Many apartment dwellers have staircases leading to their homes that are prime space for a beautiful, inviting stair garden. If you don’t share a staircase with any other residents and your apartment management approves it, you just may be able to expand your balcony container garden.
The most obvious way to plant a stair garden is to put small plant containers with small plants on the steps. Unless you have unusually wide stairs, it is best to use only one side for planting. This will allow for people to easily walk up and down the stairs, and container plants won’t be knocked over when you’re carrying up groceries. Don’t use containers that are too large – they may lose balance and tumble down the stairs, and don’t put a plant container on every single step, as it will begin to look crowded. Place a container on every other step or every third step. Also make sure that your plants will not grow too large and be difficult to walk around (such as ferns). Stair gardens are perfect for herbs or short flowers normally reserved for a flower bed (such as impatiens, geraniums, petunias, pansies, etc.).
If your stair garden runs along a wall, you have the option of growing vining plants up the wall. English ivy and morning glories (a blooming climbing flower) can cover up a boring bare wall if given some time, and pink morning glory flowers can give it a splash of color. You can train many plants to grow upward along a wall. Growing up is not a good idea if you don’t have a wall supporting the plants. Employing a trellis in a container plant on some stairs, for example, is not a good idea. The plant will most likely fall and get damaged.
If you do not have a wall, but have a wrought-iron staircase, you may be able to grow vining or climbing plants up and along the staircase’s railings.
A Word of Warning: Stair Gardens Are Not Private
Many apartment complexes can paint railings or stairs or do other maintenance on the outside of your apartment without having to get permission from you first. If they need to do work on a private balcony or on the inside of your house, they must warn you if they are coming. This is why you should always check with your apartment management before creating a stair garden. One day they may do maintenance on your stairs, and you may come home one day to damaged plants or have your vining plants ripped off the wall.
There are several more reasons why you shouldn’t keep valuable plants (ones you’d like to eat, delicate flowers, or your favorite plant container) on your stair garden. The container plants on your stair garden may fall over in the wind, get kicked over accidentally, and they may get stolen. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to hear about stolen container plants. Because your stair garden is visible and easily accessible by others, those beautiful flowers or edible plants you’re growing in the container your grandmother gave you may be gone one day. Only keep plants on your stairs that you wouldn’t be brokenhearted over if someone stole them.