As land for building large homes, especially in suburban areas, becomes less available the price of land becomes very steep. For this reason, many new homes are being built upon small plots of land rather than spread out on large plots of land. Less land means less area to landscape and often with the popular zero lot line concept, there is almost no land for flowers, trees, and shrubs. The grass is usually around the house itself and maybe a few border plants and a small area around the front for shrubs and a few flowers. But, for many folks, this lack of land for ornamental planting has driven them to other creative ways to bring color to the outside of their homes. While window boxes have been around a long time to add beauty to the porch area of a home, these boxes are now in high demand for a large contemporary house, small yard homes. Most of the large suburban homes have porches with railings, the perfect place for window boxes. Window boxes can also be fashioned to attach directly to window sills to provide color and in some cases a lovely smell. All in all, window boxes add curb appeal, charm, and character, as well as giving the people on the inside a close-up view of nature.
Location of the window box must essentially be where the plants will get at least some sunlight. You can use plants which grow well in shade or partial shade but a little sunshine is still needed. Make sure you can easily care for the plants. Plants in these containers will need more watering, often daily in hot weather, as the soil tends to dry out quickly. Window boxes come in a variety of styles and construction materials. Check with local nurseries and garden centers to view the wide variety of styles before making your choice. You can also build your own window box. Do research online to find ideas for plans to create your own. Choose a window box that will compliment your style of architecture. Usually, you would place the boxes on either side of doors or entryways but placing them creatively is fine, especially along a porch railing.
After deciding on the style and placement of your window boxes, you will want to determine what plants you would like. Do you want lots of greenery, some of it spilling over the side of the box or are you looking for lots of colors? Usually, it is a combination of both. And, if you are looking for plants which cascade over the box, there are some which have flowers as well as greenery. Here it is essential to research which plants grow best in your area and in some form of container. The SFGATE Home Guide suggests “Rather than use mature plants that have grown up and therefore adapted to life in the greenhouse or on a sheltered sale bench, buy nursery packs of young plants that will adapt directly to their window box and suffer less transplant shock.” Also, make sure to use the right soil with natural fertilizer if needed. Use of chemicals in fertilizer and pesticides is not recommended.
There are many plants which will do well in window boxes. In South Florida, they include Impatiens, Dwarf Hibiscus, Ivy, Pansies, Creeping Zinnia, Marigolds, Bromeliads, Coleus, and Mums. Herbs also do well in window boxes and make a lovely view out a kitchen window. Certain types of tomatoes also can be grown in window boxes. Gardening in window boxes is a lot of fun and with careful planning will bring pleasure to both the gardener and to those who view the outcome.