The Perfect Plants for Your Balcony or Roof Terrace

If you’re currently using your balcony or terrace for storage or have it set up for relaxing but do not have any plants, then you’re missing a significant opportunity to create your own, personal, outdoor oasis. When selecting plants for your outdoor space, consider the following advice and a list of perfect plants for balconies and roof terraces.


The Benefits of Plants and Balconies

The Benefits of Plants and Balconies

Privacy

Depending on how close you are to neighbors and the architectural design of your balcony or terrace, you might benefit from some additional privacy. Plants are a visually appealing way to achieve greater privacy from your neighbors while giving yourself something beautiful to look at. Leafy tropical plants, vines, and shrubs are good options if you want to increase privacy.

Ornamental Value

Sometimes, the outdoors on a balcony or terrace still feels like you’re in the middle of a concrete jungle. The best way to combat this is with live plants. Create your own patch of green, forest, or tropical oasis by adorning your space with various live plants.

Shade

Plants, especially trees, shrubs, and vines, provide an attractive source of shade to keep your balcony or terrace cool while also helping to block some of the direct sunlight, keeping your home cool inside too.

Air Quality

Many of us head outdoors for fresh air, but if you live in the middle of a big city, you’re likely breathing a lot of harmful chemicals and pollution. NASA’s Clean Air Study found that several types of plants can help to remove toxic chemicals from the air. While your balcony plants aren’t going to clear the whole atmosphere, they can help to mitigate some of the pollution in your space. The more plants, the cleaner the air!

Noise Pollution Reduction

You don’t have to build a concrete wall around your terrace to block out the sounds of the city; plants are an effective method for reducing noise pollution. To help muffle noise pollution, choose lots of leafy plants. The leafier, the better. Consider growing a whole wall of ivy by using carefully placed trellises.

Feng Shui

In feng shui practices, the balcony or terrace represents a connection between the inside and outside. It’s an opening to your home where you can draw in positive energy. Choosing plants that attract positive energy (fig trees, areca palm, geranium, herbs, umbrella plants, ivy, or lucky bamboo) is an excellent place to start.


Things to Be Aware Of

Things to Be Aware Of

Before choosing plants for your balcony, consider the following factors:

Light Exposure

The aspect and orientation of your balcony affect the amount of sunlight plants will receive. For example, choose plants that do not require direct sunlight if you have a north-facing balcony. If your balcony faces south, you’ll need plants that can tolerate lots of full sun.

Wind Exposure

Depending on how many stories up you live, the wind on your balcony or terrace could be more intense than at lower levels. If you have a windy balcony, you’ll need to select a sturdy plant and a container large enough to weigh it down with some rocks at the bottom. Or you can display your plant out of the wind’s direct force.

Temperature and Humidity

Consider the season and temperature in your region, and be sure to choose a plant that can tolerate the temperature range and humidity levels.

Growth Expectations and Available Space

Of course, you want to select a plant that will fit on your balcony without it feeling crowded when you bring it home. But don’t forget to consider how your plant will fit after another six, 12, or 24 months of growth. How fast and how large is your new plant expected to grow?

Containers and Growing Equipment

Depending on the type of plant you choose, you’ll need different growing equipment and containers. Certain plants do well in a standard pot, while trailing plants look better in hanging planters. If you choose a vine that climbs, purchase a trellis to support it (while creating privacy).

Maintenance Requirements

Some plants require more maintenance than others. Determine how much pruning, fertilizing, and repotting you want to do, and choose a plant that suits your preferences (and plant care skill level).

Nesting Birds and Insects

Be aware that outdoor plants could attract birds, pollinators, and other insects to your terrace or balcony. This is especially true if you choose flowers, trees, shrubs, and/or native plants.

Evergreen vs. Seasonal Plants

It’s also important to consider whether you want to replace your balcony plants with new selections each year or if you will select plants that can thrive and survive all year long in your climate. If you want to keep your plants living for years, you’ll need to consider your selections carefully – especially if you live in a cooler area.


25 Best Options for Balcony Plants

1. Olive Trees

Olive Trees for balconies or roof top terraces

Olive trees have silvery-green leaves and are relatively small compared to other types of trees, as they rarely grow taller than 25 to 50 feet high. They do well potted in containers and are suitable for a sunny balcony. As the famous saying, “pass the olive branch,” suggests, Olive trees symbolize friendship and peace. As fruit-bearing trees, they are also a symbol of abundance.

Suitable Growing Zones:USDA Zones 10 – 11
Light Requirements:6 to 8 hours of bright, direct sunlight
Ideal Exposure:South-facing
Maintenance:Low maintenance – requires light pruning and fertilization in the spring.

2. Jasmine

Jasmine plants on balcony

Jasmine plants grow as both vines and shrubs and can be deciduous or evergreen, depending on the species. They produce lush, green leaves and copious white blossoms when in bloom. Pleasing for a balcony or terrace is the sweet fragrance that jasmine flowers emit. The fragrance is especially strong after sundown. If you choose a variety of jasmine that is a vine, be sure to provide a trellis for support.

Suitable Growing Zones:USDA Zones 9 – 10
Light Requirements:At least 6 hours of direct sun daily
Ideal Exposure:South, east, or west facing
Maintenance:Moderate maintenance – requires pruning, fertilization, and frequent watering.

3. Indian Hawthorn

Indian Hawthorn plants for balconies or roof terraces

Perfect for balconies with limited space, Indian hawthorn is a small shrub that naturally grows into a compact, neat, rounded shape. They have attractive foliage that starts as a bronze shade before maturing into a vibrant, glossy green. This shrub blossoms with white or light pink, star-shaped flowers in tightly packed clusters. Blue berries follow the blooms and remain through winter.

Suitable Growing Zones:USDA Zones 7 – 11
Light Requirements:At least 6 hours of full sun on most days
Ideal Exposure:South, east, or west facing
Maintenance:Low maintenance – requires light pruning and infrequent fertilization.

4. Verbena

Verbena plants for balconies or roof terraces

Verbena plants produce large and showy corymbs of tiny, five-petaled flower clusters in vibrant shades of pink, purple, red, orange, yellow, and white. Certain varieties are perennials that will blossom year after year on your balcony or terrace, while others are annuals that will only blossom once. Verbena is an excellent attractant for a variety of pollinators, making it a fantastic choice for helping to support the native flora and fauna in your area.

Suitable Growing Zones:USDA Zones 5 – 8
Light Requirements:At least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily
Ideal Exposure:South facing
Maintenance:Low maintenance – requires regular watering

5. Pampas Grass

Pampas Grass plants for balconies or roof terraces

Pampas grass is a strikingly beautiful type of ornamental grass. It grows in large clumps of vibrant green blades. When in bloom, pampas grass produces tall shoots of feathery plume-like blossoms in shades of milky white, cream, peach, yellow, silver, and delicate pink. Pampas grass can grow to be quite large – even when planted in a container. For your terrace, choose a dwarf variety and a large container that will give it plenty of room to spread out.

Suitable Growing Zones:USDA Zones 7 – 11
Light Requirements:At least 6 hours of direct sun daily
Ideal Exposure:South, east, or west facing
Maintenance:Low maintenance – requires annual pruning and regular watering

6. Begonia

Begonia plants for balconies or roof terraces

Flowering begonia plants pair attractive blossoms with equally beautiful foliage. Their foliage ranges in shades of green to maroon and red, and the fluttery, soft flowers come in a full range of warm colors, including orange, peach, yellow, red, pink, and white. Perfect for growing in small containers, they are an excellent choice for adorning a tabletop or filling up a larger container on a shady balcony.

Suitable Growing Zones:Perennial in USDA Zones 8 – 11Annual in USDA Zones 3 – 7
Light Requirements:Bright, indirect light to partial shade
Ideal Exposure:North, east, or west facing
Maintenance:Low maintenance – requires moderate watering and some pruning before overwintering

7. Geranium

Geranium plants for roof terraces or balconies

There are more than 400 species and cultivars of geraniums, also often called cranesbills. They come in various annuals, perennials, and biennials and are a fantastic option for a container garden on a sunny balcony or terrace. They feature broad, fleshy foliage in bright green and a range of colors, including red, burgundy, pink, purple, peach, and white. Geraniums also carry rich meaning and symbolism and a lovely scent that’s similar to that of roses but with a touch of citrus.

Suitable Growing Zones:USDA Zones 3 – 9
Light Requirements:At least 6 hours of full sun daily
Ideal Exposure:South, west, or east facing
Maintenance:Low maintenance – requires deadheading and end-of-season pruning

8. Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea plants growing on a balcony

Bougainvilleas are warm-weather plants that are absolutely stunning when they’re in bloom. Bougainvillea plants are most commonly seen growing as vines that can completely cover a fence, trellis, or railing with their lush foliage and wash of magenta-pink blossoms. However, they are also available in tree and shrub forms. If your balcony needs privacy, bougainvillea is a beautiful way to create some cover, as it will grow over the balcony’s protective railing.

Suitable Growing Zones:USDA Zone 9 (if protected) – 10
Light Requirements:At least 6 hours of direct sun daily
Ideal Exposure:South, east, or west facing
Maintenance:Moderate maintenance – requires pruning after blooms are spent and fertilizing during the growing season

9. Arborvitae

Arborvitae for balconies or roof terraces

Arborvitaes are attractive evergreens that are available as both trees and shrubs. They have a tall, slender shape that narrows toward the top, making them look a bit like skinny pyramids. These evergreens are commonly planted in the ground to create hedgerows and windbreaks. However, they can also be grown in containers on your balcony. Choose a smaller variety to ensure your arborvitae won’t outgrow their space too quickly.

Suitable Growing Zones:USDA Zones 3 – 8
Light Requirements:At least 6 hours of full, direct sunlight daily
Ideal Exposure:South, east, or west facing
Maintenance:Moderate maintenance – requires daily watering and frequent trimming

10. Ivy

Ivy plants growing on balcony

There is around 15 species of evergreen ivy plants in the Hedera genus. Some of them have climbing growing habits, while others are ground creepers. Ivy plants have lush, space-shaped leaves that range in shades of green from deep to vibrant. Ivy plants are not only attractive, but they are also fantastic for creating natural privacy along a railing, fence, trellis, or any natural structure. Additionally, ivies will climb up brick or rock walls, creating a lovely backdrop for your private outdoor paradise.

Suitable Growing Zones:USDA Zones 4 – 13
Light Requirements:Bright, indirect light
Ideal Exposure:North, east, or west facing
Maintenance:Low maintenance – requires weekly watering and fertilization in the growing season

11. Mandevilla

Mandevilla plants for balcony or roof terraces

Mandevilla vines are stunning, ornamental plants and are highly popular for growing on balconies and terraces in warm climates. They produce vibrant-green paddle-shaped leaves and whorls of pinwheel-shaped flowers in a bright shade of pink. Mandevilla plants are exceptionally frost-tender, but they can still be enjoyed during warm summers in slightly cooler climates. However, you will need to bring your mandevilla indoors before the temperatures drop below 50°F (even at night) if you want it to survive until the following summer.

Suitable Growing Zones:USDA 9 – 11
Light Requirements:6 hours of full sun to part shade (in hot climates)
Ideal Exposure:South, west, or east facing
Maintenance:Low maintenance – requires daily watering and bi-weekly fertilizing during the blooming season

12. Ferns

Ferns growing on a balcony

Ferns are ancient plants that appear in the fossil records as early as 360 million years ago. Unlike most plants that reproduce with pollen and seeds, ferns reproduce by releasing spores from the undersides of their fronds (leaves). These fascinating plants are also quite attractive while not being ostentatious. With their fluffy, dense foliage, most fern varieties are perfect choices for helping to minimize noise pollution. Additionally, they can be grown in a variety of different containers. However, they are especially lovely in hanging baskets where their fronds can unfurl without restriction.

Suitable Growing Zones:USDA Zones 2 – 11 (depending on the variety)
Light Requirements:Indirect light
Ideal Exposure:North facing
Maintenance:Low maintenance – requires occasional misting, lightly moist soil, and bi-weekly fertilizing during the growing season.

13. Bamboo

Bamboo plants for roof terrace privacy

Although they might look like trees, bamboo plants are actually the largest members of the grass family. If your space and weight restrictions allow, certain bamboo varieties can be grown in long, narrow container boxes to create fully green privacy screens along the edges of your balcony. Additionally, bamboo plants grow extremely fast (some of the fastest in the world), so you won’t have to wait long for your balcony to feel like a secret garden.

Suitable Growing Zones:USDA Zones 5 – 13 (depending on the variety)
Light Requirements:6 hours of direct sunlight daily to partial shade (depending on the variety)
Ideal Exposure:South, east, or west facing
Maintenance:Generally, low maintenance – Care requirements vary based on the species.

14. Citrus Trees

Citrus Trees for balconies or roof terraces

Citrus trees include a variety of species that you are likely already familiar with, such as orange trees, lemon trees, lime trees, and grapefruit trees. They require loads of direct sunlight to be healthy and produce fruit. Keeping a citrus tree can have a big payoff if you live in a warm and sunny climate. Not only are they pretty to look at, but they also produce delicious-smelling blossoms and delicious-tasting fruit. You’ll need a large container, a full view of the sun, and an open space on your balcony to accommodate a tree.

Suitable Growing Zones:USDA Zones 9 – 11
Light Requirements:At least 8 hours of direct sunlight daily
Ideal Exposure:South facing
Maintenance:Moderate maintenance – requires weekly watering, annual pruning, and fertilization during the growing season.

15. Fuchsia

Fuchsia plants for balconies or roof terraces

Fuchsia plants include both shrubs and small trees. They have teardrop-shaped, pendulous blossoms that have an exotic beauty that’s hard to look away from. The blooms are commonly seen in combinations of purple petals with fuchsia stamens and sepals. They also come in combinations of reds, whites, blues, and oranges. These plants – especially their shrub forms – are best grown in hanging baskets or tall, slender containers where their foliage and blossoms can spill over the edges and be thoroughly enjoyed with the view from below.

Suitable Growing Zones:USDA Zones 6 – 7
Light Requirements:Indirect light or direct morning light
Ideal Exposure:East facing, south, west, or north facing (in hot climates)
Maintenance:Moderate maintenance – requires daily watering, bi-weekly fertilizing during the growing season, and annual pruning.

16. Lavender

Lavender plants for balcony gardens

The flowering plant, lavender, belongs to the mint family, but it’s best known for its own signature taste and scent, which is simply referred to as lavender. The fragrant, purple flowers are small and produced along tall narrow spikes that rise from the plant’s shrubby, silvery-green foliage. Potted on your balcony, you’ll enjoy the calming scent and butterflies that the flowers draw up to your outdoor retreat.

Suitable Growing Zones:USDA Zones 5 – 9
Light Requirements:Full sun
Ideal Exposure:South facing
Maintenance:Low maintenance – requires light watering and annual pruning.

17. Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple trees for balconies or roof terraces

Japanese maple varieties are popular landscaping trees worldwide because they have interestingly shaped foliage with deeply lobed leaves. The bright-green foliage also fades to a wide variety of colors in autumn, such as burgundy, bright red, orange, and yellow. While it might seem like a maple tree would not grow well in a container, Japanese maples can thrive as a part of a container garden as long as they have a large container and high-quality potting soil. Additionally, Japanese maples can be grown and trained as miniature bonsai trees, and this is a smart option for balconies where the weight of a large container and wet soil could be a concern.

Suitable Growing Zones:USDA Zones 5 – 8
Light Requirements:About 4 hours of direct sun and partial shade
Ideal Exposure:East or west facing
Maintenance:Low maintenance – requires frequent watering and shelter from wind

18. Fountain Grass

Fountain Grass for balconies or roof terraces

Fountain grass grows in compact clumps. From the centers of these clumps long, slender blades of grass burst forth in fountain shapes. The foliage ranges in color from green to purple, and the feathery blossoms come in pink, white, purple, and reddish-brown varieties. Fountain grass is a perfect choice if you want to create a graceful look in your balcony garden. Plus, these plants grow quite well in containers in a wide range of climates.

Suitable Growing Zones:USDA Zones 4 – 10
Light Requirements:Full sun to light shade
Ideal Exposure:South, east, or west facing
Maintenance:Low maintenance – requires light watering and annual cutting

19. Euonymus

Euonymus plants for balconies or roof terraces

Euonymus is the genus name of a group of about 175 plants, including vines, small shrubs, and trees that have attractive, glossy foliage featuring variegated patterns of different shades of green. For balconies and terraces, the climbing varieties are probably the best choice because they can be hung in baskets so that their tendrils can trail and waft in the breeze. The vine varieties can also be planted in containers with a trellis to climb, providing some privacy, shade, and a windbreak on your balcony area.

Suitable Growing Zones:USDA Zones 5 – 9
Light Requirements:Full sun to full shade
Ideal Exposure:South, west, east, or north facing
Maintenance:Low maintenance – requires weekly watering and annual fertilizing

20. Nasturtium

Nasturtium plants for balconies or roof terraces

Nasturtium flowers come in both annual and perennial varieties, and they are pretty alluring to behold in a container garden. Their leaves resemble small lily pads, and they have large, trumpet-shaped, spurred flower blossoms that come in bright yellow, orange, and red. Some varieties are perennials, while others are annuals. Perennial varieties will only come back each year in warm enough climates, but all nasturtium varieties can be enjoyed as annuals just about anywhere.

Suitable Growing Zones:USDA Zones 9 – 11
Light Requirements:6 to 8 hours of full sun daily for best blooms (tolerates 3 to 6 hours of shade)
Ideal Exposure:South, east, or west facing
Maintenance:Low maintenance – requires deadheading and regular watering

21. Gardenia

Gardenia plants for balconies or roof terraces

Gardenia has a reputation for being finicky and difficult to care for. However, given the right environment, they are a relatively low-maintenance plant. Gardenias come in a variety of small trees and shrubs, and they produce dark-green foliage and remarkably fragrant flower blossoms that, with their whorls of snowy or creamy white petals, are also quite beautiful to look at. Adorning your balcony with a gardenia plant means you can enjoy their lovely perfume throughout the blooming season.

Suitable Growing Zones:USDA Zones 8- 11
Light Requirements:Direct sun to partial shade with protection from the afternoon sun
Ideal Exposure:East facing
Maintenance:Low maintenance – requires regular watering and monthly fertilizing in spring and summer

22. Hosta

Hosta plants for balconies or roof terraces

If you have a north-facing balcony or terrace that doesn’t receive much direct sunlight, then the shade-friendly hosta is an excellent option for your containers. Hosta plants are easily recognizable for their round clumps of highly ornate foliage. The leaves are usually lanceolate in shape and feature striking markings and color patterns that give them the mesmerizing effect of a pinwheel. Hosta plants also blossom with small racemes of white or light pink flowers that shoot up on tall, slender stalks from the centers of the round foliage clumps.

Suitable Growing Zones:USDA Zones 3 – 9
Light Requirements:Partial sun to shade
Ideal Exposure:East or north facing
Maintenance:Low maintenance – requires bi-weekly watering

23. Ligustrum

Ligustrum plants for balconies or roof terraces

Ligustrum plants come in a variety of small shrubs and small to medium-sized trees. They can be either evergreen or deciduous. They produce bright-green, almost-yellow foliage that can add a striking contrast to plants with foliage in a darker shade of green. Ligustrum plants are commonly grown into hedges for privacy, but they can also be effectively grown in containers. Just make sure yours receives enough direct sunlight to stay healthy.

Suitable Growing Zones:USDA Zones 5 – 8
Light Requirements:At least 6 hours of full sun daily
Ideal Exposure:South, east, or west facing
Maintenance:Low maintenance – requires bi-weekly watering, light pruning, and bi-annual fertilizing

24. Hydrangea

Growing Hydrangea plants on balconies

Hydrangea shrubs have attractive foliage and produce showy clusters of tiny flowers. These flowers are naturally a greenish-white color, but the pH level of the plant’s potting soil can result in the flowers blooming in pink, blue, or purple. If you decide to grow hydrangeas on your balcony or terrace, be sure you choose large containers for planting them; hydrangea roots grow quickly, and they’ll soon outgrow their container or become stunted if you start out with a pot that is too small.

Suitable Growing Zones:USDA Zones 3 – 7
Light Requirements:Partial shade (especially in the afternoon)
Ideal Exposure:East facing
Maintenance:Moderate maintenance – requires fertilizing once or twice during the growing season, light pruning, deadheading, and regular watering

25. Herbs

Growing herbs on balconies or roof terraces

If you want your balcony garden to do double-duty as a beautiful thing to look at and something you can also eat, then planting an herb garden on your balcony is a fantastic choice. Plus, most herbs are easy to grow, smell amazing, and produce flowers that are pretty to look at. Look into which herbs require what kinds of care (light, water, and soil type) so that you can group plants that have like needs. You can also create a collection by planting individual herbs in smaller pots and displaying them on an attractive plant stand if you have enough space.

Suitable Growing Zones:Most USDA Zones
Light Requirements:At least 4 hours of direct sunlight (varies between species)
Ideal Exposure:South, east, west, or north facing
Maintenance:Low maintenance – most herbs require regular watering and moderate pruning

The Final Word: Growing Plants on Your Balcony or Terrace

No matter what climate you live in or the type of balcony or terrace you have, you can use plants to create an artfully designed space where you can relax, enjoy nature, and truly breathe in the fresh air.


Editorial Director | Full Bio | + posts

Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.

Author

Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.

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