Balcony privacy plants have a chance to completely transform your outdoor space into a beautiful oasis with the added benefit of hiding you from prying eyes.
However, as someone who has once killed multiple plants, I know the idea of growing your own balcony garden can sound intimidating.
So we are gathered here today to show you how to use balcony plants for privacy, how to pick them for your specific weather conditions, take care of them, and basically cultivate a thriving green balcony privacy screen.
The Benefits of Having Balcony Privacy Plants
While a privacy screen or an outdoor curtain or a multitude of other balcony privacy ideas can be enough to hide you away from the world, nothing beats having your own balcony garden.
Here are a few reasons why having a balcony garden that hides you from view is better than just installing a privacy screen:
- Aesthetics: Unlike a privacy screen, a balcony garden adds natural beauty and visual interest to your space. Plants can provide a range of colors, textures, and scents, creating a more inviting and relaxing atmosphere.
- Health Benefits: Plants are known to have several health benefits, including improving air quality, reducing stress, and boosting your mood. And while the former is more of a myth than anything, the two latter ones are definitely true — trust me, nothing beats the feeling of seeing a new sprout or leaf on your favorite plant.
- Environmental Benefits: In addition to their health benefits, plants also have environmental benefits. They can absorb carbon dioxide and other pollutants from the air, and attract pollinators.
- Cost: Installing a privacy screen can be expensive, especially if you want a custom-designed option. On the other hand, creating a balcony garden using plants can be relatively inexpensive, especially if you choose low-maintenance plants that are easy to care for.
- Flexibility: Privacy screens are typically a fixed element of your balcony, meaning that once they’re installed, they can’t be easily moved or adjusted. With a balcony garden, you have more flexibility to rearrange or replace plants as needed to suit your changing needs or preferences.
Types of Balcony Privacy Plants
When it comes to choosing plants for privacy on a balcony, there are several options to consider. We’ll go into more specific privacy plants later on, but let’s have a quick overlook first.
Narrow, tall plants that can be grown in containers, such as bamboo, are a popular choice and are one of the best balcony plants used for creating a living privacy screen.
Other options also include evergreen shrubs, such as boxwood, which can provide year-round coverage, as well as climbing plants like ivy, which can be trained to grow up a trellis or wall.
For a more colorful option, consider flowering potted plants like camellias or fragrant (and mosquito-repelling) herbs like lavender.
Ultimately, the best plants for your balcony will depend on factors like your climate, available space, and personal preferences.
How to Choose Balcony Privacy Plants
While many of those who have never had to deal with indoor plants, let alone balcony ones, can feel a bit apprehensive about keeping them alive, let me tell you a secret. The key to ensuring that the plant thrives lies in choosing the right plant.
If you manage to choose the right plants for the conditions you can provide them with, you won’t have a problem keeping your balcony privacy plants alive and thriving.
Factors to consider when selecting balcony plants
The obvious truth is that all plants are different and require specific conditions and care to thrive. And while you can influence a lot of factors to make indoor plants thrive, like humidity, temperature, and lighting, with plants in an outdoor space… You kind of have to work with what you are given.
So let’s take a look at the factors that can make or break balcony gardens.
Your hardiness zone refers to the climate zone you live in and can impact the types of plants that will thrive on your balcony. It’s important to choose plants that are suited to your specific hardiness zone, as plants that are not adapted to your climate may struggle to survive.
The topic of hardiness zones can take up a whole separate post, but the gist is that the hardiness zone accounts for the average minimum winter temperature of a region, plus humidity, rainfall, and wind patterns. They are divided into 13 zones, ranging from 1 (the coldest) to 13 (the warmest).
In the US, hardiness zones range from Zone 3 in the north to Zone 11 in the southernmost parts of Florida and Hawaii. Common zones include 6 to 9, which cover much of the eastern and central parts of the country, including major cities like New York, Chicago, and Atlanta.
In Europe, hardiness zones range from Zone 4 in parts of Scandinavia in the north to Zone 10 in parts of southern Spain and Portugal, where temperatures rarely drop below 30°F (-1°C). Some of the most common hardiness zones found in Europe include zones 7 through 9, which cover much of the central and southern parts of the continent, including major cities like Paris, Rome, and Barcelona.
The amount of sunlight your balcony receives can also impact your plant choices.
Fortunately, figuring out which direction your balcony is facing will also help you understand which plants will thrive there and which ones will probably struggle.
Here’s a breakdown of the different window and balcony directions and the kind of sunlight they typically provide:
- North-facing balconies: These balconies and windows receive the least amount of sunlight, making them ideal for plants that prefer low to moderate light.
- East-facing balconies: Here the plants will receive morning sunlight, which is typically less intense than afternoon sunlight. Plants that prefer bright, indirect light do well in east-facing windows.
- South-facing balconies: These balconies receive the most direct sunlight, making them ideal for plants that need full sun, such as succulents, cacti, and many herbs. However, south-facing balconies can also get very hot, so it’s important to monitor the temperature and provide shade as needed.
- West-facing balconies: These balconies receive afternoon sunlight, which can be intense and hot. Plants that may thrive in such conditions are lavender, geraniums, and petunias.
Humidity levels can impact the health of your plants, particularly if you live in a dry climate.
Some plants, such as ferns and tropical plants, require high humidity levels to thrive. While a humidifier might not do much outdoors, grouping plants together to increase the humidity on your balcony can help.
Different plants have different watering needs, and it’s important to choose plants that are well-suited to the amount of watering you are able to provide.
Most of the plants on this list thrive in moist but not waterlogged soil. Be sure to consider your own schedule and availability when choosing plants, as some may require daily watering or even twice-daily watering in hot, dry conditions.
Wind can be a major factor to consider when selecting plants for your balcony. Some plants, such as tall grasses or bamboo, are better able to withstand strong winds. Others, like delicate flowers, may struggle in windy conditions.
Finally, it’s important to consider the level of maintenance required for the plants you choose. This should come down to your personal preferences and the time that you are willing to dedicate to plant care. Just be aware, that some plants, like flowering ones, may require regular watering, pruning, and fertilization.
Best Plants for Balcony Privacy
We’ve finally arrived at the part of the post you’ve been looking forward to — a list of potted plants that, thanks to their thick foliage or growth potential, can create a privacy screen on your balcony.
Alongside the name of the plant and its general description, you’ll also see tips on its general requirements — what hardiness zone it grows in, watering and light requirements, and some general care tips.
Bamboo (Seabreeze, Multiplex Hedge, Fargesia)
Tall and narrow with lush foliage, bamboo is ideal for creating a living privacy screen in your outdoor space. It is a famously fast-growing plant, however, if you are planting it for privacy be mindful that it still might need a couple of months to grow into a properly tall plant that will keep your balcony private.
Hardiness zone: 5-9
Watering requirements: Moderate to high; treat bamboo as grass — requiring regular (every 2-4 days) watering with good drainage.
Light requirements: Bright light to full sun
General care tips: Plant in large containers, preferably 18-20 inches deep, that will provide adequate drainage (and keep the bamboo high above the ground thus creating balcony privacy “green screens” )
Difficulty level: Moderate
Blue Dune Lyme Grass
Blue Dune Lyme Grass is a tall, ornamental grass with blue-green foliage that turns golden in the fall. It’s a popular choice for creating privacy screens and windbreaks on balconies and patios.
Hardiness zone: 4-9
Watering requirements: prefers moist soil and should be watered regularly, especially during hot, dry weather. However, be mindful not to overwater it.
Light requirements: Partial shade to full sun.
General care tips: It’s a low-maintenance plant that doesn’t require much pruning or fertilizing. You can even propagate it by dividing the clumps in the spring or fall.
Difficulty level: Easy
Japanese Forest Grass
Japanese Forest Grass is a shade-loving ornamental grass with arching stems and bright glossy green leaves. It’s a great choice for adding texture and movement to a balcony garden — whether in standing pots or hanging baskets.
Hardiness zone: 5-9
Watering requirements: prefers consistently moist soil, but doesn’t like to be waterlogged so make sure it grows in well-drained soil.
Light requirements: Part to full shade. It can tolerate some morning sun but should be protected from the hot afternoon sun.
General care tips: Japanese Forest Grass is a low-maintenance plant that doesn’t require much pruning or fertilizing. It is easy to grow but can be prone to leaf scorch if it gets too much sun or dries out. It’s important to keep it well-watered and protected from the hot afternoon sun.
Difficulty level: Easy to moderate.
This fragrant, flowering vine is an absolute joy to behold and is commonly used for privacy on an apartment balcony. It has small, white, star-shaped flowers that bloom in the summer and fall.
Hardiness zone: 8-10
Watering requirements: Star Jasmine likes consistently moist soil, especially in drier and warmer climates. A good rule of thumb is to water it once the to 1 inch of soil is completely dry.
Light requirements: Full sun to part sun (coming from warm climates, it can tolerate some shade, but may not flower as well).
General care tips: Star Jasmine is a fast-growing vine that can quickly cover a trellis, however, at first, the plant goes through an establishing period, getting used to new surroundings and not growing as much. But once it gets established, it’s a pretty hands-off pant in terms of care except for occasional pruning or pest control.
Difficulty level: Easy to moderate.
Also known as Hedera helix, English Ivy is a popular evergreen vine that can be grown as a climber. It has glossy, dense foliage that when cultivated on a trellis or any other supporting structure can protect your apartment balcony from prying eyes.
To grow it into a full privacy wall, be sure to check out this video tutorial.
Hardiness Zone: 5-9
Watering Requirements: prefers consistently moist soil, but not waterlogged. To protect it from root rot, provide it with well-draining soil and water the plant regularly during the growing season, especially during hot and dry weather.
Light Requirements: partial to full shade
General Care Tips: provide adequate support for climbing, prune regularly to control growth, and avoid overwatering.
Difficulty Level: Easy.
Hollyhocks are tall, showy flowers that can add height and drama to a balcony garden. They come in a variety of colors, including pink, red, white, and yellow, and can grow up to six feet tall.
Hardiness zone: 3-8
Watering requirements: Hollyhocks need to be watered deeply once a week, but they also require good drainage to prevent root rot.
Light requirements: Full sun, but can tolerate some shade
General care tips: Hollyhocks are biennial plants, meaning they grow foliage the first year and flowers the second year. They should be planted in the spring or fall, and may require staking to support their tall stems. Removing spent flowers can encourage more blooms.
Difficulty level: Moderate.
Evergreen shrub with dense foliage, boxwood is typically associated with landscaped gardens but you can also grow it as balcony plants for creating a year-round privacy screen.
Hardiness zone: 5-8
Watering requirements: Water Boxwood regularly but make sure the pot and soil provide good drainage as this shrub can be susceptible to root rot.
Light Requirements: Full sun to partial shade
General care tips: Prune this balcony plant in early spring to maintain its desired shape, and fertilize with an all-purpose fertilizer in early spring and midsummer. It is best utilized as a living balcony railing privacy cover but you can try to grow it taller to act as a full-size screen.
Difficulty level: Easy.
Lavender is a fragrant, flowering herb that is commonly grown for its aromatic and ornamental qualities. It produces beautiful spikes of purple colorful flowers that attract bees and butterflies. Lavender can grow up to 2 ft tall (60 cm), so when placed in railing planters they can confidently serve as beautiful balcony privacy plants.
Hardiness zone: 5-9
Watering requirements: Lavender prefers well-drained soil that is kept evenly moist, but not too wet. It should be watered deeply once a week, or more often during hot, dry weather.
Light requirements: Full sun.
General care tips: Prune lavender regularly to promote bushy growth and prevent it from becoming too woody. To thrive, lavender should be planted in a spot that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day
Difficulty level: Easy.
Evergreen shrub with large, showy flowers that provide privacy and color. While these are typically grown as shrubs, Rhododendrons can be easily cultivated as container plants thanks to their shallow root system.
Hardiness zone: 4-8
Watering requirements: Moderate. These beautiful plants with thick foliage prefer moist soil but can be susceptible to root rot. Make sure the potting mix and the container they grow in provide proper drainage.
Light requirements: Part shade. These plants can’t tolerate scorching direct light so be careful with that.
General care tips: Again, plant in well-draining, acidic soil, and prune after flowering to promote bushiness.
A fast-growing climbing plant with showy flowers, Clematis can be trained to climb a trellis to create a natural screen for privacy. With over 300 varieties, there is a Clematis for almost any balcony.
Hardiness zone: 4-9
Watering requirements: Moderate. Don’t let the plant dry out completely, as Clematis prefers it moist. It should be watered deeply once or twice a week, depending on the weather conditions.
Light requirements: Full sun to partial shade, with at least six hours of sunlight per day. However, some varieties can tolerate more shade.
General care tips: Repot Clematis once you bring it home, planting the root deeper than you normally would — about 3-4” beneath ground level. This will help keep the root ball cool and cultivate “latent” buds. Provide this climber with a trellis, however, the balcony railing can also act as a support for the vines.
Difficulty level: Easy to moderate depending on the variety.
Pampas grass is a tall, showy ornamental grass that is known for its fluffy plumes of flowers that rise above its foliage in the late summer and fall. However, in some places, it is considered an invasive species so look into it before you decide on planting it on your balcony.
Hardiness zone: 7-10
Watering requirements: Pampas grass is drought tolerant, but it needs regular watering during its first year of growth to help establish its root system. Once established, it can survive on rainfall alone.
Light requirements: Full sun but can tolerate partial shade.
General care tips: Pampas grass requires very little care once established. It should be pruned in late winter or early spring before new growth emerges. Be careful with it though, especially if you have pets or kids — Pampas Grass is very sharp!
Difficulty level: Easy.
Camellias are beautiful flowering plants that are commonly grown for their showy flowers, which can bloom in shades of pink, red, or white. When grown in pots, they can be used as plants for balcony privacy thanks to their thick foliage.
Hardiness zone: 7-9, but when grown in pots, they can be kept indoors or on a sheltered balcony in colder climates.
Watering requirements: Moderate. Camellias prefer evenly moist soil, so they should be watered regularly, but not overwatered. The soil should never be allowed to completely dry out.
Light requirements: Part shade. Camellias prefer partial shade, especially during the hottest part of the day.
General care tips: Camellias should be fertilized in the spring with a slow-release, balanced fertilizer. Pruning should be done after the plant has finished blooming. Similarly to Rhododendrons, Camellias prefer acidic soil so keep that in mind when going soil shopping.
Difficulty level: Moderate. Camellias can be a bit finicky about their growing conditions, but with proper care, they can thrive and produce beautiful blooms.
Now that you have chosen your privacy plants, you can start arranging them on your balcony.
Some would just need to be put in the right spot and that’s it, while others will need a bit more prep — like installing a trellis for climbing plants or fixing pots to the ceiling or walls for hanging plants.
I hope you have found the best balcony plants here that will suit your need for privacy and your lifestyle. If you need help with managing your plants and your watering schedule, check out the Blossom app (not sponsored, I just really like it) that will gather all the information about your plants in one place and send you reminders when the watering is due.
Apart from privacy plants, there are other things you can do to protect your balcony from prying eyes. So make sure to check out this post on balcony privacy (it goes beyond privacy screens, I promise).
Also, you might need to plan out what sort of planters and supporting structures you’ll need to properly arrange your plants for balcony privacy. Be on the lookout for the upcoming post on balcony planters for privacy 😉
Last (not least, but still last, this post is long enough), there is no shame in not wanting to care for living plants even if they’re meant to enhance your balcony privacy. For that reason, be also on the lookout for a post on artificial plants for balcony privacy.