Planting In Window Boxes

Window box gardens can be enjoyed by the even the most basic gardener.

Many people have a love for gardening, but are unable to fully enjoy being in a large open garden, planting a variety of flowers, feeling the sun on their backs. Sometimes work or other responsibilities rob us of the day's sunny hours or perhaps a garden space isn't a possibility because of apartment living. Whatever your circumstances, whether no garden space or no time to cultivate the space you do have, window boxes can be a great compromise. Window boxes can hold anything from flowers to decorative greens to herbs and small vegetables, and if chosen carefully, plants can be changed regularly to suit all the seasons. Even if your home or apartment doesn't have a front stoop or balcony for pots, every home has windows, and tiny window gardens can be enjoyed by the most enthusiastic gardener.

The first step is to think about the flowers or plants you want in regard to where the window sits in relation to the sun. Vegetables, herbs, and many flowers require full sun, while others need only partial sun, and still others, full shade. Check your windows and your flower or plant options and make sure they match up before beginning. Also, when choosing the site for your window box, consider your watering options. A long hose attachment may be necessary for upper level window boxes, unless you plan to take out your screen and water the plants through the window.

Second, choose the window box: they are usually made of wood, hard plastic, or wire, in the form of a long basket. Whichever type you choose, make sure it has several drainage holes in the bottom, and remember to attach it securely to the beams under your window. The box will need to drain easily and regularly to prevent mold, rotting, and extra weight. The best way of attaching the box is to affix a set of metal arms to the beams under your window where the box will sit: this way it can be put up and taken down easily for planting and clean up. Also, when buying window boxes, consider the size of your window. It is more aesthetically pleasing when the box is the same length, or just slightly shorter than the width of the window; if it is smaller, make sure it is centered properly.

Third, once the holding arms are in place and you've checked to make sure the box fits securely, take the box down and fill it with a lightweight potting mix to about an inch or half an inch from the top of the box. Many people place stones or rocks under the soil. This isn't necessary, but in more humid climates, sometimes it helps prevent mildewing on the bottom of the box.

The next step is when the fun begins. If planting flowers, plant them closer together than you would in a regular garden. This way, they'll bunch together when they grow, making an overflowing effect which beautifully accents the window. Geraniums and impatiens quickly fill up a window box and give the lush appearance of spilling over the sides. Herbs and other plants can also be planted in closer proximity, but check the directions given at the garden shop before planting.

Lastly, remember that since window boxes are up off the ground, the sun and wind can do their work and dry out the soil very quickly. Daily watering is required, and on very hot days, sometimes more than one watering will be necessary. Check the soil each time you water; if it feels dry below the surface, you need to water it, but don't over water.

Window boxes can be a wonderful alternative for gardeners without a garden. Enjoy your garden window boxes and watch your house or apartment come alive with outdoor color and greenery as the summer progresses.

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