How to Grow a Hanging Garden From Your Balcony Railing

 Decorate Your Balcony With a Hanging Garden

Why don't people in America use their balconies? I see many different types and sizes of porches with decorative railings (or not), and few people in America know what to do with them.

I've lived in apartments all my life, some on the ground floor, some upstairs, some with balconies, some not. My first apartment on the top floor had a small balcony behind the stairs that led to the street. The balcony was small but still big enough for a few plants. This was in the late 1970s.

Later, I started the journey and saw the balconies full of flowers. literally! Beautiful waterfalls of flowers! Worth a try here in America

If you want to beautify your balcony - to make it a view for passersby - this article will help you find out whether you live in the United States or elsewhere. This will include:

What would a hanging garden look like?
What type of planters should be used for different balcony railings?
Plants suitable for different sunlight conditions in your balcony.
How to take care of your plants

Here is a small description of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon if you want to know about them and whether or not you can replicate them.

Decorative Hanging Gardens of Europe

Modern photographs of balconies throughout Europe and the Far East show balconies filled with flowers. Even old apartment buildings have it. It is a feature of Europe that is not often talked about but is photographed and appreciated, especially if a person travels to a country without it and then ends up in a country without it – for example the United States. These balconies can be your best role models.

What Exactly Is a Balcony?

For those who are not sure what a porch is, it is any raised platform that extends outside a building and is protected by a wall or some type of decorative fence. The platform must be strong, i.e. well supported, so that it cannot collapse, and therefore can bear weight, such as people walking on it.

The strength of the support will determine how much you can place on the porch when you add your weight. The apartment house above has concrete columns supporting its balconies, so it must be able to hold a lot of weight.

The type of balcony railing or fence will determine the type of plants you can hang on it and how to grow them. The European photo above shows an iron railing with pots hanging from the ceiling and plants growing through planter bars placed just inside the railing. This is one way to create a hanging garden. And there are others.

Ideas for the Design of Your Hanging Garden

Hanging gardens can complement any potted plants standing on your balcony, or dominate on their own without taking up too much space. These may include:

Many plants hang from the balcony ceiling.
Plants flow from the box mounted on the top rail
Plants grow up to the top of the rail and spread over it.
Plants grow between the rails and the bottom of the balcony.

It can be monochromatic or multi-colored, and consists of:

Simple green hanging plants, such as pothos or ivy
Ornamental plants with foliage, such as begonia or variegated bougainvillea
Solid, massive flower color
Bright, flowing waterfalls with mixed colors of flowers
Or an alternative combination of plain green leaves and colorful flowers

Other additions to the garden

Hanging crystals, decorative bird cages or feeders can enhance the scene. Wind chimes or a porch fountain can add a nice sound. All this will make you feel good whenever you go out for fresh air.

The question now is, how do you choose the right plants, based on the type of hedge you have and the amount of light your balcony gets? What will work better, look more attractive, be easier to maintain, and look good to others? Let's start with the type of handrail.

What to Plant Over a Concrete Balcony Wall to Grow Hanging Plants

This type of wall does not have bars that the plant can climb. Therefore, you will need to use plants with strong stems and flexible, vine-like branches. The heaviness of this wall makes it good for growing heavy plants such as bougainvillea or wisteria.

You will use two or three deep pots containing plants in each near either end of the balcony. Allow it to grow and move it up the wall, cutting off any branches that try to grow into the balcony space. Most plants will grow toward the sun anyway, so you shouldn't have too much trouble.

You can also use hanging planters, as shown in the first photo in this article, but their ventilation will not be as good for a heavy-looking wall.


Two 5-gallon pots with saucers (10-gallon pots would also work)
Two well-established, woody climbers
Potting soil
Thick string
Pruning shears


Repot the climbers into 5- or 10-gallon pots, pressing the potting soil down firmly.
Place it so that the most growing side is against the wall.
Trim all branches on the side of the porch to within 5-6 inches of the trunk.
Attach the remaining branches loosely to the top of the wall.
Guide them over the wall.

When plants move toward the sun, they will begin to grow in that direction on their own and will no longer need guidance.

Instructions for Hanging Plants From a Wood or Metal Balcony Railing

This type of open handrail is ideal for climbers and trailers. The shape of the top rail is key to determining how to plant. For example, any railing that has a sloping top will hold up a window box better than rounded tops.

Metal Railings: Metal railings are good with vertical or horizontal railings and are especially good for window boxes – plant boxes attached to the top railing. Although window boxes come in a variety of materials, I think wooden boxes are the most beautiful. Window boxes are ideal for primroses, nasturtiums, alyssums and other trailing annuals. You will need special brackets to mount the boxes, but they are easy to find at any hardware store and are easy to install.

Wooden rails: When balcony railings are made of wood, there is always a concern that plants can rot the rails. Try using a tall planting box for your plants, and add chicken wire trellises or vines over the top rail and wire to grow. This will save a little space between the main plant and the rails. Plants with tendrils, such as sweet peas or morning glories, will especially need a trellis.

Box planters: Other types of plants, such as vinca or rosemary, can be grown on the balcony in a tall box planter, then allowed to grow between the rails, out and down, as in the European balcony photo above. . Remember to pinch off anything that starts to invade your balcony space.


Long box planter and trellis (if needed) OR window boxes and brackets
Plants of choice
Potting soil
Heavy string
Pruning shears
Screwdriver for brackets


I provide several sets of step-by-step instructions below, depending on whether you want to install box planters without a trellis, box planters with a trellis, or window boxes.
For box planters without trellises

Place the planter box where you want to plant.

Return the plants to the pot and press firmly into the soil around the plant.
Direct plant branches between the railing bars.
Cut branches that try to invade the balcony or tie them back so they can grow on their own.

For Box Planter With a Trellis

Place the trellis between the planter box and the fence.
Attach the trellis to the fence in several places.
Place the plants back in the pot and press the soil firmly around the plant, or scatter the seeds if growing annuals.
If the plants already have tendrils or coils, wrap them around the trellis or tie them in place to start their climb.
Once they're up and starting to hang from the side, you can attach some of the outer parts to the railing bars and use them to climb the rest down.

For Window Boxes

Install the window box brackets where you want the window boxes to be, following the instructions on the bracket package.
Insert each window box into its bracket.
Repot the plants in window boxes, with the densest growth in the front, and press the soil firmly around the plant.
Point any branches down beyond the railing, and tie some of the main branches to the railing bars (if they are long enough). This would help guide others.

How to grow a hanging garden using glass balcony railings

The biggest advantage of having a balcony with a glass railing is that you get an unobstructed view through the glass, which means the view is worth seeing. In this case, you may want to enhance the display rather than hide or change it.

For glass partitions, you can basically use a hanging planter with a window box or two (if the top rail is large enough to accommodate one). You don't want to cover the glass too much, and whatever plants you do, you still want them to be attractive, because you'll be looking at the outside of them through the glass.

This type of balcony rail is good for hanging or hanging perennials, especially airy ones like pothos or begonia, or for growing a plant that repeats a color or mimics a plant you can see outside. This will add depth and better connect you to the outdoors.

Hanging Plants for Shady Balconies

Plants that do best on shady balconies do not grow well in full sun, they dry out quickly and their leaves burn. Most love moist air, so tree-shaded balconies are ideal – the trees will provide moisture as they breathe (tree sweat). If your balcony is shaded by another building, you will need to add moisture somehow through a balcony fountain, ceiling sprayer, or hand sprinkler every day.

Trailing houseplants work well on such balconies. This includes all the plants pictured above, as well as plants such as pearl necklace, any of the hanging ferns, wandering jew's plant (inch plant) or donkey's tail. I've included the scientific name with each photo so you can look up its exact requirements online.

I intentionally did not include the ivy family, because it is considered invasive in many parts of the world, including the United States, but ivy can do well on balconies. In fact, any invasive vine does well on balconies, because balconies bear it.

Decorative Trailing Plants for Semi-Sunny Balconies

If your balcony gets some sun, but not the heat of the day, you can use outdoor shade plants such as vinca or nasturtium or semi-sun plants such as clematis. You can also use indoor plants that are a different color and need some sunlight, such as begonias. The photos above show trailing flower specimens that may do well on a sunny porch.

Outside Hanging Plants for Sunny Balconies

Fully sunny balconies can accommodate a wide range of hanging and trailing plants, some of which are commonly considered vegetables – sweet potato vines are a good example of this. In addition to those shown above, some jasmine, rosemary and sweet pea plants are good hanging plants for full sun.

Remember that there are many types of vines, so it is best to ask the seller for help if you buy them from local stores (or search online if you plan to order plants). Beware of really woody climbers, such as roses. They climb, more so than trails, and will weaken if left to hang.

Balcony Plants for Bees, Birds, or Butterflies

Flying creatures can be attracted to balconies just as easily as they are to in-ground gardens, if you offer them their choice. The common jasmine above is an example of this. Many of the other plants pictured above will also attract bees, birds or butterflies. Look for a scented vine; morning glories and honeysuckle are other good choices.

If you're looking for specific birds, such as hummingbirds, you can always add a bird feeder to a plant stand or hang it from your porch ceiling.

How to care for balcony plants

Caring for balcony plants is different from caring for houseplants and gardens on the ground. Because they are grown in relatively shallow containers and exposed to wind, their leaves dry out quickly and so does the soil. Here are some tips for taking care of them:

Water twice as much as you normally would.
Tropical plants that grow in the tropics prefer humid air, so mist regularly or add a porch fountain to keep your porch air moist.
Prune some plants to encourage them to grow outside the balcony rather than inside.
If you have a tall plant box for growing woody vines, you may want to add small flowering annuals to obscure the stems.
Check your plants' needs before adding any fertilizer. For example, snow plants don't like it. Nor sweet peas.
If you are in an area that freezes in the winter, be sure to bring any tropical plants inside when it gets cold.

Use a moisture metre to test the soil before watering to obtain a good indication of how frequently to water. After a while, you will become familiar with the desired frequency and will not need to use it all the time.

No comments