THE POTTED GARDEN:
WONDERFUL WINDOW BOXES
Window boxes can bring a touch of glamour to any window sill and provide everyone with the opportunity of growing flowers, veg and herbs outdoors, without the need for a garden
When planting up your window box, there are a few things you need to bear in mind. A window-box looks best if it fits as exactly to the size of the window and whatever type or style you use, make sure it is securely anchored.
Ensure your container has drainage holes, and the same goes for any plastic liner you are using – important for wooden window boxes as liners protect against rotting or warping due to prolonged contact with wet soil.
Plants will use up the limited nutrients in compost quite quickly, so mix slow-release fertiliser granules into the compost when planting – this will gradually release nutrients throughout the growing season for a brilliant display.
Make sure that your window boxes are easily accessible from either side. They will need frequent watering and tending, especially in the summer months, so it’s important they are easy to reach. To stop your window boxes drying out quickly, water them regularly and consider incorporating water-retaining gel into your planting medium.
Boxes that seem to be overflowing with flowers provide a more beautiful and natural look so go for cascading plants to soften edges, and plant flowers close together so that they appear to be bursting with foliage. For a suitably lush effect you need plenty of leaf so include at least one good foliage variety in each plant mix.
Annuals and tender perennials such as sun loving petunias, lobelia, fragrant nicotiana and night scented stocks usually grow for a year before being discarded so they don’t require much root space. Half-hardy perennials, such as geraniums, are perfectly at home growing in containers and, if you deadhead regularly, they’ll provide continuous blooms for months.
If your kitchen window box is in the sun, then you can grow a variety of edible plants such as dwarf tomatoes, lettuce and peppers, as well as herbs like thyme, chives, parsley and sage.
Many of us will have some, if not all, windowsills that are in shade for the best part of the day so shade lovers such as ivy, hart’s tongue and ferns are a good choice.
The beauty of window boxes is that with a mixture of perennial and annual plants you can have a seasonal makeover to keep everything looking fresh. Summer planting can include French marigolds, begonias, busy Lizzies, and fuschias with trailing sweet peas or lobelia; for winter selections try combining dwarf skimmia japonica, hellebores, cyclamen and winter heather.