Plants in window-boxes tend to have a somewhat hard life, with periods of drought and wind, draughts and little protection. Certain hardy plants are, therefore, almost synonymous with window-box gardening. Choose Chrysanthemum Frutescens (Marguerites), Petunias double and single flowery and floppy in glorious colours - Lobelias light and dark, Fuchsias, Verbena, Begonia Semperflorens, and, of course, the favourite flowering plants such as Geraniums and Pelargoniums. Miniature Roses, sharing with their fully grown relations a tough disposition, are also good in boxes, as are Hydrangeas.

Petunias, Marigolds, Lobelia, and Verbena are happy in window-boxes which get a lot of sun. Begonias and Pansies will prefer a shadier spot.

Ideal for window-boxes, and as delightfully edible as they are decorative, are miniature Tomatoes with their marble-sized fruits. Team them with Green Beans, they have beautiful scarlet flowers and you could train them up the sides and around the top of your window, framing it completely. Ipomoea (Morning Glory) can be used for the same purpose as they, too, are good climbing plants.

Flowers in your window boxes all the year round
With some planning and re-planting a window-box can be kept flowering throughout most of the year. You could start the box, with Bulbs and sweet-smelling Wallflowers and Forget-me-nots which will bloom when the Bulbs are over. When these are over why not put in Nicotiana (Tobacco) - white to smell and lime green for the marvellous colour with Pansies and, later, Nasturtiums with their brilliant flames and oranges.
A window-box of herbs Sweet-smelling Rosemary and Lavender
are good window-box plants, and if you have a convenient sill and are devoted to cooking have a box for more of your favourite herbs. Many useful ones Chives, Chervil, Parsley, Savory, Thyme and Marjoram will thrive in a box if they are kept well-watered.

A brighter more daring use of colour is possible in a window-box because the flowers are contained in a rigid framework, be it lead, stone, wood or concrete (or the magic fibre-glass which can look like any of these) which effectively cuts them off from nature. What would be unthinkable in the way of colour combinations in a flower bed on a large scale becomes quite acceptable when in a box set off against stone or brick. Shocking, iridescent pink Petunias with orange Marigolds, for example, or vermilion Geraniums with velvety pink and purple Pelargoniums.

Although it is often highly successful to have a bright, multicoloured plant pattern in a box, it is also very effective to have shades of one colour, or one colour with white. Try planting yellow and orange Marigolds with silver grey foliage plants; pink and white Petunias; purple Heliotrope with mauve Petunias and blue Ageratum; or pink and white Geraniums with Fuschias.

Care of the plants in your window box
As with all flowering plants, but even more so as they are at eye level and more noticeable, take care to remove flower-heads as soon as they die, so that you get constant blooms to the end of the season. In the hottest and driest times of the year you must remember to water at least once, and probably twice a day (early in the morning and in the evening) as window-boxes tend to dry out quickly. During the summer you could add a plant food once every two weeks or so.

Window-boxes in winter
Try not to have a window box which contains only dry dusty soil and a few dead sticks. In winter either clear the box out or remove it entirely to renovate for next year. The soil in window-boxes needs to be replaced roughly once a year so this could be a good time to do it. Alternatively, you could fill the window-box with winter evergreens like small Junipers and Cypresses, and tough little Heathers and Ivies. Either move these into the garden in spring, or put your flowers among them.
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