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How to make a flower box at home

The Boston Parks and Recreation Horticulture Division is here to help you make your very own flower box!

Ever look at a beautiful flower box while walking down the street and think to yourself, “I wish I could make one of those.” Well, look no further, our Horticulture Division is here to help you get started.

We are all spending more time at home these days, and many people are finding that gardening is the perfect way to pass the time. Given the limited amount of space many of us have at home, flower boxes are perfect for the urban gardener. 

Anthony 'Tony' Hennesey

To help you get started with your flower box, we took a visit to the City of Boston greenhouse at Franklin Park to meet with Anthony “Tony” Hennessy, Superintendent of Horticulture for the Park’s Department. He has worked for the department for more than 22 years. Tony and his team design many of the beautiful flower displays you see throughout the City in our parks and street corners.

Check out our interview with Tony below! 

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Watch: How to make a flower box

Questions and answers with Tony

Questions and answers with Tony
Tony's Answer: 

You should place your flower box in an area that gets 4-6 hours of direct sunlight every day.

You also want to make sure the box is in a location where you can easily water it. You’ll want to water the flower box every other day, or daily if it is really hot out.

Tony's Answer:

For a successful flower box, you will need five basic supplies:

  1. The box (obviously). Flower boxes can range in size and shape. As long as you have one that has drainage holes on the bottom, you can use any type of box that will fit under your window, on your porch, or in your garden. 
  2. Hooks or brackets to hang the box. Depending on how many flowers you use, a finished flower box can weigh 20 - 40 pounds when watered. For this reason, you want to make sure you have a sturdy pair of brackets to safely hang the flower box. You can find these brackets at pretty much any garden or hardware store. 
  3. Potting soil. Make sure to use a variety that contains vermiculite. This will aid in drainage. I like to moisten my potting soil before planting my flower box to cut down on dust. Use just enough water to lightly wet the soil and mix thoroughly. 
  4. Fertilizer. I would suggest a “slow release” fertilizer for your flower boxes. Any brand will do and you won’t need much, just a small handful. 
  5. Flowers of course! I would suggest using a variety of flowers and leafy vines that are different colors, shapes and heights. This will give your box a very full effect.
Tony's Answer:

I like to use a variety of plants. Using plants with different heights and textures enables you to use the space both above and below the actual flower box. It gives your arrangement that “full” effect like many of the professionally done window boxes around the City. I like to think in threes when doing my plantings:

  1. First, you’ll want to use a plant that takes up space in the area above the actual box. In today’s arrangement we are using Blue Salvia. This plant tends to grow tall and stands up straight, giving the arrangement height. 
  2. Second, you’ll want to choose your “filler plant” that will take up the majority of the flower box. This plant is often the most colorful and appropriate for the season. Today, we are using red Coleus and red, white, and blue Petunias because the Fourth of July is coming up. 
  3. Thirdly, you’ll want to use a plant that takes up space in the area below your flower box, and will hang off the box to create a nice, dramatic look. It’s best to use leafy plants to create this effect. Today we are using Vinca and Potato Vines to create this look.
Tony's Answer:

To keep the plants looking fresh and healthy, I would suggest changing up your flower boxes up to four times a year with the seasons. It’s a good way to keep gardening a year-round interest. 

Here are some suggestions for seasonal plantings: 

Tony's Answer:
  • Make sure to not overfill the flower box with soil. Depending on how tall your plants are, you should only fill the box with soil about half-way up the box.
  • It is best to set up a workstation to arrange the flower box instead of trying to hang the flower box first. Doing the arrangement in your workstation will save you a lot of clean up in the end.
  • Some people put small rocks or packing peanuts at the bottom of their flower boxes, I wouldn't recommend this. It can sometimes cause the flower arrangement to be very heavy. As long as your window box has the proper drainage holes at the bottom of the box, you should be good to go.
  • Get creative! Mix up colors and textures to create an eye-catching display. Need inspiration? Visit the Boston Public Garden and check out some of our displays. 

Local florists

Visit these Boston-based florists to get your flower box supplies: 

Name Address Neighborhood Phone
Cedar Grove Gardens 911 Adams St, Dorchester Center, MA 02124 Dorchester 617-825-8582
Colleen's Flower Shop 912 Dorchester Ave, Dorchester, MA 02125 Dorchester 617-282-0468
Central Paint & True Value 1206 River St, Hyde Park, MA 02136 Hyde Park 617-364-2600
Ferrara's Greenhouse 19 Emmett Street, Hyde Park 02127 Hyde Park 617-361-3286
Amanda's Flower Shop 12 Tremont St, Brighton, MA 02135 Brighton 617-782-0686
Mahoney's Garden Center 449 Western Ave Brighton 617-787-8885
Birch Flower Shop 719 South St, Roslindale, MA 02131 Roslindale 617-323-7805
True Value: West Roxbury 1871 Centre St, West Roxbury, MA 02132 West Roxbury 617-325-9494
Davis & Sawin Florist 2097 Centre St, Boston, MA 02132 West Roxbury 617-323-4237
The Centerpiece Flower Shop 2051 Centre St, West Roxbury, MA 02132 West Roxbury 617-323-6262
Globos y Fiestas 268 Bennington St, Boston, MA 02128 East Boston 617-569-4908
Stapelton Floral 635 E Broadway, Boston, MA 02127 South Boston 617-269-7271
Micro Plant Studio 365 W Broadway, Boston, MA 02127 South Boston 617-855-8785
Niche 619 Tremont St South End 857-753-4254
Walk Hill Florist 337 Walk Hill Street Roslindale 617-522-1293
Exotic Flowers 609 American Legion Hwy Boston, MA 02131 Roslindale 617-942-4803
Boston Gardner 2131 Washington St. Roxbury 617-606-7065
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