Osteospermums are perennial plants grown for their exceptional flower displays. Pictures: Supplied

With spring on the horizon it’s time to prepare your home and garden for an intense colour invasion.

Balcony and/or patio gardening is the ideal place to start. With balcony gardens, the focus is on creating a "wow" in one or many containers, which can vary in all shapes and sizes. 

Balcony and patio containers can be positioned anywhere sunny – typically, they’ll either get morning, afternoon or mid-day sun, depending on their position relative to your home. Windowsill plantings also fall into this category, so let your mind run wild with all the possibilities! No matter how big or small your home – balcony gardening is an option for you.

August is early-spring, and an excellent time for planting. Balcony containers positioned close together, or inside the house, will be less vulnerable to last minute cold snaps – although frost cover may be required if your containers are exposed to the elements. 

Vivid flowering colour options are vast and varied, but there are three absolute winners that we’d like to focus on:

Osteospermum varieties

More commonly known as African Daisies, Osteospermums are perennial plants grown for their exceptional flower displays. The typical daisy-type flowers are produced in profusion from early spring and continue till well into autumn. The wide range of colours and intricate petal shapes make each variety unique in some way or other.

Osteospermum plants are indigenous to South Africa and characteristically, the blooms ‘close’ at night, and their colours seemingly intensify when in full bloom on hot sunny days.

Osteospermum Serenity Blushing Beauty combines golden yellow blooms with a purple/pink centre. This new introductions offers a warm, romantic touch to containers and pairs particularly well with Osteospermum Blue Eyed Beauty (or any other Osteo’s!). 

Pelargoniums offer intense and prolific flowering.

Diascia ‘Diamond’

All diascia’s are gorgeous – but Diascia ‘Diamond’ is strong, prolific and has an extended blooming season. All these attributes make it a favourite for container planting – ideal for adding a blaze of colour to balconies and patios.

Diascia ‘Diamond’ is a hybrid of our indigenous diascia, with extra-large flowers available in seven different colours. It has a vigorous, upright growth habit, and is capable of producing hundreds of dainty blooms throughout summer and into autumn. Diascia ‘Diamond’ is a bold filler (& thriller!), that can also be used as a groundcover or border plant in the garden. 

Pelargoniums – a balcony/patio ‘classic’

Pelargoniums (old name ‘Geraniums’) are a popular flowering perennial commonly associated with containers. Pelargoniums offer intense and prolific flowering – when you picture the cascading hanging baskets and window boxes typical of Europe, you’ll most commonly find Pelargoniums taking pride of place.

The selection of Pelargoniums is incredibly wide. Trailing Pelargoniums have soft hanging stems that carry clusters of stunning blooms in almost all possible colours. The upright pelargonium varieties carry clusters of blooms on strong, sturdy stems that can reach a height of between 30–50cm. 

Regal Pelargoniums are larger plants carrying larger blooms and hence better suited to being a feature plant. The velvety foliage of the regal Pelargonium is sweetly perfumed, with all pelargoniums attracting insects, bees and butterflies.

Diascia ‘Diamond’ is a hybrid of our indigenous diascia.


General planting and care guidelines with balcony and patio gardens

When planting up containers, always start with compost-rich, well drained soil. Intense flowering relies on nutrient rich soils; regular nutrition will enhance and prolong the flower display. Sunshine is your most important consideration when it comes to position – it’s simple - the more sun, the more flowers. 

Regular watering is required while plants are becoming established and drip trays are highly recommended as they contain the run-off (always a good option with balcony plants!) However, it is good practice to ensure that the base of the container is raised above the possible water level in the drip tray to avoid root rot.

* For more information on bringing Life to your Garden, visit www.lifeisagarden.co.za or join the conversation on Facebook: www.facebook.com/lifeisagardensa.