Balcony Garden Update April 2015

Having been over-optimistic about the arrival of sunny weather, i have had to put many succulents back into their indoors homes in preparation for this week’s colder weather. Maybe they will re-appear on the balcony later in the summer, but for now it is too risky to leave these sensitive souls outside.

Most of my cacti seem to be fine outside as long as it’s not winter, but succulents are very much more demanding, and i have lost many since starting up this small garden a few years ago. Be it too much water, not enough, too little light or perhaps the wrong drainage – anything slightly less than optimal leaves me with dead plants pretty quickly.

The best news so far has been my hostas, and am thinking of cramming a few more in the last remaining free spots on the balcony. Having said that, i am now on a crazy cost-saving routine at the moment, so even a tenner on some small plug plants is something that i’ll probably delay for the time being.

As i learn more about each of the different types of plants on my balcony i am getting better at putting each in the right spots. My ferns and hostas will sit lower now, whilst anything more exotic will get maximum exposure to the sun, or sit inside if it’s too cold or windy. Being set on the Thames, wind is certainly an issue for some of my more dainty plants, such as the young succulents which remain fragile.

I have had a Yucca Rostrata sat in the corner, furthest from the balcony door, and is has coped admirably with anything thrown at it over the past two years. There have been some serious wind and rain storms that have failed to upset this truly hardy plant and helpfully it’s tips are just below the top of the balcony cover.

Yucca Rostrata

The Yucca remains my most expensive purchase at around £80, with the new Draco coming second. That looks much happier now and sits across from the Yucca, with a little more protection, sat just behind the plant stand.

Draco

With the ferns and hostas sat on the lower levels of the stand, the rest of the rows are given to a few small vegetable pots (spring onions), different sizes succulents and also a Cycas Revoluta which remains slightly pale, but hopefully ok. My Aloe Veras are now back inside after starting to brown whilst outside – they came back with me from our Tenerife holiday.

Several of my Acers are now with leaves, whilst others continue to look a little moody in the corners of the balcony. I gave some of them to my mother, as well as some pine trees, and those all seem to appreciate Mum’s garden more than mine. She simply has more space, more sun and also more time and experience to look after them better.

My two Bamboo plants continue to also look a little sad, both pretty much leafless for the last few months. I am hoping that once i can move them to a brighter location they will be happier.

The north-facing nature of our balcony will always make it hard to keep all of my plants happy, but i am starting to get better at choosing ones that are more suitable.

Fruit Plants

You can see above how my new fruit plants have also burst into life. No actual fruit yet, but i will be patient! The main thing is to see that there is plenty of growth occurring on an almost daily basis, which promises much for the summer.

The fruit plants arrived straight off Ebay in suitable small plastic pots. I literally just slapped them straight out on the balcony and make sure that they have plenty of water. It was around mid-March that the cut-back branches suddenly started to show new shoots, and they’ve been very active ever since.

New grasses have been placed besides the bamboo plants as i try to create some sort of wall cover from prying neighbours. There are now several different reeds and grasses together in two large pots as i experiment with these hardy types of plant. The Thames route around our flat features similar choices so i thought they would be a good bet to thrive with the additional cover of my wall. Only time will tell, but the ones i planted last year have already doubled in height and just begun to spread out a little as their seeds blow around in the wind.

Grasses

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