Bulbs for Window-Boxes and other Ornamental Containers

With care it is possible to have colour in window-boxes and other ornamental containers throughout the year but this does require some thoughtful planning. You must ensure that there are no colour clashes although suitable contrasts in colour and habit add to the interest and effect.

Planning a window-box display is equally as important as planning a garden. Almost any plants, from dwarf evergreens and shrubs to bedding plants and seeds, will flourish in a well-tended window-box but the size of the plants should be related both to the size of the box and the surroundings.

Where there are permanent occupants in the window-box, there is usually sufficient space to allow a few other subjects to be planted and it is therefore advisable to put in something which will prove colourful, not only during spring and summer, but for other times too. Alternatively, where the boxes are cleared several times a year, some thought must be given as to the plants needed to provide a continuous display. This is easier where inner movable boxes are used, for certain plants can be started into growth while the earlier display is finishing.

As in the garden, autumn and spring are the chief planting months. However, you can have a few plants growing in pots at any time of the year ready for replacing items which may die or otherwise prove unsuitable for window-box culture.



Bulbs are the window-box gardener’s best investment and it is not without good reason that they are so widely grown and depended upon. They are hardy and rewarding, thriving with the minimum of attention and producing colour freely whether in full sun or partial shade. There are bulbs to provide a show virtually round the year and the various types and varieties not only complement each other but they can be interplanted freely with other plants.

The greatest variety is found in spring-flowering subjects which are planted the previous autumn. It pays to buy good quality bulbs for the embryo flower is, or should be, already in the bulb when you buy it. A little extra leafmould or peat and silver sand will help to provide ideal growing conditions, but never allow bulbs to come into direct contact with manure. A trowel is the best tool for planting. Holes made with any other form of pointed implement are not always completely filled in which results in an air pocket at the base of the bulb.

The following is a list of bulbs suitable for growing in window-boxes but it is by no means comprehensive Reference to catalogues will reveal an almost unbelievably wide range of bulbs of varying colours, heights and habit. For boxes at windows and on balconies, it is advisable to choose the shorter growing bulbs as winds can play havoc with tall stemmed plants and staking in boxes is not particularly attractive. Nevertheless there is a wide choice and type of bulb and scores upon scores of varieties that will yield big dividends in colour and pleasure.

The list includes: aconites; Anemone blanda; Chionodoxa luciliae and C. sardensis; the winter, spring and autumn-flowering crocuses; Erythronium dens-canis; Fritillaria meleagris; snowdrops both single and double flowered; dwarf iris including danfordiae, histrioides major, reticulata and its named hybrids; and muscari.

There are many dwarf narcissi which are ideal for window-boxes and balcony boxes including bulbocodium conspicuus; cyclamineus and its varieties; the tiny minimus; triandrus albus or Angel’s Tears, and the sturdy short-stemmed triandrus varieties like Moonshine and Silver Chimes and that outstanding miniature trumpet daffodil, W. P. Milner. Jonquils too always create interest.

Hyacinths (see video above) are simply superb for window-box cultivation. Scillas do particularly well in boxes, including bifolia,sibirica Spring Beauty and tubergeniana for early flowering and the taller campanulata for later flowering.



The brilliantly coloured species tulips provide a wide choice, including clusiana, eichleri, persica, praestans, tarda, the lily- flowered kaufmanniana and short-stemmed greigii varieties, many with attractively coloured leaves. The Single Early and Double Early tulips are available in many varieties. For later flowering, choose the Double Late or Peony-flowered varieties. The stems are taller but they look superb towards the back of boxes.

With tubs, urns and other larger receptacles on terraces, steps, paved areas or other focal points in the garden, one does not have to be concerned with the height factor. In these containers narcissi ranging from the golden and the white Trumpets to the Large and Small-cupped, the Doubles, the Jonquils and Poeticus are all ideal.

All the bulbs mentioned as suitable for window and balcony-boxes will do well in urns, tubs and larger receptacles, either on their own or combined with selections of plants. Hyacinths freely planted in bigger receptacles will produce a long lasting show in a host of colour schemes.

07. July 2011 by admin
Categories: Bulbs and Corms, Container Gardening, Gardening Ideas, Plants | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Bulbs for Window-Boxes and other Ornamental Containers


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