These plants are well suited
Although you don't use your balcony very often in winter, it's nice to look out at a balcony filled with green plants during the grey winter months. In this article, we show you a selection of balcony and potted plants that still look great from the window when it's icy outside.
It is important to adequately drain the plant pots to prevent rot taking hold in the soil and roots in the damp winter weather. In particular, pots made from clay or ceramic are not always frost-resistant. When excess water from watering or rain freezes in the pot, it expands and can cause cracks to appear in the material or even cause the pot to burst. Besides having large enough drain holes, drainage made from expanded clay or coarse gravel at the base of the pot can help to drain off any excess water. If you have placed the pot directly on the floor of your balcony or terrace, make sure that the drain holes are not obstructed. Small supporting feet made from stones or wood can make things easier.
Watering too little, however, is also not a good countermeasure, as once the soil dries out, it cannot absorb any more moisture in frost conditions. The unfortunate result of this is that your plants dry up. For healthy winter plants on your balcony or terrace, you must always ensure that your soil is consistently moist.
Covers made from hessian sacks provide secure yet decorative frost protection for your plant pots. They can be attached with colourful ribbons, which look particularly festive around Christmas time.
Lasting and colourful
There is hardly any other plant that lights up the dark time of the year with as much stamina as gaultheria. The plant is particularly favoured for its thick, round berries. They can be red, pink or white and remain on the plant until the spring. But its leaves also make the small plant special. Their succulent, dark green glow persists all year round. In the autumn, some leaves turn dark red to violet. At 10-15 cm tall, the rather flat-growing gaultheria spreads out as groundcover in the partial shade of other plants in the flower bed. In tubs, the plant also offers a gratifying foundation for a half-shaded spot. Rhododendron or peat bed soil and a rhododendron fertiliser can help gaultheria grow healthily.
Note: The fruits of the gaultheria are slightly poisonous. Eating them can cause gastrointestinal problems. It is best to plant the alluring berries out of the reach of young children.
Suitable for children
Skimmia makes a great partner in a pot of gaultheria. The plant also does particularly well in semi-shaded spots and prefers an acidic soil substrate in the form of a rhododendron or peat bed soil. Skimmia is also an evergreen plant which conjures up splashes of red in the winter on your balcony or terrace. When potted, the plant can withstand frost temperatures of up to -15°C.
If you want the pink to red flowers of the plant to bear red berries in the winter, you should bear in mind that the skimmia is a plant with two sexes. It can only pollinate if you plant two plants with male and female flowers close to one another. The berries are also completely non-poisonous. Skimmia is also perfectly suited to your terrace or balcony if you have young children. You can find different species of skimmia at your garden centre. In addition to the different colours, you should pay attention to the plant height when purchasing it, as some species can grow up to one metre tall.
Winter heath is one of the most long-lasting and popular winter flowers on balconies and terraces. Its pinkish, red or white flowers radiate from November into April. Winter heath is easy to confuse with other species of the heather plant, such as common heather, which only blooms until late autumn.
The evergreen ornamental shrub forms a thick carpet that can grow 15 to 30 cm tall and looks fantastic when planted in groups. Unlike skimmia and gaultheria, winter heath places no special requirements on the potting soil but it should always be kept moist enough. The optimal location is sunny to semi-shaded. Practical: Many new species of winter heath have come along in recent years. Winter Beauty and Vivelli are particularly well suited to plant pots. These species have abundant flowers and fit in well with balcony plant containers thanks to their low, wide growth.
Unpretentious and tough
Growing up to one metre tall, laurestine does well when planted alone in a large tub. If you wish to make space for this spherical shrub on your balcony or terrace, you will be rewarded with lush white umbels from November into April. The closed buds of the flowers are also slightly pink in colour, giving the plant a multicoloured appearance. Given its slow growth, the shrub can remain in a plant pot for several years. Selecting a potting soil with a stable structure is therefore key to the plant's healthy development. Potting soils enriched with inorganic components such as perlite or lava rock granules are particularly suitable.
Laurestine originates from the temperate regions of the Mediterranean. Despite its resilience, it is a plant that favours warmth. In the winter, the flowers give thanks to a sunny to semi-shaded spot protected from the wind with their intense aroma, reminiscent of vanilla and cloves. After flowering in April, laurestine is liberally pruned to prevent it from growing too expansively in the tub.
Read more about planting and caring for laurestine in your garden here in our plant guide.
The Christmas rose is a much-loved classic among winter flowers. Most species flower from January to March, but special varieties of the Christmas rose which blossom in December are becoming increasingly popular. The potted Christmas rose can resist winter temperatures of up to -25°C in a bright to semi-shaded spot. But make sure to protect the plants from direct sunlight in frost conditions. In these conditions, when the ground is frozen and the leaves are warmed by the sun, the plant tries to draw water from its roots and because it does not succeed, the leaves start to dry out.
Only water the Christmas rose when the soil has dried out thoroughly. Leave the plant in a large enough plant pot with a limey and pervious substrate. The white flowers will accompany you through many winters. The plant can last up to 25 years in a tub if regularly enriched with lime and given horn meal or compost before its flowering period. Before purchasing, please consider the fact that all components of the Christmas rose are poisonous without exception. When positioning the plant container, make sure that it is out of the reach of children and pets.
You can find more information on planting the Christmas rose in flower beds here.
If you want to add fresh rays of sunshine to your balcony or terrace in the new year, you can plant early snowdrops in January and February. Although the bulbs can also be planted between September and November, they often don't sprout again the following year because they dry out too much over the summer. The pot in which the snowdrops are planted should be at least four times as tall as the bulb of the plant. Once planted, snowdrops don't place any special requirements on the substrate. A liquid fertiliser can be added once after planting to increase the amount of flowers. As the plant prefers to spread under shrubs and trees in flower beds, it is important to also find a shaded to semi-shaded spot for the snowdrops on your balcony or terrace. For a visually pleasing result, it is a good idea to add several bulbs to a pot.