The best balcony garden plants – and the mistake to avoid making when planting up a balcony

The Balcony Gardener – also known as garden expert Isabelle Palmer – suggests quality over quantity

Balcony garden plants
(Image credit: Ali Allen/Jacquie Melville/Nassima Rothaker)

As we all become increasingly aware of the mental and physical benefits of gardening, our thoughts are turning to how we can bring more greenery into every space in our home – including our balconies. 

Despite green-fingered city dwellers embracing balcony garden ideas, this trend is not limited to urban spaces. Instead, any homeowner can indulge in the benefits of balcony gardening, whether it is your exclusive green space or an extension of your garden.

Before you get started, take note of advice from the renowned gardener and author Isabelle Palmer, also known as The Balcony Gardener (opens in new tab), who revealed the one common mistake that people make when first experimenting with a balcony garden plants. 

Balcony garden plants from the Balcony Gardener

(Image credit: The London Tile Co.)

'People often think it's a good idea to start with lots of little plants, but this creates so much more work for yourself,' Isabelle began.

'Instead, always choose the biggest plant that you possibly can. Having one, two, or three big pots as opposed to loads of tiny ones is much more time effective and has a better impact.

'Rather than spending time feeding and watering lots of little pots, you should invest in one big one and use all your energy on that instead. Even if you only have room for one large plant, it can still make such an impact. It just looks so much better.'

See: Small garden ideas – clever designs for maximizing a compact gardening space

Balcony garden plants, balcony in an urban space

(Image credit: Future)

Isabelle Palmer's favorite balcony garden plants

After revealing this tip, Isabelle offered suggestions for big plants that have a striking impact on any balcony - from statement pieces to species that will remain green all year round.

Evergreen plants

‘I would always begin with an evergreen palette so you can maintain your garden at any time of the year – choose things like gymeas and yuccas, ivy, and waxy leaf plants because they are more durable in terms of gardening,' Isabelle shares. 

'Ferns are great, especially if you have a shadier area,' she adds. 

See: The 8 prettiest evergreen plants to give your garden year round style

Statement plants

For Isabelle, less is certainly more – but instead of investing in lots of tiny pots, which larger plants offer the desired impact? 

'A fatsia japonica plant looks wonderful, but it does grow quite big, so you need to cut it down regularly and make sure you've got enough space for it,' Isabelle declares. 

The gardener continued whilst reminding us to remember the climate of your balcony – especially if you do live in a tall property where the wind can impact your choice of greenery. 

'Eucalyptus are nice big plants if you're looking for that one bold pot. Things like hellebores are great because they'll give you a lot of interest from the winter period. You could use a lorrell plant if you live somewhere that's a bit windier.'

Spring plants

With brighter spring days on the horizon, Isabel offered her pick of the season that will complement the enduring evergreen plants on our balconies. 'Cosmos and bulbs are great for spring, and you can put things like nigella and cornflower pots,' Isabelle shares. 

The Balcony Gardener then suggested planting flowers that will blossom into a 'filler plant' over the coming weeks and months. 

See: Monty Don's clever tip for getting three months of beautiful spring flowers from just one container

She added: 'I would recommend using pansies for a ground cover because they are great filler plants. Lavender is another great option at this time.'

If you're considering a balcony garden, or you're looking to fill any small area with greenery, Isabel encourages you to 'just have fun', and fill the space with shapes and shades that you enjoy. However, her tips certainly offer an expert-approved place to begin. 

Megan is the News and Trends Editor at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes. As the News Editor, she often focuses on emerging microtrends, sleep and wellbeing stories, and celebrity-focused pieces. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.