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Your summer window box displays may still be in bloom, but with autumn isn’t far away. Now is the perfect time to start planning for your autumn window boxes. It’s a beautiful time of the year; so why not create your own autumn themed window boxes and capture the spirit of the season.

What to grow

During early Autumn, it can still be quite warm. If you want your window boxes to last right through the season, however, you will need to add hardy plants to your window boxes. Hardy plants will be able to withstand early frosts. The last thing you want is your window boxes looking tired and wilted as the season progresses. When buying plants and flowers, think about autumn and its colours. Flowering plants such as blooming pansies and violas are sold in flower but will stop flowering when conditions are cold. Real winter pansies will flower right through until spring. Pansies come in various colours great for autumn, such as orange, yellow, red, and white.

Ornamental cabbage is another good choice, as these will last well into winter. Again, these come in great autumnal colours and look interesting and pretty in a window box. The top choice of plant that can withstand bad weather well is flowering heather. They come in various colours and team well with evergreen shrubs. Other plants to consider are acers, dahlias and ornamental grasses.

Martyn Cox from Saga Magazine gives this advice for choosing plants, “The best way of coming up with a plant combination is to head to the garden centre, pick a centrepiece for the container then take plants from the shelves to see what looks good together. Don’t be afraid to arrange and rearrange plants until you are happy with the way they look.”

How to do it

If you already have a window box: clean it, and remove any old soil or debris. If you don’t have a window box and need to go and buy one, ensure you measure your window sill first. When you have your window box, put a few stones along the bottom of it to stop drainage holes clogging up. Fill your box with compost, leaving a couple of centimetres gap between the soil and the top of the box. Keeping the plants in their pots at this stage, arrange them by putting the taller ones at the back and trailing plants at the front. When you’re happy with the display, take the plants out of their pots, cover in the compost and firm down.

Window box maintenance

Make sure that you use compost that drains easily, make your own by mixing 10-20% perlite or polystyrene granules with multipurpose compost. Place boxes in sheltered areas if possible, to deflect rain. If it gets really cold or the weather gets stormy, take your boxes into a shed or cover them in thick plastic to help protect them. Watering shouldn’t be a problem during autumn, but check the soil regularly to make sure it’s not drying out.