Balcony gardening


balcony 20’x 10’. 24 th floor. South facing. Protected on East and west sides by high walls 9’ deep. Would like shrubs climbers and some annuals. Just moved in in December .

Please help . I am only now beginning to appr I ate the difficulties.


Sounds like an exciting project. Before you decide on what plants to grow, however, there are a few other things to consider about planting a balcony garden.

A high-rise balcony produces a unique microclimate highly affected by wind and sun so choose plants that will endure the wind such as succulents like hens and chicks or even hostas. The top layer of soil in a pot can dry out quickly. So be prepared to water more often to combat the evaporation the wind causes. Creating a windbreak using a trellis or screen or native shrubs like juniper or viburnum will help shield plants from the wind.

Before deciding on what type of planters to use, be sure to check your building regulations – check if planters or trellises can be attached to walls or railings and consider weight restrictions if you’ll be using large planters; wet soil is heavy. Consider plastic or fibreglass containers rather than heavier clay, concrete or metal. And be sure all containers have drainage hole. Consider how you’ll do the watering and if the neighbors’ balcony is directly below, ensure drainage goes the right direction in the event of overflow.

 Small shrubs might include roses, hibiscus, azalea, buddleia (butterfly bush) and boxwood. If you do include shrubs be sure you can get them through the elevator doors and whether they will survive the winter or need to be brought in?

A south facing balcony on the 24th floor, protected on east and west sides is a good spot for sun-loving annuals such as dianthus, geraniums, petunias, million bells, osteospermum (a fairly drought-tolerant, daisy-like flower) annual phlox, verbena  and marigolds that require at least six hours of sunshine daily. You might even consider such sun-loving tropicals as jasmine, frangipani, gardenia or oleander.

And don’t forget pollinator plants. Using plants of varying heights, including annuals, wildflowers, flowering vines and potted shrubs and trees is most effective. Herbs such as parsley, basil, rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme and chives will also do well. Climbers could include nasturtiums or morning glory which you can grow from seed.

Toronto Master Gardeners has a Garden Guide on Pollinator Gardening with a good section on attracting pollinators to your balcony. You can find it at