Like most garden styles and innovations, window box gardening came from old civilizations who upheld gardening as a part of everyday life. The Romans and Egyptians were one of the few early civilizations who prioritized plants and gardening for food and aesthetics.
Terra cotta window boxes can be traced back to Roman times.
In the first century B.C., it was the practice of Roman households to cultivate cottage gardens for their food, medicine and religious uses. Over time, window box plants and flowers became more decorative and less functional. Roses led the way as the favorite decorative flower, followed by lilies, violets and pansies.
Affluent Romans set the trend for window gardening. They believed that the more high-rise the garden was, the more prosperous the owners were. Because of this notion, they made window boxes on high balconies and on rooftops.
In Italy, the window box remains a very popular and attractive feature, especially on balconies. It is one of the iconic home features in the country.
In New Zealand back in 1908, a newspaper carried an article—Window and Verandah Gardening—which showcased an early 20th century view of window boxes. It was one of the first published written pieces on how to create your own window box garden and gave tips on which plants would be best for this kind of set-up. The list included: nasturtiums, pansies, geraniums and other suitable flowers. Herbs like sweet basil, thyme and rosemary were also mentioned.
In modern times, window boxes have been made popular by ancient Europe. It started with Italy, England, France, Ireland, Germany and Holland mainly for aesthetics. Shortly after, the accessible garden became well-known throughout America and other parts of the world.
This popularity does not come as a surprise since window boxes are the best alternative for small spaces or apartment complexes and high-rise residences.
Most window boxes have been included in the home interior or exterior. It is often found as an extension or small ledge outside the windows. Occasionally the materials are made out of wrought iron, cement ledge or even hay wire.
Making your own window box garden
Before you head out and pick your plants, it is best to examine the location you plan to place your window box garden in. Watch as the sun hits the area and take note of the time and for how long it gets sunlight. This will give you an idea what plants you can use.
Instead of planting seeds in the beginning, it is a good option to buy seedlings or small plants. This way you can choose plants that are already stable and can maintain a good growth pattern. Propagation can be done later on to fill your window box garden.
Group them together
If it’s your first time to buy certain types of plants, do not hesitate to ask the folks from the garden center about its behavior. Some plants prefer shaded environments such as herbs and other flowering plants. On the other hand, some plants prefer a lot of sunlight. Group together plants with the same behavior for better maintenance.
Layer the heights
It is best to pick plants with varying heights to add depth to the arrangement. Plan the arrangement right after buying your seedlings or small plants. Being able to see each kind and appreciate how they complement each other boosts aesthetics. As much as it adds beauty, it also functions as a way to disperse the sunlight distribution for all the plants.
Have a look at your space before choosing your color scheme. Take note of the window box color, the wall color or even the backsplash. Find the colors that will complement or accent the shades of the area.
Flowers and foliage
Mix flowers and foliage for added contrast. Consider even the shape and size of the foliage—is it small, round, tall, thin or curly, is it flat or textured? Mix and match various types and arrange them with careful planning.
Mind the drainage
A good box garden needs an efficient draining system. This will avoid clumping or rotting. Make sure that drainage holes can be found throughout the box.
Choose your soil wisely
If your window box garden will be hanging, avoid using heavy soils at all costs. This includes clay-like bases. Opt for airy or light mixtures. You can make a mixture of Garden Soil, Compost and coco peat. Succulent substrates can be your reference. It should be light, porous and easily dried.