I have moved to a 7th floor condo in west Toronto. The balcony faces south and west so gets very strong sun for hours each day. Would like to know what small shrubs/perennials I could grow in this small space, given the height and the strong sun and ideally not wishing to have to water twice a day.
Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.
When planting on a balcony you need to consider few things:
- The soil dries out faster due to high winds and the simple fact that plants are in containers. The overhang from the next floor also reduces the amount of rain your containers will receive.
- The hardiness zone for perennial plants is few levels lower the higher up you are located. zone [i.e. for Toronto (zone 6a), plants should be hardy to zone 4].
- The containers will have to be large and insulated (for perennials, containers will need to be at least 40 cm -16″). Ensure that the containers are freeze thaw resistant. Ceramic and clay pots will probably crack as will cheaper plastic pots. Avoid the dark colors which heat more than light colors. Drainage is important.
- A good planting medium is crucial. There are products available on the market that you can mix into the medium to hold moisture. This will help having to water twice a day.
- The larger and thinner the leaves, the more they will get damaged by wind (example: sweet potato). The smaller and thicker, the more they will retain moisture (example: hens & chicks).
- When planting on a south facing location, choose plants that thrive in a full sun, drought-tolerant situation.
- Note: You should check with your building management for regulations in use of balcony space–safety concerns and weight considerations. You may need to consider lightweight alternatives for containers and soil.
- Light Requirements – Full sun
- Moisture Requirements – Dry to medium
- Tolarate – Drought and dry soil
Achillea millefolium ‘Paprika’, Common Name: yarrow, Height: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Asclepias tuberosa, Common Name: butterfly weed, Height: 1.00 to 2.50 feet
Centaurea montana, Common Name: mountain bluet ,Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Coreopsis palmata, Common Name: tickseed, Height: 1.50 to 2.50 feet
Coreopsis verticillata, Common Name: threadleaf coreopsis, Height: 2.50 to 3.00 feet
Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’, Common Name: threadleaf coreopsis, Height: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Coreopsis verticillata ‘Zagreb’, Common Name: threadleaf coreopsis, Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Echinacea angustifolia, Common Name: narrow-leaf coneflower, Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Echinops sphaerocephalus ‘Arctic Glow’, Common Name: great globe thistle, Height: 2.50 to 3.00 feet
Gaillardia × grandiflora, Common Name: blanket flower, Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Goniolimon incanum ‘Blue Diamond’, Common Name: sea lavender, Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Heliopsis helianthoides ‘Tuscan Sun’, Common Name: ox-eye daisy, Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Hylotelephium / Sedum ‘Pure Joy’, Common Name: stonecrop, Height: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Liatris aspera, Common Name: blazing star, Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Liatris scariosa, Common Name: blazing star, Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Penstemon barbatus ‘Elfin Pink’, Common Name: bearded penstemon, Height: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Rudbeckia fulgida, Common Name: orange coneflower, Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Blovi’ VIETTE’S LITTLE SUZY, Common Name: black-eyed Susan, Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Saponaria officinalis ‘Flore Pleno’, Common Name: soapwort, Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Sedum spurium ‘Tricolor’, Common Name: Caucasian stonecrop, Height: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Sempervivum tectorum, Common Name: house leek, Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Symphyotrichum oblongifolium, Common Name: aromatic aster, Height: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’, Common Name: blue grama, Height: 0.75 to 2.50 feet
Koeleria macrantha, Common Name: Prairie junegrass, Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Schizachyrium scoparium, Common Name: little bluestem, Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
CONIFERS in containers; This link might be helpful:
For more information and references: