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I am looking for a big, colourful plant for my girlfriend's west-facing balcony in London as a birthday present, to be delivered on Saturday. I know nothing about plants I'm willing to pay up to £100 or so. 

I need it to be modern-looking, preferably with bright colours, and maybe spikes or something rather than flowers, and last for a while. 

Does this sort of thing exist? I would be so grateful for any advice. Also, I am new to the forum so sorry if this is in the wrong place!



I think I'd go for a potted selection of Canna Lillies. You'll have plenty of good suppliers in London, and I'm sure a local Garden centre will be able to help. It would fit what you require as well, colour, spikes and they look very good in pots. They are frost tender, but in London winter temperatures never get far below freezing, so they could probably stay outside all year. I'll let someone else suggest a shrub. 


I would have suggested canna, but Dave has, so what about a variegated phormium tenax, spiky plant from Australia? They come in reds, greens and golds.


Agapanthus, the large flowered ones, or tree lillies very tall and a nice scent to waft indoors on those summer evenings.

Bottle brush plant
A standard rose
A ginger lily (hedichium or something like that!) Would be my choice tho

Jungle plants or crocus are two places i have used and have been good


Thanks to everyone. Bekkie I like your suggestions, particularly the hedichium, after looking at google images of course. 

I also like the abutillion and brugmansia. Of these, what do you think is the best suited to the balcony, in a big pot!? How long would they last and what do you think I should be ready to pay?

Thanks again. 

Sorry Ben had to nip out doors to get warm!
I have to be honest, ive never grown any of them, just drooled over them i catalogues!
The main issue i can see would be damage from wind, unless its quite a sheltered spot, id probably still go with the heichium, probably corinarium ( scuse spelling) thats the one thats often used in perfume production, i brought mom a similar one years ago which is still going strong, i reckon to get a large specimin you are probably looking at between 50 and a hundred pounds, plus the cost of the pot!
I would give somewhere like jungle plants a call and ask their advice, i think i had an email from them saying they have 25 percent off too, so it may be a good time!
Please post on what you decide, its such a lovely thing to do

Brugmansia can grow very big. My son has one, very perfumed, like lemony soap.

OK thanks, is the hedichium a perennial? By jungle plants do you mean Urban Jungle? I looked online but not sure which company you mean. 


I would go for Nerium Oleander. Evergreen and flowers.

Callistemon (bottle brush plant) is slightly hardier but the flowers more fleeting and is also evergreen.

The 2 above do not mind the winds associated with balconies.

A Fatsia (there are lots of varieties, Spiders web, Annelise and Fatsia polycarpa come very well recommended).

I would not advise to get any of the other plants mentioned above as they are not hardy and London gets air and ground frosts, even super sheltered central London ones. The wind will rip to shreds Canna and musa leaves and will look terrible in no time. You will also be staring at an empty pot come December for Hedychium, Canna and Brugs.

I do like Jungleplants! but a balcony is no good for them.

Orchid Lady

I'm no good for advice as fairly new myself, but wanted to say welcome Ben, what a lovely thought and please let us know what you get....also, if I give you his details could you have a word with my husband 

Thanks any types of the Nerium have orange bits? My gf likes bright oranges and reds and things. How long might this plant last and what is the price range do you think? 

Sorry Ben, i meant jungle, i think they are also jungle, yes it is a perennial, my mom puts hers outside in the milder weather then brings it into the conservatory for winter, it grows very well so it could be split each year and a little taken indoors to overwinter to save space.
It dosent have to be the website ive suggested, thats just one that ive used , there will be specialist places all over.
Oleander is nice too

There really is a ton of choice, i dont envy you

Oleander come in many colours - Orange being one of the most difficult ones to buy in the UK. The cream/yellow ones can be nearly orange. You are most likely to find them in a GC than online.

If you are after orange flowers then Azalea or Rhododendrons would be a better bet to be able to source for this weekend.

Ben, just been having a look online, found a site called butterfly jungles, looks exactly what your after! I can copy but not paste! If you cant find it, send me a pm with your email and i will email the link or page to you
Might be having a look myself, looks great!



Welcome Ben, I don't know what part of London you are in, but Clifton Nurseries in Maida Vale, Petersham Nursery in Sheen area or the one next to Turnham Green Tube Station would all have a selection of plants and pots; if weight is an issue, suggest that you get a plastic/fibreglass pot, they can look really good these days. If you make too specific a choice right now, you may run the risk of not being able to get it by Saturday.

Nice one artjak, the things you can get in the big smoke!
You could always take her to a nice garden for her birthday, then supprise her with a plant she has commented on- we like it when you listen!

Petersham Nursery used to have a seriously classy restaurant - they may still have one; you could take her there and before dining she could choose her plant and pot.

Of course we want photos of the whole event