A small outdoor balcony garden has the potential to bring a major back-to-nature feeling to your life. But how do you get started? With Dubai’s particular climate, it’s important to think through exactly what kind of garden you are envisioning and the types of plants you’ll need to achieve it. Here are eight tips to consider before you get planting.
Create Your Space
Be sure to choose a place on your balcony with the right amount of sun exposure and access to water. Know your plant’s needs ahead of time, as some require full sunshine and others prefer partial sunshine or indirect lighting. Know how much shade your balcony gets ahead of time by observing it over a day. Plot the placement of your plants accordingly.
Do a Test Run
Before you make the leap to full-on garden, why not try caring for a succulent? The Prickly Pear, Cactus, and Aloe Vera varieties are all great options to test-drive your green thumb. They require minimal attention, but they’re not completely foolproof — a.k.a., contrary to popular belief, you can kill a succulent (via extreme neglect or overwatering).
Your local plant shop won’t stock anything that won’t survive Dubai’s weather conditions. Pay a visit to The Dubai Garden Centre on Sheikh Zayed Road, which stocks everything from plants to outdoor furniture, or order from a reliable local website like www.PlantShop.me.
Tropical plants do especially well outdoors in the summer heat, as they love humidity. Wonder Plants, Asparagus Ferns, and Citrus Trees love heat and humidity, and they are spectacular to look at as well.
Consider the Flower
If you do decide to go for flowers, it’s key to think not only about what you like, but also about how much time you’ll have to take care of them. One of the easiest regional plants to care for is the Desert Rose, also known as the Adenium. Alternatively, the Globe Amaranth is a pretty and sturdy wildflower that grows well both indoors and outdoors.
Take the Easy Route
Coleus, Petunias, and Zinnias are some of the most popular plants found in Dubai, as they are easy to grow and readily available. These colorful options not only add visual interest to a balcony garden, but they can withstand a moderate degree of neglect and still blossom.
Don't Forget About Drainage
When planting, be sure to place pebbles around the base of your plants to protect their roots and preserve moisture. Mixing pebbles or bark into the soil of your potted plants will also aerate them, ensuring oxygen reaches the roots which prevents root rot, and also provides drainage. Don’t forget to make sure there are holes in the bottom of your pots (you may have to drill them yourself), or else your plant could run the risk of improper drainage, which gives it “wet feet”, also leading to root rot.
Have Fun with Decor
Choose containers with color to give your balcony garden a bit of personality. Vary the heights of the planters to make it feel more lush. Put sculptures in the mix to create artistic flare.
Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor
Add a little table, lounge chairs, and other outdoor furniture into the space so that your balcony becomes a garden oasis. When you’re spending so much time building your garden, it’s important to enjoy it.