Plant this: 9 ways to liven up your windows
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Window Watching1 of 10
By Amy Ahlberg
Looking to liven up your home—both inside and out? Get creative with window boxes. We asked gardening and lifestyle expert P. Allen Smith, author of P. Allen Smith's Container Gardens, to share his ideas for all kinds of displays that you can design depending on the season and your personal style.
Garden Variety2 of 10
When designing a window box or container with a mix of foliage, Smith says to use the three-shape rule: Combine plants that are tall and spikey, round and full, and cascading. As Smith explains, in this example, "The Red Sensation cordyline provides the tall spiky shape, the begonia, coleus, impatiens, torenia and caladiums serve as my round and full plants, and the golden creeping Jenny, ivy and Trailing Plum cascade over the sides."
Food for Thought3 of 10
You can turn your window box into a mini produce stand when you mix in a few edibles with your flowers—lettuce and strawberries are a couple plants that will easily grow in one. "Just make sure all the plants require the same light and water," says Smith, who recommends mixing geraniums with lettuce, for example.
Pretty Cool4 of 10
This combination of nemesia, hyacinths, pansies, grape hyacinths and creeping Jenny is perfect for cooler temperatures. Keep the muscari and hyacinths in their nursery pots so they can be removed once the flowers fade. You can then plant the bulbs in your garden and they will bloom again next year, suggests Allen.
Bright Ideas5 of 10
Go bold with plants that are known for their color. Smith recommends filling your window box with tulips in spring, dahlias in summer and chrysanthemums in fall. And plant a lot of them so you won't feel guilty about cutting a few blooms to bring indoors.
Made in the Shade6 of 10
Says Allen: "There is a misconception that shade-loving plants lack color. You'll find loads of color and patterns with plants such as caladiums, New Guinea impatiens and coleus." If you are going to use coleus (the red, variegated leafy plant), give it an occasional trim—this fast-grower can overwhelm its container mates if left unchecked.
Tropical Treats7 of 10
"To give my summer containers character, I like to plant a few hearty tropicals," says Allen. "Typically the leaves and flowers are fleshy and full, which makes for a nice texture that contrasts with the more traditional plants." His suggestion? Alocasia Hilo Beauty works well in containers and window boxes because it stays small. Match it up with a plant with grassy or lacy foliage like cordyline or scented geraniums.
Pinch Hitters8 of 10
Whether you are into cooking, mixology or aromatherapy, a window box of herbs will come in handy. Try a combination of perennial herbs such as rosemary, thyme and sage—you'll only have to plant them once, and they'll come back every year.
Fall Foliage9 of 10
As summer transitions to fall, evaluate your window box by making edits and updates. Overgrown plants should be cut back or pulled out to make room for showier autumn varieties, such as ornamental cabbage and peppers. "Summer annuals will continue to thrive until the first fall frost, so keep plants that still look great and add a few seasonal touches," says Smith.
Outside In10 of 10
There's no rule that says window boxes can't be inside as well. Bring the garden indoors with a window box filled with houseplants. To set up this version, line the container with plastic to prevent water damage, and simply drop in potted plants. If the plants are in individual containers, you can switch them out whenever you feel like a change, says Allen. Crotons are a colorful, year-round choice. "The grocery store is a great place to find seasonal plants for an indoor window box," adds Allen.
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