Window Boxes 101: Choosing Plants, Installation, Care And Maintenance, And More

By Lauren Jones Posted on 5/8/23

Window boxes offer an excellent opportunity to enhance the appearance of your outdoor spaces and bring more life to your windows. They serve as a convenient and low-maintenance method for introducing color and texture to various areas.

This article will explore the various aspects of window boxes, including all season flower box ideas and maintenance tips. Continue reading to discover how window boxes can brighten up your home and provide an inviting atmosphere throughout the year.

What Are Window Boxes?

Window boxes are easy-to-install features that can transform your yard or patio with minimal effort. They come in various shapes, sizes, and materials, such as wood, plastic, metal, or fiberglass. You can choose from traditional rectangular designs or more creative styles like barrel shapes or hanging baskets. The plants you select will depend on the window box size and what kind of look you want to achieve.

Types Of Plants To Grow In A Window Box

Selecting the perfect plants for your window box involves considering location, climate, and seasonality. Personal preferences, like size, shape, color, and texture, also play a key role in creating a visually appealing display that complements your home and showcases your personality. Here are some types of plants that work well in window boxes:

  • Herbs

Herbs are a great addition to any window box due to their versatility and pleasing aroma. They add color, texture, and flavor to the garden while being incredibly easy to care for. Planting herbs in your window boxes is simple; select varieties that can tolerate sun and heat levels if placed near a south- or west-facing window. Typically, rosemary, oregano, parsley, thyme, chives, and basil thrive in sunny spots.

However, when planting herbs in window boxes, it’s important to use soil that drains well so it doesn’t become waterlogged. Add some compost or potting mix before starting, along with fertilizer once they start growing. Water regularly, but don’t let them get soggy, as too much moisture can cause root rot and other diseases.

  • Succulents

Succulents are an excellent choice for window boxes. Their low maintenance requirements and unique beauty make them a popular choice. They’re ideal for those with limited time or gardening knowledge, as well as urban gardeners who don’t have access to large plots of land.

When selecting succulents for your window box, look for varieties that will flourish in the amount of light available from your windowsill. Some types require more sunlight than others, so choose wisely. You’ll also want to consider their size and how they might look together when planted side by side. Some species can grow very tall, while others remain small and compact.

  • Annuals

Annuals are another type of plant to consider when it comes to window boxes. They offer various colors, shapes, and forms that can be used in combinations depending on your desired look. They require more maintenance than succulents since they need regular watering and trimming throughout the season.

The best way to choose annuals for your window box is by selecting varieties that suit the climate where you live. It would be best to consider how much sun exposure the window box will receive during the day, as this will affect which types of flowers or foliage you can use. Some examples of popular annuals include petunias, salvia, begonias, and impatiens, all of which come in various colors and sizes.

  • Trailing Plants

Trailing plants are always a great option because they can add height and depth that draws the eye in. They come in wide varieties, from colorful flowers like petunias and pansies to evergreen foliage like ivy or pachysandra. When selecting your trailing plants for the window box, choose ones that will work well with each other and be compatible with the amount of sunlight they’ll receive.

Careful maintenance is essential for the healthy growth of all plants. This becomes even more important with trailing plants, as they typically require more water than other species. Their sprawling nature, covering larger areas instead of staying contained in a single pot, contributes to their increased water needs.

  • Perennials

Perennials are an excellent option for window boxes because they provide long-term beauty and interest. They also require less upkeep than annuals since you don’t need to buy new ones every season. Once established, they’ll keep blooming in the same spot.

So, when choosing perennials for your window box, look for varieties with attractive foliage or colorful flowers matching your design scheme. Consider plants like coneflowers, daisies, lavender, daylilies, and hibiscus—all of which can thrive in sunny spots. Add evergreen shrubs such as boxwoods or barberries to your windowsill display if you want some color all year round.

Steps For Installing Window Boxes

Installing window boxes is an easy, budget-friendly way to add a touch of greenery to your home’s exterior. With suitable materials and supplies, your new box can be up quickly.

Here are some steps for successful installation:

  • Measure your windowsill or balcony railing carefully before making any purchases. Make sure it’s wide enough to accommodate the chosen window box size.
  • Purchase the necessary hardware. You’ll need brackets and screws to attach the box securely to the wall or railings. Other optional items include drainage material such as gravel or perlite, soil moisture meters, and compost if needed.
  • Assemble your window box according to manufacturer instructions. Once assembled, mount it to the desired location using appropriate mounting hardware like brackets and screws.
  • Fill with soil and plants of your choice, then water thoroughly after planting has been completed.

Finally, enjoy watching your flowers bloom throughout the season.

Flower Filled Window Box in New York City

Designing Window Boxes

Now that you better understand how to install your window boxes, it’s time to decide on the perfect design for them. Below are some ideas you can use as a guide:

  1. Identify Your Focus Of Attention

Your focus of attention can be something as simple as an evergreen shrub or a flowering plant that stands out among the other plants and draws attention. This will help create visual interest in your window box design and ensure the beauty of your garden lasts throughout the entire season.

The type of plant you choose for your focal point should depend on many factors, such as light conditions, soil type, climate, and more. If you live in an area with colder winters, selecting evergreens is recommended, as they provide color all year round. Planting smaller perennials around them will give additional texture and depth during the spring and summer. For areas with warmer climates, annuals are great options for adding vibrant colors to draw people’s eyes toward them.

No matter which planter style you prefer or where you decide to place your window boxes, make sure that there is always one feature that stands out from everything else so that viewers have something special to focus their attention on when admiring your outdoor landscaping designs.

  1. Practice Repetition When Planting

Using repetition in your planting is an easy way to create a pleasing visual effect and make upkeep easier. Repeating the same type of plants and flowers throughout the window box creates a uniformity that can be attractive from all angles.

Here are some tips for success when using repetition:

  • Choose one or two plants with similar shapes and sizes that complement each other when planted side-by-side.
  • Plant in rows rather than irregular groupings so you always have a neat arrangement.
  • Place taller plants near the back of the window box to give balance and symmetry.
  • Select colors that will look good together.

Repetition doesn’t just apply to plant types. You can also use containers or planters made of the same material for continuity, making maintenance much easier too.

  1. Get Inspired From The Surrounding Area

You can also get inspiration from the surrounding areas. This means looking around your home or office building to see what elements can be included in your window box design. Consider any trees, shrubs, flowers, buildings, fences, driveways, walkways, or anything that will give your window box a unique look.

Another tip when taking cues from the landscape is to include plantings of varying heights and textures. Doing so creates visual interest and depth within your window box design which helps catch the attention of passersby. Taller plants should be used at the back, supporting shorter ones located at the front. All these details come together to create an eye-catching yet natural display that ties nicely into its environment.

  1. Consider Texture

When selecting plants for your window box, texture is as important as color. It adds depth to the display and ensures it won’t look flat or one-dimensional. Here’s what you should consider when choosing plants with different textures:

  • Leaf Size: Choose a mix of large-leafed plants, such as Caladiums or Elephant Ears, with smaller-leaved varieties like Pansies or Impatiens.
  • Stem Shape: Include both woody-stemmed perennials like Hollyhocks and soft-stemmed annuals like Petunias in your design.
  • Flower type: Incorporate trailing vines and bloomers with multiple petals, like Marigolds, to create contrast and interest in your window boxes.

Choosing a range of textures will ensure that there’s always something interesting to see from all angles throughout your garden season, whether up close or from afar.

Care And Maintenance Of Window Boxes

Regular care and maintenance are essential to keep your window boxes looking their best. Here are some tips you need to follow:

  1. Watering And Fertilizing Window Boxes

Watering and fertilizing are essential components of care when it comes to keeping your window boxes looking beautiful and maintaining their health.

Here’s what you need to know about these vital maintenance practices:

  • Water plants deeply at least once a week. Depending on the weather, you may have to water more frequently in dry or hot periods.
  • Fertilize with an all-purpose fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season. Be sure to read the instructions carefully before applying any fertilizer.
  • Keep soil moist but not soggy.
  • If possible, use rainwater instead of tap water as it is better for plants and does not contain chlorine or other chemicals that can damage sensitive plant roots.
  • Clear drainage holes so excess water can escape from the box.

By taking these steps early on, you can prevent issues from escalating into something worse down the road.

  1. Pruning And Deadheading Plants

Pruning and deadheading plants are critical steps in maintaining window box gardens. Pruning removes overgrown branches, stems, or leaves from a plant to encourage new growth. Similarly, deadheading involves snipping off spent flowers to keep the plant looking tidy and promote more blooms. Both techniques can be done with pruners or shears, depending on your plant type.

It’s important to understand when to prune your plants; some should only be pruned during certain times of the year, while others can be trimmed regularly throughout the growing season. You should also know which parts of a particular species need trimming. For example, roses may require deadheading and cutting back for optimal health. Also, familiarize yourself with the shape each specific type of flower or shrub needs to maintain its natural form before starting any pruning job.

  1. Pest And Disease Control For Window Boxes

Pest and disease problems can ruin a window box if not addressed promptly. Therefore, it is crucial to keep an eye out for telltale signs of infestation or infection, such as discolored leaves, wilting foliage, molds, spots on stems or leaves, etc.

If you notice any signs of pests or diseases in your window boxes, eradicate them immediately. Start by removing all affected plants from the box right away and disposing of them safely. Then spray the remaining plants with a suitable pesticide product in container gardening environments.

Follow up by using a fungicide treatment to help prevent further infections from occurring in the future. Be sure to read and follow all instructions carefully before applying pesticides or fungicides to your window boxes.

  1. Winterizing Window Boxes

When the weather starts to cool and temperatures begin dropping, it’s essential to winterize your window boxes. This process will help prepare them for the colder months ahead and ensure they remain in good condition throughout the season.

First, you must remove annual plants that won’t survive cold temperatures. These include petunias, impatiens, marigolds, and zinnias. You can compost or discard these plants when removing them from the window box. If perennials are planted in the box, trim away dead foliage before adding a layer of mulch over the top. Doing so helps protect their roots during winter while providing insulation against frost damage.

Consider bringing your window boxes indoors, if possible, as this is an effective way to keep them safe from extreme cold weather conditions. When selecting containers for indoor storage, ensure they have adequate drainage holes at the bottom and use fresh soil each time you replant after overwintering indoors. With proper care and maintenance, your window boxes will be ready for another year of beauty come springtime.


Window boxes are a great way to bring life and color to your home. With the right plants and installation techniques, they can be an enjoyable addition that requires minimal maintenance.

This article has given you some insight into how to get started with planning and creating a beautiful window box at home. As long as you choose the right type of plant for your setup and provide adequate water and sunlight while avoiding overcrowding or over-fertilizing, you’re sure to enjoy success. So, experiment with different ideas until you find the perfect combination of flowers, foliage, and textures that can make your heart sing whenever you look out the window.


Lauren Jones

Lauren Jones is a home improvement enthusiast and DIY blogger with a keen interest in window box gardening. She has spent years experimenting with different window box designs and has written extensively on the topic, sharing her tips and tricks for creating beautiful and functional window boxes. Lauren is passionate about helping homeowners enhance their homes’ curb appeal and enjoys spending her free time hiking, practicing yoga, and attending local farmers’ markets.