Five favourites – plants for a shady balcony

Portrait of Jason Williams

Often there’s a strong focus on sunny balconies, however, a vast number of us have exposed shady balconies. In my case, a new building has been erected opposite my garden and has created new shady areas. So, here are some of my favourite shade-loving plants for others in a similar position.

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Coleus

Coleus mixed

Coleus are my favourite shade-loving plant. They come in a variety of different colours and they can be easily grown from seed. Coleus also propagates easily in water, so you can create an abundance of colour throughout your garden. They can be grown on their own or with others in a container to create a vibrant display. However, they’re not hardy so bring inside as a house plant over winter.


Caladium

Caladium ‘Carolyn Whorton’

Caladiums are often grown indoors as house plants, but they can also be grown outside in containers in warmer months. They come in an array of different colours and make a particularly striking statement plant due to their patterned leaves. Caladiums do well in full shade or even in dappled sun, for example if the sunlight is partially obstructed by trees or streetlights. Bring them indoors to over winter.


Heuchera

Heuchera ‘Sugar Plum’

Heuchera come in many different shapes and sizes, and they make exceptional container plants that thrive in shade or partial sun. You can find them in a range of different colours, my favourite is the Heuchera ‘Mega Caramel’. As the name suggests, the leaves are huge and caramel coloured, with deep purple on the underside. They make great fillers to container garden displays.


Begonias

Begonia ‘Apricot Shades’

Begonias are a staple in my container garden, they do well in partial shade. There are lots of different varieties with some producing double flowers as large as small roses. Most are grown as annuals, however, some are tuberous and I have found that if I keep the container sheltered and well drained, they will return the following year. This helps me to keep the costs down and reduces the workload the following year.


Ligularia

Ligularia ‘The Rocket’

If you have an exposed, north-facing balcony, you may be wondering what you can plant. Ligularia enjoy wet boggy soil, so if your garden escapes the summer sun and doesn’t receive direct sunlight, this large herbaceous perennial could be your standout plant. It produces huge bronze-tinted leaves with deep purple undersides, and sends up plumes of yellow daisy-like flowers in late summer and into autumn. A real show-stopper!

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