What trees can survive over winter on balcony


Hello –
Could you suggest trees and vines that can survive winter on my balcony using pots. I live in downtown Toronto, one side of the balcony faces east and the other south. Do insulated pots exist or are there tricks of the trade you could share?
Thank you so much,


Growing in containers on a balcony is a great way to garden but can be challenging due to the exposure to wind which can dry out your containers and also buffet the growing plants especially if you are on a higher floor. Overwintering plants can be even more challenging but there are lots of ways to alleviate these problems and create an oasis. Take a look at this link about container gardening. There are specific sections on types of containers as well as overwintering plants in containers.


Evergreens are a good starting point if you want to add trees. There are many that can be grown in containers and varieties that remain compact. This link to the Missouri Botanical garden that has a nice list of evergreens for containers. If you decide to use evergreens, when you purchase them, confirm their hardiness, possible mature size and growing requirements such as amount of light and moisture.


Some small deciduous trees that can be planted in containers are Serviceberries (Amelanchier species),  as well as various Japanese maples (Acer palmatum). There is a wide range of Japanese maples that are hardy and have a great variety of leaf shapes. In addition many have brilliant fall colour and look stunning against a backdrop of green conifers.

Clematises and climbing hydrangeas (Hydrangea anomala var. petiolaris) are a couple of vines that can adapt to container growing. The climbing hydrangea grows very well in a shady east facing location but you should be aware that although slow to get started, they can grow quite vigorously. In fact many perennial vines can get out of hand if you don’t pay attention. One should avoid encroaching on one’s neighbours when growing plants on a balcony. If you are looking for vines to provide privacy, annual vines can also do this and some even provide edibles. Scarlet runner beans for example grow quickly, flower and produce beans. The University of Illinois’ web site again has an in depth look at perennial vines – climbers and twiners and examples of each. Pay close attention to the sections on “Invasives vs Aggressives” and “Methods of Attachment”.


Here is further information on how to winterize your container garden.


February 8, 2021