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Shady balcony planting

Hello all,

This is my first post and I wonder if anyone can help? I want to plant some pots/troughs on a redundant fire escape that sits on the back wall of my house, over my garden. I want to add some lush, ferny-type planting and other evergreenery to the main platform to disguise its ugliness.  The platform is east facing, or, more precisely, NE facing and is right next to the house so gets limited sun. I am relatively confident gardener but I don't know much about ferns, ivies and the like. Research has led me to the Japanese Holly Fern as one possible plant.  Does anyone have experience of this plant or have other evergreen suggestions? I am looking for three or four different plants together to create a small, lush green space and hopefully make some visual impact from the ground.  Thank you for reading. All the best.


  • ButtercupdaysButtercupdays Posts: 4,462

    Both ferns and ivies will cope with shade, but wind exposure may damage some ferns and sufficient soil moisture is key.

    Ivy will cope with most things including wind and being able to both climb and trail would be a good way to extend and soften your planting and also provide some shelter for the ferns. it also responds well to pruning and keeping it in a pot would mean you can easily retain control. There are many with prettily variegated leaves that could lighten a dark spot..

    The evergreen ferns do keep their leaves burt don't always look that good in winter as the old leaves get a bit weatherbeaten. Plus there is little to beat the excitement of watching the new croziers develop on a deciduous fern!

    Some of the small leaved Euonymous would also work well, as like ivy they also trail or can 'climb' by leaning against a wall or scrambling through a support. I have one (Silver Queen) that covers the end of my oil tank in total shade or there are yellow variegated ones such as Emerald'n'Gold. Again, easy to keep pruned.

    If the spot is sufficiently sheltered, in summer  you could stand a peace lily outside and enjoy the white flowers for a few months.

     Make sure your pots are secured!

    Last edited: 05 June 2017 09:14:28

  • neal4neal4 Posts: 19

    If you have space for a big pot what about adding a Fatsia Japonica.  It tolerates shade well and will add great architecture.  Also mixes well with ferns.  You could make a real statement !

  • KeenOnGreenKeenOnGreen Posts: 1,819

    We have four or five types of fern in pots in north facing shade.  These include Athyrium (Lady in Red), and the photo below has Cyrtomium fortunei, Dryopteris Wallichania, Dryopteris Erythrosora, and Polystichum Setiferum “Plumosomultichum".  As you can see, they do well,  but the soil needs to be kept moist, and as these pots are small, I spray them daily in Summer, with a liquid feed once a week.  If you have larger pots, you'll need to water less regularly.  Although some of these are evergreen, we cut all of them back in early Spring, as Buttercupdays says, they look a bit of mess after Winter.  All of have been divided at some point, and we'll divide again in a few years.


  • Thanks Buttercupdays, neal4 and KeenOnGreen for these great ideas. All of them are very helpful indeed and they are all noted.

    If anyone has any thoughts on specific ivies they have used and liked, that would be useful as I have no knowledge at all. The only other thing I had thought I could use would be climbing clematis but I am not sure about the NE facing aspect.

    Thanks everyone.

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