If you live in an apartment, your balcony might be where you enjoy your morning coffee or unwind after work. The problem with apartment balconies is that they are usually pretty exposed. Even if you like your neighbors, it’s nice to have a little privacy in your outdoor space so you can relax.
Bamboo screens and drapes are an option, but they can be a bit bland and uninspiring. To truly create your own outdoor oasis, try adding privacy plants.
The best plants for balcony privacy tend to be tall and bushy plants, like bamboo or palms. Climbing plants like English ivy also provide coverage by filling in trellises and flowering plants like hollyhocks or hydrangea add a pop of color.
With a little bit of work, you’ll be well on your way to creating your very own private outdoor oasis. Let’s look at which plants work best on a balcony, and how they can provide you with some privacy.
Best Potted Plants for Privacy
If you’re trying to replicate the look of an outdoor oasis, opt for oversized plants that can fill a space. Keep in mind that because they’ll be on a balcony, you need to pick plants that can tolerate direct sunlight and grow in a container.
With that in mind, here are a few of the best balcony plants to help you achieve that breezy tropical oasis feel!
There are 2,600 different species of palms, which can make it tricky to pick just one. Palm plants range from short shrubs to towering trees, and different species have different light tolerances. The Areca Palm is best known for its long thin fronds and wide leaves that provide excellent privacy. This particular species of palm also can tolerate direct sun.
Because the Areca Palm is a slow grower, it’s a great choice for balconies that have a roof. You won’t have to worry about your palm outgrowing the space, or outgrowing its pot.
Hollyhocks are the perfect plant if you want a burst of summer color on your balcony. The fact that they act as a great privacy screen is just a bonus. This flowering plant can reach a staggering height of 9 feet (2.7 m), which is more than enough height to give you the privacy you need.
Unlike many flowering plants which burn in the sun, Hollyhocks loves direct light. However, a common issue with Hollyhocks is too dry soil, so make sure you keep this plant moist with regular watering.
If you’re looking for a plant that can handle cooler temperatures, Hydrangeas are an excellent choice. Hydrangeas grow in USDA hardiness zones 3-7 and can tolerate cool nights and full sun during the day.
This plant’s large globe-shaped flowers and dark green foliage make it an attractive way to cover balcony railings. It grows quickly too, so you don’t have to wait all summer to get beautiful blooms and privacy.
If you opt for climbing Hydrangeas, they’ll even cover a trellis to add height to your balcony oasis!
Grasses are an underrated gem of the gardening world, and can add whimsy and privacy to your balcony. Fountain Grass has unique fuzzy catkins that catch the light at sunset and add interest to your outdoor space.
Fountain Grass grows in clumps that can reach anywhere from 3-5 feet (1-1.5 m) tall. They also grow quickly and can reach their maximum height in a single growing season. And like many grasses, Fountain Grass can tolerate full sun so you won’t have to worry about it burning.
Low Maintenance Balcony Plants
While the above plants offer excellent privacy, not everyone has the time or the green thumb to maintain them. If this sounds like you, try one of these low-maintenance privacy plants.
Bamboo grows vertically, which is why it’s so popular as a balcony plant. Different varieties of bamboo can offer different levels of privacy. Multiplex Bamboo grows very densely and can provide a good amount of shade on a hot day. Wispier varieties like Sunset Glow Bamboo will allow the light through, but keep you out of view of the neighbors.
Another benefit of bamboo is that it grows quickly, with very little help from us humans. It can grow in almost any type of soil and can even handle periods of drought.
English Ivy grows so thickly and abundantly that in some parts of North America it is considered an invasive species. These traits are also what make it a great privacy screen for a patio or balcony.
English Ivy tends to cascade or grow upward depending on its placement. You can hang it from a planter to get some vertical coverage while still allowing light in. You can also weave it into a trellis and let it grow upward. And if you just want a little greenery to cover the view from below, this plant will also do well in a railing planter.
What’s also great about English Ivy is that it is winter hardy. This means it will stay alive in the winter, giving you year-round privacy.
What Potted Plants Do Well in Full Hot Sun?
Love the look of colorful flowers but are worried about them burning on your balcony? Lavender is the perfect solution. Lavender plants need a minimum of 6-8 hours of direct sunlight a day. They like their soil dry and well-draining, so they’re also a great choice if you’re the kind of person who occasionally forgets to water their plants.
And because Lavender grows between 1-3 feet (30-90 cm) tall, they are the perfect minimalist privacy plant.
Do Balcony Plants Attract Bugs?
Bugs are attracted to almost every kind of plant, so you should expect to see a few visitors in your balcony oasis. They might be attracted to the moisture in the soil or the scent of the flowers.
Common balcony bugs include ants, earwigs, and ladybugs. While some bugs can be a nuisance and try to eat your plants (ants and earwigs), others like ladybugs are actually beneficial. Ladybugs prey on pests like aphids that eat plant foliage. So these voracious hunters not only look pretty, but they help protect your plants!
Does Lavender Keep Bugs Away?
A little-known secret about Lavender is that its scent can actually repel bugs. In fact, any plant that contains essential oils has this unique ability. This includes lemongrass and citronella grass, which is popular for warding off mosquitoes. The strong scent of Lavender essential oil helps repel not only mosquitoes but also moths and flies.
What Plant Keeps Spiders Away?
When the nights start getting warm, you’ll inevitably see spider webs popping up around your balcony. The last thing you want is for your relaxing oasis to become a haven for creepy crawlies.
Luckily, the same plants that ward off mosquitoes and moths will also keep spiders at bay! These plants include citronella, lemongrass, lavender, mint, basil, and any other plant with strongly scented essential oils.
In addition to this, chrysanthemums have the unique ability to ward off insects due to an extract called pyrethrum in their dried flowers. This extract is even used in commercial insecticides.
What Should You Not Put on Your Balcony?
While a balcony oasis should be as fun and creative as you want it to be, there are some protocols to keep in mind. Potted plants can get quite heavy, so check with your building for the weight limit of your balcony. Also, make sure you’re courteous to those who live below you when watering your plants. Make sure you use saucers for your pots so whoever is below doesn’t get unexpectedly rained on.
Plants are an easy way to turn your outdoor space into a private retreat. By choosing the right plants, you can guarantee your outdoor space is every bit as private as it is relaxing.
For maximum privacy, opt for tall and bushy plants like palms or bamboo. A climbing plant like English ivy can cover a trellis and add more dense coverage. And if you want some color, choose a tall flowering plant like hollyhocks, or a bushy plant like hydrangea.
All of these plants will be happy in the full sun on your balcony, and give you all the privacy you need!