Planting out a window box can give an instant change to your outdoor space. Live in a flat? The slimmest of windowsills can get you some green. But it’s time to think outside the box, literally. We sent three Habitat-ers home with a window box and they came back with three very different ideas on how to plant it out and where to put it.
Benedicte Arora, Brand Design Manager
Window Box: Holt
Plant Type: florals (Lavender, Nemesia, Impatiens)
Aspect: above a seating area in an east-facing garden
I went shopping with a mind to buy scented plants. I planned for the window box to sit on a ledge behind our seating area so thought fragrant flowers would help me get a holiday vibe going on (and thankfully the weather was complying, for a change!).
Holt is quite a large window box so I was able to pick larger scaled plants and had a lot of fun mixing colours. I like things looking wild and natural, not too manicured. I chose 2 types of Lavender, 2 varieties of Nemesia (one of which smelt like caramel!) and an Impatiens, which is a perennial so I’ll be able to move it to a border in the autumn. I picked plants that would tolerate shade as my garden doesn’t get much sun.
I drilled a few drainage holes in the bottom of the planter and lined the bottom with crocks made from broken terracotta pots. My two sons took it upon themselves to arrange how the plants would sit in the planter (I gave myself a pat on the back for getting them involved in gardening!) and we used multi purpose compost to plant them out.
It definitely gave me green fingers for an afternoon…I spent another 3 hours tidying up the garden!
Nicky Guymer, Blog Editor & Copywriter
Window Box: Pallas
Plant Type: succulents (several varieties of Sempervivum and Echeveria)
Aspect: an east-facing window sill
I live on quite a busy road. Succulents are pretty robust plants so I thought they’d be well suited to the hustle and bustle of a London street (loving as they do dry soil, they’re also well suited to me inevitably forgetting to water them!).
I removed the plug from the drainage hole as succulents don’t like to sit in water and scattered a couple of centimeters of stones into the bottom of the window box for drainage (this also means that the box would end up quite weighty and wouldn’t fall off the window sill without a fight!). Succulents need free-draining soil so I used a specialist compost which has the right ratios of grit and sand to soil.
Plants look best planted in odd numbers so I calculated that 9 would fit in. I removed them from their plastic pots and crumbled away some of the soil. I started planting them out quite tightly and packing the compost around them as I went along (with a little help from my 2 year old – turns out succulents are VERY robust!). The leaves of a succulent need to sit above the rim of whatever vessel you’re using – cannily, Pallas worked to my advantage as it meant that the leaves could overlap the lipped rim. I used a child’s paintbrush to clean off random bits of soil on the plants and then topped the soil with white stones – I used Pearl Spar.
I’m pretty kitsch in my love of what I call ‘granny florals’ – petunias, geraniums, lobelia – and my back garden is full of them. But I have to say I’m basking at how ‘posh’ the front of my scrubby little cottage looks now!
Helen Crook, Digital Marketing Executive
Window Box: Leon
Plant Type: edibles (Chilli Pepper and Moroccan Mint)
Aspect: an outdoor dining table on a south-facing balcony
Our balcony is sunny, semi-south facing and sheltered – perfect for growing both of these edibles! We already grow tomatoes, chives and rosemary so these add nicely to our collection. We purchased our herbs from a street flower market and took advantage of the advice on offer from the seller – buying local can be really helpful as the sellers always know what they are talking about and can offer pointers.
Both plants like a sunny aspect but require different amounts of watering. This is where the Leon window box came into its own as it’s made of two individual pots so I can tailor the amount of watering to each container’s contents. I gave both plants a good water about half an hour before planting and used an all-purpose compost to plant them out. I then gave them another good water and set them on our balcony table.
We were advised to start harvesting the chillies when they are no longer green and are bright red. We plan to use them in our cooking as we love Asian-inspired spicy food. Moroccan mint has a much milder flavour than its English counterparts. It makes delicious mint tea. But we also plan on mixing a few mojitos!
I’ve well and truly got the gardening bug, even in my tiny space. I never thought I would be interested in plants, especially when living in London, but by making the most of our small urban space, we are able to grow plants which save us money and enhance our cooking.