Attractive Window Box Gardens
Window Box Alternative
Window Box Gardens
Gardening is enjoyed by many, and with the attractive containers now readily available, even the smallest of spaces can yield a beautiful garden.
Most gardeners have several square feet of garden space to fill with vegetables, flowers and garden decor. Some are not so fortunate and must make the best of the space they have. Window boxes are attractive and do not take up valuable space, especially in apartment complexes or condominiums. There are many plant combinations available, but let’s start with the container and the soil.
Depending on your decor, window boxes are available in assorted colors and styles. You will want one that has some room in it, and at least six inches deep. A nice size is 24” long by about 6” wide, although a little wider would be beneficial. If you are unable to find the size you want, you may build one out of a naturally water resistant wood such as cedar. Do not use treated wood as the chemicals will leach into your soil and inhibit plant growth. This is especially important if you are planning on planting a few vegetables in your window boxes. The last thing you want to do is grow vegetables you will be consuming in toxic soil.
Next you will need to fill the container with soil, preferably the type formulated for containers. This soil contains matter which will absorb water, then release it back into the soil as the soil dries. Container gardens will need to be watered more frequently than a traditional garden plot. There is a lot less soil in containers so they will dry out much faster. You can mulch the soil with sphagnum moss if you like after the plants are put in. This will help retain some moisture. Another great mulch is a layer of compost; it will keep down weeds (yes, even container gardens need weeding occasionally) and fertilize the plants at the same time.
An important thing to also keep in mind is to have proper support under your window box. Planters can become quite heavy when filled with soil, water and the weight of the mature plants. And don’t forget the weight of the planter itself, especially if using a wooden one.
Now to answer the question “What flowers/plants would you use if you only had room for a window box garden?”
The first thing you must determine is the lighting; keep in mind different plants have different light requirements. A South facing window will give you the biggest variety of options, but will also be the quickest to dry out. Although homes generally have windows on all four sides, I will list combinations for a South facing window box only. Selecting full sun plants will give you some great plant combinations.
Presuming you would like a window box filled with edibles, you could have an herb garden. Thyme, chives, oregano, mint, sweet marjoram, lime basil and coriander are all excellent choices as they do not get too tall. A quick note regarding the mint: plant it in the window box inside a container as it is very invasive. It is a good idea to have the rim of the pot above the soil in the box, as mint will creep throughout the entire planter if not contained. How do I know this, you ask? Personal experience is a great teacher.
Another combination of edible plants would be nasturtiums, pansies, marigolds and sunflowers (dwarf varieties would work best in a window box). Yes, all of the aforementioned plants are edible. My personal favorite is the nasturtium as it has a slight peppery taste. The flowers and leaves of the nasturtium may be eaten. A pepper or cherry tomato plant in the center of either of the combinations listed would add depth to the planter and you will have a tasty treat during the late summer.
Petunia, portulaca, passionflower (plant at one or both ends and let trail), alyssum, zinnia, poppy (dwarf variety), sweet pea, cosmos (dwarf variety) and lavender are also great for containers. There is also nothing saying you can’t toss in a cucumber plant (let it trail), a few pea plants or even a strawberry plant or two. Having a window box full of flowers is nice, but combining flowers and vegetables is even better.
It is advisable to use plants of different sizes and maturity dates. This way you can have a fully functional garden space all season long. If planting peas in your window box, plant them early. They will mature within weeks and by the time they are finished producing you will have other plants filling in the space. Plus, your planter will look great all season long.
For a more extensive list of plants and their maturation, height and light requirements my advice is to look through a seed catalog or gardening book containing information on fruits, vegetables and flowers. The combinations are endless for the creative gardener.
In closing I would like to say good luck with your container gardens. Just remember, planters dry out quickly so keep them well watered. In very hot temperatures you may have to water the window boxes two or three times throughout the day.