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Hey everyone!

I've recently been lucky enough to move into an apartment with a balcony, and looking to start growing plants! I'm very much Not A Gardener. What's everyone's favourite for beginner-friendly plants? I have a west-facing balcony in Northern Europe. I was thinking kitchen herbs and salads, but vegetables and flowers could be really nice too. Grateful for any tips/advice/recommendations!

Hey everyone! I've recently been lucky enough to move into an apartment with a balcony, and looking to start growing plants! I'm very much Not A Gardener. What's everyone's favourite for beginner-friendly plants? I have a west-facing balcony in Northern Europe. I was thinking kitchen herbs and salads, but vegetables and flowers could be really nice too. Grateful for any tips/advice/recommendations!

9 comments

[–] Flick 7 points (+7|-0)

Do you have another balcony above yours? Does it have solid sides?

The biggest problems with balconies tend to be dryness (from having another balcony above) and wind (which causes more dryness). To help with retaining moisture, you’re better off having one or two big pots with several plants in them rather than having lots of small ones (but watch out for the weight limit of your balcony!).

Any of the Mediterranean herbs should do well, as they like drier conditions and are tough enough to stand up to the wind. Some cherry tomato varieties do really well in hanging baskets, but you’ll have to be careful about the watering.

[–] IAmNotACat [OP] 4 points (+4|-0)

Oh wow, thank you! Yes to both, balcony above and sides, thanks for the tips :)

[–] Flick 5 points (+5|-0)

If you want to try something less drought tolerant, stand the pot on a larger shallow container with small stones in it, then pour water onto the stones. The evaporation will help make the plant happier. (The stones are so that main pot isn’t actually in the water.)

Good luck!

[–] GelatinousRube 5 points (+5|-0) Edited

I'm sure you know what your weather is like generally, but when I first got into gardening it helped to look within my heartiness "zone." It's easier to search plants this way. Decent nurseries will offer plants that will do well locally, but you can also decide if you want 1-2 season plants, or plants that will come back every year. I'm in a temperate rain forest, so we don't get hard winters.

I grow a lot of succulents that look pretty year round and sometimes bloom! I see bees visiting them. I have mine in tiered strawberry pots as well as all over my yard.

This might sound like kind of a "duh" but also look around your neighborhood and see people with similar sun situations to you and what does well in their yards/balconies. I've talked to many people working on their gardens and generally gardeners love to talk about their plants and give advice.

Basil does well in hot conditions and grows fast if you're pinching it for cooking here and there. Mint does great confined in pots (spreads in open soil) and is great for food, tea, desserts, cocktails, lemonade. I don't know if this works where you are, but I love scented geranium. It comes in wild fragances, likes sun, and tolerates some neglect.

Another thing you can do in not much space is lettuce. If you plant them to be a baby greens mix you can keep plucking and planting, and the roots are shallow. They might like a little filtered sun in the afternoon though, depending on how delicate the variety is.

[–] SarahTheGreen 3 points (+3|-0)

One of the things you can do is look at edible perennials, permaculture-style, preferably native species. Berry bushes are a good option, even with a smaller balcony. Blackcurrant bushes are hardy and do well in containers, but the containers should be larger. I had a blackcurrant bush survive last winter in a 13" pot even though the recommendation was minimum 16". (My balcony is too shady for other species – I face east – or too small. Blackcurrants are not native for me but I hadn't realized the importance of going native when I got them.)

[–] Vanya 2 points (+2|-0)

This year I'm doing a lot of herbs on my balcony, too. I didn't have a lot of luck with my basil last year, but this year I'm doing cilantro, sage, mint, and parsley, all of which have been doing pretty good so far. When I harvest my herbs I cut just below the node where you see new leaves coming out and don't take more than 1/3 of the plant at a time. That's supposed to encourage the plant to grow and doesn't shock it each time you harvest. I get most of my gardening tips from youtube and there's a lot of good resources on apartment gardening and container gardening online. Best of luck!