Even the smallest balcony can provide a garden respite. Designing a balcony garden takes ingenuity to use wall and railings in addition to the floor of the balcony. If your home's balcony is rental property or is a townhouse or condominium that you own, check with the owner or the community association rules before you begin a balcony garden to ensure it is allowable.
When hung near the balcony railing, hanging baskets give balcony visitors shade and privacy. If securing hanging baskets overhead is not an option, use a tall plant stand specifically designed to hold hanging plants.
Railing flower box holders provide a mid-level growing medium. As a courtesy to neighbors living below you, hang the railing flower box on the inside of the railing to ensure the flower box doesn't accidentally fall from the balcony.
Use medium-sized containers or flower boxes that have drain holes and a reservoir to collect overflow. Containers may be placed directly on the floor of the balcony or onto sturdy wire shelving set against a wall of the balcony for support.
Most plants can grow in a container. For a balcony, plants selected should have a limited growth potential and should match the amount of sunshine available. For vegetables, try carrots, leaf lettuce or green onions, which can be grown in 1/2-gallon containers. Cherry tomato plants can grow in a 1-gallon container. Use a container that holds at least 2 gallons of soil to grow bush green beans or bell peppers.
For color, try full shade to part shade annual flowers like impatiens, begonia or coleus, which will grow less than 24 inches tall. Full shade to part shade perennial flower options less than 24 inches tall include bleeding heart, columbine or coral bells.
Shrubs can thrive in containers as part of a balcony garden and can be pruned to maintain a diminutive stature. Evergreen shrub options for part shade include boxwood, camellia (blooms in late winter) and evergreen azalea (blooms in spring). With a sunny south-facing balcony, the narrow sky pencil Japanese holly can grow up to 8 feet tall while remaining slender.
Turn the plant containers several days each week so all sides are exposed to sunlight. Watering may be needed every day, sometimes twice a day when the temperatures are high.
Add charm to a balcony garden with wind chimes or a small water fountain to emulate the moving water of a stream. A table and chairs can provide a place for coffee and the morning paper or to relax in the evening, sipping your favorite beverage. On plant shelves, add waterproof items like ceramic sun artwork or a gazing ball.