Window Box Ideas That'll Level Up Your Garden Game

Accessorize your house with a few extra blooms.

flower box on a window
Photo: Moointer/Getty Images

Fixing up your front yard and adding plants to your front porch will definitely enhance your curb appeal. But if you want to add a little extra wow to your house, window boxes are definitely the way to go. They'll add bright pops of color to your house (without an expensive painting or residing job), attract butterflies, birds, and other wildlife—and give your house a charming cottagecore/coastal grandmother vibe.

Decide on window boxes

There are tons of great window box options out there, so choose one that fits best with the style of your home—perhaps something sleek and simple for a contemporary home, while a more traditional style for a colonial or Victorian.

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Think about materials

You'll find containers in all sorts of colors, styles, and materials. But there are pros and cons to consider for each of the most popular materials:

  • Wood is a classic and stylish choice, though may need upkeep in the future. Use teak or another outdoor-friendly wood to help reduce the damage from exposure to the elements.
  • Plastic stands up beautifully to the elements, but may look cheap, especially if the window boxes are on first-floor windows where they're easily viewable.
  • Terra-cotta is a beautiful choice, but allows water to evaporate—so plants may need to be watered more frequently. If you live in an area with cold winters, the temperature extremes can make these prone to cracking
  • Metal is a sturdy and stylish choice, but depending on the metal used, can be prone to rusting.
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Consider your self-watering options

Window boxes will need regular watering, especially if located in full sun. To help reduce the amount of watering you need to do, look at self-watering window boxes, which often feature a reservoir of water that your plants can draw from as needed.

"Self-watering planters still need to be watered, but will need to be watered less," says Blythe Yost, co-founder and chief landscape architect at online landscape design company Tilly. "It's not a set-it-and-forget-it system like many people think. However, it can be very helpful if you have a hot, sunny location, as the planter won't dry out as quickly."

To make your watering chores easier, Yost recommends looking for small drip lines—AKA spaghetti emitters—to add to your irrigation system and use these to automatically water the window boxes.

Plan out the placement

If you're using window boxes, you don't have to place them in every window on the front of your house. You might opt to place them just on the windows flanking the front door, or only in the windows on the second floor. Here's what to consider when you place them.

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The direction your house faces matters

If your home faces south or west, you'll need to up your watering game. "Boxes that face south and west will dry out faster with more direct sunlight," Yost says.

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Look at how shady or sunny each spot is

If your window is under cover of an awning or roofline, it might reduce the amount of sunlight—but will also require more watering, as it won't get rainfall.

The amount of sunlight will also impact what kinds of flowers and plants you choose—you'll need to opt for shade plants if your window boxes won't get enough sunlight.

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Make sure they're easy to reach

If your window boxes are on upper floors, make sure that furniture in that room won't block you from reaching that window. "They need to be somewhere you can reach to water and change out the flowers," Yost says.

Choose the right plants

The color scheme you pick is just one part of choosing the right plants for your window box. Think container-friendly plants that thrive on a little neglect.

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Keep it simple

You don't need a lot of different flowers to design a gorgeous window box. "I like to go with simplicity," Yost says. "Because they are long, keep it simple and it will make a great impact—a nice A / B pattern can really pop."

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Opt for native plants

Flowers that are from your area will be more likely to thrive without as much watering, and may bring you additional benefits. "Research what native flowers will attract certain butterflies or songbirds, so you can use your boxes for some wildlife viewing," Yost says.

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Think low maintenance

Drought-resistant flowers, like zinnias, geraniums, and lantana will help minimize your watering duties. And don't forget about interesting plants like coleus, sweet potato vine, or dusty miller, which can add a pop of color without needing deadheading.

Artificial plants can be even easier to maintain—but they come with caveats too. "Don't buy super-cheap ones as they will bleach out quickly," Yost says. "Do some research and buy something that will weather the outdoor conditions and last."

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Lean toward annuals

Perennials may feel like a natural pick for window boxes, so you aren't constantly having to replant them. But in most parts of the country, that may not be a wise investment. "I would be worried that perennials won't make it through the winter," Yost says. "Annuals are probably a better option unless you have very hearty perennials."

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Swap them with the seasons

Window boxes are the perfect spot to change up your look for the seasons, with fresh blooms like pansies for spring, zinnias for summer, chrysanthemums for fall, and evergreens or ornamental kale for winter.

You can also accessorize your plants with other elements, like pumpkins and gourds or outdoor holiday ornaments to add a festive touch—with no watering required!

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