Small spaces and big choices

By TheHindu on 05 Mar 2017 | read

Thanks to industrialisation, urban living and the resultant space crunch, the sprawling natural verdancy in its boundless form has shrunk itself to little corners of apartment dwellings and balconies. For lack of any other viable alternative, residents are forced to act smug about the make-do miniature green spaces in pots and trays.

Except for those who have rooftops at their disposal, millions of apartment dwellers have little scope of gardens other than in balconies or indoors.

However, with a little thought paid to the choice of plants and their placement in the balconies, the over crowded residential complexes too can boast some choicest green patches.

“Placement of pots makes a lot of difference depending on the kind of plant in question. Ideal placement differs for indoor or shade-loving plants, as compared to sun-loving plants,” says M.M. Hussain from Plants Land nursery (Ph: 9848024654).

East-facing balconies which get milder sun for limited hours can have plants which make do with partial sunlight. They include Chlorophytums, Aglaonemas, Dieffenbachias, Graptophyllums, Asparagus, Scheffleras and such others. For lovers of flowers, the ideal choice for east balconies would be Begonias, Plumbagos, Beloperones, and Spathiphyllums among others.

“Usual flowering plants and seasonals need good amount of sun, so not advisable for east-facing balconies,” says Mr. Hussain.

He advises shade-loving indoor plants for North-facing balconies which hardly receive any sunlight. Fern, Philodendron, Syngonium, Anthurium, Scindapsus (money-plant), Monsteras, and areca palms are some of the species which can thrive in the conditions of absolute lack of sunlight.


West and South are two directions which receive abundant sunlight, and balconies facing these directions cannot have shade-loving plants or those which can take only milder sun.

Particularly during summer months, the South and West can prove to be scorching for delicate plants. Most of the flowering plants and other hardy outdoor potted plants including shrubs can be placed in the balconies facing these torrid directions.

Neriums, Tabernaemontanas (Tall and Dwarf), Allamanda shrub, Plumeria, Adenium, Acalypha, Coleus, and Geranium, apart from seasonal flowering plants such as Asters, Calendulas, Marigold, Petunias, and Vincas can be placed in the West and South facing balconies.

“Even climbers can be grown in larger pots of at least 15 inches size,” Mr. Hussain says. Allamanda grandiflora, Allamanda purpurea, Jacquemontias, Echites caryophyllata, and Clematis are some of the climber varieties that can be grown in South and West facing balconies.

Scented varieties

The last two are scented varieties and thus, can fill the house with their heavenly fragrance.

The rambling varieties which trail out from hanging pots can also be used, which include Lantana, Wedelia, Ipomea, and Portulaca.

These apart, grasses such as blue fountain grass and red fountain grass can be grown in balconies with abundance of sun.

“They produce robust growth and dry-looking flowers. My choice for South and West balconies, however, would be Bougainvillea which can take harsh sun while needing only a little water,” says Mr. Hussain.

Those who cannot afford space even in balconies to grow plants may go for indoor plants. It goes without saying that plants of East and North balconies will do very well as indoor plants.

Roses, the choice of multitudes, can also be grown in pots even if ground is not available, he says. For pots, rather than Hybrid Tea roses, he recommends Floribundas which flower in bunches. However, they should be grown in containers of big size, not less than 12 to 15 inches, and should always be kept in South/West balconies.

Swathi. V