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Gardening by Inches - Wonderful Window Boxes

by Carole McCray

A window box garden is a lovely and simple approach to gardening. With little time, labor, and money, window boxes are easy to install and simple to plant. Window box gardens can be the answer for those lacking space to garden. Window box gardening is ideal for first-time gardeners to try planting on a small scale and under manageable conditions. Whether you are an urban or country gardener, window box gardening offers an opportunity to bring you visual pleasure and a decorative touch to your home.

Window Box Basics

As you would when planning any garden, the same is true, through simplified, when window box gardening. Always choose a location that best displays your garden with plants suited to the site. The microclimate, the environmental conditions that exist where your window box is located, will determine what plants will thrive in your window garden.

Look at the amount of sun and shade window boxes will received throughout the day and the different seasons. When placing the window box, think about the sun factor and if the plants will face into the prevailing winds. Window boxes hold very little soil, so that means frequent watering if they are in a windy spot. Where plants face into the wind, use plants that are sturdy and compact. Check with the experts at your local Growise Center for the best plants to fill your window boxes.

Span the Seasons With Window Boxes

Window boxes are usually in full bloom in the summertime. However, with some advance planning you can have window boxes planted with flowers, culinary and fragrant herbs, and vegetables from spring through summer, fall and even winter in mild climates.

A window box display with pansy, primrose, johnny-jump-up, and lobelia is ideal for partial shade and cool spring days. The spring blooming plants can be lifted from the window boxes and placed in another garden spot. Then you can replant with summer annuals.

You might want a theme look for summer--red, white, and blue. To achieve a special effect, you can choose from a range of soft to vibrant colored annuals. Good in full sun are sweet alyssum, geranium, marigold, portulaca, snapdrgon, petunia, wax begonia, china aster, dahlia, and zinnia.

For an all-white window box garden in the sun, plant all white with geranium, petunia, sweet alyssum, and dusty miller for a restful look. A livelier window box could be filled with red salvia, vivid yellow marigold, blue ageratum, and red portulaca. In a shade window box, plantings of pink and white impatiens, dark purple, pale lavender, and white lobelia, and English ivy are lovely.

By autumn, you may wish to change the window boxes. Fall's popular chrysanthemums could be placed in pots behind any trailing ivy or vinca that were planted in the front. Again, planning ahead is important in seasonal window box gardening.

Planting a Window Box

There are three approaches to planting--plant directly into the box, plant in removable liners that go inside the box, or place individual potted plants down into peat moss in the box. Boxes and liners should have drainage holes in the bottom.

Direct planting is the simplest way to plant, but can make seasonal planting more difficult when it is time to change plants. Liners give you more options when it is time to change plants--boxes do not need to be taken down to plant; just slip liners into boxes. With extra liners, plant summer annuals to hold until ready to fill boxes while spring flowers are in bloom in window boxes. Plants in individual pots can be placed in window boxes to change a look, and houseplants can move outdoors into the boxes. To conserve moisture and hide the tops of pots, cover pots with peat moss or sphagnum moss.

Always plant boxes from back to from, tallest plants in first at the back; trailing and shortest ones last. Do not plant in a straight row; stagger the plants in rows, and vary plant heights from side to side across the box and front to back.

For good potting soil your Growise Center is where you will find what you need. All your questions on how often to fertilize and what kind to use can be answered there.

Watering is crucial in window box gardening, because only a small amount of soil is used. If soil feels dry an inch or two into the soil, plants need water.

The expression, "less is more," aptly applies to window box gardens. You will discover these little gems of gardens prove that thought to be true. 

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