Plants on my Balcony
October 17, 2008 4:16 AM   Subscribe

What should I plant on my balcony?

So I have two balconies in my new apartment, both come with two huge built-in concrete plant thingies. What should I plant?

In terms of the first balcony, I'm looking for decorative plants that would look good (hopefully green) all year round. I like all sorts of ivies, i love lavender (although not sure it would not turn grey and ugly at some point of the years) - can you suggest anything else? Links to pictures of goodlooking plants greatly appreciated.

In terms of the second balcony, I was thinking about perhaps growing some herbs (of the non-smokable variety), not sure however if the climate (Germany) would allow for a year long production? What are some herbs that would keep well year round? Rosemary perhaps?

Please give me your suggestions and any general tips, comments, hacks, views on successfully planting on the balcony. Thanks.
posted by barrakuda to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think rosemary should be okay, I've had thyme which managed to live through winter very well too. As for plants that are green(ish) and look good all year round, I suggest some succulents, although make sure you get some that are frost hardy, because some don't like the cold.
posted by bjrn at 4:26 AM on October 17, 2008

what's the sun exposure like? are the balconies sheltered or open?

in any case, for ivy, check out the variety known as Hardy English Ivy

lavender will die back once you get a frost or two but if you're in a temperate part of Germany it might last all year - English lavender is more cold-resistant than other kinds

for other herb ideas, see The Ease of Evergreen Herbs

some folks dislike the pointy leaves, but a holly plant would stay green - some ornamental style of the european variety would feature their signature red berries - birds really like them too

chives are also pretty & tasty & will grow year round if you don't have any hard frosts

please also see Ornamental Plants for Winter Gardens - it's a U.S. site but it will give you a good list of possibilities to investigate
posted by jammy at 5:20 AM on October 17, 2008

If you tell us some more about the climate (gardener types talk about zones) and sun conditions on your balcony, people should be able to provide more specific recommendations.
posted by box at 6:04 AM on October 17, 2008

Also try dogwood shrubs (not trees), barberry; these don't stay green all winter, but in fact they will turn their wood and dead leaves glorious colors (for instance, red twig dogwood is spectacular).

Find out what zone you are in-- this is based on lowest average winter temp. The USDA has zone ratings for thousands of plants. Here's a site with European zones. Germany seems to be quite mild, depending where you are; elevation will also come into play, so make sure you find out from local garden centers your specific needs. Most woody and root herbs should be hardy in zones 7-8 (rosemary, thyme, sage, chives, green onions, and yes, lavender). Soft-leaved herbs like parsley can stand quite cold, snowy winters if they are in a sheltered spot, but the tropicals are out.

If you get into it, I suggest you check out gardening sites, like and Daves Garden. Lots of good info there.
posted by nax at 6:17 AM on October 17, 2008

Like nearly everyone else has said, it's important to know the exposure (compass direction), hours of direct sun, and climate zone (Germany is generally considered to have four). It's also important to know the dimensions of the containers, and what sort of drainage they have.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:40 PM on October 17, 2008

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