North balcony choice of plants


Hi, I live in a condo downtown TO, our small balcony is oriented to North with approx 2h more “direct” light around 6-7pm. What plants/flowers especially can I buy. Thank you! Regards


You can have a lovely garden on a north facing balcony but it will take some planning. It is probably easiest to grow a combination of annuals and/or perennials that you can treat as annuals.

Some flowering annuals that do well in north facing balconies, in containers of course, are begonias, impatiens, fuchsia which all come in a variety of colours. Complement them with ornamental plants that thrive in the shade like caladium and coleus. Ivy and all types of ferns and hostas will also thrive in shady areas and add beauty to your balcony but they are perennials and you will not likely be able to overwinter them, so it’s best to treat them as annuals. You might also consider growing vegetables like spinach, green peas, and lettuce along with herbs such as mint, parsley and oregano.

Some things to consider when planting on a balcony:

  • The soil dries out faster due to high winds and the simple fact that plants are in containers. The overhang from the next floor also reduces the amount of rain your containers will receive.
  • The hardiness zone for perennial plants is few levels lower the higher up you are located. If you would like the plants to overwinter, the containers will have to be large and insulated.
  • The larger and thinner the leaves, the more they will get damaged by wind (example:  sweet potato vine). The smaller and thicker, the more they will retain moisture (example: hens & chicks).
  • When planting on a NW location, choose plants that thrive in a part-shade, drought-tolerant situation.

Annuals for Shade: A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide  offers a wealth of suggestions for colourful annuals that will grow in shade including impatiens, coleus, begonias, fuchsia and many more: