Shade Plants for a North-Facing Balcony Garden

When planning a balcony garden, one of the first things to consider is the direction the balcony faces, as this will determine the amount of sunlight the garden will receive.

The amount and duration of sunlight the garden receives is directly related to which plants will flourish best.

Creating a balcony garden with a northern shady exposure can seem like a challenge, but this should not deter the potential gardener from creating a beautiful garden oasis with a variety of plants. Plants and flowers are a great way to add beauty and character to an apartment balcony, no matter what the exposure.

 Balconies with a northern exposure receive the least amount of sunlight, and are also colder than other sides of the building. The key to sustaining a successful north-facing balcony garden is to choose plants that grow well in the shade and are able to withstand cooler temperatures.

Shade Plants for North-Facing Balconies and Patios

  • Philodendrons: There are several hundred different species of philodendrons that grow in the wild. There are two varieties commonly grown as houseplants: climbing and non-climbing. Philodendrons are an excellent choice for a shady garden as they require less light than most plants and can tolerate cooler temperatures. Most philodendrons have deep green leaves and some will bear flowers. Ideal temperatures for philodendrons range between 60 – 75 F.
  • Lily-of-the-Valley: This sweetly fragrant perennial is best suited to either partial or fully-shaded areas, and in fact will not flourish under direct sunlight conditions. The lily-of-the-valley plant is known for its distinctive scent and its delicate bell-shaped flowers. Extremely easy to grow, lily-of-the-valley plants are quite hardy and spread quickly once established. The lily-of-the-valley thrives in both hot and cool temperatures, making it ideal for a north-facing balcony.
  • Ivy: Ivy are climbing plants that flourish best in cooler, shady areas. Ivy plants come in hundreds of varieties, the most well-known one being English Ivy. English Ivy is a popular choice, as it is easy to grow and care for. Because of their climbing abilities, ivy plants are perfect for planting next to a north-facing wall and dressing up a balcony garden, giving it a European-style-villa look and feel.
  • Bleeding Hearts: Bleeding heart plants are a beautiful and elegant addition to a shady garden, with their distinguishing heart-shaped flowers. Otherwise known as the Valentine Flower, Bleeding Hearts come in two varieties: pink-blooming and white-blooming. Bleeding Hearts bloom in early spring, and thrive in partial and full-shade conditions; the color of the bloom being much more intense if grown in the shade.
  • Jacob’s Ladder: Named for the ladder-like arrangement of the leaves, the Jacob’s Ladder plant works well in areas that receive limited sunlight. The clusters of flowers on the stem come in a range of colors, including blue, lavender, purple, pink, yellow and white. Blooming time for the Jacob’s Ladder plant is beginning to mid-summer. Gardeners should take note that this plant gives off a catnip-like scent, which may attract cats and result in damage to the plants.

Tips for a Successful Balcony Shade Garden

  • Include several varieties of plant types to keep the garden interesting and provide visual appeal.
  • Ensure that adequate water is provided so plants can grow and flower to their full potential.
  • Include decorative pots, wind chimes, statues, fountains, bird baths and other accessories to enhance the appearance of the balcony garden.
  • Provide a patio table and some chairs to relax and enjoy the shady garden oasis.

All it takes is some planning ahead and a little bit of creativity to create a beautiful and enjoyable balcony shade garden.