Did you know that you can do window box gardening on your window sills throughout the four seasons, whatever point of the compass they may face? It is quite possible, with careful thought and care, the windows of the house can be kept filled with growing plants year-round. Window box flowers can be a feature of beauty on your home, if well cared for, but a disfigurement if neglected. The filled window box greatly adds to the cheerfulness and apparent size of the inside rooms under the windows of which it is placed. To make this added feature potentiality a reality, you must learn the conditions necessary for success, and to make these conditions the basis of your window sill gardening. Success in growing plants in window boxes comes from attention to a few simple details of box construction and plant culture.
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The first question is what kind of planter box to use to contain the plants. Boxes made of wood are, perhaps, most used, and possess many advantages. Window box gardening plants thrive in these; they are inexpensive, and easily constructed of a size to fit the window ledge. The window planters may be painted green to match the color of the vines trailing over their sides, or another color to match the color of the house or harmonize with it. The window flower boxes may be painted and sanded when used on the window sill of a stucco or stone house. For a rustic appearance, cover the sides of the planters with pieces of cedar, white birch branches or bark, or with pieces of gnarled branches or roots of mountain laurel. Window boxes may be made of concrete or cast stone—plain or ornamented with appropriate designs. Some planter boxes are made of tiles arranged in panels, and ornamented with figures of plants in colors. Ornamented tile boxes typically have copper corner and edge pieces.
Inexpensive window box gardening planters are often made of galvanized sheet iron or steel. These are usually painted. Whatever material, they should be 6" to 8" or if possible 8" to 10" wide and of the same depth, and of such a length that they fit snugly on the ledge outside the windows. Growing conditions, the amount of sunlight, and the quality and friability of the soil used must be taken into careful account beforehand beginning window box gardening. Since the plants grown in the window box will be confined, provision for perfect drainage is the first essential. Several small holes should be drilled in the bottom of each planter box to provide drainage. A piece of a broken flower pot placed over each hole before the window box is filled will keep the soil from clogging the openings. The gardening box should fill the window-ledge from end to end. A width and depth of 6" to 10" will give good root room and permit the growing of a variety of well selected flowers, foliage plants and vines.
Having placed the window boxes, fasten them there so securely that they cannot possibly fall off. Sometimes this is done by using strong steel hooks and eyes. Two eyes are screwed into each end of the box and the two eyes which are attached to the hooks are screwed into the outside of the window frames in such a position that the hooks may be caught into the screw eyes which are in the ends of the box. Another method is to turn a long thick screw from the inside of each end of the planter outward into the upright part of the window frame. When the ledge slants outward, place a strip of wood, reaching lengthwise from end to end, on the outer edge of the ledge, so that the window box, when placed, may stand level. Usually window box gardening boxes in upper story windows are set in iron trays galvanized and painted to catch any water dripping from the planters.
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It is important that porch and window boxes be planted with varieties suitable to location. In full sun, plant verbena (dwarf, compact varieties), petunia (Rose of Heaven or Rosy Morn), coleus, anagallis, or geranium. In part shade, use petunia, coleus, certain varieties of ferns for your area and recommended by your garden store for window box gardening. Where the sun shines until 9 or 10 o’clock, with full shade from these hours until 3 o’clock and with full sun again until is sets, plant in your window boxes tuberous-rooted begonias or fancy-leaved caladiums. Both grow from bulbs. In full shade, use fancy-leaved caladiums or shade-loving ferns. Soil for potted or boxed plants should be richer than that of the garden. When filling a box with soil, distribute it in two inch layers, firming each down with a brick. Fill to within an inch from the top, and then water thoroughly. [Author: Joseph H. Sperry]