The Best Plants for a Windowsill

You may have a big green thumb, but only a tiny windowsill to take it out on. Fear not. There are plenty of small plants that can make a big impact anywhere. Follow these top tips on how to get the most out of your window sill this spring. 

From soil to sun, here are some expert tips on how to get the most out of your window dressing. 

The Box:

Window boxes are so very chic, but before getting down with even the smallest handful of dirt to plant there, secure your window box! “There is a range of support systems you can purchase from hardware stores or garden centres which make installing a window box safe and simple,” advises Georgina Reid, Founder and Editor of The Plant Hunter.

Depending on which plants you grow, your window box can vary in size. “The smallest I would suggest for a window box would be 150mm wide and deep, but this will really depend on the location and access around the box,” she says. “You don’t want it to obstruct a pathway or cause structural damage to your house by being too heavy!”

Safety Steps:

1. Make sure the window box is securely attached to the window/wall. “This is very important!,” urges Georgina. “If you are unsure, ask a professional to attach it properly.”
2. Potting mix and plants can be heavier than you think, especially when the mix is saturated with water, so calculate the weight of the pot, wet potting mix, and plant and make sure the structure will hold it successfully. “Use a lightweight plastic or fibreglass composite pot if possible - rather than ceramic or stone,” Georgina suggests.
3. Ensure you can easily access the window box for maintenance.
4. Plant selection is extremely important, says Georgina. “Understand the growing conditions your plant will be subject to and make sure you pick a plant that is suited to them,” she advises. If you are unsure still, use this checklist as a guideline:

o Is it very windy or protected?
o How much sun does it get per day?
o What direction does it face?
o What size planters can I install?
o Is it under an awning or will it receive rainfall?

“When you have the answers to these, research plants that will grow under the site conditions. If you are unsure, visit your local gardening centre and ask for their suggestions.”

Top Plant Picks:

1. Succulents are great as they are extremely hardy and sculptural, suggests Georgina. “They generally do best in full sun with little water useful varieties include Crassula Ovate and Echeveria Elegans.

2. When it comes to herbs, flat leaf parsley is generally quite robust and will grow in full sun and water a few times a week, notes Georgina. “Perennial herbs such as thyme, oregano and rosemary are all quite tough. They love full sun and not too much water!” she adds.

3. “For shady window boxes plants such as Sansevieria trifasciata 'Hahnii' - dwarf mother in laws tongue - are great as they are virtually un-killable!,” she laughs.

4. The French favourite - Geraniums - are a wonderful window box plant seen all throughout Paris. “They are extremely hardy and love lots of hot sun.”

Soil Selection:

“Never use soil in window boxes, always use potting mix,” Georgina urges.  “It is made specifically for pots and allows for good drainage and is much lighter in weight than soil. Soil will be extremely heavy and tends to not drain well in pots." Georgina's top tip is to always buy the best quality potting mix you can. “Make sure it has been approved by Australian Standards.”

Wonder Water:

There are no general rules with watering plants, assures Georgina, adding that it really depends on the plant itself. “If you have cactus in your window box it would need no water. If you have annual herbs like basil you would need to water it at least three times a week in summer.” Translation? Use your head, water with a gentle hand and see what works. 

Sun Smart:

The exposure to the sun in relation to the sprigs on your windowsill something you should take into account prior to planting, notes Georgina. “Many plants love sun, but some plants - like rainforest plants - love shade,” she remarks. “Research the plant, understand what it needs to flourish, put it in a spot it will love and it will be happy!”

Image Credit: Daniel Shipp

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