You'll be able to both admire and eat the view.

By Andrea Beck
May 27, 2020
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Window boxes provide a simple solution for boosting your home's curb appeal, plus they let you grow even more plants than you can fit in your garden beds. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that your window boxes are only for ornamental annuals; you can grow edible plants in them too! An herb garden right outside your kitchen window is an easy way to start, and you’ll be able to grab fresh herbs whenever you need them while you’re cooking. You can also grow several vegetables in a window box, including tomatoes and kale, which will give you even more room to experiment in your backyard vegetable garden.

Credit: Carson Downing

Start with a Sturdy Planter

Anytime you’re hanging a window box and growing plants in it, you need a sturdy planter that’s firmly secured. When you’re looking for a box, choose one made with durable wood such as teak or redwood. Attach it to the wall with steel L brackets that are a couple of inches shorter than the width of the box.

Choose the Best Plants

When you’re planning an edible window box, choosing what you like to eat is most important. But if you can, it also helps to grow a variety of plants that look nice together. Most veggies and herbs need full sun to thrive, so set up your window box where it’ll get at least six hours of direct sun every day, then fill it with a focal point plant, spillers, interesting textures, and a variety of colors. Water whenever the soil is dry to the touch.

Credit: Dean Schoeppner

Pick a Focal Point

At the center of your planter, you want something that will draw the eye. In this window box arrangement, ‘Pesto Perpetuo’ basil grabs attention right away thanks to its upright growth and variegated leaves. This variety also doesn’t flower, so it’ll just keep producing edible leaves all summer long.

Plant Compact Vegetables

Naturally, you don’t have much space growing veggies in a window box, so you want to make the most of the room you do have with plants that stay relatively compact. ‘Tumbling Tom’ tomatoes spill over the edge of the box, adding interest and producing sweet yellow cherry tomatoes you can pluck off and add to salads. This variety is also good for growing in containers and hanging baskets!

Left: Credit: Marty Baldwin
Center: Credit: Denny Schrock
Right: Credit: Kindra Clineff

Add Color Contrast

Green is nice, but there are edible plants in other colors you can add to your box to give it some contrast. This combination includes purple sage, red-veined sorrel, and purple kale. These herbs and greens all stay relatively compact as they grow, but you can reach out and grab a few leaves whenever you need to add some extra color and flavor to your meal.

Left: Credit: Denny Schrock
Center: Credit: Marty Baldwin
Right: Credit: Marty Baldwin

Fill in with Texture

For the last few spots in your box, choose herbs that will add texture. Spearmint, lemon thyme, and oregano all spill out the edges of this box, while rosemary fills a gap toward the middle with its upright growth. Using a variety of heights and leaf shapes will make your box look fuller and also give you plenty of options for adding to your cooking.

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