ANN/THE STAR – What are the best plant choices and strategies for maximising vegetable and herb growth on a small, shaded balcony with limited sunlight?
In balconies with limited space and light, planting has to be done in pots or containers. Select only shade-tolerant plants, such as taro, Malabar spinach, and pigeon pea, which can thrive in partial light.
Taro, which is a shaded plant, is ideal for container gardening. Malabar spinach, a heat-tolerant leafy green plant, can adapt to partial shade and offers vertical growth, making it a space-saver.
Pigeon pea, a drought-tolerant shrub, is an excellent choice for hot climates and can tolerate partial shade and drought conditions.
Among herbs, mint is highly adaptable and grows well in partial shade. Keep it in a container due to its invasive nature. Turmeric and ginger, which prefer well-drained soil and partial shade, are excellent options for container gardening.
To promote plant growth, it is advisable to use containers with good drainage, such as fabric pots, to allow the roots to breathe. Select soil, such as potting mix, that is well-drained and rich in nutrients, and ensure consistent watering to prevent waterlogging and root rot.
If containers are used, consider adding a balanced, slow-release fertiliser for additional nutrients.
To maximise space, vertical space could be utilised by providing support, such as trellises, for plants such as Malabar spinach.
Lastly, consider the microclimate on your balcony, as some areas may receive more light and heat, and arrange containers accordingly. – Dr Christopher Teh