My balcony garden is south facing, and gets full sun all afternoon throughout the summer months. When I started gardening on my balcony I only grew fruit and veg, but I swiftly learned that I needed to include plants for pollinators to improve yield, and a water feature to increase biodiversity. My top five sunny balcony picks help to achieve this balance.

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Malabar spinach

Malabar spinach - a tender, perennial vine with edible leaves

The glass balustrade on my balcony intensifies the heat in summer, causing many leafy greens to bolt. But one crop I've had success with is Malabar spinach, whilst not a true spinach, the foliage is very similar and is delicious. It is a climber that thrives in a warm and sunny location, so perfect for a warm balcony.


Colocasia esculenta 'Black Magic'

The striking large leaves of Colocasia esculenta 'Black Magic'

I love plants with darker foliage, and the heart shaped black leaves of Colocasia esculenta 'Black Magic' are stunning. It can take shade but due to the darker foliage, it will also thrive in a sunny spot on the balcony. It can also be grown as a marginal pond plant (pond depth zone 2). Mine currently grows in a container pond on the balcony.

How to grow colocasia


Aquilegia vulgaris

Aquilegia vulgaris var. stellata 'Black Barlow' - one of many varieties of aquilegia

I didn’t appreciate aquilegia until late 2021. Many of the plants I grew couldn’t deal with the windy conditions on my balcony garden, however, since aquilegia are used to mountainous conditions, they thrive on the balcony. The flowers are beautiful and come in a vast array of colours and plant height can range from 20cm up to 100cm.

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How to grow aquilegias


Tomato 'Gardener’s Delight'

Cherry tomatoes, such as 'Gardeners' Delight', grow well in pots and are ideal for a sunny balcony

You may think that you can only grow flowers on a balcony, however, balconies can be extremely productive spaces. Cherry tomatoes are a must on a sunny balcony garden. The yield can be astronomical, if conditions are right. You can grow Tomato 'Gardener’s Delight’ vertically on a trellis or tied to a stake. I am able to harvest mine right through until December, because of the protection my balcony offers.


Oenanthe javanica 'Flamingo'

Oenanthe javanica 'Flamingo' or water dropwort can be a marginal or bog plant. Getty Images

No matter the size of your garden, I would always recommend a water feature. One of my favourite pond plants is Oenanthe javanica 'Flamingo', with its striking variegated pink and cream leaves. Throughout the season, as the plant grows, it offers shade to the pond below and produces beautiful white flowers in summer.


Top tips for growing on a balcony

Portrait of Jason Williams
Jason Williams, the Cloud Gardener, on his 18th floor balcony
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Here, Jason, aka the Cloud Gardener, shares his top tips for growing on a balcony. We caught up with Jason at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2022 and he spoke to Lily Middleton about his balcony and how he gardens on the 18th floor. Listen to their conversation, below, for more balcony-gardening advice.

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