Care to advise a novice window box gardener?

South Kingstown, RI

I would be most grateful. I have about 18 feet of deep window boxes that are finally up and full of rich potting soil. They are ready to go but I am not. I was planning to start out simple, and started marigolds from seed indoors (this is a little project I am doing with my youngest children). That didn't go so well. Now I have a late start, and I'm hoping for advice. In two weeks we are hosting my parents' 50th wedding anniversary party here, and I would love to get the boxes looking great. Can you recommend specific nurseries to order from, and a few relatively easy to care for flowers that are showy and cheery? We are in coastal Rhode Island, and the boxes get almost full sun. Also, I'm on something of budget, so reasonably priced suggested would be much appreciated. Many thanks!

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

You should be able to find a variety of full sun bedding plants/annuals locally. You will get, as a rule, larger plants for less money as most are already in bud or bloom, and no postage. Check out the big box garden centers like Lowe's Home Depot and WalMart. Look at your local nurseries....bedding plants are usually not too expensive as they are usually sold in cellpacks of 4 or 6 plants or flats or 12, 18 and 36. Annuals can be planted a little closer together than perennials and you can stagger them from front to back depending on the plant. Things like salvias, petunias, marigolds, sun coleus, some of the newer sweet potato vines, angelonia, and dusty miller all work well. Also, plants like opal or bush basil , oregano, and rosemary (upright or creeping) add lush texture and fragrance

You will want to mix a few plants of varying heights to get a full look. There are a good variety of plants that will blend well and create a pleasing scape for you. Here are some links with ideas and plant names. I hope these will help inspire and inform you. If you have additional questions, just post them here. .

Contra Costa County, CA(Zone 9b)

With the party in just 2 weeks, go for the largest plants you budget can handle. While the small plants (cell packs and even jumbo packs) are a better buy, they will not grow much in just 2 weeks.

Here is what I would do:
Plan on buying 4" or the largest jumbo pacs you can find.
DO NOT space them evenly all over, they will look sparse.
Plant them in groups, and mulch that areas in between with ground bark or fine chips. The black mini-bark looks really elegant.

A group might be 3 tall things in the back, 5 bushy things in the middle, and a couple of semi-trailing things at the front, on each side of the group.
Then a space (mulched) then repeat the grouping.

You could use different plants in each group, and that is less formal, or you can make several matching groups.

Salvia, Snapdragons, African Marigold

French Marigold, many Petunias, Impatiens (shade), Cathranthus (may be labeled Vinca) Most annuals, Basil, Lettuce (red leaf is especially showy).

Lobelia, cascading Petunias, Million Bells, "Bacopa" (actually Sutura sp), Verbena

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

I agree with the other 2 reply's, I have just planted some tubs, baskets ect as our weather did not permit any earlier planting so I have went for medium size plants (all bedding plant types) they get discarded end of summer.
You cant wait for a good month or so like I can to enjoy these plants but as recommended by the others, spend the money on larger plants of the same type and they will with care, watering and maybe a half strength liquid feed, be looking really good on the day, all plants require a week at the least to get acclimatised to the new environment you offer them so don't be worried IF they just sit and look at you for a good few days. Dont be tempted to over feed these plants or you will burn the roots and probably the foliage with too much feeding.

The planting group I have chosen are over hanging the front of Boxes

Fuchsia Trailing,
Hanging Geraniums (all different sizes and colour of flower's)
Several green /yellow foliage plants that fill the gaps between flowering types.

Calandula, Impatiens,
Geraniums pink, red, white,

There are many, many more plants that you can use for a quick colour pallet and size bUT, PLEASE, make sure you use a GOOD quality Compost for the job, last thing you want is to watch the plants just sit there because there is no nutrients for them the get their roots growing and begin to flower. Also I know most new gardeners hate to remove almost dead flowers but the more spent flowers you remove, the more flowers the plants will re-produce as that is what Annuals do, grow from seed, flower, set seeds to scatter for next year, so by dead heading you trick the plants into thinking it needs to make more flowers as it has now been making seed heads, they will go on all season till the colder weather arrives if you keep removing spent flowers. IF the boxes are too deep for quick plantings of annuals, then you can save money on filling the whole box with compost by breaking up some of the white polystyrene Packaging we get from some goods and dont know where to put it, so recycle it in the boxes.
Dont let the compost dry out as it is quite difficult to get the dried out compost wet enough again, and remember you have supposed to enjoy the results of all your hard work, have a wonderful celebration with all the family and wish you luck with your project.

Best of luck and best wishes.

Stamford, CT(Zone 6b)

When my containers are very deep, I cheat by adding styrofoam from the craft store. I use less soil and for me, they also use less water, so the containers are not so heavy to move. I just looked at the original post again and see that there is already soil, but I don't know the dimensions of your window boxes, if they are mounted or placed on your property.

WeeNel, from the other side of the Atlantic, we also had cold weather (and recently lots of rain) and are far behind on our plantings.

Keats, the weather is improving, and your are closer to me geographically. Even though it is getting late, the nurseries are full of good choices. If you are tight on time for your affair, just put the pots into the window boxes directly and plant any bedding plants after company leaves.

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