Window boxes are a personal favorite of mine. They are the easiest planters to do seasonally. Window boxes don't always follow the thrill, spill, fill guidelines for container gardens. It is sometimes more fun to plan a window box with the same height vs. having the traditional tall thriller type plant.
Where to get ideas for your window boxes?
I love walking around my neighborhood. Neighbors provide the best inspiration for gardening ideas! Look for planters that are rectangular in shape and use those for inspiration as a window box too! You are looking not only for colors and combinations but for what plants thrive. Be aware of which direction planters/window boxes face so you know how much sun the plants are getting. For example the beautiful red geraniums below were always planted every year at a local German restaurant. It's a simple but visually stunning display.
Here is another peek at more red geraniums but showing more of a whole wall look. These are on the opposite side and are most likely an ivy geranium which would require less sun.
Going to greenhouses and nurseries early in the season helps give you an idea of what planter combinations are popular for the coming summer. I personally like to create my own plant groupings and can recognize where someone's premade planters come from. Often places will use the same plant/color formula year after year.
Do a search for planters online and you will see an endless variety. If you see a planter or window box you are inspired by, check with a local nursery or gardening shop to see what they have so you can recreate your planting. Look at color, if the plant is trailing, and check if the plant needs sun or shade.
Sun loving window boxes
The easiest way to see if a plant loves the sun is to read the tag. It's that simple. If your plants are going to be in the sun for most of the day, make sure the tag says full sun!
The geraniums in the first image above are full sun geraniums. The ones in the second picture are more of a partial sun with shade variety. I can tell just because I know what side of the building they are planted.
Petunias and sweet potato vines do well in the sun!
Here is another example of a very similar planting. The window box below has two colors of geraniums and it's a much bigger splash of color!
Below is another take on a red geranium window box. This one however uses the traditional thriller (spiky tall plant), spiller (trailing plants) and uses the geraniums as the filler. Geraniums are a great plant to use because they can take the sun and they can tolerate being dry (to some degree). I'm in love with the window box below. It's such a simple planting but so high impact!
Shade loving window boxes plantings
Some sun-loving plants do OK is the shade. Just like some shade-loving plants can tolerate some strong sun. It is OK to experiment but recognize the risks that your plants may not do well.
Below is a planter that has a mix. The geraniums and petunias love the sun but will also do well in partial shade. The coleus plants (bright redish and green leafy plants) are the shade plants in here.
Here is another mixture with a focus on more shade plants. These planters (window box shape) are planted in an area that gets more morning sun and not the hot afternoon sun.
For a more all shade combination, below are a few.
The one below focuses on various different multicolored coleus plants.
The big splash of color is the orange begonias!
I have had begonias growing beautifully in parts of my yard that have hardly any sun!
Above are begonias and creeping Jenny as a contrasting spilling plant. Below is a beautiful coleus as the feature plant also with creeping Jenny as the spilling/trailing plant.
Love the little "relax" spike!
Spring flower box ideas
I LOVE seeing green growth and the colorful spring flowers after our snowy winters and just plain ugly early spring. Pansies (or violas as they may also be called) are the perfect spring selection.
They will survive a late-season frost or even snowfall! They will be fine as long as it isn't a heavy freeze.
As the weather gets warmer, and summer plants are appropriate, I can't toss these guys out. I tend to gradually transition my planters into summer, keeping some of my spring plants.
How can you not love these purple pansies with the red geraniums! As a little tip, I always plant alyssum as early as I can get it. It becomes a beautiful filling and trailing plant that blooms constantly. It tolerates the frost in the spring and in the fall!
With the exception of the window boxes above that I've noted are spring, the rest are for the summer. The main thing you are looking for with the plants is that they tolerate summer heat! Do make sure you also keep in mind how much sun they can tolerate.
Below is the same planter just a few months later with some different plants!
The grass is a purple fountain grass which I just love (LOVE, LOVE for the fall). As mentioned above, the alyssum will mound and trail nicely. I loved the purple pansies so much that I replaced them with purple petunias. It is so much easier when you have the basis of your plantings and can gradually switch out just specific plants to the season. It saves you money too!!
Fall flower box ideas
This is also the same window box as the two above. As the weather gets cooler and some plants start getting tired looking, they get replace with more fall-appropriate plantings and decor. I simply removed the geraniums and petunias and replaced them with mums and small pumpkins. Everything above tolerates a light frost.
It'll even tolerate early snow! But the mums do look a little tired and at the end of their flowering life.
Winter | Christmas Window box ideas
So many people don't realize they can do such beautiful decorating outdoors in the winter! Let me show you.
The red ribbon visually attracts your eye. A simple arrangement but the ribbon totally pulls it together.
There is nothing wrong with some faux plants for some winter holiday color!
I've been trying to make some winter/holiday window box type planters. I'm not 100% happy with them but gardening is all about experimenting and learning. So let me share my 'almost' winter ideas.
Since it's dark most of the winter, I love lights. But, I think those solar lights need to go!
The three planters below are all the same one. One in the daytime, then daytime with snow, then in the dark.
Here is my attempt at reusing birch branches. Good idea, not so good final product : (. I'll be trying again this year! Kind of looks a little like I was trying to build a shelter or a camp fire.
Keep experimenting and trying new things!
I shared the above because I wanted to let you know not everything always turns out. Even if you think you have a great idea!
Gardening in general (and window boxes and container gardens) all need some degree of trial and error to find success. Keep trying!
Other related posts
Looking for more ideas and inspiration? Take a look at these posts!
Keeping your hanging baskets watered!