How to Arrange a Window Box

Have you ever seen window boxes that looked gorgeous as well as some that looked overgrown or lopsided or water-logged?

What is the key to successful and beautiful boxes? Here are a few tips to help you in your planning:

1. Pick window boxes that have holes for drainage. Plastic pots need to have holes put in the bottom and make sure they are big enough.

2. Use potting soil in your pots, not garden loam. Loam packs down and the plants can’t root through it.

3. If your window boxes are in the sun, or they are in a spot that is difficult to water, you may want to add water storing crystals into your soil which help retain water.

4. A good recipe for plant selection is to use a main plant that will be in the background such as geraniums, salvia or angelonia in the sun, New Guinea Impatiens in the part sun or begonias in the shade. For a 2′ window box, use 2-3 geraniums, for a 3′ window box use 3-4 geraniums. In between the main plants, put in a filler plant- something that stays lower and more compact such as lobelia, calibrachoa, compact verbenas, flowering vinca or petunias. In front of your main plants you can place some trailing plants such as vinca vine, ivies, sweet potato vine, scaevola, bacopa, trailing verbena or ivy geraniums.

window boxes cape codMake sure you know how tall your flowers will get because you don’t want plants that grow 3-4′ in your boxes because they will bend over and break and by July you may be left with nothing. If you need help with window box arrangements, feel free to ask any of our annual staff for ideas.

How to Arrange a Window Box - Crocker Nurseries

27 thoughts on “How to Arrange a Window Box”

  1. I like your tip to add water storing crystals to the soil! I only have room for one window box and it’s going to be getting a lot of sunlight. It looks like I’ll be getting some nursery plants that can hold up in the sun, and some water crystals so they don’t die!

  2. Put some spent tea bags in the bottom too.soak them in liquid fertiliser before planting.Then you are putting the feed exactly where the plants need it at the roots.

  3. What a wonderful post! it is very clear and detailed. I loved the window box and I will arrange one for myself as soon as I have time. What kind of yellow flowers would you recommend? thanks a lot!

    1. Crocker Nurseries

      Thanks! For yellow flowers you could use Bidens, yellow wave petunias, or yellow Calibrachoa in sunny locations. For shade there is yellow torenia and yellow begonias.

  4. Thank you! We have Vinson siding on our house. White. I am concerned amour dirt and water stains on the Vinson. Should I be? Any suggestions on where to buy a good window box and any particular type? Thanks!

    1. Crocker Nurseries

      I’m not familiar with Vinson siding, if it is anything like vinyl siding (made of plastic or composite) then the dirt and water from a window box won’t stain the siding. I would just rinse the siding off every so often, but it should come right off. We carry Mayne window boxes which are self watering, so the water and dirt wouldn’t go through the window box onto the house. Here is a link to their site: http://gomayne.com/product-category/window-box-collections/

  5. I am a bit confused by the instruction of putting holes in your “plastic pots”. Are you saying to put potted flowers in the window box, or do you just mean the plastic trough liner that you put the soil & flowers into?

    1. Crocker Nurseries

      Sorry for the confusion, what we meant was to ensure your window box or window box liner has holes in it for adequate drainage. You should definitely take the plants out of the plastic containers they come in.

    1. Crocker Nurseries

      If it’s a really hot spot I would recommend Pentas, Vinca or Portulaca (there are some new varieties of Portulaca that are more upright and larger flowers), all are available in pink. If there is a little bit shade, particularly late afternoon, Geraniums and Petunias (Wave or Supertunias) would also work well.

    1. Crocker Nurseries

      The white and purple flowers in the metal container are two varieties of Bacopa–‘Gulliver Blue’ which is the purple flower and ‘Gulliver White’.

    1. Crocker Nurseries

      You can apply the same principles to the window box but just plant it on both sides. For example, put your taller plant in the middle (geranium, angelonia, New Guinea Impatiens of Begonia) put the filler plants on both sides of the middle plant, then do your trailing plant on both sides as well. If you don’t want any tall plants to block your view from the deck, you could also use these new mixes of flowers such as Dummen Orange’s Confetti Mixes (here’s an example: https://na.dummenorange.com/app/en/products/usa/confetti-garden/confetti-garden-glossy-cherry/PAT_44497) which combines plants that are more low growing and spreading so you’d have a good mix of plants that could be seen from both sides but that wouldn’t block your view.

  6. Christie Ricci

    I absolutely love the look of the darker window box planter. I am new at gardening and am not very familiar with different types of plants. Would this work for a full to part sun window? Would you mind sharing your recipe for this box? How big is the box? What types of plants and how many of each type should I buy?

    1. Crocker Nurseries

      I’m glad you liked the window box! This would work in a full sun window, it would tolerate a little shade (such as morning or late afternoon) but would really need at least 5 hours of sun, especially during the heat of the day. The two tallest plants in the back are Angelonia. Surrounding the Angelonia is Pentas. In this window box there are four plants of Pentas each to the side of the Angelonia. There’s one Euphorbia ‘Hip Hop’ in the center (the tiny white flowers) there are other varieties of this such as ‘Diamond Frost’ or ‘Snowdrift’ which look the same. The dark pink-purple flowers that are trailing out the sides and front are flowering vinca – four plants. Typically you can get these in a 6-pack which gives you a smaller plant that will then grow and fill in. In between the Vinca is a white Scaevola (3 plants). This is a very deep window box, approximately 12″ so there is room for all of these plants. It is also about 3′ across. You could get the same effect with fewer plants if you have a smaller window box.

  7. Hi, I have just bought 3 trays of 6 trailing pink petunias to go in a number of troughs to hang on my balcony. I am also a novice but wanted to start off this year with all the same pink petunias in all troughs. I would love to see them cascade down. Please could you advise how far apart I should plant them, I not sure how much they will grow in the trough. I thought just planting four in each trough in a row about 5cm between each plant and nothing else, is that enough or should I plant maybe some ivy as well? I’m not sure how much they spread and how quickly. The troughs/planets that hang over the balcony do not have drainage holes as watering them will upset my neighbours below so I’m not sure either what else I can do other than purchase the crystals you mention above.

    1. Crocker Nurseries

      It depends on the type of trailing petunia you purchased as to how far apart they should be planted. Supertunias from Proven Winners will grow about 3 ft each plant so you may only need 2-3 per trough. They also grow quite quickly so will fill in fast. Wave petunias are a little less aggressive but will get to be 1-2ft per plant so probably 3-4 per trough (depending on how big the trough is I’m assuming 30″). These two types of trailing petunias are aggressive growers compared to something like ivy, so I would just keep it petunias, as they will probably over shadow anything else you put in. The only other thing you could put in there that would be a similar growing habit would be sweet potato vine and you could put one of those per box (either lime green or purple). With no drainage holes you will have to really watch the watering so you don’t end up over watering the plants. Check the soil before you water and only water when it’s dry.

  8. How did you hang the window box?
    Did you fill the entire box with dirt or did you put some sort of “filler” in the bottom. I worry about the box being too heavy.

    1. Crocker Nurseries

      The window boxes in this photo are held up by brackets under the window boxes and attached to the house, that way they can support the weight of the box since it does get heavy, especially when watered. Most window boxes are pretty shallow and since we like to put quite a few plants in them I wouldn’t recommend using a filler in the bottom as you need to have space for the roots to grow. If you have very deep window boxes then you could put something in the bottom to take up space and reduce the weight.

  9. Could you help me with a shade window box? It is my first year in this house and have no idea. They are 2feet boxes. Thank you

    1. Crocker Nursery

      Sure! Shade is a lot of fun and great for plants with great foliage color. Impatiens are great for flowers, also upright fuchsia and begonias work well in the shade. For foliage you can use ferns, rex begonias, ivy (for trailing), heuchera, spider plants and other low light houseplants that actually do really well outside in the shade in the summer. Do you live locally to us? It might be easier to do it in person. It’s best to wait a few more weeks here just for the weather to warm up so there is more of a selection of plants that can go outside.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top