Home & Garden Garden 15 Best Balcony Plants By Starre Vartan Writer Columbia University Syracuse University Starre Vartan has been an environmental and science journalist for 15-plus years. She founded an award-winning eco-website and wrote a book on living green. our editorial process Starre Vartan Updated June 29, 2021 AnnaNahabed / Getty Images Share Twitter Pinterest Email Home & Garden Planting Guides Indoor Gardening Urban Farms Insects Balcony plants can be a simple and beautiful way to turn a boring square outdoor space into a verdant extension of your home. But because they'll be spending their lives outside, it's important to consider your local conditions when you are shopping for plants. Observe your balcony before you buy plants for it. How many hours of sun does it get? Maybe it's always shady. Our selection of the best balcony plants includes some that do well in the sun, others that need partial sun, and a few shade-loving plants, so you can have a plant-filled balcony whatever the conditions. Give Them Room to Grow Be sure to give your balcony plants containers big enough to spread out, so they can grow. Most of the time, plants you bring home from the nursery or order online should be transplanted into roomier digs within a month or so. 1 of 15 Fuchsia (Fuchsia magellanica) David Burton / Getty Images Fuchsia is also called hummingbird fuchsia because its brightly colored blooms are very attractive to the tiny birds. Often sold in hanging baskets, these plants will die during the winter but will return in the spring. Fuchsias are what's known as a "heavy feeder," meaning that to grow and bloom anew, they need lots of fertilizer (a slow-release fertilizer will mean you can fertilize once and forget it). Plant Care Tips Light: Bright, indirect light. Water: Regularly, don't let them dry out completely. Soil: Regular potting soil. Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs. 2 of 15 English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Harry Wedzinger / Getty Images If you have full sun or close to it, lavender is an ideal balcony plant, since it can tolerate some drier conditions once established and it's incredibly easy to grow. When the sun shines on it, you will smell the delightful scent of lavender wafting through your home from your balcony. Plant Care Tips Light: Full sun or close to it. Water: Weekly; can tolerate drier conditions once established. Soil: Regular potting soil. Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs. 3 of 15 Staghorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum) Appfind / Getty Images Staghorn ferns can grow outside in shadier areas in tropical and subtropical locations, but will have to be taken inside as soon as it cools down in more temperate areas. In their natural habitat, these ferns are found growing on the sides of trees, and while they can live in a pot, they do best mounted onto a board or other surface (you'll want some peat-like material between the fern and surface it's attached to). This gives you some seriously fun options on a balcony, where it can drape gracefully from above. Because they don't have roots, these plants absorb most of their nutrients and moisture through their fronds, so have a good watering plan in place when you think about where to put them. Plant Care Tips Light: Indirect light. Water: Enjoys misting and regular watering. Soil: Mature plants absorb nutrients through their fronds. Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs. 4 of 15 Jade Plant (Crassula ovata) Andrey Nikitin / Getty Images In places that rarely freeze, this succulent thrives in a variety of conditions. It will do well in sunny as well as partially sunny spots. Its beautifully shaped, fat leaves contrast visually with its thick grey trunk, making it a more sculptural contrast to fuller plants. Since jade plants are succulents, they do fine with less water (though they need regular water in the spring, especially). And while they grow at a moderate rate, they will continue on for decades, rarely needing a repotting, since they will tolerate fairly bound roots. Plant Care Tips Light: Full to half-sun. Water: Weekly in spring, less frequently in winter. Soil: Potting soil with some sand mixed in for good drainage. Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs. 5 of 15 Sedum or Stonecrop (Crassulaceae) Sonia Bonet / Getty Images These plants are small succulents, so they are ideal as pretty soil cover in planters with taller plants in them. Since they need full sun, be sure to pair them with plants that also need that much light. They can also work well on their own in a hanging planter. There are many different types of sedum—around 600 varieties—and most of them are very hardy. Sedum and stonecrops will withstand freezing temperatures, so they can stay outside year-round. Plant Care Tips Light: Full to half-sun. Water: Weekly in spring, less frequently in winter. Soil: Any soil. Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs. 6 of 15 Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis Mill.) Rei Leika / Getty Images Aloe vera is tough, doesn't need frequent watering, and grows well in full sun to a half-day of sun. It's also a great plant to have around for DIY beauty treatments, including a relaxing face mask. Plant Care Tips Light: Bright, indirect. Water: Once every week or two, let dry out fully between watering. Soil: Well-draining, sandy. Pet Safety: Mildly toxic to dogs and cats. 7 of 15 Marigold (Tagetes) Ajeet Potdar / Getty Images Orange and yellow marigold flowers are bright, happy shots of color in any garden space and ideal for a balcony planter filled with annuals. As long as they get lots of water and sun, they'll bloom all summer long and even into autumn. Marigolds can self-seed, so you may even see some come up again the following year if you don't change the soil. Plant Care Tips Light: Full sun. Water: Regularly. Soil: Rich, well-drained soil. Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs. 8 of 15 Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) grbender / Getty Images If you have a partly shaded balcony, a Boston fern is the plant for you. They are most commonly seen in hanging planters, their soft leaves drooping down and creating a cloud of green, but they can look great in a big pot sitting on the floor, too. Boston ferns can grow large, up to 3 feet tall and wide, so give it plenty of space, and keep it well-watered and misted, as ferns need plenty of moisture. Plant Care Tips Light: Part shade, indirect light. Water: Frequently, whenever the soil is dry. Soil: Rich potting soil that will retain moisture. Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs. 9 of 15 Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum) Michel Viard / Getty Images Nasturtiums aren't just pretty, bright yellow and orange flowers surrounded by pert and pleasingly shaped leaves—they're also edible. The flowers are lightly peppery and look and taste great in a summer salad. They also grow prolifically and energetically as long as they have plenty of sun and water. If you have them in a container with other plants, be aware they may take over the space and tumble down the side of your pot. Plant Care Tips Light: Full sun. Water: Frequent, regular watering. Soil: Potting soil with good drainage. Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs. 10 of 15 Begonia (Begoniaceae) Konoplytska / Getty Images Begonias have tons of blooms all summer long if well-watered and fed, and they can overwinter in pots (though all their foliage will die). They drape over the sides of containers gracefully, trailing leaves and flowers over the edge of whatever they're planted in, making them a popular choice for hanging baskets. Begonias like a mix of sun and shade, and even do well in areas with more shade than sun. Plant Care TIps Light: Partially shady. Water: Generously and regularly. Soil: Potting soil with good drainage. Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs. 11 of 15 Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus) Thomas Woollard / Getty Images Rosemary is super hardy and will overwinter well if left outside on your balcony. Of course, you can use the fresh or dried plant in your cooking (nothing's quite as tasty as fresh chopped rosemary and butter over roasted potatoes). But it also grows quickly and easily in full sun and can tolerate drier conditions. Plant Care Tips Light: Full sun. Water: Every one to two weeks. Soil: Light, well-draining. Pet Safety: Nonoxic to dogs and cats. 12 of 15 Mint (Mentha) SaskiaAcht / Getty Images If you grow some mint alongside your rosemary or lavender, you can claim a balcony herb garden—and you'll have fresh mint for tossing in salads, or mashing up for a mojito. Mint grows easily in containers and needs a fair amount of sun and very regular watering. If you have more shade than sun, there are a few varieties of mint that still may do well in your space—look for variegated leaves (with a white stripe or patterning on green leaves) for the shade-tolerators. Plant Care Tips Light: Full sun. Water: Regularly. Soil: Potting soil. Pet Safety: Nontoxic to dogs and cats. 13 of 15 Hosta (Hosta) Michel VIARD / Getty Images Hostas are often planted in the shady parts of gardens and under trees, but they can tolerate some direct sun, just not too much. They need rich soil and plenty of water, and will grow well (and overwinter) in pots, too. Hostas have generous green leaves (some are variegated and those stripes will expand in a shady area) and sport pretty lavender blooms that shoot up above the leaves. Plant Care Tips Light: Shade to partial sun. Water: Regularly, keep damp but not wet. Soil: Rich potting soil. Pet Safety: Toxic to dogs and cats. 14 of 15 Lemon tree (Citrus limon) Busa Photography / Getty Images This sun-loving tree does well in pots and will produce both delicious-smelling blossoms and fruit if well cared for. They do best outdoors but they don't like very cold temperatures, so this one is for balconies in areas that don't freeze, since these are sun-loving, heat-loving plants. They need a well-draining pot and plenty of fertilizer as well as water. Plant Care Tips Light: Full sun. Water: Regular, consistent watering. Soil: Lighter, well-draining. Pet Safety: Toxic to dogs and cats. 15 of 15 Patio Rose (Rosa Rosa) Veena Nair / Getty Images As their name indicates, these roses do well in containers. Like all roses, they will need plenty of sun and water, as well as a rose-specific fertilizer. Other than that, they are pretty tough and won't need much babying. Patio roses are more compact than regular rose varieties and can stay outdoors in winter (mulch the top of the soil) as long as they are USDA hardiness rated for it. Plant Care Tips Light: Full sun. Water: Regularly and deeply. Soil: Rich potting soil. Pet Safety: Nontoxic to dogs and cats.