Basic Gardening Help needed - balcony

Discussion in 'Small Space Gardening' started by LisaLisa, Mar 30, 2008.

  1. LisaLisa

    LisaLisa Member

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    Location:
    Vancouver BC
    Hello!
    I live in an apartment with a very large south facing balcony and a small north (partial shade) balcony. Ideally I would love to have easy to grow/care for fragrant annuals (those that regenerate every year?) vines on my south porch railing and some colourful hanging planters. The north porch I was wondering if a fragrant herbal/flower garden would be appropriate?

    I love flowers and plants, but my past experience has taught me that I do not have a green thumb.

    I need help with suggestions to grow and care for plants. I think probably part of the problem was the containers that I was using. Where I live garden containers that are available are 'designer' and expensive for a UBC student to buy. I'm into innovative recycling as much as possible and read somewhere that a gardener grew sweetpeas out of a large rubber gumboot and recycled a toilet to grew petunias.

    I have alot of sweetpea seeds that I would like to plant, but I don't know how large of a container they need?

    Any suggestions that anyone has really would be appreciated.

    Thank you!
     
  2. Love4Bugs

    Love4Bugs Active Member

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    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA, USA
    As my parents taught me growing up, you can grow a plant in almost anything. They would snatch leaves and stems from plants almost everywhere we went, even from inside restaurants! They had plants growing everywhere in everything: jelly jars, coffee cans, milk containers... They don't have to be expensive or fancy. You can grow almost anything in a container. Got any old shoes, coffee cups, peanut butter jars? Just remember they'll need to have a hole in the bottom for the excess water to escape.

    I lived for years in an apartment with a balcony. South facing is the best - you get the most sun there. But lots of plants will also grow on a North facing spot. Check the tag or plastic insert when you buy plants for sun requirements.

    As for your lack of a green thumb, just make yourself a schedule. Every week at the same time you water. When it's hot, every day (at least every other day) you stick you finger in the pots to see if they're dry. Too much water is as bad as too little. Feel the leaves to see if they're stiff or soft (this of course applies differently to different plants). Get to know your plants - you'll be able to tell if they're "sad" just by looking. If you have a hard time remembering to water, look for drought tolerant plants. Good luck!
     
  3. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Annuals croak in fall, hence the name - they're good for only one year. Lavender, rosemary and thyme might work for you, these are sun-loving shrubby perennial kitchen herbs from the Mediterranean that are adapted to drought and poor soils, are likely to persist for years in neglected planter boxes (unless the potting medium used decomposes to become too mucky, leached and acidic).

    Some rosemary forms are a bit tender and so you might have to replace that part of the composition occasionally, and of course the whole planting will have to be repotted or replaced when the potting medium wears out. A creeping form is commonly sold, this would drape over the side readily.

    If cats or squirrels are around exclude them from the potting medium by mulching around the plants with cobbles that form a layer they can't or won't dig through. You particularly don't want cats pooping among plants you are consuming.
     
  4. Love4Bugs

    Love4Bugs Active Member

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    I thought of another plant easy to grow, hard to kill, and attractive - Geraniums. Some will vine, others will not. My favorite are scented geraniums. Give them a try.

    As for the sweet peas, if you don't have a packet with directions, I would figure 8-10 seeds in a 10" pot. If you can add a trellis for them to grow up it would be pretty.
     
  5. Debby

    Debby Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
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    Flowers and herbs are not likely to thrive on the north side, unless they get morning or afternoon sun in the middle of summer. Hostas would be long-lived in containers. Ferns would also. Check out some library books on container gardening.
     
  6. Quincys Slave

    Quincys Slave Active Member

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    Location:
    Ladner BC
    Yard sales are always a great way to find cheap and creative container ideas. Metal and clay (terra cotta) will cause the soil to dry out fast which will limit the success of your plants so maybe save those for the north side. Are your balconies on ground level or on a 2nd or 3rd floor? Something to consider is the total weight of your container and the soil, especially if you're going to create a nice lush area with several containers.

    One of my favourite shady plants is the toad lily, it blooms late in the summer and there are many varieties, some of the shorter ones will do very well in a container

    If you want things that come back every year, you want to look at perennials, here is a site with a list of fragrant plants that you might want to check out.

    http://www.phoenixperennials.com/nu...ts&page=list_results.php?query=fragrant='yes'
     

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