Flowering annuals for windy sw balcony?

(Question)

Unfortunately I missed your sessions on balcony gardening. Could you please advise what types of flowers would be most likely to succeed on a small balcony near Islington and Bloor. My concern is that we frequently experience high gusty winds, even on the 9th floor.
Also, are there any online sources you could recommend?
thanks,

(Answer)

A windy spot has two issues: 1) wind can damage or rip delicate petals and leaves, and 2) wind can be drying for the plant and soil. You’ll want a plant that is fairly resilient (for example, with small, tough leaves and flowers, less likely to be damaged by wind) and also somewhat tolerant of drought – this is especially true, as your southwest-facing balcony is exposed to strong sunlight.

Always on a balcony, pay extra attention to how quickly your pots dry out, and water when the surface of the soil is dry. For annuals in containers, it’s also wise to add a slow-release, organic fertilizer at planting time and/or feed with a liquid fertilizer (mixed at 1/4 strength) every time you water. Growing annuals in containers is one of the few situations where we don’t say “feed the soil, not the plants.”

Some plants you might consider:

  • Ivy-leaf geraniums, especially those with single (not double flowers), with more leathery leaves and smaller petals
  • Calibrachoa (sometimes called million bells), which look like a miniature petunia in both leaf and flower
  • Hybrid Euphorbia Diamond Frost makes an airy filler and also will stand a certain amount of dryness
  • Osteospermum, a fairly drought-tolerant, daisy-like flower with interesting blue centres
  • Annual Phlox, which stays compact and is somewhat drought-tolerant
  • Verbena, a spreading annual that comes in colours from white and purple through red and salmon.

I hope this helps give you some sturdy choices for your balcony garden. Happy gardening!