Balcony plants are ideal varieties - usually perennials and evergreens - to grow and be grown on very small outdoor areas. On small spaces that are generally laid out on terraces, plants - both green and flowery - are placed in vases and the choice is vast: there are wonderful and extremely decorative climbing species and shrubs but usually we orient ourselves on those that are better suited to the temperature and exposure conditions of the balcony itself.
A north-facing terrace prefers shade plants, while a south-facing outdoor space wants varieties that are more resistant to drought and sun.
Evergreen plants - lavender, hellebore, hypericum, thyme, passionflower, honeysuckle and heather for example - and perennials are the most suitable species to cultivate on a balcony because they do not require excessive care and every year, they do not need repotting
If you are looking for a decorative effect and if you want to create a cool shaded area, you should focus on climbing plants - ivy, wisteria, bell, bougainvillea, rhododendron - that grow on the walls, upwards and horizontally . On a terrace then, if the space at our disposal is large enough, the shrubby plants - the oleander, the mimosa, the olive and the hibiscus - are ideal because they are resistant to drought. However they need to be irrigated abundantly and it is necessary not to neglect them too much.
Among the evergreen plants to be cultivated on the balconies, lavender is one of the most resistant but not all varieties are so strong: the most suitable are the officinalis and the angustifolia. They tolerate heat and drought well, but in the same way they do not die from one year to another, with hard winter frosts. The ideal exposure for lavender is in full sun: the more the position is open the more mushrooms are prevented. Lavender prefers calcareous and stony soils while those where water tends to stagnate are very harmful for this species.
The honeysuckle is one of the ideal evergreens for a terrace. The most suitable one belongs to the Lonicere family - Lonicera Caprifolium - and is sometimes known as Madreselva.
Honeysuckle is also a climbing species that grows along railings, walls and pergolas and produces very fragrant white and yellow flowers that bloom between April and September. This plant is well suited to exposure to the sun but it is perfectly resistant even in full shade. Its most suitable terrain is the limestone one.
The balcony creepers
Among the climbing varieties, the wisteria, which today is sold exclusively in pots, is one of the most suitable for decorating a balcony. This plant prefers exposure to the sun but lives well even in full shade where, however, the flowering could be a little later and less luxuriant. Wisteria is quite resistant to all types of Italian climates, even in the mountains, over 1000 meters.
Then there is the bougainvillea that is usually seen in the Riviera resorts, along walls and terrace railings. It prefers the southern exposure, but if the surface where it climbs is sheltered by a roof it is useful to resist the winter frost. In summer it should be watered moderately - two or three times a week - and the soil it prefers is fertile and fresh, with a good percentage of sand. Even the Hedera helix is widespread on Italian balconies and has green trilobate and five-lobed leaves, with shades ranging between yellow and white.
Generally ivy plants tolerate cold and cold temperatures well and therefore suffer from heat and direct light. It is good to place this plant in a shaded or semi-shaded area, away from the sun for most of the day.
Although ivy bears even long periods of drought, the waterings must be regular and the soil must always remain rather wet even if not excessively.
Among these species the oleander - Nerium oleander - is one of the simplest to cultivate. Known since ancient times, it is widespread in the Mediterranean countries but also in the East. It never loses its leaves - not even in the harsh winter season - so it is very suitable for decorating balconies and terraces, particularly in areas where temperatures are milder. The most suitable exposure for the oleander is in fact in full sun and in winter, in the coldest areas, its roots must be protected from frost. Oleander requires, especially in summer, very frequent watering, especially if cultivated in the pot.
And then there is the mimosa, the flower of the woman par excellence. This shrub loves a temperate climate and does not withstand the harsh temperatures of winter. In fact, during the coldest months the mimosa tree should be sheltered, in the greenhouse or even indoors.
In spring when the temperatures finally rise, the mimosa can be moved to the terrace, in a sunny area at least for half the day and in any case sheltered from the wind. This plant wants generous waterings, as soon as the soil in which it grows is dry.