How to garden on an east-facing balcony – 3 recommendations from gardening experts

There are a lot of prospects for gardening on a balcony that has sunny mornings and shady afternoons

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Arguably the most ideally situated balcony for gardening, east-facing urban gardeners are presented with a multitude of opportunities for greening up their available outdoor space. With a mixture of sun and shade, there are so many ways to create a thriving east-facing balcony garden.

The possibilities are just about endless when it comes to creating a balcony garden, and experts say that east-facing balconies are some of the best to create a thriving container garden in the sky. Whether you're a vegetable garden-lover or keen to include plants that offer interest all-year-round, there are plenty of ways to garden in this outdoor space.

Not sure where to get started? Don't worry. Gardening experts have shared three ways to get started on creating the east-facing balcony of your dreams.

Growing vegetables on balcony

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3 ways to garden on an east-facing balcony

You might also find that your east-facing balcony experiences milder winter temperatures and is a cooler space to enjoy in the summer months. This opens up the possibilities for planting and creating your ideal balcony garden. Here's what experts say about gardening on an east-facing balcony.

1. Place shade-loving plants close to walls

Plants growing on shaded balcony

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East-facing balconies are likely to receive plenty of morning sunlight and will be cast with shade during the hottest part of the day in the afternoon. This means that you can choose from a range of plants for a shaded balcony.

'With an eastern exposure, those plants nearest the building will usually go into the shade first while those needing a bit more sun may grow better on the edges furthest away from the building,' says Dr. Mike Arnold, professor of horticulture at the Texas A&M Department of Horticultural Sciences.

It can be a good idea to create a shade garden along the wall of your balcony. This includes plants such as hardy geraniums and ferns for shade.

Likewise, choose plants that enjoy some hours of sun for the points furthest from your walls. This might include similar plants to what you can grow on a south-facing balcony, as well as growing marigolds in pots, petunias in pots and much more.

Mike Arnold
Dr. Mike Arnold

Mike has been with the Texas A&M Department of Horticultural Sciences as a professor of horticulture and in other capacities since 2012 and 1993, respectively. Mike earned a B.S. in business administration, a B.S. in agriculture (horticulture major) and an M.S. in Landscape Horticulture at The Ohio State University. Then, he received a Ph.D. in horticultural sciences from North Carolina State University.

2. Grow leafy vegetables on your balcony

Vegetable balcony garden

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Just because you only have a balcony space, it doesn't mean you can't have a beautiful kitchen garden. In fact, creating a vegetable garden container garden is a great way to garden successfully in the climate of an east-facing balcony.

'East exposures are often great locations to try a few vegetable crops since plenty of sun is available to grow the plants and fruit/vegetables, while avoiding the extreme afternoon heat,' notes Mike.

There are a range of vegetables that will do well with exposure to sun, especially leafy crops like lettuce which will benefit from shady protection from extreme heat.

'Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and Swiss chard will do well here,' says Annette Hird, expert urban gardener at Easy Urban Gardens. 'For herbs, you could try parsley, mint, thyme and oregano,' she adds.

Why not invest in raised beds for your balcony, to create an edible garden? This raised bed planter from Amazon allows for compact gardening.

Annette Hird
Annette Hird

Annette Hird has an Associate Diploma in Horticulture and is an urban gardening expert. She has worked as a professional propagator and managed, maintained and improved many urban and rural gardens. She also enjoys growing her own fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers as well as many different types of ornamental plants.

3. Choose hardy evergreens for winter interest

Winter balcony

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As mentioned, east-facing balconies are likely to be more protected from harsh winter winds and temperatures than a north-facing balcony. This means that you can incorporate some of the prettiest evergreen plants to provide fall and winter interest.

You may even want to opt for some of the best low-maintenance trees for pots, like small conifers.

'One challenge for even cold hardy evergreens in containers is that the water in the container may freeze while the shoots continue to transpire on sunny or windy days potentially causing desiccation damage to the foliage, particularly with broadleaved evergreen shrubs,' notes Mike.

It can be a good idea to overwinter your potted plants by wrapping containers with this bubble wrap from Walmart, to help keep roots warm during cold temperatures. The best thing to do is research the winter care requirements for your specific plant in order to best protect it during harsher weather.


Can I place houseplants on my east-facing balcony?

Moving houseplants outdoors for summer is a great way to give your indoor plants a boost of sunlight and warmth. However, you should only move indoor plants outdoors if your US hardiness zone offers the right climate for them. The same rule applies for an east-facing balcony; you should always research your hardiness zone and the requirements of your indoor plants to see if they can cope well in your outdoor space. Having said that, east-facing balconies benefit from both sun and shade during summer, offering the opportunity to give indoor plants some fresh air without the risk of scorching foliage.

The mixture of sun and shade of an east-facing balcony offers urban gardeners the opportunity to grow a range of plants.

With the coolness of afternoon shade on an east-facing balcony, it can be the perfect spot for summer gatherings. Why not try adapting some of our tips for sprucing up your backyard to your balcony to get it ready for hosting?

Tenielle Jordison
News Writer (Gardens)

Tenielle is a News Writer in the Gardens team at Homes & Gardens with five years of journalistic experience. She studied BA Journalism, Media and English Literature and MA Magazine Journalism at Cardiff University. Before coming to Homes & Gardens, Tenielle was in the editorial department at the Royal Horticultural Society and worked on The Garden magazine. She is passionate about sustainable living and the role gardening has to play in tackling the effects of climate change. Tenielle is also a houseplant lover who is slowly running out of room for her ever-growing collection. She has experience successfully propagating indoor plants and overcoming common houseplant problems.