Hi! I am looking for an evergreen climbing plant that will survive Toronto winters on a north facing balcony. However, I completely understand this might not be possible with the given conditions. If that is the case, can you recommend some plants that will stay green for at least most part of the year? I am not picky about flowers or colors, but simply looking for some greenness on the big empty balcony.
Thanks for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners about an evergreen climbing plant for a north-facing balcony.
A climbing vine that fulfills the evergreen requirement of your question, would be English Ivy (Hedera helix). This plant tolerates shade and can be trained on a structure such as an obelisk or trellis placed in a pot. Using taller, elaborate trellises could achieve good height and interest. Below is a link for different Ivies to consider:
A vine such as Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala) holds onto its leaves until late fall, leaving a woody, intertwining structure which could add interest to your balcony setting. This plant would need a sturdy support structure in order to train it to your needs. It would also need a fairly large pot with drainage holes and frequent watering during the hot summer months.
Here’s a link to an informative Gardening Guide for balcony plants written by Toronto Master Gardeners. Certain perennials, grasses and evergreen shrubs are ideal for balconies.
You might consider a selection of plants with different heights and silhouettes. Leaving brown, dried leaves, stems, seeds and possibly berries will offer a sculptural element to your setting. It may not be green, but seeds and berries can be very attractive over the winter months.
The Toronto Master Gardener link below mentions Landscape Ontario (landscapeontario.com) which is another excellent source for plant-related ideas and solutions.
Another approach to adding green to your winter view is to plant shrubs in containers. Using dwarf species, you could achieve height that is appropriate to your balcony setting. Before making expensive purchases, take into account each plants hardiness Zone (also considering the amount of drying wind your balcony gets), size at maturity and how much pruning & maintenance you will need to do.
A trio of low maintenance evergreens could add formality and lush, green foliage to your view – there are many varieties to be considered and are listed on the Toronto Master Gardeners website, (www.torontomastergardeners.ca). On the Home page under “Find It Here”, type in “balcony” and several answers will pop up for balcony plants.
Containers for evergreen shrubs should be robust and winter-proof, and this link details winter preparation such as late season watering, mulch and wrapping containers with burlap, styrofoam or straw.
Best of luck with your quest for balcony foliage. Perhaps think of a “symphony” of balcony plants that have different attributes for winter interest. Whatever you choose, plants always improve our view of the world.