7 tips for growing a container garden on a balcony

Keeping a large watering can outside can be a good way to make watering your plants easy.

Even though you might enjoy the perks of living in an apartment or condo in Toronto, one thing that you might not have a private, spacious yard. And if you’re into gardening, you might wish that you had some dirt of your own that you can sink your hands into. Luckily, if you have a balcony, you can actually grow more than you might think. A container garden can be a great option for anyone who lives in a small space, especially if you follow these helpful tips.

  1. Check with Your Landlord or Condo Board

First of all, you will want to make sure that you are allowed to have a container garden on your balcony, and you’ll want to find out what restrictions might be in place, if there are any. You can check your condo bylaws (or lease) or contact your condo manager or landlord to find out about these things before you get started.

  1. Determine How Much Sun Your Balcony Gets

Because of their design, balconies can obstruct the sun a bit. This means that sun-loving plants might not do as well in the container garden on your balcony. You can purchase a handy sun calculator and use it to determine how many hours of full sun your balcony gets each day, which can help you choose the best plants. For example, for a balcony that doesn’t get a lot of sun, plants like salad greens and leafy greens do really well.

  1. Maximize Your Space

Since you do not have a lot of space to work with, you’re going to have to maximize the space that you do have if you want a decent-sized garden. Along with a standard container or pots that can be kept on your balcony, you can also utilize your vertical space. Setting up a nice shelving unit on the side can make it possible for you to use multiple small pots. Some plants also do really well in hanging baskets, such as cherry tomatoes or even. Plus, hanging baskets can add a little bit of visual interest and can help you maximize your growing space as well.

  1. Keep a Large Watering Can Close By

Since your balcony might be covered and might shield the balcony — and therefore your plants — from the rain, you’re going to want to make sure that your plants get plenty of water from other sources. Since you probably don’t have a water spigot on your balcony, accessing water might be inconvenient. Keeping a large watering can outside can be a good way to make watering your plants easy.

  1. Consider the Time Commitment

Maintaining a container garden can be very rewarding. However, it can also be time consuming. If you are busy with a full-time job and other things, you might not have a ton of time to dedicate to gardening, so if this is the case, make sure that you are realistic about the time commitment. Then, you can choose plants that are easier to take care of and that might not need quite as much care. For example, garlic, hot peppers, small varieties of tomatoes and herbs are all low maintenance. For ornamental plants, consider peace lilies or spider plants.

  1. Think About the Appearance

Unlike in a single-family dwelling, when your garden might be hidden from plain view behind a fence or behind the house, there’s a good chance that your apartment balcony is highly visible by your neighbours and anyone else who passes by. Therefore, you’ll probably want to make sure that your outdoor garden looks nice. Choosing attractive containers and ensuring that you take good care of your plants can help. You may also want to plant some flowers or other attractive plants along with any herbs, vegetables or other plants that you might be growing so that you can add some visual interest. Colourful peppers and bright lights Swiss chard are attractive vegetable plants, and flowers like geraniums are easy to grow and care for but can add some color to your container garden.

  1. Choose Container-Friendly Plants

If you want your garden to be a true success, you’re going to want to choose plants that grow well in a container. Look for plants that have shallow root systems for best results, since your plants’ root systems will not be able to grow deep into the ground as they would in a more traditional garden. Certain plants are particularly well-known for doing well in containers, like zucchini and tomato plants.

— Emily Moore