Balcony planting: best plants for a balcony garden & tips on planting


I love to grow, particularly herbs and medicinal plants but also fruits, vegetables and plants for the home. I work as a horticulturist, specifically with plants for indoor spaces, and I study in my spare time. I live in the city but seek out green spaces and those which bring nature and growing into the community.

Favourite fruits: fresh peaches and blueberries
Favourite vegetables: leek, spinach, kale, mushrooms

Balconies offer a unique opportunity to bring nature into our home spaces. From winter through to summer, find out which plants are best suited to transforming your balcony garden.

Balcony flowers in different colours
Balcony flowers add colour to your outdoor space [Photo: dimbar76/Shutterstock]

Each balcony has its own microclimate which depends on its size and how much sunlight it gets. Understanding these conditions will help you to choose plants which will do well on your balcony. Keep reading to discover a variety of different balcony flowers and to get a few ideas on how to create a flourishing and harmonious balcony garden.

By the way: did you know that you can buy sustainable gardening products from our online shop? From composts to fertilisers, we have everything you need to get your balcony planting project off the ground.

Balcony planting: the best plants for a balcony garden

Creating a balcony that looks good all year round requires thoughtful planning. Perennials form the backbone of a balcony garden, providing consistent greenery throughout the seasons. Being creative with foliage and texture will maintain visual interest even when the plants are not in bloom.

Alongside perennials, seasonal plants can add colour and variety to your balcony. These plants have shorter lifespans and are typically replaced each season, but incorporating them allows you to change the look of your balcony throughout the year.

Hardy perennial balcony plants

Create the perfect base for your balcony with these beautiful perennials:

  • Phlox (Phlox): phlox are suitable for sunny balconies, preferring at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. They are known for their vibrant and fragrant flowers, blooming from late spring until early autumn, depending on the variety. Phlox plants are an excellent choice for adding colour to window boxes or hanging baskets.
Lilac balcony flowers
Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata) [Photo: Adriana jacob/Shutterstock]
  • Barrenwort (Epimedium): barrenwort are resilient plants that can thrive in a variety of conditions. They are best suited to a balcony that receives partial shade or dappled shade through the day. The Epimedium genus offers a rich variety of species and cultivars, each with unique characteristics — from flower colour and leaf shape to growth habit. Barrenwort typically flowers in the spring, usually from March to May.
Purple balcony flowers
Barrenwort also has decorative foliage [Photo: S.O.E/Shutterstock]
  • Small periwinkle (Vinca minor): small periwinkle is an adaptable and low-maintenance plant well-suited to balcony growing. It blooms from April with a display of beautiful blue flowers, whilst its glossy, evergreen leaves provide interest all year round. Small periwinkle prefers semi-shaded to shady balconies.
Lilac balcony flowers
Small periwinkle (Vinca minor) [Photo: Iva Vagnerova/]
  • Double flowered chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile ‘Plenum’): double flowered chamomile blooms from June to August with charming, double-petaled white flowers. It is a low-growing plant that reaches a height of just 20 to 35cm. Double flowered chamomile is extremely low-maintenance, tolerating full sun to partial shade as well as dry soils.
Chamomile balcony planting
Double flowered chamomile ‘Plenum’ [Photo: Nicolette_Wollentin/Shutterstock]
  • Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea): ground ivy produces small, tubular, blue-purple flowers from April to July. The beautiful flowers are nectar-rich and so make an excellent pollinating plant for your balcony. Its cascading foliage make ground ivy particularly suited to hanging baskets. Be aware that ground ivy is a spreading and invasive plant, so may take over if planted in a mixed window box.

Tip: we have compiled some tips and ideas on hanging plants for the balcony in our dedicated article.

Lilac flowering ivy
Ground ivy (Glechoma hereacea) [Photo: KanphotoSS/Shutterstock]
  • Alpine Cyclamen (Cyclamen purpurascens): alpine cyclamen thrives in cool, shady environments, making it suitable for balconies in cooler climates. Its colourful flowers are in bloom from June to September. Alpine Cyclamen is compact and grows to just 15cm tall.
Purple flowering plant
Alpine cyclamen (Cyclamen purpurascens) [Photo: Amalia Lukash /Shutterstock]
  • Japanese Skimmia (Skimmia japonica): Japanese skimmia is valued for its attractive, evergreen foliage and colourful berries. Small, white flowers will bloom from late winter to mid-spring, depending on the cultivar. Following the flowering period, female plants will produce bright red berries in autumn and winter. Skimmia japonica thrives in partial to full shade. It prefers a sheltered location away from harsh light. It is also relatively cold-hardy, making it suitable for balconies in cooler climates. However, it should be planted in a location protected from frost.

Important: Japanese Skimmia prefers acidic soil. It is best to choose a soil with low pH, such as our Plantura Organic Ericaceous Compost. Designed specifically for acid-loving plants, this peat-reduced compost will ensure your Japanese skimmia flourishes.

Hardy balcony plants
Japanese Skimmia (Skimmia japonica)[Photo: Elena Rostunova /Shutterstock]
  • Stonecrop (Sedum): stonecrop is a versatile, low-maintenance plant tolerant of a range of light conditions from full sun to partial shade. Its fleshy, succulent leaves can provide contrasting textures in a mixed plant display and many Sedum varieties even change colour as the seasons change. Sedum spurium ‘Dragon’s Blood’ provides striking autumnal foliage. Stonecrop plants tend to bloom from late spring to late summer, or even early autumn. Its ability to withstand drought makes stonecrop an excellent choice for a low-maintenance balcony.
Colourful foliage succulent
Sedum spurium ‘Dragon’s Blood’ [Photo: Nahhana/Shutterstock]
  • Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens): wintergreen is a small shrub which reaches a height of just 15 to 20cm. It is well-suited to balconies that receive dappled sunlight or partial shade throughout the day. Gaultheria procumbens thrives in acidic soil and benefits from a layer of mulch to retain moisture. Wintergreen produces bright red berries in late summer or early autumn and remain throughout the winter. These provide beautiful winter interest as well as serving as a food source for wildlife over the coldest months.
Balcony plant red berries
Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) [Photo: Gabriela Beres /Shutterstock]
  • Hellebore (Helleborus): hellebores often produce flowers in mid-winter to early spring, providing colour and interest when few other plants are in bloom. Hellebores are frost-tolerant and even thrive in cold climates. However, they may need protection during extreme cold spells and are best planted in a protected location on the balcony.
White balcony flowers
Hellebore (Helleborus) [Photo: BlackRabbit3 /Shutterstock]
  • Winter heath (Erica carnea): winter heath displays a burst of colour from mid-winter to early spring with its pink, white or purple bell-shaped flowers. Its compact, upright growth and sharp evergreen needles also provide interest in the summer. Winter heath tolerates extreme cold, making it a suitable choice for balconies in cold climates. Choose a location on your balcony that receives 4 to 6 hours of sunlight a day. Erica carnea thrives in well-draining, acidic soil. For the optimum growing conditions, choose a low pH soil, such as our Plantura Organic Ericaceous Compost, and mix with 30 % sand of gravel.
Pink balcony flowers
Snow heath (Erica carnea) [Photo: F-Stop boy /Shutterstock]
  • Winter-hardy herbs: herbs are an excellent addition to any balcony. Not only do they look pretty, they also smell and taste delicious. Among the hardy herbs are many varieties of thyme (Thymus), sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) or peppermint (Mentha x piperita). Note that peppermint is spreading and invasive, so is best grown in its own pot.

Tip: although each of the above plants can withstand low temperatures, it is important to consider that pot-grown plants are more sensitive than those grown in the ground. Therefore, it is recommended to wrap the pots with a fleece for the winter.

Spring balcony flowers

These spring plants can be planted out when the risk of frost has passed, and the weather has consistently warmed up. Bulbs and tubers are a safe choice as they remain insulated from freezing temperatures below the soil and begin to flower once the conditions become favourable.

  • Crocus (Crocus): vibrant, delicate flowers that bloom early in the spring, providing a food source for bees
    Position: sunny
  • Hyacinths (Hyacinthus): distinguished by large flower clusters with a strong fragrance
    Position: sunny to partial shade
  • Daffodils (Narcissus): this spring classic blooms from February to May with yellow, white or orange bell-shaped flowers
    Position: sunny to partial shade
  • Pansies (Viola × wittrockiana): popular for their distinctive petals and ability to flower in cold weather
    Position: sunny to partial shade
  • Persian buttercup (Ranunculus asiaticus): a burst of colour for spring plantings
    Position: partial shade
  • Primroses (Primula): versatile flowers adding a variety of colours to balcony and container plantings
    Position: partial shade
Spring balcony plants
Balcony flowers for spring [Photo: Traveller70 /Shutterstock]

Did you know? Containers and window boxes can sometimes create an environment that is too moist for bulbs to overwinter. Excessive moisture can lead to fungal diseases or bulb rot. To manage moisture levels in your balcony plantings, ensure containers have good drainage and use a well-draining potting mix. Alternatively, grow bulbs as annuals on the balcony and plant them out at the end of the season in a sandy, sunny spot in the garden.

Summer balcony plants

When planting in the summer, it is just as important to pay attention to the site requirements of each plant. The full sun of a south-facing balcony would be optimum for sunflowers, but would be too intense for begonias. The following selection includes plants suited to a south-facing balcony with lots of sun, as well as suitable options for partial shade and full shade:

  • Petunias (Petunia): sun-loving balcony favourite, cherished for their abundant blooms throughout the growing season
    Position: sunny
  • Sunflower (Helianthus annus): a quintessential balcony plant for full sun. Sunflowers are also available in shorter varieties such as ‘Pacino’ (30cm) or ‘Suntastic’ (50cm)
    Position: sunny
  • Snapdragon (Antirrhinum): known for their vibrant, spiky blooms, which are also suitable as cut flowers
    Position: sunny
  • Nasturtium (Tropaeolum): edible and beautiful climbing plant
    Position: sunny to part shade
  • Pot marigold (Calendula officinalis): valuable pollinating plant also grown for healing properties
    Position: partial shade
  • Forget-me-not (Myosotis): delicate and dainty with clusters of sky-blue blossoms
    Position: partial shade
  • Begonias (Begonia): perfect for adding colour to a shady balcony
    Position: shade

Tip: vegetables and herbs make both a beautiful and practical addition to your balcony. You can learn about how to regrow your veggies in our dedicated book.

Regrow Your Veggies Book
Regrow Your Veggies Book
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  • Easy-to-follow instructions & beautiful illustrations
  • Regrow more than 20 fruits and vegetables at home
  • Perfect gift for anyone who wants to make the world a little greener

Autumn balcony plants

Choosing suitable autumnal plants will add colour and interest as the seasons change. Here are a few ideas for your autumn balcony:

  • Amaranth (Amaranthus): tall, rich-coloured flower panicles are a striking display. They can reach 120 cm tall, so are suited to a larger balcony
    Position: sunny
  • Dahlia (Dahlia): available in a large variety of vibrant colours
    Position: sunny
  • Zinnia (Zinnia): blooms for several weeks, from July to October
    Position: sunny
  • French marigold (Tagetes): blooms yellow, orange, or red flowers in autumn
    Position: sunny to partial shade
  • Spider flower (Cleome): graceful clusters of purple flowers bloom into autumn
    Position: sunny
Pink balcony flowers
Dahlias add colour to the balcony in autumn [Photo: Lapa Smile /Shutterstock]

Winter balcony plants

Winter is a time for dormancy and rest for plants. During this time, many plants reduce their growth in response to colder temperatures and to conserve energy for the upcoming growing season. Evergreen foliage, colourful berries and unique bark patterns can be used to create winter interest on a balcony.

  • Ornamental kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala): the vibrant and colourful foliage of ornamental kale makes it an excellent choice for winter balcony planting. It can tolerate cooler temperatures and light frost.
Kale colourful foliage
Ornamental kale ((Brassica oleracea var. acephala) [Photo: Hgalina/Shutterstock]

Tip: if ornamental, winter-hardy grasses are not cut back in the autumn, they may develop beautiful culms — flower stems or stalks — amid a winter landscape. Blue fescue (Festuca cinerea), for example, produces tall, creamy flowers which grow above the grey-blue foliage.

Balcony planting: instructions

To help your balcony plants to continue to thrive, it is important to pay attention to a few key considerations. Here we have put together a short, step-by-step guide to balcony planting:

Step 1 – Space: make sure you are aware of how much space you have. Will tall perennials fit or are small, delicate plants a better choice? If you want to use window boxes, measure your balcony, and choose containers that are suitable.

Step 2 – Aspect: for south-facing balconies, choose sun-loving plants and avoid those sensitive to intense sun. For balconies that receive less light, choose plants tolerant to partial or full shade.

A balcony with various potted plants
Light conditions will determine the best plants for your balcony [Photo: Yulia Grigoryeva /Shutterstock]

Step 3 – Season: consider whether you want to change your plants each season or to choose perennials. We recommend a mix of annual and perennial plantings for an ever-blooming balcony.

Tip: plan what plants you want to combine in mixed containers. It is best to plant moisture-loving plants, for example, separately to those that prefer arid conditions.

Step 4 – Purchase: once your planning is complete, you are ready to go. Look for healthy, high-quality plants and choose a potting mix suited to the plant’s needs. A specialist herb soil will provide the ideal growing conditions for herbs, whereas flowers will require a nutrient-rich soil.

Tip: our Plantura Organic Flower Compost is the ideal choice for the flowering plants on your balcony. Enriched with fertiliser, this compost will meet the high nutrient needs of your flowering plants to encourage abundant, healthy blossoms. Additionally, our compost is peat free, which makes it a sustainable and environmentally-friendly choice.

Organic Flower Compost, 40L
Organic Flower Compost, 40L
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  • Perfect for all flowering plants in garden beds & pots
  • For beautiful blossoms & healthy plant growth
  • Peat-free & organic soil: CO2-saving composition

Step 5 – Planting: use expanded clay, pebbles, or perlite to create a drainage layer at the bottom of the planter, around 2.5 to 5cm deep. Fill the planter approximately one third full of the suitable substrate. Water the plants well before potting and place them in the container. Fill with the remaining soil and water lightly. Remember that requirements will vary from plant to plant, so be sure to understand each plant’s own container, soil and drainage needs before planting.

Person planting balcony box
A drainage layer of expanded clay will help prevent waterlogging [Photo: encierro /Shutterstock]

Step 6 – Care: in order to keep your balcony looking beautiful, make sure to provide the appropriate care specific to the needs of each plant and the conditions of your balcony. One essential aspect is watering. Keep a close eye on the moisture levels of your plants, as balcony conditions can lead to faster drying out of the soil. Additionally, ensure the correct drainage to avoid waterlogging your container plants. Adjust the fertilising schedule depending on the nutrient requirements of each plant and be mindful not to over-fertilise. As perennials grow over the years, they will need to be repotted and, in some cases, divided. Consider the season when doing so: summer and autumn flowering perennials are best divided in the spring; early-flowering perennials are best divided in the autumn.

Tip: flowering plants require proper nutrition to develop vibrant blooms. Our Plantura Liquid Flower Food is an excellent choice for fertilising the flowering plants on your balcony. With an NK ratio of 3:4, this liquid feed provides your flowers with the essential nutrients for healthy growth. Additionally, it is particularly well-suited to potted plants due to its easy application via watering.

Liquid Flower Food, 800ml
Liquid Flower Food, 800ml
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  • Perfect for all flowers & balcony plants
  • Liquid fertiliser for a lush blossom throughout the season
  • Quick & easy application - child & pet friendly
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