20 Perfect Plants For Your Window Boxes

Contents

Because windows are a popular cultivation spot for urban gardeners, knowing the best plants for window boxes is important! Due to their small size and efficient location right outside the window frame, window boxes offer an additional growing space that even those without a balcony can employ.

But the options for what to plant window boxes can overwhelming to you, so we are here to help! Window boxes serve multiple purposes, from pure decoration and aesthetics to practical gardening on your home’s exterior.

In this article, we’ll look at three herbs and three decorative plants you should consider planting in your window boxes.

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Fantastic Herbs For Window Boxes

If you love to cook, you probably also love fresh ingredients. The best way to get fresh ingredients? Grow them yourself. And what better way to grow your own than have a supply of fresh herbs in a window box right outside the kitchen window? Now ingredients are within arms reach whenever you need them.

Basil

Basil is a classic window box herb.
Basil is a classic window box herb.

Basil is one of the most popular herbs to cook with which makes it just as popular to grow. If you are starting after the last frost before spring, then you can plant the seeds directly into your window box. To get a head start on growing basil plants you can start the plants inside a few weeks earlier. As with many of these plants, you will need moist, well-draining soil.

Trim the flowers off as they show up to increase the number of leaves you can use as well as preserve the flavor of the leaves.

Peppermint

Peppermint is a great choice for a window planter
Peppermint is a great choice for a window planter.

Peppermint is useful for more than just cooking. As many people know, garden pests often do not like the smell of peppermint. By growing mint in your boxes, you get a great herb to use in the kitchen and a way to keep pests away at the same time. Peppermint (and it’s oil) can also be used in tea or other home remedies to help with congestion, digestion or relaxation.

You can also use it in many different desserts. This plant is beneficial on so many levels and it should thrive in your window box.

Thyme

It's a great thyme to plant thyme.
It’s a great thyme to plant thyme (I’ll see myself out with that pun).

The thyme plant is similar to peppermint in that it has many useful applications. It has similar medicinal value, and it is also frequently used to season along with other kitchen herbs. You can use it in soups or stocks to help bring out the flavors of the additional herbs and spices.

Thyme will not grow too tall in your window box and overwhel your home’s exterior. It grows similar to a ground cover, which can help fill in a window box. 

Parlsey

Although its considered by some to be an underutilized herb, parlsey is a plant that has so many culinary uses. Perfect in tabbouleh, chimichurri, and various soups and salads, you’ll be so happy you chose growing parsley in a window box.

Because parsley is a host plant for the stunning black swallowtail butterfly, you don’t even have to eat it to get a sense of enjoyment from this voracious herb. It’s an excellent addition to container gardens of all kinds.

Hyssop

If lovely blue and purple flower spikes match your garden aesthetic, growing a hyssop plant in your window box is a great choice. The leaves of this plant are lend a touch of anise or mint flavor to teas, depending on the variety you grow. You’ll also have the added benefit of attracting bees and predatory insects to your garden.

Society Garlic

Perhaps you’re more interested in growing alliums for their sharp, spicy flavors in your window box. Society garlic is one of those perennial alliums that blooms lovely purple, white, or pink globe flowers in spring, and provides you with those aromatic flavors you love. Bees love it too!

Take leaves at your leisure, and enjoy them in soups. Remember to divide the tuberous roots occasionally, and you’re set.

Calendula

While it’s not an herb valued for its leaves alone, the colorful flowers and soft leaves of calendula offer any window box lovely orange blooms from summer to the first frost. If orange isn’t your favorite color, there are plenty of pink, yellow, white, and reddish varieties out there.

New gardeners can try growing calendula from seed, to get a sense of what its like to cultivate tender perennial flowers in their garden.

Chamomile

Growing chamomile right outside your window ledge is sure to bring some peace and calm to your kitchen. Add the flower tops to teas and baked confections, or cut them and throw them in floral arrangements to include their soft fragrance and appearance.

This super cute flower is easy to cultivate, and especially suited for temperate climates. Its self-seeding nature means it may die back in frost, but these window box flowers will return in the following spring.

Decorative Plants For Window Boxes

If you don’t want an herb garden, or you have one and you are looking to add additional window boxes, then these next suggestions are for you. Ornamental window boxes are perfect to give your house a face-lift. Choose windows that are highly visible from the outside of your house to take advantage of the visual beauty these plants provide.

Blazin Rose Iresine

Iresine adds a bright splash of color to the window.
Iresine adds a bright splash of color to the window.

This plant looks gorgeous and adds some incredible color to the window box. Its bright red color and broad leaves are perfect to break up the green in your small garden. This plant can serve as an end cap to the window box, or a perfect backdrop.

It will bloom in the spring and summer and help add color to the side or front of your house. It grows quite large, so plant this in a window box that can handle the growth. If there’s room, include a dusty miller plant to add some contrasting light color.

White Licorice Plant

White licorice complements the natural angles of your home.
White licorice complements the natural angles of your home.

While iresine brought a bright and unusual red to your window box, white licorice plant does something more subtle. This plant, much like bright pink petunias, has small, fuzzy leaves with a brilliant silver color that grow along the front of your window box. It serves as a great base as it overflows the front and sides of the planter. It stands out from the rest of the plants and help fill in the gaps at the same time.

Angelface Blue Angelonia Hybrid

Narrowleaf Angelonia works well in window planters.
Narrowleaf Angelonia works well in window planters.

Angelonia helps add more color to your window box, similar to the iresine mentioned earlier. It’s a tall narrow plant that has a brilliant purple color. This addition of a bright color and different shapes can help bring together the different plants in your window box.

Bright purple blooms poking out above the rest of the plants offer the perfect finishing touch. Angelonia is low-maintenance and it can survive dry conditions. Its scent will attract pollinators that can help your perfect window box flourish.

Coleus

When it comes to foliage plants, coleus is king! These plants with their exciting and vibrant leaves are found in pretty much every garden center and big box store around. You have lots of options when it comes to color scheme and hardiness, as coleus is one of the most cultivated plants in the world.

It’s probably the best starter plant for newer gardeners on this list as well. Plant these with creeping jenny to offset their colors.

Lantana

Similar to coleus in its availability and versatility, is the lantana plant. Instead of just foliage, though, you have compound flowers that come in white, purple, yellow, red, or multiple colors in one. You do not need a green thumb to grow this one.

Lantana is another plant that brings in solitary bee species and butterflies, and it blooms from spring through the first frost. It is prolific, though, so look for a vining variety, and be prepared to prune it regularly.

Vining and Hanging Plants for Window Boxes

While they may not seem like they would work in a window box, vining plants spill over the sides and trail down, adding extra interest to the urban garden. Let’s talk about some of the unsuspecting vines that work well in window boxes.

Sweet Potato Vine

Growing a tuber in a window box? Is that even possible? Yes, it is, and though you might not get a huge tuber harvest, you’ll have a lovely and luscious sweet potato vine trailing over the side of the window box. Like coleus, there are several choices of foliage color and shape of sweet potato vine to choose from, and many sweet potato vines are well-adapted to high heat.

If purple isn’t your style, try a chartreuse sweet potato vine! That makes the drought tolerant plant known as the sweet potato vine great for southern gardeners or behind stands of purple fountain grass. Trailing vines of sweet potato are great in any garden, though.

Butterfly Pea

In a similar vein, we have the trailing flowers of butterfly pea. This is yet another plant that vines and produces flowers that are great in teas and cooking. The blooms add a lovely purple color to teas they’re added to, and true to their name, they attract butterflies.

There are some purple and pink species, but growing a vine that has stunning cyan blooms in your window box is sure to dazzle the eye. Pair it with a little dusty miller and you’re set.

Swedish Ivy

Specialized for hanging baskets and window boxes is the Swedish ivy plant. This mint family member has snapdragon-like flowers that come in whites and pinks. The leaves are leathery, round, and toothed, which adds variety to the vertical garden.

If you like growing this plant, you can easily propagate it via cuttings, and plant it in your other window boxes.

Burros Tail

We certainly love succulents, which is why we couldn’t leave out burros tail! The plush spiraling leaves of this plant work well in hanging baskets and window boxes alike. Especially suited to gardeners in arid climates, you can back your front xeriscape garden with window boxes full of trailing sedum plants.

In optimal climates, you’ll even have a few of the unique red burros tail flowers in summer. In hot regions, plant it in a north facing window box.

Nasturtium

You may already be growing nasturtium alongside your container garden full of potted plants, but did you know there are vining varieties that work very well in window boxes? Try the vibrant red and orange colors the Yeti climber lends to the garden.

Not only will you have a place to rest your eyes, you’ll also have peppery flowers to add to your salads. You can even try planting multiple types of these sun loving flowers in each of your window boxes.

Black Eyed Susan

Similar to nasturtium, there are black-eyed Susan trailing plants. This plant is sure to please any gardener with its fast growing habit and plentiful flowers and foliage. That being said, get ready to prune this baby, so you don’t have it propagating at the ground below your window box.

Even the buds of this plant are lovely. Careful growing it in tropical and subtropical regions, though. It’s invasive in some US states.

Peppercorn Plant

Yet another edible plant that grows nicely in window boxes is the peppercorn plant. Not only do tropical gardeners get the benefit of gorgeous vertically veined leaves, they can also harvest their own peppercorns! The only thing to look out for with this plant is root-boundedness. Ensure you’re dividing it regularly if it has perennialized in your garden.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How many plants should I put in a window box?

A: For the plant listed above, stick to one per container. While it may be possible to throw a couple in one, you want to see how the plants you’ve chosen grow before throwing them together.

Q: What can I plant in a full sun flower box?

A: Many of the plants listed above enjoy and need full sunlight. Several window box flowers need full sun, and so do many herbs. Creeping jenny and the sweet potato vine love full sun too.

Q: Can you plant perennials in window boxes?

A: Absolutely! If they are fast-growing perennials or flowering plants, you’ll want to ensure you’re dividing them regularly to keep them from becoming root-bound.

Q: What can you put in window boxes besides flowers?

A: Herbs and several foliage plants are perfect for window box planting. The sweet potato vine is a great choice!

Q: What do you put in the bottom of a window box?

A: Some people put pea gravel or rocks in the base of a window box for drainage. However, this can create a water table that can put your plants in a stressful environment. It’s better to incorporate the gravel throughout the growing medium to increase drainage.

Q: How do you pick plants for a window box?

A: Simply head to the nursery and grab some plants that work well in hanging baskets (like variegated ivy), or choose some of your favorite herbs.

Q: What is the easiest flower to grow in full sun?

A: On this list, lantana and calendula both love full sunlight. Variegated ivy is another good choice.

Q: What flowers can you plant in a window box?

A: There are so many flowers for window boxes. Every flowering plant on this list can be your choice for window box flowers!

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