Window Box Gardening for Beginners

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Window box gardening is an excellent way for an apartment dweller to enjoy the rewards of enjoying plants and harvesting vegetables. All you need is a little know-how and you too can appreciate a window box garden of your own.

Choosing a Window Box Container

The choice material for a window box container is wood. Typically cedar, cypress or white pine are recommended. Boxes made of redwood, a well-recognized material, although attractive, can turn gray over time. Other lightweight materials, such as plastic or fiberglass are good choices too. Avoid using metal boxes as the sun can heat the soil and plants to temperatures that may affect plant growth. The containers should be about three feet along and feature holes for drainage. An eight-inch wide box can usually hold two rows of plants while a ten-inch wide container can typically accommodate three rows of plants.

Choosing Plants for Your Container

Select flowers for container gardening include primroses and pansies for the spring, fuchsias, geraniums and petunias for the summer months and mums for the autumn. Vegetables are excellent choices for container gardening too such as beats, lima beans, carrots, lettuce, onions, radishes and spinach although most vegetables can be adapted to container gardening if they meet the space requirements. Grow vegetables in five gallon containers, preferably a foot deep, to allow for root growth. Herbs too have a place in window box gardening. Specifically, oregano, basil and dwarf varieties of sage and dill are good window box plants because of their compact growth.

Planting Seeds and Plants

Follow planting instructions on seed packets with respect to spacing and depth. Most seeds for herbs and vegetables should be planted in March and April so the plants can be enjoyed during the summer months. Plant a few more seeds than is needed to ensure germination. Also, place seeds and plants in a medium that provides good drainage such as an equal mix of a loamy soil, peat moss and sand. Bake this type of mix in the oven for an hour at about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Or, you may want to avoid the baking process by planting seeds in a soilless mix which is usually free of weed seeds and soil borne disease. Find a window that offers plenty of natural indirect light.

Watering your Window Box Plants

Water plants on a routine basis, such as twice a week. Make sure that the soil is moist and not soggy. Give them a thorough watering if the soil is dry, watering from the bottom and then from the top. If you have a problem with a lack of humidity in your apartment, mist flowering plants and indoor houseplants about once a week. The early morning is the best time to water plants while the sun is still low in the sky.


As most people overfertilize their plants, use half the recommended amount of fertilizer twice a month rather than the full amount once a month. Use a water-soluble 10-10-10 mix of Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium. Do not administer fertilizer to plants in the winter months of December and January.

Maintain a schedule with respect to planting, watering and feeding and you can harvest the joys of window box gardening through most of the year.

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