Lush window boxes without heavy lifting, big watering cans, or hours of labour?
This blog is for anyone who enjoys the sight of flourishing window boxes but is very short of time, not so interested in gardening as a hobby, feels daunted by the work and knowledge involved, or reckons it’s all too much of a physical effort.
When I first took possession of a row of several substantial window boxes, it took me a while to understand that I could have lavish planters without having much knowledge, doing any heavy lifting, changing soil, fighting bugs, or carrying an unwieldy watering can.
My window boxes contained somewhat straggly, timid pelargoniums. The blossoms looked colourful and lovely, but the plants looked so small, so timid and so self-contained. I’d look over at neighbouring buildings, and wonder at those window boxes tumbling with greenery – lavish cascades of leaves and flowers.
I was surprised not to see my neighbours working away at their window boxes, day in day out. I had to figure this out. How could they have such magnificent window boxes without spending every waking hour tending to them? Why didn’t my geraniums look as lavish as theirs, tumbling down over the railings?
The answer was simple: I had the ‘wrong’ plants. Many of the plants I was admiring were ivy-leaf geraniums. Mine were zonal pelargoniums. Time to acquire new plants.
But what about maintenance? A very kind neighbour gave me excellent advice: stick to pelargoniums/geraniums, don’t worry about the soil, no need to change it; and don’t worry too much about the watering. Those plants don’t like too much water, are pretty hardy, and in the main, are perennials. Given just a minimum of care, they will do fine. The rewards will exceed the effort.
I followed my kind neighbour’s advice:
– Planted mainly geraniums and pelargoniums, a mix of ivy-leaf and scented
– Didn’t change the soil, but added the odd handful of new compost
– Didn’t water much, and added moisture-retaining granules to the soil
– Was very sparing with fertiliser
Now, every few weeks, I tidy up the plants, but just a bit – a spot of deadheading, removing dying leaves. Parsimonious and infrequent watering in the winter, unless the weather is very dry – or windy. Windy weather seems very drying. As the weather warms up, I try to water once a fortnight, if I remember. It is only on hot days, or at the height of Summer, that weekly watering becomes obviously necessary.
You can find more information in my other posts – what type of low maintenance plants to buy, basic know-how, suppliers and contacts, and how to be bee-friendly.
Do consider joining local gardening groups – they provide great advice and resources, even for members who don’t think of gardening as their hobby! I’ve added a list of gardening organisations – local to the City of London – to this site.
Happy Window Boxing!