How to: style balcony pots
To make a balcony feel like a garden it needs to surround you with plants.
Somehow you have to get some plants up at eye level, and even above it.
A small tree would be just the thing, but on most balconies a pot big enough to support a large plant is just too heavy once it’s filled with moist soil - and a tree! A more pragmatic approach is to arrange smaller pots at different levels. You need to get those pots up off the ground to really appreciate your balcony garden. Here are a few ideas.
Surround yorself with plants
While the lacy wrought-iron stands of Edwardian times are highly collectible, there are modern versions of the plant stand that are easier to come by. A good plant stand will offer different tiers so that all plants displayed receive adequate light. Book-shelf style stands can be placed against a wall or the edge of the balcony, or used to delineate space across the balcony. Think about placing the stand so that it is seen to best advantage from inside the house. Curve-fronted corner stands can turn a dim corner into a feature and ladders too make useful stands to show off plants at eye level.
Photo - Linda Ross
Keep an eye out on council clean-up days for timber, metal or plastic stools that could work as a stand for an individual pot. Look for different heights and pot up a mixed arrangement that includes soft draping plants that hang over both pot and support.
Suspend pots where you can to create a curtain of foliage. If possible, attach reo to the ceiling of your balcony or verandah so that you can hang pots wherever you like, rather than only where beams give support. (See more ideas for ceiling hangs on page 38.) Plants to hang in shaded spots include the rhipsalis family and devil's ivy, while vibrant begonias shine in the sun or part shade. Pots that fit over the balcony railing and offer planting spaces on both the inside and outside of the railing need clever planting. The small planting zone requires either conscientious watering and feeding, or plants that look after themselves. For the former, try Lobularia ‘Snow Princess’ or a bright petunia, and for the latter, go bromeliads.
Curtains of foliage
Where there is room for a table on the balcony, style it with an ever-changing still life centrepiece that includes a seasonally starring plant in a favourite pot, with perhaps a candle or hurricane lamp, and a small sculpture.