As you plan this year’s garden, consider adding some window boxes. A charming window box is a small garden placed above the ground, on a window or porch ledge. In older, foreign cities it is common to see three- and four-story houses graced with well-tended, colorful window boxes. Many homes in America have at least one location that could be enhanced by a window box.

When choosing a location, consider ease of maintenance. A window box can be placed on a house, barn, shed, playhouse or even a garage. Favorite house locations include kitchen and bathroom windows.

Window boxes may be hand-made or purchased. Wood, plaster, weathered copper, and iron tubing (with coco mat liners) are popular. The style you choose should be in keeping with the surrounding landscape and the architecture of the building.

Window boxes must have good drainage. And keep in mind that they will become very heavy when filled and watered. This should be seriously considered when attaching them to a building.

There are many options for plant materials. Window boxes can contain permanent or seasonal plantings, formal or informal. One favorite is herbs, with a few blooming flowers mixed among them. Monochromatic greenery cascading over the edges is elegant. Pansies and violas are colorful additions to a winter window box, and evergreens do well in winter, too. Primroses are beautiful for spring. Geraniums and daisies, with trailing ivy, are great for summer. Chrysanthemums in a variety of colors make a lovely autumn box.

Many varieties do well together. Use plants of different heights, the more color the better. Keep in mind the amount of light the plants will receive, the proper kind of soil for the grouping, and don’t forget to water as needed, especially in our hot summers. Happy planting!

Sharon Nelson, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service


As a child, I loved to visit my aunt. She had fruit trees, a large herb and vegetable garden, and wonderful flowers. Her house was always aflutter. It was easy to see how she loved the out-of-doors.

As she is elderly now and confined to a wheelchair, she can only reminisce about her garden. She is restricted to the few houseplants on her television set and small stand in her dining room. A greenhouse is only a dream because she lives alone, and caring for a greenhouse would be a risky business for someone who is ninety years old.

I just couldn’t stop thinking about how empty her life had become. I could hear the sadness in her voice when she would recall her flower beds and herb garden. Then one day I thought of installing window boxes at wheelchair height on the INSIDE of her windows-boxes that could hold ample water and plants, boxes that could be compartmentalized, boxes that could grow herbs or bonsai plants or could serve for forcing bulbs.

So if you know an elderly person who is missing out on their gardening experiences, make their life a little happier with an INSIDE-OUT WINDOW BOX project. And don’t forget to tie plant snips and small watering cans onto the side of the box so they won’t drop to the floor.

Susan Boyer, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

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