Every inch of space we have is precious, whether you’ve got a two-acre patch of land or a 0.0005-acre balcony garden. How to build a garden in a small space is one of the most asked questions in the horticultural world, because we are increasingly living in smaller homes.
But fear not. Growing in small spaces can be one of the most rewarding ways to create a personal haven, and unlike large plots, you have the chance to completely encompass yourself in verdant greenery, or productive vegetables.
Best Balcony Planters for 2023
5. Lechuza Balconera Stone 50 Self Watering Balcony Planter
I’ve moved on from my days with a balcony garden, but I still live by the rules I set myself back then: maximise every inch of space, and garden for all seasons; and above all, don’t be afraid of wild ideas.
There are two deciding factors on what you can grow: aspect (North/South facing); and height. A balcony garden on the first floor has more options than a balcony garden on the sixteenth floor, which is more likely to be battered by heavy winds.
Equally, a North facing garden gives you a wider range of planting options, but a South facing garden can provide some really useful restraints.
So, let’s get into the details. As well as our guide to balcony gardening, we’ve got a buyer’s guide to the best balcony planters to help get you started.
Balcony Gardening Guide
Balcony planters are essential for any balcony garden, whether it’s to manage watering, help you grow vertically, or as a simple pot to contain your compost.
For pots, I prefer a square pot for a balcony. Round pots are always aesthetically tempting, but a pot you can fit effectively into every corner is essential when you’re trying to maximise space. Plant stands are a way to get around this if you choose to use round pots.
That rule goes for railing planters, as well as vertical garden planters too.
Different Types of Balcony Planters
Vertical Garden Planters & Wall Planters
Vertical garden planters are ideal for balconies, as they provide height and structure in an otherwise quite difficult space. Small spaces really benefit from the height of vertical planting, but sometimes waiting for climbers to reach the top of a trellis isn’t fast enough.
Check out these vertical gardens, they’re compact so will fit on most balconies, and their waterproof lining keeps you walls and floors clean, as well as keeping moisture in the soil.
If you are interested and want to dig into vertical gardening, be sure to check our buying guide on the best vertical garden planters in Australia.
Balcony Planter Box
Balcony planter boxes are great ways to make use of railings, and fences around your space. Whether it’s for trailing plants, or floral displays, but you need to look at drainage and watering with this option.
For a few different reasons; mostly, plants that are too damp will die off, and planters that are too well drained will create muddy stains on your floor, or worse still, on the neighbours’ wall below.
Here is great selection of plants you can grow in your balcony garden.
I cannot emphasise enough how important hanging baskets are to create a natural sense of enclosure and comfort in the garden.
Don’t hold back in your style of pot or either. For instance, you can make these Macramé plant hangers and Crochet hanging plant patterns as additional art to your balcony.
Traditional hanging baskets are going out of fashion but there are some amazing products below with a more contemporary look, that would be great hosts to ferns or trailing devil’s ivy.
For more options when it comes to planting in small spaces, check out our guide on tower gardens.
Best Balcony Planter Reviews
1. FOYUEE Raised Balcony Planter Box on Wheels
One major concern with balcony gardens is winter, especially for higher up balcony gardens. This rolling planter from FOYEE can be rolled around the balcony, or even rolled indoors for winter if you’re growing tender crops, or plants.
It’s generous planting space means it can be set up to be water retentive if needed, and its simple galvanized steel construction makes it durable, and easy to put together.
Plus, unlike every other planter in this list, it features a generous storage space underneath to make even more of a small balcony garden.
2. Foraineam 2-Pack Dual-pots Self Watering Hanging Balcony Planters
Hanging baskets don’t need to look like something from a 1980s soap opera. These rattan style, self-watering planters from Foraineam does almost all the work for you.
If you’re trying to create a shaded oasis on your balcony, filling them with trailing foliage plants will create that with almost no work. Peperomias goes well on hanging planters so be sure to check out our Peperomia hope growing guide.
3. GlowPear Urban Garden Self Watering Planter
I love this planter. Yes it’s a little geeky, and looks like something you might see in the background in Tron, but it’s emptiable reservoir makes it amazingly simple to use, and as it’s made from recyclable plastics it’s incredibly easy to clean.
For any balcony garden with the dream of producing a productive vegetable garden, this is an ideal solution, which is perfect for salads, carrots, or tomatoes, especially in a sunny spot.
We love this planter so much so we included it in our review of the best self watering pots and planters available in Australia.
4. Baoyouni 7-Layer Tension Pole Plant Stands
Ideally, these are designed for indoor use, but on a covered balcony they will last a lifetime. They require almost no technical ability to install; just twist and lock in place, and the tension will do the rest.
One note on safety with tension rods on a balcony, make sure you cable tie pots to the poles to avoid them falling in high winds.
5. Lechuza Balconera Stone 50 Self Watering Balcony Planter
At first look, this is a basic planter, with little more than a plastic shell, but these modest planters have an award winning self-watering system, with a clear indicator which tells you exactly when to top them up.
For a low maintenance planter, without the huge costs of the larger models, these brighten up even the smallest balcony garden.
6. VidaXL Balcony Garden Planter with Trellis
This beautiful, but highly effective space saver not only gives you enough soil space to grow anything you need, but also the height of the trellis to grow sweetly scented climbers, alongside the charm and durability of a classic bamboo structure for a more tropical balcony.
As every balcony planter should be, it’s raised off the ground, so drainage should never be an issue.
7. Foraineam 10.2 Inch Self Watering Hanging Balcony Planters
When Foraineam do something, they do it well. The 10.2 inch option only gives you a single planter, unlike the better value choice above, but it’s brick tones could be the difference between a balcony garden that suits the building, and a balcony garden that clashes.
Never underestimate the power of coordination!
8. Ogima 10 Piece Metal Iron Hanging Flower Pots
If you fancy getting back to basics, and your plan for the balcony garden is more ‘functional herb garden’ than ‘hanging gardens of Babylon’, you can’t go far wrong with a set of simple hanging pots.
We’ve had a set of these for almost ten years, and they’ve moved house with us from balconies, to yards, to bigger gardens, and they always come useful.
For something as cheap as they are, you’ll get years of joy from these simple pots. Classic for a reason.
9. Tidyard Raised Balcony Planter Box
This is a little bit of a curve ball. On paper, it’s not a great scorer for us, but for a basic planter without any bells and whistles, this planter box would be ideal on any balcony. It’s heavy as you make it, with whatever amount of soil you use.
While it has no reservoir, and will need lining, it brings classic beauty, and a defined border to any balcony garden, as well as being simple to add trellis to for a little more privacy, and vertical planting.
Best Balcony Planters Australia
Best Balcony Planter - Top Rated
FOYUEE’s rolling planter is perfect for a balcony garden. It’s a great value option that will give year-round interest, and even allow you to grow tender plants by rolling the entire garden indoors for winter.
I can’t get enough of this model, and think it would make an amazing addition to any garden.
Best Value Balcony Planter
We’ve selected these beautiful rattan baskets as the best value because even compared to other models by the same brand, they come in cheaper. They have all the same features, and come as a pack of two, so you can add instant vertical impact to your garden by simply hooking them onto any overhead beams.
And better yet, they have an easy to maintain reservoir to keep your trailing plants well fed throughout the year.
Premium Choice Balcony Planter
GlowPear’s self-watering planter has all the bells and whistles you want for a low maintenance adaptable planter. It’s well suited to the changeable weather conditions on higher balconies, as well as being lightweight, so it is easy to carry up the stairs.
It’s ingeniously simple reservoir is straightforward to clean out, and means you can easily water delicate plants from the base rather than covering their tops in water.
How to Use a Balcony Planter
Perlite and vermiculite are essential store cupboard materials for balcony gardens. They store water, help drainage, and are incredibly lightweight growing mediums.
Mixing these into any compost mix in place of grit or sand is a great way to save on weight, and keep your plants well rooted in their pots. For any balcony planter above, using a mix of 70% peat free compost and 30% perlite will be an ideal base growing medium for balcony gardening.
And if you’re growing plants that need more specific conditions, that mix can be adapted by adding bark, manure or replacing peat free compost, with peat free ericaceous compost.
Fill them up, raise them slightly off the ground with bricks or pot feet (Garden Gecko sell some really versatile pot feet on Amazon which will work for almost any pot), and if they’re hanging or wall mounted, make sure they’re properly screwed in, or cable tied based on the instructions that come with the product.
Balcony Planter Safety Tips
For every single planter above, make sure it’s secured properly. Securing balcony planters to the wall, rail, or floor can save lives. Any garden over a sidewalk is a risk to the public, and you are ultimately responsible for the safety of everyone beneath your garden.
The best tip for long term safety I can give is to lay a floor on larger balconies, that can drain excess water properly. A garden full of water adds weight to your balcony, and strain on the building.
Get to know the limits of your apartment, and try to make decisions based on what you know your balcony garden can handle.
Balcony Planter Box FAQs / Expert Tips
Do I need to use balcony planters?
Absolutely. There are great examples of green and verdant balconies where moss has been painted onto walls, or even raised beds built on the balcony itself, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but for maintenance and watering, pots are the easiest way to keep your garden well drained, well-kept and adaptable.
How do I grow a garden on my balcony?
There is very little difference to balcony gardening than ground level gardening. Just ensure you have the right soil for your plants, and that you select plants based on the light requirements and weather conditions of your balcony garden.
What are the best vegetables to grow on a balcony?
Tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers grow really well on a balcony, requiring very little soil to grow. They are a lightweight, high cropping selection for any sunny spot.
Even in shadier locations, salad crops are easy to grow on a balcony, and make great use of self-watering pots.
How do I make the most of my balcony space?
Vertical gardening is always a great use of space (check out our guide here), but also make sure you make use of the railings, and ceilings with balcony railing planters, and self-watering hanging baskets.
What fruit can I grow on my balcony?
Blueberries, and grapes are great options for a balcony garden, especially in warmer spaces. The heat of your building will give them a boost, and regular watering will help ensure a generous crop.
Can I grow a tree on my balcony?
Yes. Definitely. Trees will grow anywhere they get a chance. We advise growing balcony trees in large containers with a water reservoir to reduce the need for maintenance, and for taller tress, annual pruning will keep them in check.
For a reliable pruning tool, check out our review on the best pruning saw available online.
How do I secure pots to balcony railings?
Most types of pots will have a strap, hook, or hole to secure cable ties to the railings, but if not, ratchet straps can be used and then trimmed to hide any ugly excess.
Balcony railings can take a surprising amount of weight, but check with your building manager before making any structural changes.
Wrapping Up Our Balcony Gardening Guide
Creating a beautiful balcony garden can be a challenge, but with the right tips and tools, it’s an enjoyable journey, with mountains of joy to be had at the end of it. For more gardening options, see our guide on how to make a boat garden and sustainable gardening.
No matter how big or small your space, you can build an oasis that can be seen for miles, or a private hideaway with verdant foliage screening you off from the world.
What’s more, a balcony garden isn’t just another room, it’s a filter and an air conditioning unit that costs nothing to run, providing you with clean fresh air, inside the apartment and out.