursery such as Monrovia (Monrovia.com) to research the container requirements of each plant.  Drainage is key in selecting pots as too much water can kill a plant just as quickly as too little water.  Plastic containers are ideal for hanging baskets or window boxes due to their light weight.  Heavier materials such as ceramic or terra cotta are ideal for plants on table tops or on the ground as the added weight creates stability.  Terra cotta is a great choice for plants requiring dry soil as moisture easily escapes these pots.  Glazed ceramics and plastics are better choices for plants requiring a moist environment.

Unique and stylish containers can be found at locations such as Wayfair, Pottery Barn, and Gardners.com.   This article from The Cottage Market showcases a few creative plant container ideas and vendors. 

If you’re looking for some eco-friendly and budget-friendly options, drilling a few holes in a coffee can or similar container can also work well.  Add a decorative finish by painting the containers before potting.

 

Nurturing Your Plants

Set an alarm or calendar reminder to water your plants regularly.  Mornings are ideal for watering so excess water can evaporate and dry during the daytime.  Evening watering can lead to leaf rot and attract unwanted insects that look for water sources at night (mosquitoes and other pests).  Plant food can help your plants grow, but be sure to check any directions for sun, water, and food on the plant’s seed packets, information tab, or using the USDA or nursery’s website.