Copy These Window Boxes

A healthy, blooming window box can give the appearance of a lush garden, even if the rest of the landscape is sparsely planted. That's because window boxes place flowering specimens right at eye level, accenting windows on a home the same way long eyelashes bring out the beauty of eyes.  Of all of the improvements a gardener can make to the flowering landscape, installing a blooming window box yields more gains for less money than other renovations. However, not every flower will thrive in a window box, and a plant that outgrows its box or never gets big enough to peer over the side is a waste of resources. Copy one of these proven combinations in your window box, and wait for the compliments to pour in.

  • 01 of 10

    Trailing Plants for Window Boxes

    Window Box Trailing Plants

    Spencer Means/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0 

    Trailing plants provide one of the three essential elements in container design: your window box should have a thriller, a chiller, and a spiller. The thrillers are your tall plants, like caladiums or gladiolus. Chillers are mounding plants, like impatiens and mums. Spillers like ivy and sweet potato vines will flow over the sides of your window box, sometimes extending all the way to the ground.

  • 02 of 10

    Tulips and Hyacinths

    Spring Window Box
    Lynne Brotchie/Photolibrary/Getty Images

    The vibrant hues of purple hyacinths, yellow daffodils, red tulips, yellow violas, and red and yellow primroses are most welcoming after a dreary winter. The trick to success with this blooming mix is to pre-chill your bulbs for at least 12 weeks. Keep your bulbs constant temperatures of 35 to 48 degrees, using an unheated garage, a cold frame, or your refrigerator. Forcing them in the window box container itself is easiest. When spring arrives, move the container to its sunny spot. When you see the bulbs sprouting, add your primroses and violets. A few variegated trailing ivy plants complete the look. 

  • 03 of 10

    Pink Shade Lovers

    Pink Window Box
    Peter Anderson/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

    A shade garden does not preclude the ability to grow a blooming window box. The impatiens, begonias, and lobelia flowers in this planting thrive in partial shade, especially situations with some morning sun and afternoon shade. Feed these hungry annuals every week with a diluted flower fertilizer, and the blooms won't stop until first frost. 

  • 04 of 10

    Foliage Accents

    Red Pansies and Grape Hyacinths
    Brian North/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

    Don't overlook your greens, as foliage provides much needed texture to all flower gardens, including those in containers. Ferns and grasses complement a cool weather planting of red pansies and grape hyacinths. If you can't bear to give up limited real estate to plants that don't bloom, choose flowers with interesting foliage colors and shapes to add interest. 

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  • 05 of 10

    Rustic Window Box

    Rustic Window Box

    Andrea_44/Flickr/CC BY 2.0


    Window boxes don't need to be prefabricated, or even attached to a house, to serve an ornamental purpose in the rustic garden. This homeowner constructed a rustic window box from scrap wood, and attached it to a shed that needed a decorative touch. Window boxes made from recycled materials or unfinished wood may not last as long in the landscape as treated wood or composite containers, but you can extend the life of a rustic container by lining it with plastic and installing plants that don't need frequent watering, like Mexican zinnias or purslane.

  • 06 of 10

    Petunias and More

    Purple Window Box
    Ellen Rooney/Photolibrary/Getty Images

    Today's variety of petunia hybrids means you can design a window box of virtually any color with this flower as the focal point. This combination adds penstemon, lobelia, and verbena in varying shades of purple and magenta that pop against the white siding of the home. If the tobacco budworm is getting the better of your petunia blooms, million bells makes an excellent substitute. 

  • 07 of 10

    Formal Flowers

    Formal Window Box
    Ellen Rooney/Photolibrary/Getty Images

    People sometimes think of window boxes as a cottage garden staple, but the right design makes them fit in to a formal garden design as well. Think repetition and a simple color palette, like this combination of white pelargoniums, ivy, and box (Buxus) topiary specimens. Lavender plants also work well in a formal garden scheme. 

  • 08 of 10

    Explore Coleus Varieties

    Window Box with Coleus

    Spencer Means/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

    Flowering annuals wax and wane throughout the season as moisture and temperature conditions vary, but you can always count on the coleus to provide consistent color in the window box. Popular red varieties include 'King Crab,' 'Fireworks,' 'Hot Sauce,' and 'Ruby Slipper.'

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  • 09 of 10

    Matching Window Boxes

    Matching Window Boxes

    Spencer Means/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0 

    Unity and repetition is pleasing to the eye in the landscape, and nowhere is this more true than in a pair of window boxes. Especially if the window boxes are side by side, you must plant not only the same specimens, but the same number and in the same order to prevent a poorly thought out or even weedy appearance. Yellow calla lilies and tuberous begonias tolerate a shady location on the north side of the house, while philodendrons leave their houseplant origins behind and take on a new level of elegance as a trailing plant in these containers.

  • 10 of 10

    Wall-to-Wall Flowers

    Hayrack Planter
    Josie Elias/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    If you want to achieve a window box that is so smothered in blooms that the container itself is obscured, there are a few considerations. First, choose a hayrack planter. Line these metal planters with coco coir or sphagnum moss, and tuck plants into gaps across the facade of the planter. Second, choose flowers that bloom heavily and often, like these pink and purple petunias, million bells, and pelargoniums. To duplicate a window box like the one pictured you need about five pelargoniums, 12 petunias, and three to five filler flowers like sweet alyssum or fleabane daisies. Finally, deadhead and feed your plants each week to ensure that they bloom without ceasing.