Having limited outdoor space shouldn’t prevent you from creating your own miniature arboretum. When searching for the perfect plants for your small outdoor spaces, like balconies, it’s wise to keep in mind which plants thrive in sun or shade.
Plants housed on sunny balconies risk sun scorch and dehydration, so you want to buy only those plants that will flourish in sometimes harsh and very direct sunlight. Read on to learn about the 10 best plants for your sunny balcony!
It should come as no surprise that cacti are the most ideal type of plant for a sunny balcony. They thrive in the world’s hottest climates in very little cloud coverage. Therefore, a cactus would be the perfect addition for your sunny balcony (especially if your balcony is south facing and gets extra sun in the summer months.)
Just because cacti can withstand sun, doesn’t mean you are limited to tall pokey looking saguaros (though they certainly are spectacular looking amongst a desert landscape.) The Christmas cactus is a gorgeous vine-like plant that blooms in December, especially in a warm and/or moist environment.
Their flowers can be a lovely shade of white, pink or red. They look gorgeous sitting in a pot atop a balcony ledge, or stunning cascading down from a hanging planter.
This type of cactus is likely what you picture when you think of ‘cacti.’ They are predominantly found in warm climates like South America and the West Indies. They are tree-like with well-defined ribs and thick, tall spines. They can grow to be quite large and they do flower (but usually at night). The Cereus cactus flower is also quite fragrant and beautiful!
Fortunately, cereus are very popular cacti so can be easily purchased from any local garden center or home improvement store. This type of common cactus is ideal for beginners. They do very well in full sun and heat and are very easy to care for.
Succulents are drought tolerant, sun hungry plants that will thrive on a sunny balcony! However, not every succulent loves full, scorching sun. In fact, many like a little shade and some extra water. Be sure when looking at succulents that you’re finding genus’ that endure heat and sun well.
Firestick / Pencil Tree Plant
There are over 2,000 different species within the Euphorbia genus of succulents which the firestick /pencil tree plant falls under. The Euphorbia Tirucallane (firestick plant) have small, slender, brightly colored leaves which look like twigs or branches. When in full color, they can appear like exposed coral reef!
Firestick plants range in color, from green to orange. They love full sun and require very little care once planted. While they thrive in heat, they do need to be water a considerable amount more during high-heat months. However, they are generally low maintenance and easy to take care of.
Hens & Chicks
The sempervivum succulent, also known as hens and chicks, is a gorgeous succulent that comes in many different shapes and varieties. It gets its name by the way the plant multiplies in little clusters around the mother plant (like chicks huddled around a mama hen.)
Hens and chicks thrive in full and bright sunlight, making them a perfect addition to your sunny balcony! They must be potted in easily drained soil, as they do not survive overwatering and can wither away in sitting water (which can cause root-rot.)
Jade plants, also known as Crassula Ovata are stunning succulents that produce thick, shiny, and smooth leaves that range from dark jade green to golden yellow. Jade plants do well in full sun and are low maintenance plants.
When contemplating the best plants for sunny balcony, flowers are crucial, since they can bless the space with a variety of colors. We display a couple below that are well suited for sunny balconies and that fit well with the railing planters we present on this page.
Geraniums not only release a sweet, floral smell (like that of roses), they are typically the plant of choice in many Mediterranean climates (in countries like Greece). Geranium’s cope extremely well in hot environments and can bloom year-round. They are simple to care for as well. You will need to regularly dead-head the plant in order to promote the flowering of new plants. If you do this, your sunny balcony geranium can last all year!
Not only does this plant share the name of an outstandingly bad-good movie from the 80s which was turned into an off-Broadway musical… Heathers is an excellent (albeit perhaps not obvious) choice to plant on a sunny balcony.
The heather plant loves sun and their gorgeous spikey flower appearance resembles that of lavender. They thrive in balcony style hanging planters, but need to be taken in during intense wind. They also require some pruning and need regular watering if you want a full, bushy plant. Like Lavender, they are aromatic and attract lots of bees! (Remember to shut your sliding glass door if you don’t want any surprise buggies hanging out in your living room.)
Lavender is one of the most attractive perennial flowers, with its long flowing purple-blue flowers hat grow happily in sunny spots. Lavender is also somewhat drought-tolerant and like dry soil. However, they still need regularly watering – they are just more forgiving if you forget a day or two.
Make sure to provide your lavender with lots of drainage. This type of flowering plant works particularly well when next to clear or plexiglass windows or doors, as they take in the additional reflected sunlight well!
Certain herbs can really thrive on a sunny balcony! Herbs typically do well in small containers and will provide you with aromatic and delicious herbs for your kitchen table! Many herbs are sun hungry and will flourish on a sun-soaked patio, like thyme, sage, rosemary, chives, basil and mint. The catch? You’ll have to water them very regularly and make sure they are in easily drained soil as they are prone to root-rot.
This delicious and fragrant herb loves sunshine and will thrive greatly on a sunny balcony. Thyme can be grown inside or outside and likes a well-drained soil at 6.0-8.0 pH level. Don’t let that spook you, thyme is quite easy to take care of when it receives full sun and regular watering sessions.
Considering this, thyme is one of the more drought-tolerant perennial herbs. It’s an ideal herb for beginners and will make your balcony smell sensationally aromatic! It’s also delicious on chicken, in a stew, or sprinkled over some mac n cheese (trust us on this last one.)
Fruit & Vegetable Plants
Certain fruit and vegetables thrive in warm summer months. During these times, you can absolutely fill your balcony with sun-hungry berries, fruits, or veggies such as tomatoes or homegrown cucumbers.
You might not think to spruce up your balcony with these tasty red berries, but strawberries can really flourish and color a sunny balcony space! They are one of many fruits and berries that can grow in pots, containers or hanging baskets, making them ideal for an outdoor patio or balcony.
The Key Take Away on the Best Plants for Sunny Balcony
This is only a list of the 10 best plants for sunny balconies. There are plenty more excellent and diverse types of cacti, succulents, flowers, herbs and fruit & veggies that will thrive on your sunshiny balcony. Since every individual is different, you can grow your balcony garden to be as specific or diverse as you like.
If you like a minimalist look, some cacti or succulents will likely do the trick (and be extremely low maintenance to take care of!). If you prefer a lusher and more colorful balcony garden that attracts butterflies, you might want to invest in more flowers and perennial herbs to really make your balcony pop!
Finally, here are 15 of our favorite flowers that we alter between on our balcony.
P.S. If you have pollen allergy, here’s a list of the 14 best low-pollen flowers for balconies.