Like a corsage on a plain suit, a window box can add spark to a house's exterior—if it's hung and filled appropriately.
Like everything else designed to enhance a home's exterior, the best window boxes complement the architectural style of the house. This wrought-iron example is a great match for the rectangular grillwork of the Tudor-style dwelling's leaded casement windows.
Choose a box that spans the entire width of the window area and position it so the contents can be enjoyed (and watered when necessary) from indoors. A snug-fitting liner made of coconut fiber (coir) or sphagnum moss looks neat, retains moisture, and keeps soil from seeping out of the box.
Although this metal-framed planter complements the architecture nicely, it measures up a few inches too narrow for the window width. Quick solution: Add a few variegated vines or trailing petunias to the mix; they'll soon soften the rigid vertical line of the uptight-looking marigolds and gracefully fill in the gap.
When mounting a window box, take its weight with full-grown plants and saturated potting mix into consideration. These sturdy, decorative brackets—painted to match the window trim—offer a vital means of support.
It's okay to start small. Rapid-growing young annuals—the type sold in nursery and garden center six-packs—adapt more readily to their environment than more mature ones. Don't be stingy, though: For a lush look, place plants closely together, water whenever the soil feels dry to the touch, and watch them grow.
Put trailing varieties close to the front and side edges of the window box, well-rounded types in the middle, and taller, rigid or spiky selections in the back for height. In this sun-loving display, waves of delicate snow-white sutera, trailing white petunias, calibrachoa 'Million Bells Trailing Blue', flossy-topped periwinkle-blue ageratum, lavender-flowered verbena, and variegated vinca vine are effervescent partners for classic white and pink geraniums—traditional window-box favorites.
Crimson geraniums go solo in this classic window-box display, enjoying their well-deserved day in the sun. Hardy, heat-loving, drought-tolerant, and widely available, few flowering plants perform as reliably in containers as these ever-popular garden plants.
A long black planter box lifts a colorful collection of shade lovers up to eye level, where they can be enjoyed from above and below the deck all season long. In the mix (right to left): Violet torenia hybrids, scarlet begonias, pink-eyed impatiens, mini asters, and variegated trailing ivy.
Salmon-colored tuberous begonias, lavender verbena, light-blue lobelia, and chartreuse sweet potato vine form a pleasing combination that thrives in shade, brightening the silvered cedar shingles of a seaside cottage.
Ancient ivy climbs up the stucco wall, as variegated vinca vine and pretty, pale violas head downward, forming a subtle, but effective, combination that suits the quiet character of this classic gray-shuttered dwelling.