I have a south-facing balcony with a built-in soil container. Ideally, I don't want to water it at all. Since the container is on the edge of the balcony, it receives some rainfall.

What are the best plants/herbs/vegetables to make it look pretty with the following set of priorities in order:

  1. little to no watering
  2. cheap seeds or plants
  3. green year-round
  4. edible?

I have no experience at all and need forgiving plants to get started.

Update: The container is 120 by 40 cm, 1m deep and has drainage. It is already filled with soil.

  • 1
    I note you're in Munich, where it gets quite cold in winter, not sure about summer temps. How large is this container on your balcony, that is, length, width and depth? Does it have drainage?
    – Bamboo
    Mar 15, 2013 at 15:44

4 Answers 4


Aloe vera plant have following good points for you Except Eating, even though people consume it or use it as cosmetic.

  1. Requires low water - Water every after 2-3 days

  2. Bug Resistant.

  3. Green around the year.

  4. Gives birth to offsets, that is little aloe vera babies. (For me it is not good point as I always have to search some person who will keep & take care of baby aloes)

  5. Cheap, as you need to buy once; then you will be bumped with aloe babies :)

  6. It blooms very rare, but if it does, you will be amazed! (very very long but thin flower)

  7. Can be grown easily in Pots\Containers.


  1. It is not so beautiful looking plant; if you want to show your it to others then may be don't go for this.
  2. It is toxic, that's why I said you 'Except Eating'.

Any small herbs will do- depending on your taste:

Melissa officinalis if cut often enough- leaves smell and tastes of lemon. Ocimum basilicum- goes well with tomatoes and egges. Chamaemelum nobile- makes a tea. Allium schoenaprasum- chives taste of mild onion flavour. Coriandrum sativum used in indian cooking. Hyssopus officinalis good in soups. Lavandula good in all sorts of cooking. Origanum vulgare used in italian dishes and salads. Mentha- mint. Petroselinum crispum- parsley but would have to be replaced every year. Rosmarinus officinalis Prostratus Group - only grows to 30 cm high used with lamb and tea. Saliva officinalis -sage. Artemisia dracunculus used with chicken and fish- grows about 40 cm at most. Thymus. Thyme used in stews and stuffings grows about 2-30 cm high. T.serpyllum -types are low growing carpeters.

Most come from the hot climates of southern europe and like dry conditions on the good side they are exstremely hardy and shouldn't die in a cold winter- all edible and of low maintenance- just water in very hot dry summers once every 7 to 10 days and they should do fine.

  • I have Coriandrum sativum (Coriander), Ocimum basilicum (Tulsi), Mentha(Mint) in my garden; If I don't water them daily, they look died. I mean it. They need regular water. I don't know about the other plants you suggested.
    – jaczjill
    Mar 16, 2013 at 3:43

The best are succulents like cactus, sedum, euphorbia, echinacea, mesembranthemum, aloe, agave

Ficus elastica can grow tall like a tree, depending on the dimensions of the pot. In the garden I saw them 3-5 meters high in the Balearic islands

They all ask for very little watering: once every 2 weeks or less and no water in the winter. They can flower. In north of Italy they need water from March/April till September/October

They suffer if they have too much water or stagnant water, so they need a good drain. They suffer from the weight of snow also, so you have to repair them if snow falls, by a light plastic cover (which lets air pass through)

They need a non-calcareous soil, fertilization with a water soluble chelated iron fertilizer and phosphorus, 2-3 times every year, or whenever you see them looking pale.

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) needs daily water, half day sun. In temperate zones they may be planted yearly in little pots and repotted when they are 2 cm high after cold

Rosemary and sage are perennial. They need a south exposure and a wall behind and to be kept dry as they suffer from molds

Thyme and Melissa want some shade (they grow in Mediterranean forest under the trees).

Bay laurel (Laurum officinalis) - very nice and easy to dry - very difficult to plant in a different pot

  • If you want your succulents to flower, you haven't to water them in winter at all. Succulents suffer not from weight of snow, but from cold water runny out and under the snow, which soon rots the plants. Mar 23, 2013 at 21:56
  • Basil (and not Melissa) is an annual plant. It needs daily water, and half day sun. Everywhere it must be sown in late winter in a cold greenhouse, in little pots for seeds, and then, when it is 2 cm high, transplanted to home. It take about 3-4 weeks to grow till 2 cm. Mar 23, 2013 at 22:03
  • Sorry for my bad english, and for my errors - I'm new. Mar 23, 2013 at 22:04

Where are you located? What kind of climate do you have? How often will this spot receive rain?

If you're in the southern US or central America, and you are feeling culinarily adventurous, then prickly pears fit the bill. Tunas (the fruits) can be bought at grocers (depending on area, you may have to seek out a Mexican or other Latino grocers), or the pads can be collected from the wild. Easy to grow. Make sure the pots are well draining to handle rainstorms (you don't want to flood them). Both the fruit and the pads are edible.

My experience with cultivating local (North Texas) native prickly pears is that they will easily flower, but do need water when forming fruit.

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