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Window boxes

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Window boxes are a way of finding more space to grow small plants and/or to beautify window fronts on houses and buildings. They are often used in areas where garden space is small or non-existent, such as inner city urban environments and apartment buildings.

Window boxes can be painted to match the colour scheme of the house or building or they can be matched to the colour of the plants grown in them, to add colour to the whole display. Or, they can be left neutral, in the original wooden or plastic color. If made from wood though, the window boxes should be weatherproofed to prevent deterioration. Metal is not recommended for window boxes as it may cause the plant roots to become too hot during the warmer months.

Placement of a window box[edit]

A window box should be placed with the same considerations for the plant's needs as in a garden. Thus, if a plant requires a sunny or a semi-shaded position, the window box positioning should reflect this need.

A window box may experience its own micro-climate due to such things as the overhang of the eaves above, the window arrangement itself and the wall or house positioning. Bushes and trees in front of the window can also impact the micro-climate of the window box.

Plants for window boxes[edit]

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Plants used in window boxes need to be suitable for the size of the box. It's not much use trying to grow a bush in a window box! Flowers are a very good and typical choice but vegetables, berries and some fruits can also be grown in a window box. They are often ideal for herbs as well and can be a good solution to growing the ever-creeping roots of plants from the mint family.

Geraniums and pelargoniums are often grown in window boxes and they will last for many years. The bright flowers are appealing and for the scented varieties, the scent can be an additional source of enjoyment.

The plants can be annuals, which is especially useful in climates that get very cold during winter. Or, use perennials if the plants can tolerate the local climate all year round. One of the benefits of annuals is the opportunity to remake new arrangements every spring and to include quite a few different species together to make an interesting display.

Some suggested plants:

  • Nasturtiums
  • Coleus
  • Geraniums
  • Pelargoniums
  • Lavender
  • Miniature roses
  • Lettuces
  • Ornamental cabbage
  • Chives
  • Native grasses
  • Daffodils and jonquils
  • Hydrangea
  • Pansies
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Building a window box[edit]

You can build your own window box if you don't wish to buy one. Consider using recycled wood from pallets or unwanted furniture, to make them sustainably sourced. If building using wood, ensure that it is adequately weatherproofed with a sealant safe for plants.

If you have some original/copyright-free instructions for building a window box, please add them here for other readers to learn from.