Please suggest container plant ideas for a shady (1 – 3 hours of sun/day), windy toronto balcony (3rd floor). I prefer native plants that would attract bees or birds, or edible plants, herbs.
There are many issues for you to consider – once you determine your balcony’s “micro-climate”, based on wind and sun exposure (and remember to consider critters that might be more attracted to the space), you can select the most appropriate plants for the spot. You may want to add in features that attract pollinators, and will also want to make sure that you have the proper containers and growing medium for the plants, and know in advance how much care the plants will need (adequate watering, pruning/deadheading — how much time do you want to spend tending your garden?). You’ll also need to figure out which plants go well together in the container. I suggest that you do your own research (I’ve provided helpful links below) then consult your local nursery experts to determine the best plants for your balcony oasis.
Here’s a link to an earlier question we received on Balcony Gardening. This provides good suggestions about preliminary issues to consider – e.g., does your apartment/condo have any rules about keeping plants on the balcony (possibly due to excessive weight or problems with birds & critters)? Which direction does the balcony face, and what time of day does it get the sun? Consider also the type of pot and planting medium to use.
See also Pollinator Garden: A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide – there’s an entire section on attracting pollinators to the balcony! A key point is that native plants – the most sought after by native pollinators – also generally require less water than non-natives. The Guide also suggests several native and non-native plants (including several for shade/partial shade) you might want to select for your garden.
This link is a very helpful resource. Make sure you don’t use too many aggressive plants, which can out-compete others that you plant along with them. The challenges – wind, water, birds & wildlife – also may be relevant to your balcony environment.
Toronto Balconies Bloom is a fun and practical site that includes many links about balcony gardening in the city, as well as photos and brief descriptions of actual balcony gardens – these latter could help to inspire you.
And a couple more good sites:
The North American Native Plant Society (NANPS) has an excellent website, with information about how to start gardening with native plants, as well as detailed publications about selected native plants.
The City of Surrey (BC) – Gardening for balconies and small spaces. (Although Surrey is in a much warmer climate zone than Toronto, the factors to consider the article sets out apply here; the article also provides further helpful links).
All the best with your balcony garden!