Our Picks for the Best Plants for Window Boxes

Our recommendations for the best plants for window boxes are Green & White Variegated “Glacier” Hedera Ivy and Lantana Gold Plant. We have to admit that plants cascading from a window box are a great image for us. We like the mood it conveys. We also liked the opportunity to add some pop. If you want to know more, check out our quick and dirty list below.

Our Top Picks for the Best Plants for Window Boxes

What You Need to Know about Container Gardening

You can think of a window box as a mini container garden. It’s an opportunity to mix and match plants to add a dramatic focal point for your balcony or house. And just like your landscaping, it can create a mood. The small space means that you need to choose plants carefully for the best bang for your buck. Even a window box can act as the setting for a beautiful garden.

best plants for window boxes

Photo by jeglaat licensed under CC0.

Site Location

Your plants will appreciate a sunny location or sunny window. And in the closed space of a window box, it makes sense. While you want your plants to get enough light, you also want to ensure that air circulation and sunlight will allow the container to dry sufficiently between waterings. That’s a risk with any potted plant. You need to balance moisture needs without harming your plants.

Proportions make a difference with window boxes. Its width should match that of the window, give or take a few inches. You should choose a box that is at least six to eight inches in width and depth to give your plants space to grow. As far as the container itself, your options are endless. It should match both the style of your house and the plants it’ll contain.

Setting Up a Window Box

Set up is the same as it is for any other container or basket. The only difference is the container. You do have the added caveat that a window box commands greater attention to one of a group of potted plants. Therefore, you should keep this extra demand that exists for these plants. Take into account how they will complement your house. Color is an essential consideration.

Soil Mixtures

Your choice of container is optional. Soil mixture is another thing. For the best success, you should choose one that will match the needs of your plants. Peat mixtures offer a lightweight solution for meeting the nutritional needs of your plants without putting a lot of stress on the location of your window box. They create well-draining and fertile soil conditions.

The thing you need to remember with window boxes or any container is that moisture is a limiting factor. Too little water will stress your plants unduly and throw a wrench in your landscaping. After all, you want a container filled with lush, thriving plants rather than ones that are struggling for lack of moisture. To keep the soil in the optimal conditions, consider a liner.

Keeping the Moisture In

A liner will keep moisture from draining out of your soil too quickly. It will keep soils moist when sunlight threatens to dry them out. Some good options include sphagnum moss and coconut fiber. Each one will add a decorative element too. Each one is porous enough to let water drain while retaining some water to keep plants healthy.

Routine Care

The routine care of a window box garden is the same as any container. In addition to moisture, you’ll also have to ensure that your plants have enough food. The soil is their only source of nourishment. Slow-release food granules offer an easy option that can reduce the risk of overdoing it with too much fertilizer. Too much is just as bad for your plants as too little.

The Extras

Another thing to consider is what your plants will attract to your site. Bees, for example, are fine in the garden, but may not be the best choice for a window box. On the other hand, a window box is best enjoyed from outside where you can see the whole picture. Plants with sweet scents can bring its beauty indoors.

Choosing Plants for a Window Box

You can fill your window boxes with a single type of plant. You can also add a few different kinds to create that mini garden. If you have more than one window box, you can also alternate between different plants to create symmetry. As a general rule of thumb, strive to complement the background rather than create a mixed message.

This video from the University of Illinois Extension explains how to set up your container with plants.

Annual or Perennial?

Depending on your hardiness zone, you can opt for either annuals or perennial plants. The advantages are clear. Annual plants give you the chance to try out different themes. It’s a viable option if you live in a northern climate where plants may struggle to survive. Perennial plants, on the other hand, offer a set-it-and-forget-it option. You are left with just the routine maintenance.

Capturing a Look

There are a couple of other things to consider when choosing plants. You don’t want to obscure your view. Plants with a lower height will prove a better choice. You should also consider layering plants to add more interest. Tall upright plants will make a nice backdrop to cascading vines or ivy. Even in a small space like a window box, you can create a microenvironment.

Our Recommendations: Green & White Variegated “Glacier” Hedera Ivy and Lantana Gold Plant

We like the look of plants spilling over the sides of a window box. It adds a romantic feel that we enjoy. We also wanted to stick with colorful plants to make the most of using a window box planter as a focal point. With the right plants, it sets a tone and mood for the overall landscape theme. We opted to make the most of this opportunity with a plant that stands out.

We love the idea of trailing ivy in a window box. We choose the Green & White Variegated “Glacier” Hedera Ivy for one that combines the classy look of ivy vines with a plant that has some extra color. We thought it would look lovely against a plain background and become a centerpiece on its own accord. We liked the warm combination of green, cream, and gray.

The Lantana Gold Plant says summer with its beautiful yellow blooms. The flowers strike a delightful delicate tone that we enjoyed. To us, it conveyed a message of a relaxing haven which is just the mood we’d want to capture. Think warm, lazy summer days. The fact that it is drought tolerant was a big plus in our book, a welcome feature with any container plant.

While space is small, the statement is big with a window box. We saw that as an opportunity to unify our landscaping design with plants that accentuate the mood we want to create with our theme. With colorful plants that can tolerate the sometimes trying conditions of a container, we found winners with our choices for the best plants for window boxes. Some other beautiful choices to experiment with are marigolds, petunias, geraniums, begonias, pansies, succulents, and different varieties of foliage.

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