Fast Growing Shade Tolerant Shrubs


I have a portion of my outdoor condo patio that requires shrubs that do well in shade as it would be under a tree.  I need a good shrub that provides privacy growing to at least 4 ft and also that grows well.  I heard a Japanese Kerria or Yews or bottlebrush buckeye may do well.  The bush that you see on the side will be removed.


There are several things to take into account when choosing plants for your balcony space.

Balcony gardens are in pots.  This creates many issues with overwintering and with pot sizes.  The shrub you choose will experience freeze thaw cycles during the winter which many plants have trouble surviving.  You will need to use insulation and pots that will not crack in the cold to have any hope of over wintering them reliably.  You are best choosing plants that are tolerant of colder temperatures, than near-by plants that are planted in the ground.

The shrubs you list above, if successful, will grow to large sizes, close to 10 feet.  All of them will end up just as wide as they are tall.  When choosing the plant, you will need to take into account width as well as height so you do not lose valuable space on the balcony.  Also with large shrubs, you will need to have large pots which also takes up real estate on your balcony and can get very heavy.  You should check what the regulations are in your building for balconies and what can be added to them.

Your best bet maybe to select a conifer that is shade tolerant and is slow growing.  That way you can pick a plant that is almost the size you desire and will grow into the space but not over grow your balcony.  Chamaecyparis, Cyprus, can be shade tolerant and will create the barrier you are looking for.  Remember to add the height of the pot to your calculations.  You may not need as large a plant if you already have a couple of feet above the balcony taken up with the container.  Take a look at other balconies in your building and see what other tenants have had success growing.  A visit to a local nursery can also give you ideas of what plants are available and grow in the shade.

Another idea you may want to consider is using vines to create your barrier.  This may take up less space on your balcony while creating the effect you are looking for.

I have included many links below, to other questions on the Toronto Master Gardeners website, that have ideas and information as well as many helpful links to sites with suggestions.

Good Luck.

Toronto shady windy balcony ideas

Vines for a north-east facing balcony

Overwintering plants in pots

Winter Protection for Balcony Plants