balcony gardening

(Question)

My balcony is north facing and shaded by other buildings so there’s not much I can plant there. I’d like to put a couple of trees in tubs. Can you suggest varieties that can stand the lack of sunlight and also stay out all winter? I live in the distillery, on the 5th floor. Close to the building the temperature is higher and it’s a bit less windy than at the edge, near the glass railing, so I could pull the containers close to the apartment wall on very cold nights.
I look forward to your suggestion.

I look forward to your recommendation.

 

(Answer)

The big challenge to this planting will be the shade or lack of sunlight factor.  There are, however, two types of cypress that continually keep coming up in research as species that are shade and container tolerant.  The Chamecyparis obtusa ‘Nana Gracilis’ and the Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Golden Mop’ may be the type of plant you are looking for.  The first will add some height and the second will add some colour and round mound shape.

Another inportant factor to consider when growing perennials on a balcony is the container itself. Here is our answer from a previous post: “Overwintering perennials in containers is one of the biggest challenges faced by container gardeners in our zone, and balcony gardeners in particular.  The freeze-thaw cycle is the main problem; that is, the melting of the water in the container’s soil during sunny or warmer spells, followed by freezing when the temperatures dip again.  This is what kills a plant’s roots over the winter.  Your most important starting point is the container itself: it should be as large as possible (the more soil it can contain, the more insulation it will provide.”  Ensure that the containers are freeze thaw resistant.  Ceramic and clay pots will probably crack as will cheaper plastic pots. This link might be helpful:

 http://www.bbg.org/gardening/article/dwarf_conifers_in_containers