Planting Designs For Window Box Planters

Tips,suggestions and ideas for planting designs and flower, herb and vegetable combinations for window boxes.

Window box planters are a great way to have a garden without a lot of effort or maintenance.

First, choose a design concept or theme for your garden. Keep in mind that a window box is usually viewed from the outside of the house, although you might also want to enjoy or have access to it from inside the house. Decide whether to use a mix of foliage and flowers, all flowers, or all foliage. Just about anything is possible, from choosing a single color scheme to creating a natural habitat or growing herbs and vegetables.

Color, texture, height, and form are important considerations when designing with and choosing plants for a window box garden. Consider proportions as well. A small narrow window box looks better with smaller compact plants, whereas, a mix of larger and smaller plants or vines is more suitable for wider and larger window boxes.

Plants come in all shapes and sizes, round, compact, sprawling, trailing, and upright. For a naturalistic look err on the side of planting too many rather than too few plants. Whenever possible, use a random planting pattern rather than planting in rows. If the window box is wide enough, plant vines and shorter plants in the front, medium sized plants in the center, and taller ones in the back.

Always choose plants that will thrive in the climate for your region. Consult your local extension agent if you are unsure about which hardiness zone you are in. Determine whether the window box is in full sun, full shade, or is sunny part of the day. Once you have established a design theme and climatic conditions, choose which plants to use.

It is possible to simulate native habitats such as a desert by using succulents like hens and chickens, sedums and aloe vera. Perhaps growing herbs or for cooking or for their fragrance is appealing. Herbs such as peppermint, thyme, oregano, lemon balm, basil, parsley, chives, lavender, or rosemary are excellent choices and prefer partial or full sun. For window boxes in full sun, a perennial garden planted with miniature roses, dwarf gladiolas, sunflowers, or daisies would be perfect. Vegetables such as baby carrots, lettuce or onions are another possibility for a window box garden in full sun. For shady window boxes consider using ferns, snapdragons, ivy, myrtle, astilbes, or hostas.

For regions with several seasons, one option is to change plants when the seasons change. Bulbs such as crocus and jonquils should be planted in the window box during the fall so they can be enjoyed the following spring. Plant petunias or impatiens for the summer, and in the fall, plant miniature chrysanthemums. If low maintenance is important, choose one or two plants with flowers that bloom continuously such as marigolds, nasturtiums, geraniums, or impatiens.

Before you plant anything, do a mock-up of the design. Prepare the window box using well-drained potting soil (or sand if you're creating a desert garden) and leave at least a 1/2-inch at the top of the box for watering. Place the plants in the window box and rearrange them until they form a pleasing composition.

Most of all have fun and be creative! There's no limit to your imagination when designing window boxes.

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