Ivy in container

(Question)

I have just moved into a Toronto condo. My west facing balcony is quite sheltered and I hate to discard my beautiful lush container of ivy, but winter is coming. If I place the pot in a protected area on the balcony and wrap and loosely cover it, might it endure the winter?being an annual, I realize they are not winter hardy, but………. Your thoughts. Thank you.

(Answer)

Overwintering plants on a balcony is becoming a very common question with so many people living in condos in the City. Gardeners are stretching the limits with success. The fact that you are facing west and have a fairly sheltered balcony is good.  However,  the cycles of freezing and thawing that we can expect during our winters can wreak havoc on plants in containers, especially on a high balcony.  The root system is the most vulnerable as it is exposed to the elements.  If you are prepared to be challenged there are a few things you can try.

Pot selection is crucial for keeping your plant alive. Fiberglass or polyethylene is best and is lighter.  Terra-cotta (clay), concrete or ceramic pots are prone to cracking and breaking. The larger the pot the better. A pot over 16ins in diameter will provide a good amount of soil around the roots for insulation.  Anything less is dicey. Move the pot to the least exposed spot on your balcony. Keep soil moist until you hear the weather forecast talking of a heavy frost. You may even want to consider putting the pot in a box and filling it up with polystyrene packing, thus providing another layer of insulation. Cover the plant with burlap, an old sheet or blanket to protect against damaging winds.  With a bit of luck your ivy may survive.

Another consideration would be to approach a friend who has a garden and ask them to bury your pot, up to the rim, and mulch around the roots and cover top of plant with burlap. Get your plant back next spring. Definitely a plant growing in the ground is more protected.