Container Gardening Ideas for Window Planters

Great Container Gardening Ideas

Flower Planters, Window Planters, Large Planters – Anything Goes!

It is good to have a number of interchangeable window planters so that jaded, faded plantings can be removed as they go over and be exchanged for fresh plants just coming up to their best. These need not necessarily be expensive – look around and see what you can find in the way of boxes. For instance, butchers often have empty plastic boxes which can be arranged together in a row.

Small coloured tin buckets which I have sometimes found in children’s toy shops and which I use as hanging containers, can be used equally well in window planter situations. Three or four together along a ledge are quite expensive-looking and make perfect containers for growing flowers, herbs, or even things such as lettuces and strawberries. At the front of the house they display neat arrangements of marguerites or petunias.

container gardening ideas However, it is not always possible to find space for accommodating a number of replacement planters, and in that case it is necessary to replant existing boxes more often, or else go in for permanent plantings.

Although it will be easier if I talk about window flower planters, box-shaped plant holders can be placed in many different places around the outside of a house, not only immediately outside windows. The great advantage of the window position is, of course, that we can enjoy the flowers from indoors also. Plain walls close to front or back doors make very suitable places for hanging planters however, and often a dull garage wall will prove to be an ideal spot. Sometimes garages are attached to the house but project forward a little way, so forming a cosy L-shaped alcove which nicely shelters the front door. This is a superb place for a wall-hung box and creates a note of greeting.

A plain wall which faces on to a wide walkway or a balcony outside a town flat simply asks for one or more flower planters, perhaps on each side of the door. Indeed, you can make your front wall into a veritable hanging garden with a number of boxes or baskets glowing with colourful leaves and flowers.

Choosing the site of a flower planter is clearly very important. For instance, they are often best in uncluttered surroundings, not hemmed in by garden plants growing too close. Any spot we pass daily as we come and go is good; in such a place we can not only enjoy our window box all the time but also do a bit of speedy weeding or dead-heading as we pass and, most important of all, we can easily see when the box needs watering.

container gardening ideas Windows with deep ledges of stone or tile will accommodate flower planters easily, and shelter the plants from the worst of wind and weather. So close to the house, they are often warm enough to risk planting out frost-tender subjects slightly earlier than with boxes which hang on the outside of a bay window, for example, where they are open to the elements with little protection.

There are other things about container gardening and the siting of a window box to which you perhaps at first, don’t think about. Being human, we choose a fine bright day to go outside and put up a box. Few of us consider whether the box will face north or south, whether the site is open to the prevailing wind, whether the building has deep eaves which will shelter the box from the rain, and so on.

The wise amongst us, however, will work with our individual situation. Handsome window planters can be contrived for every aspect, but if there is a choice, we should pick a spot which receives good light and has the possibility of sunshine for at least part of the day if we want to grow flowering plants or foliage plants with brightly coloured leaves. Green-leaved plants will put up with shade and flag more quickly in a hot or windy place.

Many tall modern buildings seem to funnel the wind round themselves, creating strong airflows even on otherwise calm days. This can be a real problem to the window box gardener and make hanging baskets even more difficult, for wind is drying (perhaps even more than sunshine) and rapidly takes moisture from the soil. If you have such a site and cannot fix up any kind of wind filter such as a bit of fine trellis on each side, or even bamboo stakes placed fairly close together to form an interesting-looking shield, it might be best to cut your losses and take your window box indoors.

Indoor boxes, in sunrooms etc., are very easy to manage and can be filled with geraniums, begonias, succulents and any of the wide variety of house plants now available, or with pots of ageratum, French marigold, streptocarpus. etc.

A permanently planted window planter can form a screen to give privacy indoors – plants are far more interesting than curtains or voile, and block out far less light.

I think that even against a frosted-glass window, a box full of colourful subjects has a part to play, as bold scarlets, bright blues, yellow, orange. and white shine through from outside. Boxes may be hung under the window as well as actually on the ledge so preventing soil splashing on windows: with a light trellis bordering the window to carry climbers the effect can be quite countryfied. Even the gardenless can grow sweet peas in a deep hanging box or tub against the wall. With either wooden or plastic-covered metal trellis you can grow clematis, climbing roses, or honeysuckle round the door. Really the sky is the limit!

Window planters can be constructed or bought to fit any size, type, or style of window, even the curved bays and bow windows. You can place one long box or three shorter ones at the centre front of a five-section bay window, leaving the outer sections free to open, or you can have a separate box for each section. The easiest way is to make these of wood, covering the joins and linking them into one sleek whole planter with a long piece of pliable hardboard or thin plywood nailed into place and painted to match the house. With this method, only the simplest of flower planters are required but the stronger they are the better when it comes to fixing the linking facia board.

Even a french door need not defeat the keen window box gardener. I once saw two large planters attached one each to the bottom woodwork of a pair of french doors. The hotelier owner, a keen DIY man, had fitted the boxes with very strong supports underneath and at the sides to take the weight. The doors were in constant use, and the flower-filled boxes, moving with the doors, caused much interest.

container gardening ideas An idea I like is to use a wall or fence in the garden to support hanging planters; this is especially pleasing with the boundary wall of a patio or terrace. Where there is a rise of level in the garden it is often possible to build a low retaining wall with a flat top to hold boxes. Similarly, a swimming pool or garden pond can have a backing of well-planted boxes or tubs.

Any flat roof, such as a garage or the top of a bay window, will take a long window box and look attractive with flowers hanging down. A white flower planter or one painted to match the house looks as good above a window as below, and the effect of a short light curtain of flowers or leaves can be achieved if trailing plants are chosen. Balconies with railings will also allow the installation of boxes for trailing plants.

Of course, some provision must be made for watering garden containers. It is a nuisance if a ladder or stepladder is needed every time a box has to be watered (and very regular watering is necessary where flower planters are mounted high and open to sun and wind). Often if the planter is suitably placed it can be watered from an upstairs window with the aid of a long-spouted watering can. The more prominently a box is sited the more it needs to look always well-cared-for and attractive.

Planted flower planters often look exceptionally well near a front door, perhaps on wide steps leading up to the door or on flat piers either side. Here a collection of one sort of plant – perhaps houseleeks, ivies, or even cacti in summer – make an effective display by being raised and presented to view in this way. Another idea is to plant neatly clipped golden privet or box, or holly. You could even go in for a bit of topiary!

A clever gardening friend of mine displays a collection of fine fuchsias each summer on homemade wooden staging – shelves of varying heights and widths – under the dining room window. This is a wonderful idea for showing off a number of interesting plants together where space is at a premium. I display plants in my conservatory in the same way, using old metal display units from shops. Painted white, they look rather like expensive Victorian ware. One was given to me after I had seen it outside the shop when it was waiting to be collected by the dustmen. The kind of metal staging sold for greenhouses could be similarly painted and used outdoors. The aluminium kind won’t rust.

 

21. September 2010 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Container Gardening, Gardening Ideas, Window Boxes | Tags: , | Comments Off on Container Gardening Ideas for Window Planters

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