Recommendations for tall trees on a windy balcony


Hi! I live in downtown Toronto on an 8th floor condo and it can get quite windy. We have a large balcony that gets a fair amount of sun and we’d like to place a few potted trees to provide more privacy as well as block the wind from the rest of the balcony. Would you recommend cedars, bamboo, or anything else? It would have to be able to survive the winter as well.


We love to see people gardening wherever they are!
Here are some considerations when planting in containers on a balcony:

  • The soil dries out faster on a balcony 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 evergreens and perennial plants is lower the higher up you are located. For example, as Toronto has a hardiness zone of 6, plants should be hardy to zone 4.
  • As you want the plants to overwinter, the containers should be large and insulated.
  • The larger and thinner the leaves of a plant, the more they will get damaged by wind. The smaller and thicker, the more they will retain moisture.

Some recommendations for hardy trees and shrubs would be:

  • Japanese juniper (Juniperus chinensis) which needs morning sun and indirect afternoon light
  • Some varieties of Japanese maple (Acer sieboldianum)
  • Cut-leaf lilac (Syringa laciniata), Viburnum (Viburnum), Sambucus Black Lace Sambucus nigra), Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa)
  • Other evergreens such as pines (Pinus), hemlock (Conium maculatum) and dwarf blue spruce (Picea pungens)
  • For added interest, you could consider Degroots Spire Cedar or Thuja occidentalis ‘Degroots Spire’ for its upright narrow form and ruffled branch pattern. Uncle Fogy Jack Pine, Pinus Banksiana ‘Uncle Fogy’ makes a focal point with its unusual weeping, contorted branching patterns.

The link below also contains some interesting information and advice:

Winterizing / Insulating Balcony/Terrace perennial gardens*

As for the idea of bamboos, the increasingly erratic winter weather will be a problem, and although they will bend in the wind, the leaves will be stripped, leaving them brown and unsightly in winter and most of the spring, so I would not recommend this option.

Good luck with your balcony woodland!


June 5, 2022