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Interesting Facts About Window Box

Updated on April 28, 2013
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Window box is a container filled with plants, which normally rests on a windowsill but can be attached as well to the building below the window. A window box gives people the possibility of having a small garden in a confined area, when they have no other areas to plant, for very little expert knowledge and effort. It has been traditional in Britain and Europe in general to have billowing and floriferous window boxes cascading with plants adorning apartment windows, houses, storefronts, restaurants, and even service stations.

The average window box is 36 inches (90 cm) long, 8 inches (20 cm) high, and 8 inches wide, but it can be made or bought to fit the actual size of your window ledge. The box should not exceed 4 feet (1.2 meters), as it would become unwieldy and dangerous otherwise. It can be made from different rot-resistant woods such as redwood, cedar, teakwood, clean pine (without knots), or plywood treated with a noncreosote wood preservative that will not harm the plants by leaching into the soil. Other possibilities include cast stone, lead, concrete, terra-cotta, fiberglass, plastic, or metal. The last two, however, are not always the best choices as they tend to heat up.

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If you do not buy a ready-made box but build one, keep in mind the importance of reinforcing the corners securely either by screwing the corner edges together with galvanized screws (nails have a tendency to pop out over a period of time) or with angle irons attached to each corner. The wood should be at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick for insulation purposes, and a number of drainage holes should be drilled into the bottom of the box.

Plants may be planted in good potting soil, mixed at home or bought in a store, or individual pots with plants in them may be placed in the box with sphagnum moss acting as a mulch for insulation purposes. If planted, leave at least 3/4 inch (2 cm) from the top of the soil line to the top of the box so the soil does not spill over the side when watered. Pack in the plants as close as possible to give an immediate effect of fullness to the box as well as to produce an abundant bloom. All boxes should have drainage materials (crock, pebbles, etc.) at the bottom to ensure proper drainage.

Since window boxes are not just an architectural feature but are filled with living things, they should be watered on a regular basis. Because of window overhang above, rain normally will not water boxes. During the height of the season, boxes should be checked for watering daily. Water thoroughly, going from end to end over the entire soil surface, and make sure to give enough water to have it pour out the drainage holes. Plants can be fertilized every two weeks during the height of the season. Make sure boxes are attached either to the windowsill or window frame securely.

For sunny and hot exposures the top choices are geraniums, marigolds (lower French variety), petunias, lantana, verbena, wax begonias, miniature snapdragons, Madagascar vinca, phlox, and portulaca. For partial shade, lobelia, Madagascar vinca, fuchsia, coleus, and caladiums are to be recommended.

For the front of the box, to create a spilling over, cascading effect use English ivy or perwinkle, either regular or variegated spider plants, asparagus fern, ice plants, or ivy-leafed geraniums. As an added treat, attach a trellis to the back of the box and run up it climbing plants such as morning glory, black-eyed Susan vine, or scarlet runner bean.

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