Monty Don gives advice on using a window box for plants

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Monty Don was back helping gardeners prepare their window boxes. In tonight’s episode of Gardeners’ World, the presenter was organising a planter for a sunny location, and he shared some “rules” that gardeners should follow if they want the plants in a window box or pot to successfully survive and thrive in the summer heat.  

Monty began with: “I’m going to plant up a window box; I like window boxes, you see them from inside the house, they’re almost like houseplants, and part of your view of the world, and of course they’re part of the public place of the house. 

“And whatever you’re growing in them, the rules of gardening still apply. 

“So, this is going to be a window box for a sunny position, so that will affect what I plant and how I plant it. 

“The first thing to do doesn’t matter what your situation or what your window box is made out of, it must have drainage.” 

He tipped the planter over and added: “You can see I’ve drilled holes in the bottom of this, lots of drainage. 

“If you want to keep the drainage good, it’s a good idea to sit it on something, don’t let it sit flat on the windowsill but on blocks of some kind. 

“So having made the drainage holes, I want to make sure they don’t get blocked, and to do that I’m going to use crocs (crockery). 

“We keep all our broken pots and if I just put them loosely along the bottom, what it will do is stop those holes from clogging up. 

“If you don’t have crocs, you can use stones – anything that allows the moisture to go through but the compost won’t.” 

He continued: “Now because this is a sunny, south-facing windowsill, I’m going to plant plants that have adapted to hot dry conditions. 

“I’ve made a potting mix – which is my standard potting mix and lots and lots of grit, as much as 50/50. 

“Put a layer on the bottom over the crocks. 

“Now the key plant of this arrangement is going to be this Prostrate Rosemary,” he said. “I love Prostrate Rosemary; it wants to grow horizontally and then when it comes to an edge, will spill down in a lovely aromatic cascade and it has these beautiful blue flowers in early spring. 

“The other great advantage of rosemary is that it’s evergreen, this is going to look good all year round. 

“Now in between I’m going to put an ornamental garlic called Tulbaghia violacea, it’ll die back every year and grow back stronger. 

“You can see this is fairly pot-bound,” and Monty had some advice for anyone else with a pot-bound plant: “If you do have a pot-bound plant, just break the roots lightly and that will trigger regrowth. 

“Now this has chive-like foliage and alium-like flowers – you can eat both of them, and will flower for months on end from early summer, late spring, well into autumn. 

“And these will rise up, the flowers will reach nearly two-feet tall.” 

To complete the window box, Monty explained: “I’ve got one more plant to add, and this is a summer bulb from South Africa, and they are Nerine. 

“They produce a long stem and then there’s this starburst of flower in late summer and autumn. 

“Now the secret of planting Nerine’s, is unlike most bulbs that you plant deep, you keep half the bulb, ie all the snout, above the ground sticking well out.” 

The presenter finished the segment with: “It’s worth remembering, although these are plants that love baking heat and they need good drainage, they do need water – water them thoroughly once a week and the water should run freely through and out the pot. 

“That is now ready to go on your windowsill, and next week, I will be making a window box for a shady position.” 

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