I’m in love with the window boxes on my front porch this year. I keep taking pictures of them so that I’ll be able to recreate them next year, because the days are growing shorter and colder, and soon they’ll be no more…
My husband built the window boxes that I have hanging on the railing around the front porch of my house. We also have smaller window boxes on the back shed, but these are so shallow they can’t hold much. (Confession time: this year, I put silk flower in the shed window box. Since I never water them, and most people only see them from afar, it didn’t matter, did it?)
Window Box Design Ideas
I usually plant geraniums in my window boxes:
And sometimes in the spring, pansies:
But this year, I mixed it up a bit. In the early spring, I planted pansies, then I moved the pansies into the garden under a tree, where I hoped the shade would keep them growing even in the hot weather. Pansies like cool weather, and the hot Virginia summer sun generally turns them into brown husks before long.
Even though I moved them, the pansies had other ideas. Many left behind seeds, which eventually grew into tumbles of pansies amid the summer-blooming geraniums and petunias. The seeds grew in only one window box, however:
What I love most about the window boxes this year is how the petunias cascade over the sides of the boxes. I planted dark pink geraniums in the middle of each window box, and pink, white or dark purple petunias on either side of each geranium. The central dark pink flower visually linked all the boxes together, while the colorful petunias added some interest and texture.
Tips for Great Window Boxes
- Make sure you place window boxes in an area that’s easy to water.
- Keep watering cans or containers handy so you can water them daily…don’t let them dry out!
- Choose flowers that do well across many seasons, or be prepared to change the flowers seasonally.
- Speaking of changing them seasonally, consider fall and winter interest. You can plant mums or ornamental cabbages in the window boxes for the fall…
- And at Christmas, put silk or plastic poinsettias in them. Don’t use real poinsettias unless you live in garden zones 9 or 10; it’s too cold elsewhere for the poinsettias to survive.
As you can see, my cats love the window boxes and three of my cats plus one feral we feed love our front porch. It provides shelter from the rain and cold, and my husband also built the cats a nice carpeted cat house with a snug roof and walls to keep out the chill. Because our cats love the porch, they also love the window boxes. I found out the hard way that in the wintertime, when the ground is cold or covered with snow, they were using the uncovered, dirt-filled window boxes as temporary litter boxes. Talk about disgusting. To keep them from using the window boxes as litter boxes, my husband made wooden covers for the boxes that he screws into place in the fall after I remove the live plants. He drilled holes in the top of the covers, and I insert plastic poinsettia into the holes to decorate the house for Christmas. It keeps the cats out and provides another place for me to add Christmas decorations. Like flowers and cats, you can’t have too many!
Jeanne Grunert is a certified Virginia Master Gardener and the author of several gardening books. Her garden articles, photographs, and interviews have been featured in The Herb Companion, Virginia Gardener, and Cultivate, the magazine of the National Farm Bureau. She is the founder of The Christian Herbalists group and a popular local lecturer on culinary herbs and herbs for health, raised bed gardening, and horticulture therapy.
Those are really pretty! I haven’t done window boxes, or railing boxes, in a while because they dry out so quickly. I will heed some of your advice and try it next year. Pretty colors. I love pastels.
Geraniums are a staple in some of my window boxes as well! I always just put boston ferns in my front window boxes because they look so nice against the red house and the black shutters….and they last until the first frost!
Maureen, that sounds so pretty! Geraniums really do last a very long time, don’t they?
Kim, do you want to know a secret? You can put clean, open baby diapers as liners inside the boxes. They hold moisture inside the box and will help keep the water near the plant’s roots. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve seen it mentioned several times.
Geraniums and pansies, two of my favorites. Easy to grow and look great. Geraniums are a must in my hot sunny yard.