Full Sun Vines

(Question)

Hello, I live on the 6th floor of an apartment building and my balcony faces south/west, so it gets full sun from about 11AM until sunset. I would like to plant a vine that could climb the netting I have to soften the intense light/heat in the summer.
Also, what size pots would you recommend for this?
Thank you!

(Answer)

Thank you for contacting the Toronto Mater Gardeners. Given your balcony’s full sun exposure you can choose from a vast array of climbing plants and you should be able to find one that fits your taste, budget, and space perfectly.

First of all, some points to consider before you choose your plant:

  • Consult with your building management for legal, safety, and weight considerations. Plants, pots, and damp soil are  heavy and you want to make sure your balcony can support the weight.
  • Growing plants in containers in an exposed site like a balcony means your plants will need a bit more TLC to stay healthy; you will need to water and fertilize more often, and offer more protection from the elements, since the higher up your balcony is located, the colder the air becomes (i.e. while downtown Toronto is Zone 6, your balcony is more likely to be Zone 4 or 5).
  • If you opt for a perennial climber and want to overwinter it, choose a large and insulated pot to maximize its chance of survival (and don’t forget to check for adequate drainage holes in the bottom). An insulated pot is always a good idea since it helps protect the plant roots from overheating in the summer too.

For more information and inspiration check out Toronto Balconies Bloom.

As for plant choice, it is difficult to make an informed recommendation without knowing the size of your balcony, the strength of your netting, and the desired density of coverage. However here is a list to get you started:

Annual/tender perennial climbers for full sun:

  • Black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata)
  • Canary Bird vine (Tropaeolum peregrinum)
  • Cup and Saucer Vine (Cobaea scandens)
  • Firecracker vine (Mina lobata)
  • Morning Glory (Ipomoea)
  • Sweet Pea (Lathyrus odoratus)
  • Passionflower (Passiflora)

Perennial climbers for full sun:

  • Clematis (avoid the overly vigorous ones like the Sweet Autumn Clematis)
  • Honeysuckle (Lonicera)
  • Ivy (Hedera)

Have fun in your search and good luck!