I have three large window boxes that get only early morning sun in Maine. Each year I try a new plant but still have yet to find one that works. Petunias get spindly, impatiens are sparse, coleus are just so-so... I need help! They are in warm weather (no higher than 80) for only 3 months so I hate spending all that money for something that looks just awful. Last year I even resorted to "filling in" with fake flowers it was so bad!
Does anyone have any suggestions?
It's almost always challenging to get a lot of color from plants in shade. Wax Begonias (Begonia semperflorens) would be my suggestion for seasonal color. They'll tolerate a light frost if established before cold sets in.
I don't know if you want plants that stay good looking all year round, or are you just looking for shade loving annuals to fill your boxes.
Among shadow plants you can find some real beauties.
A happy plant is always pleasing to the eye, so I would forget to try anymore of these sun lovers.
My garden is mainly shadow and half shadow, but I also have a lot of shade lovers in containers.
In my experience the following plants are doing very fine in containers:
Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' and 'Looking Glass', pulmonaria's, Hosta's (these are not winter green)
Winter green are : ferns like Polystichum setiferum, Euphorbia 'robiae', all types of Hellebores, all types of ivy,
You can also make a combination of winter green with non winter green.
You can even plant some bulbs in there: snowdrops can deal with shade,
Just to give you an idea that shadow lovers can also give a rich pallet of colours.
All of these plants also do well in containers, and give some really beautiful flowers in spring.
But there are many more than that!
Petunias like sun, that's probably why they didn't do well, but impatiens and coleus should have done great for you, so I'm wondering if there isn't something else going on besides just the shady conditions. Can you tell us a little more about what kind of soil you put in the window box, how often you water them, how often you fertilize, what type of fertilizer, etc? It could be that they're getting too much or too little water, too much or too little fertilizer, or possibly something else.
Buffetfan: First, I have to ask, are you a Jimmy Buffet Fan?! :) My husband is a JB fan, I am not ... but, your user name caught my attention, so I had to ask!
I am curious also why impatiens and coleus didn't do well in your shady window boxes. Both of those plants are perfect for shade. You also might like to try Begonias, Hosta's, Trailing Ivy, Caladiums ... there are so many shade loving plants.
Thanks to all for your helpful answers! And yes, I am a HUGE Jimmy Buffett fan, for about 20 years now. I am a "newbie" to gardening though, which is why I joined this sight. Everyday things I'm o.k. with, it's the out of the norm things I'm trying to learn.
The window boxes are just filled from June until the end of September so no need to find any winter plantings. I usually pick some bittersweet in October and keep that in the boxes as decoration until spring. I do empty out the soil each spring and use Osmicote as a fertilizer. It is a seasonal property which is rented so I have put in self waterers in case the plants need more than once a week watering. But Maine is a very damp place so plants don't dry out very often.
I thought impatients would work beautifully also (as they do here in Virginia) but that's not the case, even impatients that aren't in the boxes just don't really "shine" in Maine.
I do like Bonitin's idea of just using perenials... maybe that's the key. I have plenty of hostas, ivy and ferns on the shady side and they all do well. I am going to take a look at you suggestions Bonitin because you are right, if the plant is in a perfect spot condition wise it will look good!