How to Plant the Perfect Summer Window Boxes

By Emma Kent

There’s a formula for designing eye-catching window boxes and container gardens – a little bit of height, something that drapes or hangs and of course, a beautiful color palette.

I wanted to spruce up the window boxes on the front of our house for summer, so I tackled the project this weekend with the help of my husband. We didn’t build our window boxes, but if you’re interested in building your own, here’s a great DIY from This Old House.

For these window boxes, we decided to use caladiums, which will grow up and add height to the arrangement. Variegated vinca drapes over the front of the boxes as a spiller. Then, nestled in between are blush pink impatiens (the ones we bought hadn’t bloomed yet in these photos) to fill in the gaps. The bright pink caladiums make the boxes pop, while the light green and white vinca and the soft blush impatiens balance the colors out.

You can certainly change things up with your own arrangement, but those elements – height, length and color – make for a full and balanced window box. You should also consider how much sun your boxes get and select plants accordingly. Our window boxes are shaded for most of the day but do get some partial sun.

1. Measure, plan and purchase. Start by taking measurements of your window box. Then, take those measurements to your local garden center or home improvement store to pick out plants. We drew ours out actual-size on a large piece of paper and used that to evaluate how many plants would fit. We also played with the arrangement of the plants to see which plants looked best together.

2. Prepare the boxes. Fill your window box or boxes with high-quality potting soil. Be sure there are holes in the bottom of each box for draining.

3. Placement. Place the plants on top of the soil the way you plan to plant them. We did caladiums in the back, as they are the tallest of the three plants, impatiens slightly in front of/between them and vinca in the front. There should be gaps between the plants at first, so be sure to leave several inches between each one and the next as they’ll need room to continue growing.

4. Plant. Time to plant! Using either a spade or your hands scoop dirt out of the box where you’ll be putting the plant in. Break the plant’s roots up just enough to loosen them but not so much that the soil and roots start falling apart. Place the plant in the space you’ve carved out and tuck dirt in around it. Repeat this for each plant until you’re done.

5. Water in and enjoy! When you’re finished planting, go ahead and water the plants. Avoid getting the water on their foliage and instead focus on watering around the base of each plant. Watering them in helps settle the soil around the root-ball of the plant and establish the plant’s roots in its new container.

While we chose to plant in window boxes, the same rules apply when planting a container garden in a pot or other vessel. Just be sure to place your plants where they’ll receive adequate sunlight and use an appropriately-sized container. Read more about container gardens in our Q&A with local gardening expert Jean Bartlett.

 

 

 

 

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