Living in an apartment or condo means living really close to other people. I’ve been rudely reminded of that lately, as my upstairs neighbor has decided to rearrange their furniture late at night. But the closeness can also be felt outside, on your balcony or patio too. Inconsiderate neighbors may use their balcony as a place to store their junk, or you may have a great view into the apartments in the next building over. Whatever the case, you may want to create a little privacy on your balcony, and I know of five plants that would do a great job helping you do that.
Blueberries are a great plant to grow in pots. In many parts of the country, it’s pretty much the only way. Like in Southern California, where our soil is too alkaline to grow them in the ground. But in a pot, it’s easy to provide them with the acidic soil they love. And “high bush” varieties can grow to be 5-6 feet tall. This means that you can create a privacy hedge that is beautiful and produces delicious fruit. Trifecta! More about blueberries here.
I keep on seeing this plant in Target’s garden section (though you can also easily grow millet from seed). More on Target’s garden center tomorrow, but ornamental millet grows to be about 5 feet tall and produces nice bushy plants that are perfect for blocking out neighbors. It won the All-America Selection gold medal, which is hard to do, though not surprising for a plant that is beautiful yet nearly impossible to kill. Oh yeah, and they leaves are such a dark purple, they look black. What’s not to love?
Hollyhocks are usually listed as a biennial, which means that you plant them one year, it grows leaves and roots, and then flowers the following year. However, many of them can be grown as an annual (flower the year they’re planted) if you start them early indoors. Being the black plant lover that I am, I recommend ‘Watchman’ which will send up 6 foot tall deep burgandy flower spikes.
There are some sunflowers that will grow to 14 feet tall. If you can’t block out your neighbors with 14 feet of of sunflowery goodness, then you should probably just move. Sunflowers are another double-duty plant. If you grow a variety that produces yummy seeds, you can either eat them or let your feathery friends have them. Either way, bees will definitely appreciate all the pollen.
If you have a shady balcony, then foxgloves are your friend. They come in all sorts of colors and can grow to 5 feet tall. Put them in a 2 foot tall pot and you have a stunning flower curtain that you and bees will love. Here’s a container recipe featuring foxgloves.