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Recommendations for Window Box in Direct Sunlight?

I'm planning to plant some plants on a window box. I would like to get some recommendations as to which plants to get. This is the situation:

I live in New York City.
The container is about 24" by 6". It says its capacity is 15 quarts.
It will be set up outside one of my apartment windows, on the third floor.
The window box will receive direct sunlight for most of the day.
I'm new to this, so I would like plants that require little maintenance.
I'm looking for plants that look beautiful, colorful. Maybe one or two edible vegetable plants if possible.
I would like the plants to be perennial, unless there is a good reason for choosing annuals.

Oh, and I'm completely new to gardening, but I'm excited to start.

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Your best bet would be annuals, because most perennials have fairly extensive root systems. You might be able to plant a few bulbs, but I don't know if you could just plant them and forget them. You might have to dig them up and replant them each year.

Your box is quite limited in space. Petunias or geraniums could grow well in the spot you have, but would need daily watering. I always consider petunias to be a one season plant, over and done with after the first good frost. But you can take cuttings from geraniums and winter them over, which gives you new plants to set out for the following year. It's not difficult to do. :)

I don't know about veggies that would work in a box of the dimensions you noted. Lettuce comes to mind, but I think it would bolt (go to seed) very quickly because of the heat. It becomes bitter once it bolts.

There are some herbs that might do well in your window box. Many herbs like warm, rather dry conditions. Basil, rosemary, thyme, and others might thrive there. Alas, they don't have particularly bright flowers.

There are plenty of other annual flowers that would work. Is there a particular color you might prefer? :)
Last edited by Kisal on Sat Mar 20, 2010 12:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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have you considered some peppers(chili or sweet). They are usually small enough for containers. Some of them bear fruits that can be rather decortive. Pepper also can be companion planted with many type of herbs and vegitables. Onions(small kind) and carrots all do well planted close to sweet peppers.

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Kisal wrote:There are plenty of other annual flowers that would work. Is there a particular color you might prefer? :)
I would like a variety of colors, but I don't know if I could produce a multi-color garden in such a limited space. If I was to choose one or two colors, they would probably be yellow and blue..

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Oh, and I can always exchange the container for a 36'' version if it will make things easier for me. I just bought it last night.

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OK. I'm glad to see you would consider replacing the box because the width and DEPTH of the box concerns me. Against a building receiving full sun, it's going to dry out very quickly. Also, most plants will do better in a deeper container. I'm actually thinking 10" if possible, but minimum 8" if you fill the container to within 1" of the top. If you are hanging this rather then setting it on a solid surface, make sure that you use a sturdy and secure method as this will get heavy. Make sure to get a well-draining potting mix that uses Perlite.

And you might still need to water twice a day in the hottest days of the year.

I would say the plant selection needs to be full-sun and drought tolerant.
Herbs are definite possibility. But even cold-hardy perennials may have problems outside in the NYC winter.

- I'm going to start with Little Gem Marigolds -- citrus-like flowers are edible and adds nice color to salads
‣ Calendula
‣ Chamomile
‣ Sage
‣ Thyme
‣ Tarragon
‣ Oregano
‣ Lavender
- Nasturtiums (related to watercress) -- edible pepper-flavored leaves, flowers, and seedpods
‣ Aloe Vera
- I agree with hot pepper. Sweet pepper will probably get too big. -- Jalapeno, maybe? My 1 yr old plant is just over 12" tall and currently is sporting 10 green fruits and 10 flowers in the kitchen window next to the computer. You can pot it up at the end of August in a 3 gal (9" pot) and bring it inside. (You'll need to provide supplemental light -- I have it in a SE window AND use a clamp on utility light fixture with 100W equivalent daylight CFL)
**Make sure you get the variety of hot pepper that doesn't grow big. I'm growing another pepper this year -- A SPICE Pepper called Aji Dulce that grows to 18" high, described as an heirloom from Venezuela, 1"x2" fruit with pointy ends (color green > orange-red > red) Habanero aroma but sweet/spicy, with delicious trace heat and complex black pepper/coriander flavor.
‣ Strawberry might be possible
‣ Oenothera (Evening Primrose)
‣ Succulents like Hens and Chicks. There is a wide selection of colors and shapes

Keep in mind, NOT all of these plants will fit in your window box.

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Ok, I got the 36'' container. It is about 7'' deep, but that's the maximum depth available.

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Herbs for the win, like I suggested on Anandtech.

My little pepper plant last year did moderately well in a pot and made an attractive contrast to the thyme I had planted around it.

For flowers, what about planting statice? It's an annual, likes full sun, is drought resistant, and the flowers stay colorful and pretty even when the plant dies because they dry wonderfully. Blue and yellow are both available.


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Ok, this is the list of different types of seeds I got:


They're all annuals. In the back of each seed packet it says the plant spacing should be 8-12 inches. Is that much space really necessary? If I follow the spacing directions then I'm going to end up with just 3 or 4 plants...

I also got some moisture-control potting mix and separate perlite. What's the right ratio of soil to perlite to mix?
Last edited by Arcadio on Wed Mar 24, 2010 9:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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I will add some edible plants if it's a good idea, considering the space. I said I got the 36'' container, but I couldn't safely place it outside my window, so I got stuck with the 24'' container. It's about 24'' by 8'' by 8''.

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The traditional spacing requirements are for row gardeners, people who have the space for their plants.

I have to use close spacing for my plants; there are a couple of schools of gardening (Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening and John Jeavons' BioIntensive methods) that endorse tighter spacing. Since you'll be hovering over these plants, able to watch them closely for insect attacks, disease, need for water, etc., go ahead and plant the seeds at distances which seem to make sense, given the size of the plant.

What I really do is plant two/three seeds in each finger-push ("hole"), and each planting location is 4 to 6 inches away from its neighbor, and offset the second "row." IOW, if I used 4" spacings for my first pass, I now walk my fingers halfway between two planting locations and then 4" away from that row. I've established the distance for the new row, and I continue with double-seeding the finger-pushes. Carrots worked at 4", but flowers might be cramped; the height of the mature plants isn't so important for this as the WIDTH is. Ideally, you want to position the seeds so that the edges of the plants will *just* touch each other.


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