leisure 04.22.19

Window Boxes

Q: What can I plant in my window box?

A: First, MUG must point out that window boxes have a habit of defenestrating—with the right updraft, plant leaves turn into sails and off the box goes. Not good for plants or passersby, so rig carefully. If you start drilling into the building to rig, you should check with your landlord and you're supposed to get a permit from the Dept. of Buildings. In any event, we asked local plant experts for their picks, summarized below.

Sunny location:
If you're not around a lot, look for drought-resistant plants. Portulaca, which now comes in double-flowered varieties and Sanvitalia, a tiny black-eyed Susan, are both very drought resistant. Southern exposures can grow marigolds, 'Irish eyes' (a yellow Rudbeckia with a green center), and the many varieties of Salvia. Zinnias will bloom all summer until the frost. You'll get nice trails from Lobelia, bacopa (baby white flowers), and purple and yellow Swan River daisies. Petunias and marigolds are good for boxes in that they are low plants that will grow in a 6" deep container. Herbs such as basil and thyme need a lot of sun but there's a big payoff in the kitchen.

Less sun:
With an eastern or northern exposure, pansies will bloom all summer. Potted primroses, cinerarias, and sweet peas all like the same conditions. If you're on a dark northern or eastern exposure, you can grow impatiens, including the fancier double varieties, as well as Torenia, aka the wishbone flower, which comes in all shades and Browallia, which now comes in white as well as blue. Caladium and coleus will give you beautiful foliage. In a really shady spot, plant caladiums in a single color or Ajuga, which is actually a ground cover, but in a window box, the purple and maroon leaves become traily. A popular combination is morning glory and white moonflower in the same box. The morning glory opens in the morning and, in one of horticulture's more pleasant quirks, the moonflower opens at sunset with a beautiful fragrance.

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