If you’re looking to liven up the windowsills of your flat, or want to make the most of available space, bring the outdoors closer to home by creating a beautiful window box. We recommend which plants grow well in window boxes and the best varieties for every type of space – from shady spots to sun traps.

Affordable, creative

Window boxes bring a shower of colour and offer instant kerb appeal. Once window box plants take root, they are relatively easy to look after. Find window boxes at your local garden centre or why not build your own from scratch? Consider how your window box will attach to the building, as this will determine the style you choose. For example, a vertical shape will work on narrow sills. If you have deeper window ledges, you can opt for something with a broader base – giving you room for larger blooms.

DIY window box

When creating a box from scratch, the good news is that you can modify a basic design to fit your windowsills. If sustainability is your focus, why not upcycle an old chest or crate? Just remember to drill holes in the bottom for water to drain out. Measure the dimensions of your windows and decide on the placement of your box. Cut out front, back and bottom boards of the same length and two shorter end pieces to match each other. Glue and nail one side length to both end pieces, then the second length and finally, the base. Use exterior paint or stain to finish. Placing a layer of pebbles at the bottom will stop the drainage holes from clogging. Secure your boxes to the wall with metal brackets to stop them slipping off the windowsill. Alternatively, try screwing eyelets into the wall and secure your window box with strong wire or gardening string.

Best plants for window boxes

Sun-loving blooms include verbenas – which come in a variety of colourful shades. Lavishly shaped petunias and snapdragons grow tall, making them ideal for window boxes. Fuchsias aren’t just for hanging baskets – they do well in any type of container and love dark areas, so you can plant confidently, knowing they’ll thrive all season. Pansies, ivy and cyclamens will grow happily in filtered shade. Plant close together, so they erupt up and out. Try growing herbs such as thyme, parsley, sage, rosemary and mint. You might even create a single herb box that will work as a standalone visual feature. Strawberries and chillies can be grown in the smallest of spaces. Keep well-watered and fed, and they’ll produce a decent crop. With a small planting project like window boxes, changing or adding to your plant selection season to season is a straightforward process.

Self-watering planters

If you are worried about forgetting to water your window boxes, self-watering planters are a great alternative to a standard box. The name does not mean the box waters itself. Instead, it houses a watering system with a reservoir where the plants sit inside a fabric foot or wick soil system. The plant’s roots draw up water as needed. Fill your planter and make sure the soil is moist. Adding a small amount of mulch helps prevent the soil from drying out – essential for window areas that trap heat. Simply add water to keep the level in the reservoir topped off. Self-watering planters work for herbs, flowers, or succulents.

For visual appeal and character, window boxes are a great way to brighten the look of your home. You will love the difference a fresh-looking window box can make.