With balcony flowers you can transform your balcony or terrace into a fragrant sea of flowers. Large or small, standing, climbing or hanging, single or multi-colored – there are suitable flowers for every balcony. In this article you will find out what you should consider when choosing, planting and caring for your balcony planting.
When should you plant balcony flowers?
Balcony flowers are only planted after the ice saints (May 15), as night frost can still occur until then. But if you still want to plant something out, you can use pansies, horned violets or early spring flowers such as primroses, tulips, daffodils or hyacinths. Hardy plants such as bergenias, ferns, fuchsias and hostas are also suitable. Here are a few important tips regarding the choice of flowers, soil and fertilization.
The right plants for the balcony
Selecting the right plants is crucial so that you can really enjoy balcony planting. There are a few factors to consider:
- Light conditions: is the balcony shady or rather sunny and hot? Many plants that prefer sunny locations also grow well in partial shade and vice versa.
- Space conditions: Think about how much space you have or how much space you want to give up to the plants. You have many options for using the space: from the classic window boxes attached to the balcony railing, planters hanging on the ceiling or wall and climbing plants to flower pots that stand on the balcony itself.
- Objective: Do you primarily want blooming flowers or should they be evergreen plants that also offer you privacy. Or maybe you also want to plant herbs and vegetables?
- Care effort: How much time do you want to spend on care? Balcony flowers need to be watered and fertilized, cut and treated against pests. Many hobby gardeners enjoy this work. Perhaps you prefer plants that are easy to care for, which look beautiful and take less time.
- Quality of the balcony plants: There are different ways to buy plants for the balcony. Those who value high quality plants and professional advice are in good hands with a gardener. Many nurseries already have an online shop and send the plants straight to your home.
Which soil is used for balcony flowers?
Since plants in boxes, pots and other vessels have a very limited root space, the quality of the soil is of particular importance. You will not be happy with cheap soil, as it is often made up of low-quality compost that does not hold water well. The salt content of many standard soils is also too high. This affects the plant’s growth and makes it susceptible to disease. You should also not use old soil and allow overwintered container plants fresh soil.
Characteristics of a good earth
- High nutrient content: The soil should be able to store nutrients well and only release them gradually to the plant. A high humus content has this property and also aerates the earth very well.
- Loose texture: Good soil breaks down easily in the hand.
Stable structure: The earth does not collapse even after months, it remains loose. Inferior soil shrinks so that centimeters of air remain at the edge and the water simply flows through the container.
- Rapid water absorption: The earth absorbs water immediately and without problems even after prolonged drought. Poor quality soil becomes spongy when poured and forms a solid crust on the surface when it dries.
- Good water storage: High quality soil retains water, but also dissipates well if too much is poured.
Which soil is suitable for which plants?
- Commercially available balcony potting soil or potted plant soil can be used for all ornamental plants on the balcony or terrace. Soil that is normally used for the garden is not suitable. In contrast to garden soil, balcony potting soil is sieved and therefore much finer and free of seeds.
- For perennial plants you should choose a soil with slow release fertilizer (substrate).
- Soil with a montmorillonite clay is suitable for sensitive plants. It offers a very good supply of nutrients and stores water very effectively. Soil that contains bark humus or clay is also recommended, as it ensures that the plants have an optimal water and air balance.
- For herbs, special herbal soil is recommended, which is adapted to the needs of herbs. Mediterranean herbs, for example, prefer sandy and calcareous soils.
- Organic soil is the best choice for crops such as vegetables, fruits or herbs. With this you can ensure that there are no pollutants in the earth.
- There is special potting soil for seedlings and young plants or cuttings. It contains very few nutrients, as plants at this stage are often very sensitive to a high dose of nutrients and can even go into it.
Earth with or without peat?
Peat soil only makes sense for plants that prefer acidic soil. These include rhododendrons, ferns, bergenias, pasque flowers, orchids, primroses, irises and also peonies. However, these plants also thrive without peat.
For the sake of the environment, you should therefore avoid potting soil with peat. The extraction of peat destroys the moors and releases environmentally harmful carbon dioxide that is bound in the peat. The peat soil also acidifies the soil, and a lot of nutrients have to be added. Peat soil does not store water either, it has to be watered much more often.
Although peat-reduced or low-peat products are offered in the trade, the proportion of peat in these soils is often up to 80 percent. Alternative products are based on compost, which consists of green waste and bark, as well as bark humus and wood fibers.
This is how you properly plant the balcony box
- Cleaning and preparation:
Old window boxes that were in use last season need to be cleaned thoroughly. The best way to do this is to use water, soft soap, a cleaning cloth and a brush to scrub. Limescale deposits can be easily removed with vinegar water.
You should place balcony boxes made of clay in a water bath for one or two days before planting so that the clay can absorb water. Otherwise, the clay immediately removes moisture from the potting soil after it has been planted.
New window boxes usually do not have to be cleaned. Often, however, the vent holes are still closed and must be pierced.
- Planting the balcony box:
Covering the drainage holes: To prevent the drainage holes in the flower box from clogging, it is best to cover them with potsherds or small stones so that a small cavity is created over the holes. If the holes are blocked, the water cannot drain away and causes waterlogging. Rotting roots would be the result.
Drainage layer: The next step is the drainage layer made of expanded clay in the flower box. Alternatively, pebbles can be used as long as the weight of the balcony box is not important to you. Depending on the height of the flower box, this layer can be up to four centimeters high. The drainage ensures that the irrigation water can run off better and does not build up in the ground. Expanded clay also offers the advantage that the water stored in the clay is released into the earth as required on hot summer days.
Separation fleece / water storage mats: A fleece or a water storage mat is now placed over the drainage so that no soil is washed into the drainage layer. With a water storage mat you of course also have the advantage that you don’t have to water as often.
Potting soil: Next you fill the balcony box about halfway with potting soil. You can now place the plants on this layer of soil and arrange them until you like the arrangement. Only then do you fill the balcony box with soil and press the plants well. However, at least two fingers’ widths from the upper edge of the balcony box should remain free. This way, the water cannot overflow when pouring. If you want to reduce evaporation on sunny days, you can spread a layer of pebbles on the ground.
Watering: Finally, the balcony flowers have to be watered extensively. So that the earth can absorb the water well, small breaks are made for watering. Make sure you don’t water the leaves, but the root ball! Many plants do not tolerate damp leaves. The moisture also creates a breeding ground for pests. If you use a water-storing balcony box, you have to water the soil directly for a while after planting. The roots of the plants are not yet strong enough to be able to draw the water from the storage tank.
Water balcony flowers properly
You cannot say in general when, how often and how much should be poured. Different plants also need different amounts of water. It also depends on whether the plants are in the sun or in the shade and what the current weather conditions are. Still, there are a few guidelines you can use as a guide:
- Finger test: By sticking a finger as deeply as possible into the earth, you can control the moisture in the earth. If only the surface has dried out, you can wait a little longer before watering in bad weather. When the weather is sunny, it’s time for the watering can.
- Frequency: it is better to water the plants properly only once a day than to give them little water several times a day. The roots can then soak up properly.
- Time: The best time to water is early in the morning or late in the evening. In this way, the water can be easily absorbed by the plants and does not evaporate unused. When watering in the evening, however, you should make sure that the plants are not too damp, otherwise downy mildew can spread.
- Water quantity and water quality: It should be poured until the water drips out of the window boxes below. Flowers prefer stale water. In the rarest of cases, however, it is possible to place a rain barrel on the balcony. But you can at least fill up the watering can for the next watering pass.
- Avoid waterlogging: If too much water is poured or the water cannot drain, the roots of the plants will die. The plant is no longer supplied with water and nutrients and begins to wither. Often the withering is then misinterpreted and even more watered. Therefore, always use a finger test to check how moist the earth is.
- Pebbles against evaporation: So that the water does not evaporate in large pots, you can cover the earth with pebbles.
- Saucer: Water that is not immediately absorbed by the roots can drain off and later be absorbed by the plant. However, make sure that there is no waterlogging. When the earth is well moist, there should be no more water in the coaster.
- Water storage: If you don’t want to water a lot in summer, there are various storage solutions available: flower boxes with water storage, water storage mats or water storage granules.
What should be considered when fertilizing balcony flowers?
When fertilizing balcony flowers, it is particularly important that you always follow the instructions in the instructions for use exactly. The salts in the fertilizer can harm the plants if they are too concentrated. When it comes to dosing, the following applies: better less, more often.
You should always only add the liquid fertilizer to the watering can when it is already half filled with water. Then fill up the jug. So the fertilizer is well distributed in the water. You should never put liquid fertilizer directly on the root ball. Alternatively, you can use fertilizer sticks that you stick directly into the soil and then gradually release the nutrients.
Soils or substrates for balcony plants are usually already fertilized. In addition to a starter fertilizer, some substrates also contain long-term fertilizers. You do not have to re-fertilize until after four to six weeks, when the fertilizer is used up. But you can also work long-term fertilizers or horn shavings into the soil yourself. Both items are available from hardware stores or garden centers. In addition, each type of plant has a different nutritional requirement. It is therefore advisable to use special fertilizers for e.g. B. to use roses, cacti or orchids.
You should only ever fertilize in the main growing season (March-September). After August 15th, do not fertilize any more or only use so-called autumn fertilizers. The increased amount of potassium helps the plants to overwinter.
If your plants are not under the roof on the balcony or terrace, then you should provide replenishment after prolonged rain. If it rains for a long time, the nutrients or fertilizers that have already been introduced are washed out by the rainwater. A typical sign of a nutritional deficiency are yellow leaves, which indicate a lack of the nitrogen (N) responsible for growth. Phosphorus (P) ensures radiant flowers and fruit formation. Potassium (K), on the other hand, regulates the water balance. Small amounts of iron, manganese and boron are just as important to the plant.
Remove dead flowers regularly
To ensure that balcony flowers bloom all season long, you need to remove the withered inflorescences. The plants then do not form seeds and have strength for new flowers. Small-leaved plants such as Männertreu can easily be cleaned out with a hand hedge trimmer. It is best to cut back large-leaved species such as pelargonium with secateurs.