Not all of us are fortunate enough to have a garden. But we all have windows. So why not make the most of these by installing window boxes? Yes, it’s a Western concept all right, but it’s gradually gaining ground at home. After all, it is basically a form of container gardening, the only difference being that instead of growing flowers and plants in pots, you grow them in a trough hung right below your window.
Unlike the West, where window boxes are made of many materials and readily available at any home depot, here you may need to get a local mason to build you a cement one or a carpenter to make a wooden one. Whichever material you choose, remember that window boxes look best when they are as long the window, or a few inches longer. Also, make sure you choose a style that complements the architecture of your home.
While cement is hardy, wood boxes are susceptible to weathering and decay. Investing in a liner or a container to slip into the window box facilitates planting, especially for hard-to-reach boxes. Simply place the plants and soil in the liner, then drop the whole thing into the outside box. Planting a window box is much like planting any other container. You will need to take into account the hours of sunlight it will receive and choose plants accordingly. Ensure it has proper drainage so that water will not collect on the bottom and rot the plants’ roots.
Pick up a soil-less mix from a local nursery—its is free of insects and diseases and has a good water-holding capacity. But because it is low in nutrients, you will need to feed your window box with a water-soluble fertiliser every two weeks. Also, remember to put in your plants about a half-inch below the rim so there is room to water.
Feel free to experiment with different plant combinations but avoid planting in rows. Instead, stagger plants in a zigzag pattern which will look less rigid. Place taller plants in the back, closest to the window. Next, have some mounding plants of middle height. Finally, include some trailing plants that will spill down the side of the box.
Flowers and plants that work well in window boxes include coleus, salvia, heliotrope and dusty miller (for the back row); snap dragon, geranium, impatiens, petunia, lobelia and begonia (middle row) and ivy, nasturtium, moss rose, verbena and million bell (trailing). While you can fill up your other windows with flowers, it’s a good idea to plants herbs in the box outside your kitchen window. That way, all you need to do is reach out and pluck out a fresh herb for your dish.