I'm on a mission this spring to get my front yard cleaned up and looking pretty. Part of my plan was to install some window box planters under the three windows on the front of my house. I've got them installed and filled with some flowers. Now the hard part, waiting patiently for the flowers to grow and fill out the boxes and crossing my fingers I don't accidentally kill them in the meantime.
If there is one golden rule of window box planting or container gardening in general it is: Don't forget to water the plants!!!
It doesn't matter how much money or time you spend if you forget to water them your time and money will be wasted. If you take anything away from this post it is to make sure you water your window boxes. They will dry out a lot faster than the soil on the ground so you will probably need to water them everyday in the summer.
You can make or buy window boxes out of many different materials, the most common being wood, metal or various plastics. I thought about building my own but I really don't know anything about carpentry and now being 7 months pregnant isn't really a good time for me to start playing with power tools.
I purchased these iron planter boxes off Amazon. You can attach them under a window, hang them off a railing or secure them to a flat surface. Since we have so much rain here in the pacific northwest I opted for metal rather than wood to avoid rotting. These planters were more expensive that I would have liked but they should last forever, all I need to do is replace to coco liners.
If you live in a drier climate wood is a great option because it is cheap and if you are handy you can build your own!
Vinyl planters are lovely but extremely expensive. If you can afford the high price tag, go for it. They will last forever and look amazing.
If you are placing them under windows the length of the planter should be within a couple of inches of the window length. Our windows are deceivingly large so the only place I could find large enough ones was online.
When choosing your plants the important thing is to make sure they are all compatible with each other and with the amount of sunlight they will be recieving. If you choose some plants that are shade loving and some that need full sun and place the box in in the sunniest part of the yard obviously the shade lovers will probably perish. Some plants do better in containers than others. Small annuals like geraniums and marigolds are great but anything that will grow into a small shrub or is invasive, like mint is best to avoid.
Herbs are great for small planters and window boxes and strawberry plants can also do really well in small containers.
For these boxes I chose petunias, sweet potato vine and dracaena.
If you are installing several boxes next to each other like mine it's a good idea to make sure they all have the same plants in them. It would look really odd if each planter had a different type of flower in them. You can go with one type of flower for all of the planters which can look really lovely or mix different plants in each one. Different textures look interesting and dramatic. If you are going to add spikey grasses like the dracaena, place them towards the middle or the back. Place vines like ivy or sweet potato vine in the front or ends to it can grow and trail over the sides.
Make sure the colors of the flowers you choose don't clash with surrounding plants. Originally I was thinking of planting red geraniums but there is a bright purple lilac tree growing next to the house and I didn't think red would go with that shade of purple. I decided on pink/purple tones for the petunias. Contrasting colors can look great if done right. Bright yellow would have looked great with the purple.
Here are some plants that usually do great in flower boxes:
Sweet potato vine
Like I mentioned before, water every day when it's really hot and sunny out or as soon as the soil starts to feel dry! Use a fertilizer or compost tea up to once a week to replenish nutrients to the soil and make sure to pick off any dead flowers. This lets the plant use it's energy to create more flowers rather than spend the energy converting dead flowers to seed.
My planters are thriving so far and once the sweet potato vine grows longer and starts to trail over the sides I think they will look even better. What are your tips for window box success?