Dog-friendly climbing vine on balcony


I’m not sure if what am looking for even exists after quite a bit of research, but for anyone up for the challenge(!):
We’re looking for a climbing vine that does well in containers, survives the winter and, most importantly, is dog-friendly.
We live in a condo with a large balcony and would like to have vines on one of the walls to add more greenery to the space. We have a lot of containers around, but a lot plants can’t deal with the heat up there! The wall is west-facing, but gets full sun from around 12-5pm in the warmer months. We also have some curious pups around, so we also need something that is dog-friendly.
Any thoughts are welcome! And thanks in advance.


Hello, thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners, and for your interesting question about a climbing vine.

Here are some points to consider that may help you on your search, and please check out this entry that is similar to your question for more details:

  • Growing plants in containers on a hot balcony can certainly be a challenge, and will require a lot of attention and watering to ensure the plant and soil will not dry out.
  • If you choose a perennial vine and want to overwinter it, choose a large and insulated pot to maximize its chance of survival. Use a container with drainage holes in the bottom, and insulating the pot is always a good idea since it helps protect the plant roots from overheating in the summer too.
  • Hardiness is an important consideration if you are considering a perennial. While downtown Toronto is Zone 6, your balcony is more likely to be Zone 4 or 5 due to height and exposure.
  • Some of the climbers listed in the linked entry are poisonous to dogs, so your list becomes more limited.
    • Clematis, Honeysuckle (Lonicera), Ivy (Hedera), Sweet Pea ((Lathyrus odoratus), Firecracker vine (Mina lobata), Morning Glory (Ipomoea) has been considered toxic to animals.
    • Some options listed that do not appear to be reported as toxic (but you should double-check) are below, but they would need to be taken inside for the winter:
      • Passionflower (Passiflora sp.) – zone 7-10
      • Black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata) – zone 10
      • Canary Bird vine (Tropaeolum peregrinum) – zone 10
      • Cup and Saucer Vine (Cobaea scandens) – zone 9-11
    • Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum spp.) could be a good option, because they are a full-sun trailing flower, grow quickly, hold up well in containers and generally pretty resilient. They are zone 9-11, so unfortunately would likely not survive the winter, but since they grow so quickly you might still consider them. The whole plant is edible to humans, and has been reported non-toxic to dogs, although some have said a large amount can be irritating to dogs (although they are likely to stay away from the peppery taste of them).

You can find a directory of perennial vines in the following link:

Good luck with your balcony gardening!