Today our balconies and loggias from warehouses and drying rooms are increasingly turning into cozy corners where real small gardens are green. Getting in touch with nature without leaving the house, inhaling the delicate floral scent, delighting neighbors and bystanders with luxurious hanging flower beds – all this is undoubtedly wonderful! But how many enthusiastic flower growers regularly encounter the fact that a bright fragrant balcony looks tired and dull by the middle of summer. It would seem that unpretentious flowers were picked up and grown with love … So what went wrong? If you are familiar with similar problems or you are just planning to decorate the balcony with summer people, our advice can be very useful to you.
10 secrets of a lush balcony
1. Feed, feed and feed!
Plants in containers are in limited conditions, and their roots have no opportunity to seek food outside the pot. Therefore, even during the preparation of the soil, take care of a complete diet by adding long-playing fertilizers in the form of sticks or granules to the soil. But even having laid a good nutritional foundation, unfortunately, you will hardly be able to forget about feeding for the whole season.
With each watering through the drainage holes, the soil loses nutrients, and they must be replenished regularly. To see your plants blooming and healthy, feed them with compound fertilizer once every two weeks for the first month after planting. From the middle of summer, fertilization can be started even more often, using half the dose specified in the instructions.
And if suspensions live on your balcony with food lovers such as petunias and calibrachoa, then they can be fed with every watering. As a rule, for these bright beauties, there are specialized fertilizers in liquid form. If the leaves and flowers of your plantings are shrinking, the foliage turns yellow, and the flowering gradually stops, then most likely the problem is a lack of nutrition.
2. Don’t be afraid of scissors
Many annuals respond well to stimulating pruning in mid-summer. Primarily, stem shortening is shown in popular balcony plants such as petunia and snapdragon. When you notice that the bushes are stretched out and begin to bloom worse, spending energy on setting seeds, then it’s time to take up the scissors.
If for most flowering plants, regular removal of faded inflorescences is enough to keep them in shape, then a more radical rejuvenating pruning is used for snapdragons, petunias, alissum, verbena and some others. To do this, their stems are shortened by half, after which they must be fed with a full dose of phosphorus-potassium fertilizer. As a rule, after such measures, after 2 weeks, your pets will give the same abundant flowering as at the beginning of summer.
In the meantime, the plants will recover after pruning, the beauty on the balcony will be supported by continuously flowering summer plants: marigolds, ever-flowering begonia, balsam, nemesia, diastia and others.
3. Remember that not only flowers are beautiful
Very often, by the word “flowers” we mean flowering plants, forgetting that decorative plants with colorful leaves can also add colors to a terrace or balcony. Annuals with expressive flowers may temporarily lose their attractiveness under the influence of bad weather, but decorative deciduous plants are stable color spots that guard the beauty of the flower garden all season.
The famous coleus (nettle) has a particularly rich palette of foliage colors. The variety of colors of these plants is amazing. Among the coleus, you will also find both ampelous and erect, dwarf or tall, with small or large foliage. Other decorative foliage worthy to settle on the balcony: morning glory sweet potato, plectranthus, irezina, budra, ever-flowering begonia (purple-leaved varieties) and some cereals, for example, the Impera “Red Baron” or Morrow’s sedge “Variegata”.
4. Add seasonal accents
In most cases, the choice of flowers for landscaping the balcony falls on the summer blooming all summer, but the lush flowering of such plants, as a rule, begins only from mid-June, and you want to see a beautiful balcony as early as possible. In this case, while the planted seedlings of annuals are gaining strength, in the intervals between the curtains, you can plant viola, daisies, forget-me-nots, heirantus and other bright biennials, which are especially beautiful in spring. With the onset of hot days, their flowering fades away, and the relay race will pass to one-year-old soloists, then the faded bushes can be carefully removed.
But in late autumn, adding delicate heather to the plantings will help to extend the attractiveness of the balcony flower garden. Since September, it is easy to find it in flower shops. Remove from the containers individual plants that have completely lost their appearance, and in their place, gently dig in heather bushes without removing them from the pots. To give the balcony composition a special expressiveness, you can also place small decorative pumpkins among the flowers.
5. Explore plant preferences
Depending on the origin and living conditions in the natural environment, each plant has special requirements for keeping conditions. It is not worth neglecting these preferences, because it is very difficult to achieve, for example, from a lover of partial shade of balsam, good flowering in the sun, where he will not even open the burnt buds. But snapdragon with a lack of sun may simply not bloom.
Of course, few balconies have a strict orientation to the south or north, usually the direction is mixed. And here you need to approach individually, analyzing how much light enters your balcony. As practice shows, the east and west orientation is great for light-loving plants located closer to the edge, but shade-tolerant ones are best placed in the depths of the loggia.
Similar principles apply to humidity. If the box with flowers stays in the sun for a long time, then even with daily watering, the moisture-loving plants planted in it will not reveal their full potential. You should also take into account the “appetites” of plants, since some types of ornamental annuals with a lack of nutrition begin to bloom sparsely, while others, when overfeeding, will not lay buds, gaining only green mass.
You can usually find out about the characteristics of each plant from the seller of the planting material. A lot of information can be found on the pages of Internet sites, including Botanichka. It is better to study the basic requirements of specific plants in advance before thinking about flower arrangements.
6. Keep watering under control
Unfortunately, the “plant and forget” principle is not appropriate for flowering balconies, because the owners of hanging flower beds will have to remember about watering all the time. The automatic irrigation system will help to partially facilitate this task, but then you will inevitably have to sacrifice the area of your balcony in order to accommodate a bulky container with water. But in most cases, container plants are watered by hand, and this is done the more often, the hotter the weather and the smaller the container volume. Sometimes you have to do this on a daily basis.
It is necessary to monitor the quenching of the thirst of plants very strictly, because even a once dried flower garden immediately loses its attractiveness. Some foliage dries up, flowers fall off, and plants become more susceptible to pests and diseases. Mulching the plantings with small chips or bark, as well as adding hydrogel granules to the soil, will help a little to reduce water consumption.
7. Protect flowers from heat!
Under the influence of intense lighting, light or brown marks often appear on the leaves, the leaf blades curl, and the buds may fall off. In the hottest months, the scorching sun can turn even the most magnificent balcony garden into a desert in a matter of days. To prevent this from happening, you need to not only carefully monitor watering, but also especially carefully choose plants for the southern balconies.
If your loggia is oriented to the south or southwest, then we advise you to pay attention to purslane, mesembrantemum, zinnia, gatsania, escholzia, alissum, gypsophila and dimorphoteka. Of course, it is hardly possible to shade plants on an open balcony from the midday heat, but the owners of glazed loggias may well take care of curtains or blinds so that the excessive intake of ultraviolet radiation does not turn out to be fatal. Then the flowers will keep their fresh and attractive appearance longer.
8. Watch out for pests
If you have been decorating the balcony with summer houses for several years, then you probably already know that the number one enemy for container plants is the gluttonous spider mite. And the main thing here is not to miss the moment when the damage will be barely noticeable. If you saw small light punctures on the foliage and found “spiders” on the back of the leaf, immediately proceed with the treatment, which must be doubled, so as not to give the pest any chance.
The spider mite is very cunning, and if you leave green pets unattended, the mite will turn your flower garden into skeletons covered with spider webs in a matter of weeks.
9. Shorten the distance
As a rule, on each package of seeds, the manufacturer indicates the distance that should be taken into account when placing the plant in the flower garden. But if you are planting plants in a container, then you can safely divide these numbers in half. For example, if petunias are usually placed in the ground after 30 centimeters, then they can be safely planted in pots every 10-15 centimeters from each other, so that the plantings immediately look magnificent and elegant and do not have ugly bald spots.
You should not be afraid that the plants will not have enough nutrition. In the presence of a nutritious substrate and regular feeding, tightness will not interfere with their full growth and flowering. The only thing you should pay attention to is the proportionality of the blooming neighbors, so that later large plants do not cover babies from the sun.
10. Sow on multiple dates
If you grow seedlings to decorate the balcony on your own, then it will not be difficult for you to implement another little trick. It is obvious that, like any living organism, each plant has a period of its heyday and decline. And if you sow flower seedlings at several times, then when individual copies of your mini-flower garden get a little tired, others will already come into full force, and still others will barely pick up buds.
Placing different-aged specimens in one container, you will get plantings that will always look fresh and full of vigor.