The Q&A Archives: Maximum Visual Impact from Windoxboxes

Question: We built a patio last year and put a 20" planting box about 25 feet long bordering the patio. It faces north and is bordered on the east by a garage. I planted impatiens last year and they did nothing when the same plants next to the house were fabulous. The area does get a lot of water since I hose off the patio quite often and have several potted plants setting around. What can I plant in the way of a perennial flowering shrub, or plant that will flower most of the season and not get over three feet tall. I did find a bush that had small yellow flowers on it and very soft leaves but I forgot the name of it. Please help! I hate leaving all that space bare. Thanks for yourtime. Great Web Page. Thanks Arliss Schultz Tecumseh, NE

Answer: To get the maximum visual impact from your planter box, I suggest you plant a mixture of perennials and annuals that can tolerate partial shade. You could choose from compact varieties of perennials such as hardy Cranesbill geraniums, which bloom for most of the summer in various colors; bleeding heart (Dicentra spp.); and hostas (for beautiful foliage). To prolong bloom time, intersperse the perennials with annuals such as impatiens (worth trying again) and begonias. That yellow flowering shrub might have been a potentilla. It will be hard to find a flowering shrub that flowers all season. Most only flower a few weeks and then finish. Your local garden center is worth a visit to see what appeals to you. Lastly, but of upmost importance, makesure the soil in your planter is enriched with organic matter such as aged manure or compost to increase the water-holding capacity of the soil. Even shady planters tend to dry out rapidly, and this can stress your plants.

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