Ornamental container gardens are beautiful to view and fun to cultivate, but there’s nothing like having a fresh tomato from your balcony garden or some fresh herbs in a salad. And no herb is more soothing than spearmint, especially when it is brewed up into a cup of hot or iced tea.
If you live in a cold area, many of your container plants will either die or need to be overwintered indoors. With balcony gardens, the easiest thing to do is plant annuals every spring and not worry about a winter garden. Several containers of hardy evergreens can make a winter balcony green, and the rest of the plants can be replanted next year. But if you do need to overwinter plants, there are three techniques you can use to do so.
February and March is usually the time when people start their spring seedlings indoors. This way the plant seeds can sprout in warmer conditions and get a good start on life before being planted outside in the balcony container garden. About a month after starting your container plant seeds, they will be ready for planting.
You may have heard a lot about Hardiness Zones when it comes to plants that will survive in your climate, but Hardiness Zone maps can be a little difficult to read. Here are the Zones of the 20 most populated cities in the United States. (Click on the Hardiness Map to the right to see a larger version and to learn how to use it.)
The first plants to suffer from the heat or dry air are those in hanging containers with coconut fiber lining or sphagnum moss. The strawberries shown here, for example, wilted due to dried-out soil during a heat wave. BalconyContainerGardening.com suggests using plastic plant containers in balony gardens more than any other container (i.e. terra cotta containers) because plastic containers are lightweight, cheap and insulate the plant (i.e., lose soil moisture much slower).