Hardy plants for the balcony and garden make the gardening year a good deal less tedious and protect your creativity – you can replant sections, but you don’t have to worry about everything every year, the part equipped with hardy plants turns green all by itself every spring. If the plants are really hardy, here’s what to look out for.

Winter hardiness must be well tested

With hardy plants, the balcony gardener usually assumes that they can cope with our climate in winter and that they have a lifespan of several years, otherwise there would not be much point in overwintering. That’s basically how it is, but in the trade the term “hardy” is sometimes defined quite freely.

It is not uncommon for plants to be offered as hardy, which in Germany are only theoretically hardy: the label says “hardy”, but also “climate zone 8b”, which means that this plant can withstand places where the average minimum temperatures be measured between minus 6.7 and minus 9.4 degrees. Such places exist in Germany, so the label is not telling falsehoods when this plant is sold as hardy in Germany – however, few places on the coast or on islands can enjoy such a mild climate, most of Germany belongs to the climate zone 7 (average temperatures from minus 12.3 to minus 17.7 degrees), or colder.

In the case of imported plants, it is even said that the “hardy” on the label refers to the hometown of the plants. Of course, this is of little use to you if you live in Oberstdorf in the Allgäu, where it likes to get cold to below minus 25 degrees, and have just bought a shrub veronica from New Zealand (subtropical to mild temperate climate, only rare on most of the island below freezing temperatures).

You should therefore keep your climate zone in mind when purchasing hardy plants. It also depends on the conditions in the garden: If you live in a city, the climate is milder than in the surrounding country, so you can calculate about half a climate zone higher … If your balcony is fairly built up and protected from the wind and is oriented to the south, this can also protect sensitive plants from dying from the cold in winter, and you can also apply winter protection.

Attention: Not hardy!

Plants in particular that are in particularly high demand quickly appear in every garden center and discount plants are always described as hardy if this can be justified in any way, e.g. B. because the wholesaler has supplied them with this (referring to the home country) designation. Some examples:

  • Shrub veronica or Hebe: As mentioned, it comes from friendly, air-conditioned New Zealand and is only hardy here in exceptional cases.
  • Spider Flower , Cleome spinosa: Occasionally sold as a perennial, it is an annual and far from hardy as a tropical plant.
  • Bamboo, especially in demand right now, but of the 77 species of bamboo, there are only 8 species with hardy bamboo, here some plants are sold as hardy that don’t like our frost at all.
  • Among the fuchsias, neither the magellanic fuchsia nor hybrids that are usually described as hardy, such as Fuchsia x cult. “Tom West” really hardy.

All of these plants are not really hardy, if at all. You can write off annual tropical plants that are sold to you as hardy perennials right away. You can only protect yourself here if you find out more about the plants before you buy them. With the “almost hardy” plants you will probably only have a chance if you buy offspring from local or climatically similar horticultural companies, which you would have to find out when buying. Your dealer doesn’t know where the plants come from? Then it’s probably time to find a horticultural business to buy your balcony plants, especially if you’re looking to get some permanent, hardy planting.

Certainly hardy plants for the balcony

A horticultural business with tradition will not only be able to tell you where your plants were grown, they will also almost certainly be able to sell you locally grown plants that are extremely hardy in Germany.

They include the various native perennials, which, in addition to the uncritical winter hardiness, also have a number of other advantages. See below “Advantages of hardy plants for balconies and gardens”.

The year-round beautiful balcony with changing boxes

The hardy plants for the balcony make their big appearance from autumn and then stay on the balcony all winter. They may turn green in spring, but they are not a real summery balcony decoration with lots of flowers. That’s why you can use a trick if you want to have beautiful plants on your balcony all year round: you put balcony boxes for the summer season and balcony boxes for the winter season, both with permanent planting (or equipped with rotating seasonal flowers in the summer) and simply swap out these boxes in the fall and spring.

Suggestions for permanent planting of the “summer boxes”:

When the summer boxes have been put away, the “winter boxes” are placed on the balcony, which they can e.g. B. can plant with the following plants:

  • Autumn Stonecrop
  • Erika
  • autumn asters
  • Peat myrtle
  • hardy grasses such as Japanese sedge, red sedge and blue fescue
  • Dwarf Arborvitae
  • dwarf pine

The year-round balcony arrangement is completedwith some hardy climbing plants that stay in their hanging pots or hanging baskets all year round and turn the balcony into a green room in winter, taking up little space of their own. The evergreen goat sling and the fire goat sling are great hardy climbing plants for the balcony. With its red flowers, it also goes very well with the evergreen leaves and red-yellow flowers of the evergreen goat’s sling. Both honeysuckle varieties are petiole climbers that only climb up with delicate leaf stalks and do not cling to anything or twine around and then become woody. Both are hardy, the evergreen goat sling is unproblematic, the fire goat sling with proper fertilization (end of July so that the plant can mature) and with some wind protection.

Hardy plants for the garden

It’s a similar story with hardy plants for the garden: there are always trendy plants that immediately appear in stores (especially in plant discounters) and are sold as hardy, but this is only really the case in very few corners of Germany, if at all.

Beware of trendy plants that are not quite hardy

  • The popular Chinese beauty fruit, Callicarpa giraldii, is often sold as hardy, but in Germany’s harsh areas and harsh winters it usually suffers frost damage.
  • The trendy Australian tree fern, Cyathea australis, is at most “slightly hardy”, it cannot withstand more than about minus 9 degrees, and only when it is older.
  • The Chilean ornamental fir Araucaria araucana, which is traded as an insider tip, comes from the Chilean Andes, where it gets cold, but only to about minus 15 degrees, after which there is a risk of frost damage.
  • With the currently so fashionable eucalyptus trees, it depends on the variety. There are eucalyptus varieties that prefer to overwinter in the cold than indoors, and those that die immediately in cold German winters. In the case of the more hardy eucalyptus, it also depends on the origin, so here again precise information plays a decisive role.

Safe hardy plants for the garden

If you help yourself to native plants, you will have no problems with your garden plants in terms of winter hardiness. You can even put plants in the garden that are so sure hardy that they bloom in winter, here is a selection:

  • christmas roses
  • Real snowball roseum
  • Mean Snowball
  • witch hazel

You will be familiar with the usual native hardy summer flowering perennials such as aster and coneflower. Here are some suggestions for more unusual, hardy flowering plants for your borders:

  • Agapanthus, Agapanthus africanus
  • Berg-Flockenblume, Centaurea montana
  • Mountain Shield Flower, Chelone
  • Eisenkraut, Verbene bonariense
  • Fingerkraut, Potentilla crantzii
  • Herbst-Anemone, Anemone japonica
  • Königskerze, Veronica x
  • Ball bearing, Echinops ritro
  • Kronen-Lichtnelke, Lychnis coronaria
  • Macedonian scabious, Knautia macedonica
  • Mexiko-Nessel, Agastache rugosa
  • Palmenlilie , Yucca filamentosa
  • Skabiose, Scabiosa x worshipers
  • Steinsame, Lithodora diffusa
  • Wolfsmilch, Euphorbia x martinii
  • Ziest, Stachys monnieri

There are plenty of native shrubs that can easily survive the winter in the garden. Here is a selection of trees that are suitable for solitary positions or for free-growing, low hedges up to 2 meters high:

  • Alpine honeysuckle
  • Alpenjohannisbeere
  • Blue honeysuckle
  • blackberries
  • Deutsche Tamariske
  • rock medlar
  • raspberries
  • currants
  • Karpatenspierstrauch
  • bullet willow
  • creeper
  • Roses (various wild roses and cultivated roses)
  • Red honeysuckle
  • spit willow
  • Steppenweichsel
  • elm spirea
  • willowleaf spiraea
  • Zwergmandel
  • dwarf hawberry

These shrubs are hardy here, are suitable in the garden for a solitary position or hedges and grow to a height of more than 2 metres:

  • Berberitze
  • bladder bush
  • book
  • dirndl shrub
  • False jasmine (mock orange)
  • service pear
  • Mean Snowball
  • laburnum
  • hazelnut
  • Latsche
  • Pastor’s Cap
  • Pimpernuss
  • Red Dogwood
  • Red Holler
  • Roses (various wild roses and cultivated roses)
  • sea ​​buckthorn
  • Schlehe
  • Black Holler
  • juniper
  • Willows (various species)
  • hawthorn
  • Woolly snowball

Advantages of hardy plants for balconies and gardens

Once you have taken the trouble to equip your balcony and garden with hardy plants, you will have saved yourself a great deal of time, money and work for years to come.

Since only our native plants are actually really safe and easy to care for in winter, you are also doing something for the environment: by planting native plants, you are doing something to preserve biodiversity in the native flora and ensure that the native insects and birds and other small animals can survive.

When the native plants then develop, the gardener’s heart will surely beat faster. You have acquired plants that will develop willingly in our latitudes and, in contrast to bred hybrids, you can even propagate them yourself.

If you prefer to relax in the garden or on the balcony rather than work, planting hardy plants is a good idea. The plants listed here are of course only examples. Lists of native hardy plants can also be compiled for other planting purposes, e.g. B. as “hardy native plants for hedges or other topiary”, “hardy native plants for rock gardens and heath gardens” and “hardy native plants for shade locations”.

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