The Q&A Archives: balcony plants

Question: I need suggestions for plants for a balcony facing west in austin; it is shade until about 4pm - in the northwest & southwest corners I would like a trellis with climbing blooms- I have pics I could send - it's a large balcony- would like to do varieties of palms - open to eclectic selections. thanks

Answer: Sun, shade and wind are the elements balcony garden plants need to be able to tolerate. Here are a few plant suggestions. Choose some beautiful containers and you're sure to have an oasis on your balcony!

Lady?s Mantle: the billowy flowers of Lady?s Mantle belie it?s toughness. It forms 12-18 inch mounds, and looks great as the only plant in the pot or in combination with other plants. In the summer, it will be covered in billowy yellow flower heads. Even when Lady?s Mantle is not flowering, its soft, light green, fuzzy leaves that hold droplets of dew will not disappoint. It will be happy in full sun or light shade.

Rose ?Marie Bugnet? This rose has the whitest, white flowers, bar none. It also has a great scent, that will be easy to appreciate on a balcony garden. Marie Bugnet keeps a compact shape, only getting 3 feet tall and wide, which is perfect for small spaces and container gardening. It would look great with Lobelia ?Cascade of Color? growing beneath it.

Gaillardia: Is a total show off. It produces large flowers with orange-red centers ringed with gold. Several varieties are more compact and well suited for container growing. Gaillardia are heat and drought tolerant, and grow best in full sun.

Catmint (Nepeta): Catmint looks a bit like Russian Sage, but will tolerate less sunshine. It is very easy to grow, with few pests or problems. The foliage is topped with billowy spikes of flowers that bloom repeatedly all throughout the summer. It?s a traditional companion to roses. Catmint sun to partial shade.

Columbine: Columbines prefer partial-sun, preferably morning sun and afternoon shade. Columbines like rich, moist soil, amended with lots of compost. In late spring or early summer, you should see their unusual blooms opening up. Be sure to chose a dwarf variety as some of the larger sized plants can be unmanageable in a container garden. Look for ?Red Hobbit? (White and Red) or ?Little Treasure? (yellow)

Pine ?Cesarini Blue:? If you?re looking for a tree and are going for a woodland look, check out this tree. It has beautiful blue-grey needles. After 10 years, it will only be 6-8 feet tall, and will be perfectly happy in a large container. Cesarini Blue doesn?t need great quality soil or even that much water. While tall plants are often at risk for tipping over on a windy balcony, this tree and its pot and soil should be heavy enough to stand up to most winds.

Threadleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata) Beautiful summer flowers and finely cut foliage are just two of Threadleaf Coreopsis?s best features. It?s also drought tolerant, so you won?t have to water it constantly during heat waves. Plants will only get to be about 12-18 inches tall, so they?d make a great ?filler? in a multi-plant pot.

Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) Beautiful spires of purple flowers sit atop gray-green leaves. It gets pretty big, so it?s probably best to give this 3-5 footer it?s own pot (Or check out dwarf varieties, like ?Little Spire?). They look very pretty near roses. If you want to grow herbs, you could use large pots of russian sage as a wind barrier. As a bonus, most herbs look great against russian sage.

Coneflower (Echinacea) There are tons of different varieties of echinacea, and it comes of pink, white, orange, and yellow. The flowers look a little like daisies with much more prominent centers. The plants are pretty drought tolerant, which is great for hot windy areas where pots tend to dry out quickly.

Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella tenuissima) A Texas native, the leaves are bright green and flowers in the summer. The flowers are somewhat taller than the foliage and are very fine in texture, looking very reminiscent to feathers. As the plant goes dormant in the summer the foliage becomes straw colored. Mexican Feather Grass can get up to 36 inches tall and grows in clumps. It?s also drought tolerant.

Hope these suggestions help.

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