Living in a high-rise apartment does not necessarily mean you have to give up gardening. If you have a balcony, there are plenty of balcony garden ideas to create balcony gardens where you can de-stress after a hectic and stressful day at the office.
The main challenges of keeping a balcony garden include finding plants which thrive well even in a shady environment, as well as finding the time to care for them. Most home-owners facing such challenges will tend to content themselves with non-flowering plants which are often less colorful.
The good news is there are several plants which are shade-tolerant, require relatively less care than flowering plants, and still provide the color that will jazz up your balcony garden. These plants not only make great balcony garden gifts, they will also help you create beautiful balcony garden pictures right in your own home.
1) The Aglaonema Hybrid
A member of the Aroid family (Araceae), the Aglaonema Hybrid is a hybrid with parents originally from the subtropical forests of Southeast Asia. A very adaptable plant, it tolerates low light and dry air better than most other house plants. Small flowers may appear in summer, followed by red berries. The berries and sap of this plant are poisonous.
Keep the plant warm in temperatures above 55°F/13°C. Cold air may cause grayish-yellow patches on its leaves. Put your plant in a spot where it won’t get cold drafts from doorways or windows. Water the plant regularly. In fact, this plant can grow in water alone. All new growth is from the crown of the plant, so be careful not to prune it back. If it begins to look leggy, plant pothos or some other low-light plant in the same container to cover the bare stems.
2) Homalomena Rubescens
This is an ornamental perennial foliage shrub, native to Tropical Asia and America. The Homalomena Rubescens is an evergreen plant that grows moderately between 0.6-1.3m high and almost as wide. It is grown for its amazing foliage of deep green heart-shaped leaves with glossy texture and beautifully veined.
Each individual leaf can be 20-35cm long and 15-25cm across held on long slender petioles in dark brown or deep purple. A very mature plant can eventually be top heavy and has a leggy trunklike stem whose withered lower leaves were trimmed as the plant ages.
The plant is ideal as a standalone in patios or amongst other plants to form a crowd. It thrives in semi-shade to full shade although it has a preference for bright light or dappled sunlight. It has moderate to low water needs. You can use any container soil mix that can hold adequate moisture, yet well drained and aerated. You can cultivate it by planting the rhizome into the soil, or propagate it from stem tip cuttings.
Caring for this houseplant is easy. Keep it in moderate light and keep the soil evenly moist. Avoid over-watering as this could lead to a yellowing of the foliage. Fertilize once monthly during the growing season with a foliage houseplant fertilizer. Keep its foliage free of dust by dousing or washing regularly.Check the foliage from time to time to ensure that it is not infested by aphid, scale or mealybugs.
3) Alpinia Purpurata
This evergreen herbaceous plant is also known as Red Ginger, often growing to a height of between four to six feet in full sunlight or partial shade. It blooms repeatedly, often producing vibrant colors of pink, red, rose or magenta. The flowers are good for cutting.
This plant attracts life to your balcony garden as it is attractive to bees, butterflies and birds. You can cultivate it by planting the rhizome in mildly acidic to neutral soil (6.1 to 7.5 pH) or by cuttings. Keep the soil consistently moist, do not let dry out between waterings. Give the plant a spacing of 12 to 15 inches (30-38 cm).