Window Box Flowers for Shady Spots

Shade-Loving Flower for Spring and Summer

Window box with cordyline, viola, foxtail fern, petunia and ivy

Georgianna Lane / Getty Images

There are several benefits to adding a window box flower garden to your shady landscape. Although you may initially feel disappointed at the inability to grow such window box favorites as marigolds and verbena, there are a number of flowers that would scorch and wither away in a sunny container. Your shady window box won’t dry out as fast as one in full sun. A vibrant window box garden will brighten up a façade that may seem dark or unwelcoming, especially one planted with some pastel or white blooms.

  • 01 of 06

    An Enduring Mix of Perennials and Annuals

    Coral Bells and Lobelia Window Box
    Nick Sarebi

    This smart planting combination uses perennials like coral bells and annuals like the cobalt blue trailing flowers of lobelia. Lobelia tends to peter out in hot weather; if that happens, just replace it with a summer annual like impatiens.

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  • 02 of 06

    Begonias Thrive in Many Situations

    Begonia Window Box
    Andrew Gray

    The begonia is a versatile flower, both in appearance and in performance. Many gardeners are familiar with the wax begonia, semperflorans, sold in many home improvement stores in shades of white, red, and pink. Tuberous begonias are beloved for their rose-like appearance. Dragon wing and angel wing begonias have foliage as showy as their flowers. Begonias are bothered by few insect pests, can grow in sun or shade, and can survive moderate drought.

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  • 03 of 06

    The Luxury of Orchids

    Orchid Window Box
    Erin Olson

    Surprisingly, a window box display is an excellent way to highlight several orchids that are in bloom at the same time. Orchids benefit from living outdoors at least part of the year, basking in the refreshing breezes and natural humidity of the landscape. The ideal light is bright filtered shade. Of course, you should only place your orchids in outdoor window boxes if the temperatures are suitable, usually, between 50 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the orchids in their permanent pots, and nestle the pots between greenery you plant in the window box as a filler, such as ​an ivy.

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  • 04 of 06

    Cool Weather Classics

    Pansies in Window Box
    lillisphotography/Getty Images

    As soon as the first spring thaw occurs, eager gardeners rush to the nursery for a flat of pansies for their window boxes. If you buy transplant-sized plugs in six-pack cells, plant them very close together in the window box. As the season progresses, they will explode up, out, and downward from the container, turning their faces toward the sunshine for two to three months. Memorial Day is the turning point of the ​spring season in many regions; this may be the point at which your pansies are beginning to get lanky. When that happens, it's time to pull the pansies and replace them with warm-weather annuals.

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  • 05 of 06

    Blue (or Pink!) Hydrangeas

    Pink Hydrangea in Window Box, Savannah, Georgia
    Garden Photo World/Georgianna Lane/Getty Images

    Gardeners love mophead and lacecap hydrangeas in all colors ranging from green to white or pink, but a vivid pink or blue hydrangea blossom is the holy grail for many hydrangea aficionados. The macrophylla hydrangeas will deliver blue blooms for your shady window box under the right soil pH conditions. You must add an aluminum sulfate solution and bring the pH to an acidic level of 5.5 or lower to achieve blue, rather than pink blooms. A fertilizer containing iron may also be necessary for hydrangeas growing in window boxes.

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  • 06 of 06

    Primrose Power

    Pink Primula Vulgaris Blooming In Window Box
    Jenny Wood/Getty Images

    The primrose hasn’t caught on in America as much as in Europe, but these perennial spring flowers can brighten your window box for three to four weeks in early spring. Primroses prefer partial shade, but they can stand full sun in cool summer areas. They are bright enough to stand alone, or you can combine them with other petite spring flowers that won’t overwhelm the primrose’s small stature, like sweet alyssum.