Useful Window Box Terms

APHIDS : Another name for greenflies or aphis. They suck sap from soft-stemmed plants, causing debilitation as well as spreading viruses from one plant to another.

BLACKFLIES : Similar to aphids, but black. They especially attack bean crops in gardens and then spread to other soft-stemmed plants, many that grow in window-boxes and other containers.

CASCADING : A gentle sweep downwards, as opposed to trailing when plant stems tumble vertically.

CASEMENT WINDOW : A type of window which is secured on vertical hinges and therefore opens out with its bottom edge only slightly above the window sill. With this type of window, it is essential that window boxes are fitted below the sill.

COMPOST ADDITIVES : Materials added to composts to enable them to retain extra moisture.

CONCRETE TROUGHS : Ideal for positioning on a patio and for growing large as well as trailing plants.

CORK : A material used to retain moisture in compost in window boxes in Victorian times. It was chopped up and added to composts, but it has now been replaced by other moisture-retaining materials such as vermiculite and perlite.

DEAD-HEADING : The removal of faded and dead flowers to encourage the development of further ones.

DOUBLE WINDOW BOXES : Occasionally, one windowbox is secured beneath another to create a better display of plants. The top windowbox is positioned under a window, with the top of other one 30-38cm/12-15in below its base.

DRIP-TRAYS : Shallow trays sometimes fitted into the bases of window boxes and troughs to prevent water dripping on people or plants which are below.

ETAGERE GARDENING : A type of gardening introduced from France where plants in pots are grown on shelves fitted to wall, usually indoors but sometimes outside.

FACE SIDES : These are the sides of plants that are most attractive. Position plants so that these areas are facing towards the front of a windowbox.

FROST-TENDER : Plants that are killed or seriously damaged by exposure to frost. This especially applies to half-hardy annuals in spring, as well as tender perennials.

FUNGICIDE : A substance for killing fungal diseases.

GLASS FIBRE : Frequently used to make window boxes and troughs. 

HALF-HARDY ANNUALS: Tender annuals, raised in gentle warmth in late winter or early spring, slowly acclimatized to outdoor conditions and planted into containers or borders outdoors when all risk of frost has passed. 

HARDENING OFF: Acclimatizing plants to outdoor conditions. It is especially associated with half-hardy, summer-flowering plants in spring. 

HARMONIZING: Creating colour-pleasing combinations of plants with their backgrounds.

INNER TROUGHS: Usually plastic, sometimes galvanized metal, troughs used to go inside wooden window boxes to enable spring, summer and winter displays to be changed quickly. They also help to prevent the wood decaying through being continually wet throughout the year. 

INSECTICIDE : A substance for killing insect pests on plants. 

LOAM-BASED COMPOSTS : Composts formed of a mixture of loam (good quality topsoil), peat and sharp sand. They do not retain as much moisture as peat-based types, but have a better reserve of plant foods, especially those that are only needed in quite small amounts. 

MASONRY FIXINGS: Special wall fixings, inserted into holes drilled in walls. Screws can be screwed into them to secure a bracket on which a windowbox can be positioned. 

MIXING AND MATCHING : Arranging plants so that they complement each other and form an attractive feature. 

NIPPING OUT : Removing the growing tip of a shoot to encourage the development of side shoots.

PEA-SHINGLE : Shingle each piece about 6mm/ΒΌ in wide. It must be clean.

PEAT-BASED COMPOSTS : Compost formed of peat. These retain more moisture than loam-based types and are especially suited for use in window boxes, where the amount of compost in relation to the number of plants is quite small.    

PERLITE : A moisture-retentive material added to composts to increase their ability to retain moisture.

PLASTIC TROUGHS : Frequently used as inner troughs for wooden window boxes. Occasionally, however, they are used on their own and positioned on walls or at the edges of balconies. They can also be used at the edges of flat roofs. 

RECONSTITUTED STONE : Frequently used to create window boxes and large troughs for positioning at ground level. 

RECYCLED CELLULOSE FIBRE : Occasionally used to create troughs. Ideal for positioning at the edges of flat roofs to create cascading colour throughout the summer. 

SASH WINDOWS : A type of window where an area of glass can be raised vertically. With this type, window boxes can be put directly on the sill. 

SLOW-ACTING FERTILIZERS : Frequently added to composts in window boxes and other containers to ensure that plants have an adequate supply of food, especially throughout summer months. 

SPACINGS : Plants in containers are planted closer together than when in borders in gardens. This is to ensure that a spectacular display of flowers is created from early to late summer.

SPRING DISPLAYS : These are planted in late summer or early autumn. Bulbs and biennial plants are used to create massed displays of colour in spring. 

STOPPING : Nipping out the growing point of a shoot to encourage the development of side shoots.

SUMMER DISPLAYS : These are planted in late spring or early summer, mainly with summer-flowering bedding plants or tender perennials. These plants are soon damaged by frost and cannot be placed outside until all risk of freezing night temperatures has passed. At that stage, the trough holding the spring display is removed and replaced with the summer-flowering one.

TENDER PERENNIALS : Some of these plants, such as geraniums (pelargoniums) and fuchsias are grown in window boxes but cannot be put outside until all risk of frost has passed. 

TRAILING PLANTS : Those with stems that trail almost vertically, as opposed to cascading types that have a more arching nature. 

VERMICULITE: A moisture-retentive material added to compost to assist in the retention of water. 

WINDOWBOX : An open-topped, box-like structure up to 90cm/3ft long and about 23cm/9in deep and wide that is used to create homes for plants. Most are made of wood and, preferably, have an inner plastic or galvanized-metal trough. Other window boxes are made of materials such as glass fibre and reconstituted stone, but wood is by far the most used material. 

WINTER DISPLAYS : These create displays from late summer (when summer-flowering plants are killed by low temperatures) to when spring-flowering displays are creating colour. These displays are mainly formed of colourful and interestingly-shaped evergreen plants, although there are several flowering ones. Early-flowering bulbs can also be used. 

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