Add a splash of colour with balcony gardens
Balcony gardens are a summer tradition and add a splash of colour to our surroundings. I'm going to assume that you have bought native cultivated plants and planted them in a high-quality potting soil. This is a basic prerequisite for a thriving balcony garden that will last all through the summer.
A good potting soil will also have enough buffer capacity to ensure an optimum supply of nutrients even in changing weather conditions.
Water and nutrients
Flower enthusiasts who already have a few years' experience in the cultivation of flowers can tell when they need to water and feed their blooms. Leaves wither quickly, and withering is generally a sign that the plant needs to be watered. Another way of measuring moisture is by pressing a finger into the substrate.
The plants should be watered with tempered water. Collected rain water is ideal for this. You can add 100-150 grams or millilitres of fertiliser to a hundred litres of water to supply sufficient nutrients to the plants during each watering. A slow-release source of nutrients is best for our plants. Once-off fertiliser applications with a high fertiliser concentration can sometimes even cause scorching damage to the roots. Depending on the substrate, you should start applying fertiliser three to six weeks after planting, once the roots are already well established. Many flower enthusiasts will mix a long-term fertiliser into the substrate during planting. Further nutrients do not need to be added until midsummer. When you need to do this is, of course, very closely linked to the weather. Petunias, surfinia or calibrachoa generally require a lot of water and nutrients as well as trace elements. You should also pay particular attention to the iron supply. Innovative fertilisers with essential iron tailored to the needs of specific plants like surfinia, for example, can be found in retailers these days.
Plant protection for your balcony garden
It's not just us humans who love balcony gardens: some insects also like to make their home in them. Regular checking and monitoring is important to detect these uninvited guests in good time. Swarming greenfly are the more frequent pest. If they are identified in time, it can be enough to spray the new shoots with cold water. Of course this approach will not always be sufficient. In that case you should confine yourself to insecticides based on green soap and rapeseed oil, although various insecticides in granulate form can be extremely effective.
The active ingredient is distributed into the plant in the sap and the sucking pests absorb it and die. Apart from greenfly, white fly and spider mites can also cause problems.
To prevent fungal diseases, it is advisable not to drench the leaves when watering plants in order to deprive fungi of the moist conditions they need to grow. Fungal infections are common after extended periods of rain.
Other care measures
Geraniums, pelargoniums and surfinia are self-cleaning summer flowers. They lose their dead blossoms and form new buds in the right weather conditions and with sufficient fertiliser. Petunias and upright geraniums must be deadheaded by hand to keep them looking their best. When pinching off the geranium blossoms, make sure that the peduncles are removed directly at the node.
I hope you have a wonderful summer and a flourishing balcony garden!
Ing. Manfred Putz