Plants for a Sub-Tropical Look
There are many plants that can be grown in a sufficiently large planter on a balcony or patio for some Mediterranean flair. Even woody plants such as laurel (bay) and grapevines. Trees with a spreading habit like mulberry and plane trees have large leaves that will lend shade during the warm months.
Topiary with Southern Charm
The bay tree is primarily known as a kitchen herb, where its leathery, evergreen leaves flavor savory dishes. It is also a beautiful container plant with lush, compact growth that can be pruned strategically and will not demand much space on a balcony or terrace. Although the bay tree tolerates light frost, to follow its care instructions to the letter, give it a spot in a bright, cool room protected from the cold.
Big impact for the smallest spaces
Climbing plants are very effective in small spaces since they make most use of the vertical dimension. The trumpet vine (Campsis) is a prodigious grower that will give a space ab exotic look with its large, funnel-shaped blossoms in shades of yellow or orange. It thrives in a sheltered, sunny spot and, with its strong tendrils, can usually climb walls without additional trellising.
Star flowers in bold colors
Montbretie (Crocosmia) bring light with their powerfully colored star-shaped blossoms in yellow, orange, or red. These elegantly filigreed shrubs originated in South Africa. They're well suited to large containers and so can unfurl their charm on balconies and patios. In warmer regions they can overwinter in place with light protection, but when in a planter they'll grow best in more sheltered winter quarters. That vacation feeling, right quick Grapevines aren't impressive for large flowers, but their fruit and easily recognizable foliage awake that feeling of being in an exotic locale. They are fast growing climbers and are well suited to greening-up pergolas and house walls. Since they come in many varieties, it's possible to find grapevines that will thrive outside traditional grape-cultivating climates, or those that will do well in large planters on terraces and balconies. (BGL)