Add a Little Charm to Your Windows
A home with windows that are framed with plants and florals amps up its aesthetic, and looks both elegant and welcoming. The great thing about window boxes is that no matter where you call home—a house, apartment, or otherwise—you likely have the space for one of these small plant beds.
As you plan what to plant in your window box, consider varieties that will add texture, color, and even intoxicating fragrances to your sill. Because these planters are visible from the street, you'll want to choose the most striking, sensational-looking plants you can in hues that will complement your home's exterior. The following are some of our favorite blooms and greens that grow well in containers, and will wow passers-by with their cascading foliage or bright blooms.
1. Sweet Potato Vine
The lush foliage of sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas) comes in many colors, making it a surefire complement to just about any home's exterior. Consider planting the lime green Margarita, the deep purple Sweetheart, and the gray-green-pink Tricolor varieties, all of which are low maintenance and easy to grow.
Get sweet potato vine on Etsy for $28 (one 1-gallon plant).
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Bursting with colorful foliage, coleus comes in both sun and shade varieties. Its bushy appearance makes coleus a great filler and accent plant, although bold varieties like Chocolate Covered Cherry and Kong Red are showy enough to be the main attraction in a window box.
Get coleus at Burpee for $24.95 (six plants).
Petunias are summer’s workhorse, continuously pumping out vibrant blooms in the season’s harshest heat. The annuals come in shades of white, red, pink, and purple, and even striped, speckled, and fringed varieties. Consider Petunia axillaris, or wild white petunia, if you’d like a bushy plant, or the cascading Wave or Surfinia petunias, which will spill exuberantly over the edge of your window box.
Get Queen of Hearts petunias on Etsy for $3.19 (4-inch pot).
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4. Creeping Jenny
Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia), also known as moneywort, is a vigorous ground cover that's also stunning in window boxes. Available in shades of green and gold, its densely packed, rounded leaves cascade from planters and look very much like trailing vines.
Get Creeping Jenny on Etsy for $11.49 (4-inch pot).
5. Dusty Miller
Senecio cineraria, commonly known as dusty miller, has textured silver foliage that serves as a dazzling contrast to colorful blooms. The Silver Dust cultivar grows to 12 to 18 inches, while the Silver Lace and Cirrus varieties reach heights of 6 to 8 inches. Dusty miller is also a drought-tolerant plant and easy to maintain, which makes it a good bet for gardeners whose thumbs aren't so green.
Get Dusty Miller on Etsy for $19 (two 6- to 12-inch plants).
While Fuchsia magellanica is typically used in hanging baskets, its colorful flowers make it a welcome addition to any container garden. Most varieties of fuchsia love the shade so as long as you avoid hanging your window box in full sun, the plant will reward you with extravagant purple and pink blossoms all season long.
Get fuchsia on Etsy for $7.64 (4-inch pot).
To achieve luscious color in a deeply shaded window box, give impatiens a try. The most common impatiens variety in the United States, Impatiens walleriana, is easy to maintain, grows well in containers, and comes in a wide range of colors including pink, red, purple, orange, and yellow.
Get impatiens on Burpee for $6.95 (30 seeds) or $25.95 (12 plants).
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With flashy, tall spikes covered in lavish blooms, snapdragon is an eye-catching addition to any window box. Summer snapdragon (Angelonia angustifolia) grows 12 to 18 inches tall, while common snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) can grow anywhere from 4 inches to 3 feet high. Both are readily available to home gardeners across the country.
Get snapdragons on Etsy for $2.99 (pack of 1,000+ seeds).
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Sun-loving verbena cascades out of window boxes and other containers. The plant comes in a variety of hues including the Violet Ice cultivar, which boasts bright purple blooms, and Candy Cane, which, just as you’d expect, sports red and white stripes.
Get verbena on Etsy for $2.99 (pack of 500+ seeds).
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10. Variegated Ivy
Hedera helix variegata, also known as variegated ivy, thrives in almost any level of light and tolerates drought. The plant will flow over the edges of a window box and provide a stunning, leafy contrast to vivid blooms.
Get variegated English ivy on Etsy for $19.50 (4-inch plant).
11. Licorice Plant
Homeowners often choose licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare) for window boxes because of its unique felted foliage. The cultivar White Licorice is actually silvery white, while Lemon Licorice has buttery yellow foliage. Both make a striking counterpoint to richly colored blooms.
Get a licorice plant on Proven Winners for $9.99 (4-inch plant).
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12. Ornamental Grass
Ornamental grasses add sensational height, color, and texture to a window box. Choose a grass like Pennisetum setaceum ‘Fireworks’, which has delicately frothy fronds and a vibrant purplish-pink color, to pair with understated flowers and trailing greenery.
Get purple fountain grass on Etsy for $7.88 (3-inch pot).
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13. Red Strawberry Plant
Also known as Fragaria, red strawberry plants are a feast for the eyes and the stomach. These flourishing beauties are easy to grow, with lush green leaves and rounded pink or white flowers—not to mention the edible strawberries that spill over the sides of your window box.
Areas with full sun are best for these plants. Kept in moist soil for at least 6 hours of full sunlight each day, strawberry plants should produce a miniature crop for you to harvest in June (or throughout the summer, if you choose an everbearing variety).
Get strawberry plants at Home Depot for $36.98 (four plants).
14. Miniature Fraser Fir
Many plants and flowers that go in a window box usually look amazing for a season or two but when the cold weather hits, the planter boxes are virtually barren. A miniature Fraser Fir (Abies fraseri) in a window box offers greenery year round. You can trim it back with some kitchen shears, or repot or replant it after a few years when it grows a bit larger.
Low maintenance is the name of the game with miniature Fraser firs, since they grow almost anywhere as long as they get a few hours of sun every day. These dwarf trees look wonderful in a window box mixed in with flowers and other plants.
Get miniature Fraser fir on Etsy for $29.99 (one 8- to 15-inch tree).
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15. Purple Prince Zinnia
Here’s a sun-loving stunner appearance that also serves an important function: Zinnias attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and beneficial insects, like bees.
These annual flowers come in a number of different colors, but Purple Prince Zinnia flowers bring an intense, eye-catching hue to your window box. (Think of them like elevated daisies, since they have similar hairy stems and solitary flower heads.) These blooms work well in a window box with other summer-blooming annuals or among perennials.
Get Purple Prince Zinnia on Burpee for $6.95 (50 seeds).
For those who want a flower-free window box, adding euonymus keeps things green and still visually interesting. With bright leaves that look like the edges have been painted off-white, there’s plenty of color to be had. As it grows, the leaves will start to spill out over the edges of the window box.
Euonymus is partial to full sun at least 4 hours a day, but it’s a tough plant that tolerates less than ideal conditions. For gardeners looking for a low-maintenance addition to a window box, this plant is a solid choice.
Get a euonymus at Home Depot for $20.98 (4.5-inch quart pot).
Salvia is a low-maintenance perennial that’s a type of sage—which is likely why they’re hardy, long-lasting, and drought-resistant plants. Salvias are fascinating to look at, with small spears of tubular-shaped flowers rising above opposite leaves. Depending on the variety, salvia comes in a range of colors, including red, pink, white, violet, and blue.
Salvia attracts good creatures and deters the ones you don’t want around. Bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies all flock to salvia, but pests like deer and rabbits are not too fond of them.
Get Salvia nemorosa from Etsy for $14.99 (two plants).
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18. Sunset Grooves Hosta
When you think of hosta, you likely think of enormous plants. Small-variety hostas, like Sunset Grooves hostas, fit well and look great in a window box—though they might take up the entire thing.
The hosta is a pollinator plant that blooms from mid- to late summer. They have dramatically large leaves that are thick, puckered, and rounded. After it rains, the waterproof leaves look really neat holding droplets of water on the leaf’s surface. Like all hostas, the Sunset Grooves variety likes lots of moisture, which means you'll have to keep the box well watered during hot spells.
Get a Sunset Grooves hosta on Etsy for $13.99 (one plant).
19. Vinca Periwinkle
Known for being a thick ground cover, periwinkle (Vinca minor) also thrives in a window box. With dark green, glossy leaves and 2-inch flowers in a pinwheel shape, periwinkle is simple and understated, yet charming. Depending on the variety, the flowers come in violet, blue-purple, or white.
The one thing about periwinkle is that it’s best grown by itself, as it has a habit of choking out other plants in a flower bed. A bright side is that it does well even in poor soil, and it can be used as a climber reaching its way up a support to block certain views or sun angles.
Get vinca periwinkle on Etsy for $3.87 (40+ seeds).
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20. Hardy Cyclamens
You’re probably familiar with cyclamens—they’re often sold as indoor plants, but the hardy perennial variety does very well in the right outdoor environment.
In nature, hardy cyclamens grow in cool, humid environments, so they’re best suited for shaded or partially shaded windows. The vibrant flowers come in many colors in shades of pink, red, purple, and white, but their bold hues are almost overshadowed by the interesting patterns on the leaves.
Hardy cyclamens need a bit more care than other plants on this list because they’re sensitive to both overwatering and underwatering, but with proper drainage and a regular watering schedule, they’ll do just fine.
Get hardy cyclamen on Etsy for $9.99 (five seeds).
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