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How to Hang Plants From an Apartment Balcony

In addition to having a master's degree in sustainable development, Susette works in water conservation and sustainable landscaping.

Plants can be hung from all kinds of balconies—house, apartment, condo, even the balcony of a hotel or office building. Hang them well, and they will bring pleasure both to you and to people walking by.

Plants can be hung from all kinds of balconies—house, apartment, condo, even the balcony of a hotel or office building. Hang them well, and they will bring pleasure both to you and to people walking by.

Can You Hang Plants on a Balcony?

Yes! One of the primary concerns with having plants on your balcony is leaving enough space for yourself to enjoy it. Plants on the ground take up space, so if you can hang them you end up with more space with which to do other things. Though certain setups make it a little difficult, this article shows several different ways you can hang plants on your balcony, some of which you may not have thought of.

In my former job managing water-audit teams and showing hotel managers how to save water in landscaping, I noticed that many of those hotels had balconies with lovely hanging plants. Hanging is a great way to display plants, but figuring out how to do it must be hard for people without balcony roofs, not to mention that when balconies do have roofs, they’re built differently from the ceiling inside your home.

In this article, you’ll find tips on how to hang plants from the roof, the walls, the railing, and even the floor. In case you are renting and the landlord does not want you drilling holes outside, you’ll also find tips on how to hang plants without drilling.

These geraniums are hanging from a decorative bracket on the wall—an attractive option to use if you don't have a balcony ceiling.

These geraniums are hanging from a decorative bracket on the wall—an attractive option to use if you don't have a balcony ceiling.

“Coffee. Garden. Coffee. Does a good morning need anything else?"

— Betsy Cañas Garmon

Make the Most of Your Apartment Balcony

Most balconies, at least in the United States, are pretty barren. There’s a flat slab with concrete walls, a plain or decorative railing, and sometimes a roof overhead—not very cozy. But sitting on a balcony is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, especially in a city where much of the outdoors is similar—concrete, asphalt, and honking cars. With the addition of plants, your balcony can be made as private and beautiful as you wish.

Hanging a few plants is a great space-saving way to bring trees and gardens closer and to increase privacy and coziness in the process. Even if your balcony doesn’t have a roof, you still can hang plants from other places. If it does have a roof, and it extends beyond the railing, then hanging plants off the edge can make your balcony seem bigger.

Hanging plants are especially nice on small balconies, when you want to bring nature a little closer, but there's little space.

Hanging plants are especially nice on small balconies, when you want to bring nature a little closer, but there's little space.

There Are Multiple Easy Ways to Hang a Plant Outdoors

A balcony provides four main areas in which to insert hanging plants—the roof (if you have one), both walls, the balcony balustrade (railing), and the floor space. There are a number of ways to hang in each area as well.

If your plant is heavy, though, you’ll need to take extra care wherever you place it. How to hang it, what you hang it with, and how you hook it onto the container all need to be considered. You don’t want a heavy plant ripping the ceiling or wall apart or crashing to the floor and breaking its pot or crushing the plant.

You can imagine how heavy this plant must be when watered. It's planted in plastic and the soil is likely highly porous—good potting soil—but the plant, itself, weighs a lot.

You can imagine how heavy this plant must be when watered. It's planted in plastic and the soil is likely highly porous—good potting soil—but the plant, itself, weighs a lot.

Hanging Heavy Plants Without Damaging the Wall or Ceiling

What makes a plant heavy is planting in a ceramic or clay pot, using garden soil instead of potting soil, and the amount of plant material—like a single huge plant or several smaller plants descending from each other in tiers. Here are some tips for how to hang a heavy plant.

Tips for Hanging Heavy Plants

After you’ve transplanted your plant into its final container, water it and weigh it while wet to see how heavy it will be. This will tell you whether or not you’ll need to take these measures:

  • Don’t use a plant hanger made of regular rope or plastic—they’re not strong enough—use chains instead.
  • Be sure to use strong S hooks to connect the chains to the container.
  • When hanging from a wooden eave above, use hook screws in the wood (not nails).
  • When hanging from a metal eave, use an extra-long chain and loop it over the top. Use a strong S hook or carabiner clip (lobster clasp) to connect the additional chains that make up the hanger.
  • Don’t hang heavy plants from a plastic or aluminum eave; hang them from the wall instead. Plastic eaves are not sturdy enough.
  • To hang a heavy plant from the wall, use screws (not nails) to fasten a sturdy bracket into the wall. Hang your plant from the bracket.

Note that the outside wall is not like your indoor house wall. Whereas an indoor house wall is usually a hollow space covered by drywall and supported by struts (wood beams inside the wall), the outside wall is sturdy and solid, like brick, concrete or wood. Drilling into a solid wall requires long screws to hold heavy structures in place.

You can create plant tiers several ways: by hooking one plant under another, by putting potted plants into a tiered fruit basket, or by making a macrame hanger with containers for more than one plant.

You can create plant tiers several ways: by hooking one plant under another, by putting potted plants into a tiered fruit basket, or by making a macrame hanger with containers for more than one plant.

How to Hang a Plant From a Balcony Roof or Eaves

If you have a balcony ceiling, then hanging a plant from it will depend totally on the type of ceiling you have—lattice or plastic awning, covered eaves, wood slats, or masonry, like the walls.

If the ceiling is strong enough, but you don’t have much space and want a lot of plants, consider hanging a tier of plants—hanging one, then hooking another to the bottom of it, and another to the bottom of that one. Put the tier in a corner, and you’ll have a lot of plants while maintaining room to walk around.

Hanging Plants From a Plastic or Fabric Awning

Plastic and fabric awnings have metal supports, so you should be able to hang your plant directly off the support. However, those supports may be made from either lightweight aluminum or heavy steel, which makes a huge difference. You’ll need to test the strength of the support first.

Because aluminum supports are fairly weak, you’ll need to be careful how many plants you hang and how you do it—maybe one fairly light basket (less than 10 pounds wet) at each end of the support, rather than a bunch all in the same place.

If your supports are steel, they’ll be stronger and can hold more weight. In either case, the best place to hang plants, especially heavy ones, is near or directly from the brackets that go into the wall and hold the awning up.

Materials Needed:

  • Plant hangers with a hook, or
  • Chains you can throw over the support and S hooks or carabiner clips to hold the chains together (for heavy plants), or
  • A big, decorative S hook that you can attach to your plant hanger

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Pull on the supports of your awning to see how sturdy they are, or tap them with a nail, hammer, or scissors to see how they ring. A dull ring means it’s aluminum, a clear one means it’s steel.
  2. If your plant is less than 10 lbs when wet and your hanger has a hook on the end, hang the hook over one of the supports where it will bear weight well.
  3. If your plant hanger doesn’t have a hook already, use a big, decorative S hook to catch your plant holder’s loop. Then hook the bigger side of the S hook over the support.
  4. If your plant is heavy and the supports are sturdy, throw the chain over the support, catch the ends together with an S hook or carabiner clip—both on the same end of the hook—then hang the plant from the other (empty) end of the hook.
These Boston ferns are hooked onto a wooden eave with a sturdy hook screw, a thick chain, and a big S hook.

These Boston ferns are hooked onto a wooden eave with a sturdy hook screw, a thick chain, and a big S hook.

Hanging Plants From Wooden Eaves

Hanging plants from the eaves of a wooden balcony is much the same as hanging one from the eaves of a house or a porch/patio roof. You just need to be aware that if your plant is hung from the edge and is beyond the balcony railing, then if it falls (or is blown off its hook) you'll lose it to the ground below.

Materials Needed:

  • Ceiling hook screw (wood)
  • Power drill with wood drill bit
  • Small ladder
  • A polyurethane-based glue, like Gorilla Glue
  • Plant hanger long enough to let you water the plant

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Choose a drill bit the same size as the screw part of your hook.
  2. Mark the location you want on the wood joist, using a ladder to get high enough.
  3. Using the drill and wood drill bit, drill a hole into the wood at your marking.
  4. If your plant is (or will grow to be) over 10 pounds, then squeeze glue onto the screw.
  5. Screw the hook into the hole, wiping away any excess glue. Wait for 24 hours to let the metal bond with the wood.
  6. Hang and water your plant.

Hanging Plants From a Concrete Ceiling

Some balconies, rather than being a platform extended out from the building, are actually recessed into the building, so the room and walls are made of the same thing the building is made from. This is usually brick or concrete.

Drilling into those walls or ceilings is harder than drilling into wood and requires different tools. Although you can use a regular power drill, it’s slow and takes a long time. Renting a hammer drill will make the job go much faster.

Materials Needed:

  • 4” concrete screw eye with anchor
  • Hammer drill with masonry drill bit (can be rented)
  • Small ladder
  • Hammer
  • Plant hanger long enough to let you water the plant

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Choose a drill bit the same size as the screw part of your hook.
  2. Mark the location you want on the ceiling, using the ladder to get high enough.
  3. Use the hammer drill and bit to drill a hole at your marking.
  4. Hammer the screw anchor into the hole you just made.
  5. Twist the screw eye into the anchor.
  6. Hang and water your plant.
You can buy or make wall planters that are simple or complicated, depending on how creative you are. Even just buying a colorful half pot will work.

You can buy or make wall planters that are simple or complicated, depending on how creative you are. Even just buying a colorful half pot will work.

How to Hang a Plant From the Balcony Wall

How you would hang a plant from a balcony wall will depend on the type of pot you have and on how windy your balcony gets.

For a Windy Balcony

If your balcony gets strong winds, you’ll need to hang the pot securely to make sure it doesn’t get blown off or smashed into the wall. For this, you would best use a half pot (wall planter) and hang it via a hook or screw inserted into the wall (not a nail).

Make sure you buy a pot big enough to give the roots room to grow. When you hang the pot, you’ll put the flat side against the wall, and the plant will grow out and over the front.

Materials Needed:

  • Wall planter with accompanying screw
  • Drill and drill bit the same size as the screw
  • Potting soil
  • Plant (preferably a hanging one)

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Check your wall planter contents and instructions. Some are hung with only one screw, some with two.
  2. Mark the location/s on the wall where you want your planter.
  3. Use the drill to drill the hole/s where you marked.
  4. Insert the wall planter over the screw heads.
  5. Add potting soil and plant, then water.
This planter hangs from a simple, but sturdy iron wall bracket. You can also buy fancy-looking ones that are just as sturdy.

This planter hangs from a simple, but sturdy iron wall bracket. You can also buy fancy-looking ones that are just as sturdy.

For a Breezy (not Windy) Balcony

For a balcony that gets breezes or no wind at all, or is protected by a privacy screen, you can use fully rounded pots hanging free. The best way to hang it would be to install a decorative bracket and hang it from the end of the bracket. Brackets give room for the pot to hang and the plant to grow in all directions.

Materials Needed:

  • Decorative bracket (or plain, if you prefer) with accompanying screws
  • Drill with drill bits
  • Plant with pot and hanger
  • Pencil
  • Screwdriver

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Hold the bracket against the wall where you want it to go.
  2. Poke a pencil through the bracket holes and mark their spots on the wall.
  3. Choose a drill bit the same size as the screws provided. Drill holes where you’ve marked.
  4. Hold the bracket against the wall, so it fits the holes you just drilled. Insert a screw into one hole. Use the screwdriver to screw the screw into the wall. Do the same with the other screw.
  5. Test the bracket’s firmness by pulling down on it. If it’s ok, hang your plant on the bracket hook.

If you don’t want to drill into the wall, there are lots of other ideas down below.

Creative Ideas for Hanging Plants Without Drilling

Although hanging plants from a ceiling or wall are most common, there are other ways to hang plants that don’t involve drilling. If you’re renting an apartment or condo, and your landlord doesn’t allow drilling, then knowing these ways can be especially helpful. Here are several.

  • Magnetic Hook: If you have a roof supported by steel beams, consider buying a strong magnetic hook to hang the plant from. Choose your location carefully before mounting the hook, because a strong magnet will be hard to move once it’s grabbed onto the beam.
  • C-Clamp: If your balcony wall is 6” thick or less, or if you have a roof with wood joists, you can fasten a C-clamp to it horizontally and hang your plant from the end of that. A C-clamp is the same kind of clamp you use to hold two pieces of wood together when they’ve just been glued.
  • Trellis: Set a trellis against your balcony balustrade or against the wall and hang plants from its cross-pieces. This is a good way to hang a lot of small plants next to each other. It works especially well when you use wall planters (half pots).
  • Wood or Metal Frame: Build a big, square frame out of 2x4s—like a giant window frame—and fasten it to the balcony with twisted wire or set it against the wall with heavy furniture or plants in front to hold it up. Hang plants from the top bar.
  • Over-the-Door Hanger: If you have a balustrade (whether rail or masonry) that is the same thickness as a door, you can buy an over-the-door coat hanger for the top rail and hang plants from the hanger’s coat hooks. Alternatively, try growing plants in a window box placed over the rail.
  • Portable Clothes Rack: With a portable clothes rack, you can hang plants from the bars (or hooks), set others on any shelves that are included, and wheel the rack around the balcony or into the dwelling whenever you need to change its location. If you get one with an upper and lower bar, instead of shelves, you can hang twice the number of plants. And you can decorate the ends so it’s more funky.
  • Plant Pole: You’ve seen birdcages hanging from a decorative pole, haven’t you? You can also hang plants from the pole. Just take the birdcage off and hang your plant from the pole hook instead. Or put the plant inside the birdcage and let it grow through the bars.
  • Swing Bench: If your balcony is big enough for a swing bench or chair, you might be able to hang plants from the poles that hold it up.

Placement of Your Balcony's Hanging Plants

Balcony in Rumania with plants hanging down in waterfalls of color.

Balcony in Rumania with plants hanging down in waterfalls of color.

Other Fun Ideas for Balcony Gardens

In addition to hanging plants, there are lots of other things you can do with plants on a balcony. My favorite is to grow plants up to, through, or over the balustrade and let them hang down in massive cascades of color. I call them hanging balcony gardens. Here are a couple of other fun ideas.

Old Window Frame

If you don’t have one on hand, you can buy a vintage window frame (or a pair of them) and set it up as a plant hanger. Prop it on an old table and hang a potted plant from the top. If you got matching window frames, do the same with the other one on the opposite wall. Place another plant or decor piece on each table in front of the window frame, and you will have an interesting conversation starter.

Clothes Closet Bar

Go look inside your closet. Look at how the clothes hanging bar is connected to the walls. On each side, there’s a wood slat with a hole (or fitting) in it for insertion of the long dowel that is the hanging bar. You can do the same thing outside, if you have a small enough balcony.

Mount the bar from one wall to the other, as close to the balustrade as you can, then hang plants where you want them. If you hang them at the ends you can add a wind chime, bird feeders, and/or hanging decor of some type in the middle—like crystals that sparkle in the sun.

Before buying plants for your balcony, there are a few key factors to consider.

Before buying plants for your balcony, there are a few key factors to consider.

What Are the Best Balcony Plants?

  • Houseplants or Trees: You can grow upright houseplants or trees on a shady balcony, and small fruit trees or bonsai on a sunny one.
  • Fruits and Veggies: You can grow garden plants like tomatoes, peas, peppers, onions, garlic, beans or anything else that’s small enough or that grows up a trellis.
  • Herbs: You can also grow herbs of all sorts, especially those you can use in the kitchen. A balcony can be both beautiful and useful, if you design its contents wisely.
  • Flowers: Naturally, you can also grow flowers in your balcony garden! To find more great plants for the balcony, check the two articles I’ve linked above (about trellises and hanging gardens). Both of them have a list of great balcony plants.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Sustainable Sue

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