Installing a window box filled with your choice of flowers and foliage is a low-maintenance way to add a flash of color to the exterior of your house. According to Adam Dooling, there are many reasons why someone would want to utilize window boxes to fulfill their green thumb, curator of outdoor gardens and herbaceous collections at the New York Botanical Garden. “It may be the only option for individuals who live in flats or cities to cultivate plants,” he adds. “The numerous change-outs that window boxes frequently demand allow the gardener to test various plants throughout the growing season,” Dooling adds.
If you want to add a window box to your home, there are a few things to consider before deciding on which types to grow. According to Dooling, the mature size of the bloom and the depth of its roots will determine the size box you purchase. He also recommends deciding if you want to cultivate only one variety of flowers in your containers or mix them up. He says, “If so, how do the plants perform concerning each other?” Consider your growth circumstances once you’ve answered these questions. Which way does your window box face? What amount of sun or shade does it get? These answers will assist you in deciding which flowers to grow.
You’ll also want to use a good potting mix and make sure your window box has drainage holes so that extra water can flow when the reservoir is full.
Now that you know the basics of window box logistics let’s get to the fun part: the flowers you’ll be planting within them. Two experts explain which flowers work best in these fixtures ahead.
Flowers that receive full to partial sun
You’ll know if you should choose flowers that prefer full sun, half sun, or complete shade once you understand your growth circumstances. Sunny locations provide additional alternatives for colorful blooming plants like calibrachoas, a perennial that comes in various colors, including violet, blue, pink, red, magenta, yellow, bronze, and white. According to horticultural expert Melinda Myers, most petunias thrive in full to partial light. “Look for those who claim to be heat and humidity resistant,” she says. Meyers says heliotrope has aromatic blossoms that hummingbirds and butterflies enjoy, which will bring pollinators to your sunny place. Pentas, another favorite of butterflies, blooms all season and loves full to partial light.
Another option Meyers suggests is the summer snapdragon, which, as its name suggests, is best for the summer months and boasts erect plants in various colors.
Flowers in the shade or partial shade
Shade-loving plants and those that tolerate damp soil usually go together. Consider shade-tolerant flowers if a neighboring tree or structure shades your window boxes or decreases their sun exposure. Meyers recommends fuchsia, which requires shade and wet soil; avoid windy areas if you pick this option. According to Meyers, tropical plants commonly cultivated as houseplants, such as philodendron, inch plants, and ivies thrive in shady window boxes.
Begonias, particularly tuberous and rex varieties, are very shade tolerant and give a tremendous textural texture to your decor. Browallia, torenia, impatiens, dwarf hostas, and hellebore are some flowers that thrive in shady window boxes.
Flowers that can withstand drought
Drought-tolerant plants, according to Meyers, prefer dry soil once established, making them “excellent candidates for pots and window boxes, especially for busy gardeners or those who tend to under-water their plants.” Mandevilla splendens (also known as Dipladenia) and zinnias, which come in various sizes and colors, are drought-tolerant plants. She points out that while these flowers still require constant maintenance, they may endure drier soil and require less frequent watering.
Plants that trail
Consider using a few trailing flowers in your window box to create a cascading appearance. There are other alternatives, including silver falls dichondra, which Meyers describes as silver foliage that hangs flat on the box. Petunias, calibrachoas, verbenas, Mandeville, Biden’s nasturtiums, trailing lobelia, viola, alyssum, and “several exquisite varieties of plectranthus,” according to Dooling, are among the plants with delicate lacy leaves. According to him, many types of ivy and various sedges and grasses may likewise generate a cascading effect.