Regardless of your home's size, style, or neighborhood vibe, there are few houses that would not be complemented by a window box. Unlike a container planter on the porch or a hanging basket, a window box is an extension of your home, an accessory that marries living plant material to your architecture.
Flowers are usually the central feature of the window box for most gardeners, and if your home’s façade is sunny, you can have a large range of blooming choices. Whether you prefer a substantial wooden trough or a series of hayrack planters, your sunny window box will draw attention throughout the growing season.
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The Edible Window Box
Home grown salads just got prettier. Vining cherry tomatoes and mini pepper plants act as colorful and tasty anchors for a window box bursting with marigolds and herbs. Keep flowering vegetable window boxes moist and fed with a liquid fish emulsion every week to keep them productive throughout the season.
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Grow Vines in Window Boxes
Cultivating vines in window boxes is an interesting twist for a container garden. Many window box designs employ trailing plants; the addition of vines draws the eye up. You can use a small trellis to support vines in window boxes, or take advantage of architecture as in the shutters used here. Even a few strategically placed strings can support a delicate vine. Choose small flowering vines that will not take over the limited space in a window box, like cypress vine, cardinal climber, minibar morning glory, or thunbergia.
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Trailing Window Box Flowers
A window box gives gardeners the opportunity to make ample use of delicate trailing flowers that might succumb to mud splatters and insect pests on the ground. While petunias will always be popular, explore unusual trailing flowers like the tropical red chenille plant (pictured).
Other trailing flowers that will spill handsomely over the edges of your sunny window box planter include trailing ivy-leafed pelargoniums, black-eyed Susan vine, and euphorbia "Diamond Frost." Intersperse your trailing flowers with trailing foliage plants like sweet potato vine or creeping Jenny for textural interest.
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Window Boxes for Urban Gardens
With the help of a window box exploding with flowers and trailing plants, even an urban garden with no bare soil can be transformed into a stare-worthy garden. To achieve this densely planted look, choose a moss-lined wire window box or hayrack planter, and plant top, sides, and bottom with closely spaced pelargoniums. Add a few licorice plants at the bottom for foliage interest.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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Window Box Full of Color and Texture
You can design a window box that is a triumph of color, texture, and form. Chartreuse sweet potato vine and the spiky purple foliage of false red dracaena ensure visual interest even when the flowers of blue lobelia and yellow million bells are between blooming cycles. The pink leaves of showy perilla plants are coleus look-alikes, but are much more vigorous and sun-loving.
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Fall Flowering Window Box
When the gardening season winds down, do not let your window box display end with a whimper. Rip out tired summer annuals and replace with autumn flowers like mums. You can create your fall finale with gourds and ornamental kale as filler or create a densely blossomed look with other mums and asters.
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Winter Window Box
The gardening season does not have to end when the snow flies. Pansies are the quintessential cold weather flower, and they are even hardier in a window box. No need to wait for half-frozen soggy winter soil to yield to your trowel with a window box planting. Even when a hard freeze is expected, pansies can bounce back, meaning you can display the first flowers on the block in early spring. Pansies will rebound from temperatures of 26 F with ease. Pair them with equally cold hardy violas, ornamental cabbage, scented stock, or sweet peas.
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Window Box Care and Maintenance
The prominent position of a window box makes it important to give the flowers a bit of extra TLC. Some flowers, like vinca and profusion zinnias, need little or no deadheading, but petunias always look better with a weekly snipping to remove spent blossoms and to maintain a compact plant. You should also fertilize every other week, and remove yellowing or dead foliage as needed.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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Hay Rack Window Box Planters
You may have thought you would never say the “M” word again if snails and pill bugs make Swiss cheese out of your marigolds year after year, but growing these easy plants away from the ground level will give you a new appreciation for this classic bedding plant. A trio of hayrack planters adds elegance to the monochromatic planting and provides excellent drainage as well.
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Starting Seeds in a Window Box
If you have hesitated to start flowers from seed in the past, try direct seeding in your window box with a flower that resents transplanting, like the forgiving nasturtium. The large seeds are easy to work with, and some varieties have bluish ("Empress of India") or variegated ("Alaska") foliage. As the flowers appear, you will not be able to resist cracking the window to take a few blossoms for a peppery salad addition, or for a small nosegay bouquet.
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