I would like to buy a flowering plant for a West facing apartment patio. Something that will flower in Summer and can be brought in to overwinter for the following season.
Hello thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with your very interesting question. In order to suggest a plant that will bloom happily all summer and then overwinter indoors we must eliminate two large categories of flowering plants: Annuals, which grow, bloom, and die all in one season and Hardy perennials which require a cold dormant period to survive. The plant category you are looking for is Tender perennials. These are plants that are perennial in warmer climates. Googling “tender perennials” will supply you with many of the plants that should work well for you. I would like to recommend a couple:
If you have the room, I would suggest a hibiscus, it is a gorgeous plant that can grow up to 6 feet and with the right care will produce short lived but beautiful tropical blooms.
Hibiscus are somewhat needy, they require at least 6 hours of sun to bloom. They need lots of water and regular fertilizing. It’s to water them only with warm water as cold water straight from the tap will shock this plant used to living in the tropics.
Hibiscus attract several insects including spider mites, whitefly, aphids and mealybugs. When bringing them in for the winter be sure to carefully examine and remove any signs of these bugs.
This plant may sulk a bit when brought indoors, but with your western exposure you will be able to provide enough light to keep them healthy if not flowering. Once acclimated to being indoors, your Hibiscus will need much less water and no fertilizer, and can be a stunning houseplant.
Another top recommendation would be a Pelargonium (Geraniums). This is a really easy care plant that would love your west facing site. It can tolerate dry periods and attracts few pests.
They will bloom mightily outside but can also be quite happy indoors with very little bother, . In fact they may even give you a few blooms if given enough light. I would recommend you look for the varieties with variegated leaves such as “ Vancouver Centennial “or “Ice Queen” for even without flowers they make lovely houseplants.
Another class of plant you may wish to look at are loosely called “summer bulbs”. Some of these plants such as Agapanthus can make attractive house plants in the winter, while producing exotic blue, purple or white florets in the summer. While others such as Dahlias or Cannas need to have their fleshy rhizomes or tubers stored in a dark cool place over winter. Dahlias come in a variety of shapes and sizes and colours. They are also wonderful as cut flowers. Cannas flowers although pretty are not the main attraction, it is in fact the lush foliage that makes this such a appealing plant.
I hope I’ve given you some suggestions to try, I will attach several links for more information on the plants I have mentioned and their care.