How to grow perennials on a balcony or patio

How to grow perennials on a balcony or patio

Albert, Manager of a gardening service, Leicester

Guide written by:

Albert, Manager of a gardening service, Leicester

Perennial plants work perfectly on a balcony or patio. Whether you want to plant them in planters, pots or hanging baskets, perennials should be chosen for their blossom, size and watering requirements. From yucca to bamboo, grasses to flowers, read on to find out how to grow perennial plants on a patio or balcony.

Important features

  • Size
  • Shape
  • Flowering
  • Cold-hardiness
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What is a perennial plant?

Over the past few years, perennials have enjoyed something of a resurgence. Dotted around public spaces, streets, parks and homes, perennial plants are certainly on the rise.

But what is a perennial exactly? A popular misconception is that a perennial is a particularly hardy or fast-growing plant, but that isn't the case at all. In fact, a perennial is simply a plant that lasts a number of years and, unlike trees or shrubs, does not feature much or any woody growth.

These plants are often indistinguishable from annuals (which last just a year) as their stems are not woody and they can produce abundant flowers. As it goes, some plants that are thought of as annuals (such as Mandevilla) are actually perennials when grown in their native land.

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Perennial plants

Perennial plants for balconies and patios

Some perennials produce impressive blooms while others are chosen for their foliage. Perennials range widely in terms of size and appearance making them an ideal to use either alone or alongside annuals and shrubs. These plants are idea for balconies and patios. Of course, most balcony and patio plants will be grown in containers whether you go for raised beds, pots or planters. You will therefore have to choose perennials that will live happily in a pot. For this, you'll have to consider the following factors:

  • the size of the plant and container; of course there is a direct link between the two. Be sure to consider the size of the plant as it matures (this should be noted on the plant tag);

  • if you are keeping several plants together, be sure to think about the size, colours and compatibility of your varieties in terms of watering needs and soil type. It's important to avoid keeping plants that need a lot of water alongside those that do not require much watering;

  • the cold-hardiness of your plants, meaning how well they cope with cold conditions. If you want your perennials to last, it's best to go for cold-hardy varieties;

  • if you are planning on using several raised beds or planters, it's important to plan out the shapes and colours of your plants so that they work well together. Plant large perennials in large beds and smaller varieties in planters or hanging baskets;

  • perennials last for several years meaning you will have to provide a bit of care; this usually means a bit of pruning at the start of spring.

Of course perennials can be combined with shrubs and annuals, but will also provide great results planted alone.

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Planters and containers

What are the best perennials for balconies and patios?

Some perennials work better than others in pots. Here are some examples:

  • grasses: often overlooked, these perennials can add a lot of decorative interest. Easy to plant and care for, these plants come in a remarkable range of varieties and grow well in containers.

  • bamboo: can be used as a privacy screen planted in raised beds, but also great for adding simple and elegant foliage;

  • ferns: the willowy shape of these plants will add movement to your outdoor space; best used in raised beds or hanging baskets;

  • sacred bamboo is a popular choice for its evergreen foliage that changes colours across the seasons; best grown in a raised bed;

  • flowering perennials: here are a few examples that should do well in pots or planters: alyssum, arabis, yarrows, campanula, dianthus, fleabane, coral bells, phlox, salvia and rockfoils;

  • ornamental grasses: available in many varieties; can be planted in pots or small raised beds;

  • yucca: a hardy plant with an interesting upright shape; to be planted in raised beds;

  • phormium: chosen for its attractive foliage; ideal for raised beds.

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Guide written by:

Albert, Manager of a gardening service, Leicester

Albert, Manager of a gardening service, Leicester

For several years I have been running a garden service with a clientele of both individuals and companies. I manage a team of gardeners and ensure the creation and maintenance of green spaces. At the same time, I bring my expertise to my clients in terms of the maintenance and improvement of their gardens. In fact, as a trainee and working in the hospitality industry at the beginning of my career, I focused on landscaping in a local community where I acquired solid technical skills through in-house training and the follow-up of major projects in a rapidly changing town. On a personal level, I am equally oriented towards the art of gardening. With my wife, I created our garden from start to finish and I maintain it carefully, the same goes for the vegetable garden. As for DIYing, it’s not to be outdone. Yes, gardening is also tinkering: pergolas, huts, pavements, fences, and so on...There is always something to do in a garden. After working well together, my wife and I are proud of the result and delighted to be able to take full advantage of a friendly and warm environment. So, let us give you advice and help you in your choice of tools, maintenance, or the improvement of your garden, nothing could be simpler.

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