Most of the people we have interviewed in this series so far have a decent size of backyard or a big piece of land. Living in a city like Sydney however, which has a massive population we don't always get that big backyard and so we have to adapt to smaller spaces just like James who is a succulent collector living in an apartment and growing amazing plants in his balcony.
Living in a unit it must be hard to grow succulents, how big is your balcony and which direction does it face?
You mean how small my balcony is? I think it’s 3.5 square metres. It’s east facing so it gets 2 hours morning sun for the entire balcony during summer and 1 hour or even less for a quarter of the balcony during winter. The hardest part is not having any space to collect and suitable microenvironment for many types of succulents.
You don’t always get full sun. What succulents grow well on your balcony?
I used to collect various types of succulents when I was living in a north facing apartment. But now, I have to adjust to what I have. Hence, I concentrated and expanded my shade tolerant plant collection which is haworthias and recently, sansevierias.
Also, I can grow sempervivums quite well to my surprise.
I also have a limited number of echeverias that are doing well in the sunniest spot of my balcony.
How do you maximise the space to fit all the succies?
Shelves, shelves, shelves! I cant expound enough. And mounting brackets to hang pots on the balcony rails.
It’s been a hit and miss for me to grow haworthias. How do you keep your Haworthias alive? What is your most prized succulent?
It was a hit and miss for me too. Firstly, I have to change my substrate to a well drying one since I don’t have enough sun and I used plastic pots. I love pumice! Secondly, I made a mistake of overfertilising my haworthias. I’m still learning up to these days. I find H. Springbokvlakensis is the touchiest amongst them. I killed my one and only. I wanna try again but they are hard to come by. I don’t have a prized succulent. I treat them all the same regardless of the price tags.
What has been your biggest challenge in gardening?
Cockatoos, mealies and thrips! As you can see, I have a fortress of bamboo skewers to drive the cockatoos away which I find effective. I also got a couple of rubber snakes around to scare them.
Thank you James for your time. Follow James on Instagram @balconysuccas to find out more about growing succulents on a balcony.