It’s not too late to sow flowers, even in May! I’ve always been a little bit scared of starting plants and flowers from seeds: I wasn’t sure I would I be able to take care of these tiny sprouts. After several seasons of trial and error, and a new maturity when it comes to growing a garden, I am starting to love sowing stuff. So for you my friends who want to start a garden on your balcony, I have prepared a selection of five easy flowers to grow from seeds, even in May which is kind of ahead in the sowing season.
Before you start, be clever: the space on a balcony being what it is, you need to maximize the visual impact, and these big containers will not show any plants or flowers before weeks. Unless you really want to become a farmer on your balcony, you’d better mix “ready-to-wear” containers full of plants from the nursery with other containers where you’ll sow your flowers: it will keep your balcony interesting from day 1 and keep you motivated until the first flowers appear.
Cosmos in Bern
Not all the plants give their best in container gardening, but here are some easy ones, I promise: they’ve grown on my tiny balcony in Milan 🙂
Morning glory. A fast growth vine with attractive flowers which open at the early hours of the day. They will need a well-drained, not fertilized – poor soil to give their best. I loved to have a coffee by the window before heading to work, with these delicate flowers by my side.
Cosmos. One of my favorite annual plant, with ethereal flowers lasting weeks. There are a lot of cosmos species out there, and not all of them are adapted for container gardening: chose a dwarf version. They are ok with relatively dry soil, so they are a good choice for low maintenance gardens.
Sweet peas. Same here, chose a dwarf version to guarantee that the plants will thrive in their container. Bonus here: the smell, friends! By reading my books to prepare this post, I’ve learned that these plants are native from Sicily 🙂 They will need a well-drained, rich and fertile soil to give their best.
Nasturtium. With their edible leaves and flowers. They will need a well-drained, not fertilized – poor soil to give their best. In container, it’s better to trim them regularly so they do not invade your tiny balcony!
Sunflower. Find a dwarf version and the sunniest spot on your balcony.
morning glory on my balcony in Milan
These are annual flowers, so they will grow quickly and beautifully until the end of fall:
They have a hard seed coat which delays germination until late spring: to improve the germination of purchased seeds, soak them in a dish of warm water overnight before planting (except for the Cosmos).
You can start the seeds indoor and then transplant the tiny plant (which always scares me, I’m not sure if the plant will make it) or sow them directly in the final container, but you’ll have to wait the last frost! I prefer the latter, and sow in April-May, because I’m sure that all the natural conditions are working with me: I love an easy garden, remember?
At the end of fall, you’ll be able to collect the seeds when they dry on the plant and store them in a cool place until next spring 🙂
This is such a cheap option to grow beautiful flowers, why not trying? All you’ll need is a container, some potting soil and a pack of seeds. Allow yourself to be a kid again. Sow the seeds and let the magic happen!
What about you, do you have any other advice to share?
One of the most beautiful moment I ever lived so far is a walk through the giant bamboo forest in Arashiyama, Kyoto. I was travelling alone and could take all my time to finally enjoy this delicate and ancient relationship between the Japanese people and Nature. There, I chatted with some old men who would spend their time by the pond, taking pictures of kingfishers. There were strange puppets hung to the trees. Everything felt a little bit special and magical. In the middle of the forest, there was this shop. A potter’s shop. I liked it right away because it was a little bit messy at the edges. The potter would actually use some of the containers to grow moss, baby trees and plants in them and these vessels were starting to be part of the forest too. This is where I saw my first kokedama.
The thing about passionate humans is that we love to communicate and exchange. With two Japanese notions and four words of English, a lot of hand talk and some pictures, we chatted. He told me about the sculptures he had sold to famous Americans, I told him about my curiosity for Japanese gardens and pottery. He showed me how to prepare a baby tree before planting in a small container and how to propagate moss. I bought a beautiful raku vessel, that I cherish. He offered me a tiny tiny ceramic frog. Telling me that it was a god that would help me find back what has been lost, advising with a laughter to put it in my wallet for prosperity. Sometimes I think it was a spell from the forest to guarantee I would return.
Since then I have been curious about these baby plants in a moss ball. This is now something you can see often in concept stores and edgy flower shops: it is called kokedama. The original Japanese art is about growing a bonsai tree in a ball made of soil and moss. The quick occidental version is to grow a plant in a moss ball, arranged in a pretty way. I wanted to try it, so during one of my walks through the park, I gathered the materials and made one. I will show you how next week, when the kokedama will be one-month old.
I cannot remember the name of the potter shop. I have searched several times on the internet for it, without success. Was it a dream? Or simply, I prefer to rejoice that not everything is available at our fingertips: some things just need to be lived.
Last year I had to limit my time on the balcony: I was a few month pregnant and scared by everything toxo related. I was spending most of my free time just daydreaming or taking walks… and reading mum blogs ahah. So It feels good to get my hands dirty again!
The new scenario this year is that my gardening time is very limited. I enjoy some plant meditation during nap time only. It’s funny because this blog started as a urban garden blog for people, like me, who didn’t have much time, resources or clue on how to take care of plants. So we’re heading towards this direction again, because I cannot really spend an hour a day watering and taking care of a proper urban jungle. Before, I had “aperitivi” with friends to attend; now I have bibs and tiny socks to hang out 😉
So my friends, this year, the balcony garden will be full of easy-maintenance plants. I couldn’t resist sowing some seeds – this is such a cheap and rewarding experience to watch a plant grow from a tiny tiny seed, like these baby greens that I added to my salad at lunch. I have some projects going on but I prefer to see how it goes to give a proper before-and-after feeling: everybody is good at not killing a plant for the time of a photo-shoot, myself included, but I really want to share what’s working and how I made it work! Hope you’ll like it and that I will find the time to write proper articles in English, and French, for you to enjoy before it’s autumn again.
PS: Oh, by the way, speaking of updates on projects, my terrarium is still not dead! The moss is striving! However the fern died, right away… I think I shouldn’t have waited these two days before building the terrarium… And on another note, what do you think of the little update I did on the design of the blog?