Over the past year, many of us have discovered the joys of gardening, whether it’s growing our own fruit and veg or creating beautiful flower gardens. But what if you don’t have a garden – or space is very limited?
The good news is that you don’t need a garden or even a balcony to grow your own produce or plants from home – all you need is a window and a window box. So if you’d like to start growing your own plants this spring, here are some ideas to get you inspired.
With their bright colours, cheerful faces and thick, dark green leaves, petunias are a great choice for a window box – and they look especially lovely when they cascade over the edge of your container. Petunias flower from spring until the first frost, so they’re good if you want a long-lasting dose of colour – and because they come in red, purple, pink, white, and striped and speckled varieties, this is a great way to inject some vibrancy into your home.
Petunias love the sun, so if you’re lucky enough to have a window box that catches the rays, petunias should thrive. There are several different types of petunias, but wave petunias are considered to be best for growing in a window box: they’re bold, hardy, and require very little care – just water them when the soil feels dry. Petunias are versatile and grow in many different types of soil, but it’s always important that the soil drains well, so be sure to check drainage in your containers.
For more detailed instructions on how to create a petunia flower box, you might want to read this article by Home Guides. Alternatively, watch the video below to find out more about growing petunias.
Few things are more delicious than a perfectly ripe strawberry – but did you know you can grow these sweet berries from your window ledge? If you plant strawberries this spring it may be several months before the berries themselves appear, but the white flowers with bright yellow centres will still make your window box look lovely – and remind you of the sweet treats that are soon to come.
To fruit, strawberries need a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight each day, so if your window box doesn’t get much sunlight, you might want to think about growing another plant instead.
Strawberries also need acidic potting soil rather than garden soil, and because they like well-drained conditions with consistent moisture, it’s important to make sure that the drainage holes are big enough. Strawberries should be planted after the last freeze, and with a bit of luck they should grow and fruit until the frost comes back around – so you should have several months to enjoy these delicious berries!
For more information on growing strawberries from your window box, you might want to read this article by Apartment Therapy, or watch the video below.
Tomatoes are one of the most popular plants to grow in a window box – and there are plenty of varieties that have been specifically bred to grow on window sills. Sweet ‘n’ Neat, Balconi Red and Yellow, Micro Tom, Vilma, and Tumbling Tom varieties all thrive in six inch pots, so these are usually the best bet for growing from home.
Whichever type of tomato you go for, you need a sunny window ledge, as tomatoes require a decent amount of light to flower and fruit. Rather than planting the tomatoes in soil, it’s best to plant them in compost containing either vermiculite or perlite, which provides the plants with all the moisture, nutrients and oxygen they need. The best time to sow tomatoes is from the beginning of March until the middle of April, and once the flowers bloom, the tomatoes themselves aren’t far behind.
To find out more, have a read of this window sill guide by Tomato Growing – or alternatively, watch the video below.
If you enjoy getting creative in the kitchen, then why not consider growing your own herbs? Not only do fresh herbs look vibrant and pretty in a window, but they’ll also provide you with a constant supply of diverse flavours to add to your cooking – and if you regularly buy fresh herbs from the shops, growing your own will save you money too. The great thing about some of the most popular herbs is that they’re really easy to grow and maintain – and many are drought-tolerant once established, too.
The easiest herbs to grow yourself are basil, parsley, sage, oregano, mint, thyme and chives, though this will depend on how much sun your window sill gets: rosemary, thyme, sage, and chives all like warm, sunny spots, whereas mint, oregano, and parsley prefer partial sun – so if your window is quite shady, it’s safest to opt for the latter three. Soil wise, most herbs aren’t fussy and do well in soil and compost mixes.
To find out more about growing your own herb garden in containers, as well as when to plant different herbs, have a read of this article by Fantastic Gardeners. Alternatively, have a watch of the video below.
With its wonderful scent and beautiful purple blossoms, lavender is a favourite with many gardeners – and planting it in your window box this spring means you can enjoy its intoxicating fragrance all summer. Lavender is a Mediterranean plant, so it needs plenty of sun to thrive – ideally at least six hours of sunlight a day. You can grow lavender from either seed or cuttings; seeds should take about two to three weeks to sprout, and cuttings should be planted in moist, sandy soil.
Lavender needs a good amount of water, but because it doesn’t like to be damp, the most important factor to consider is drainage. You should choose a container that has plenty of container holes – or alternatively, you can drill more holes yourself. Many gardeners recommend adding some builder’s sand to the soil, as this can increase drainage. Aside from ensuring they drain properly, lavender is pretty low maintenance. It doesn’t usually survive the winter outside, but the good thing about growing lavender in a window box is that you can bring your plants inside when it gets cold – which also means that your home can benefit from their gorgeous scent!
To find out more about growing lavender, have a read of this article by Gardening Know How – or watch the video below.
You might not be able to grow strawberries if your window sill doesn’t get much sun… but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on the idea of growing your own healthy produce. Spinach is a really resilient plant that will happily grow in cool, shady spots – and more good news is that it only takes around 40 days to reach harvesting potential. This means that if you plant this spring, it won’t be long before you’ll be able to enjoy delicious, homegrown fresh spinach!
Though they’re hardy plants, spinach is a heavy feeder, and benefits from fertiliser or plant food. It also needs plenty of water, so be sure to water it frequently and don’t let it dry out. It’s important to ensure your plant drains properly, as if the water stagnates it can lead to rot. Because of this, try to avoid wetting the leaves where you can, and keep the soil moist but not soggy.
To find out more about growing spinach in a window box, have a read of this article by Gardening Know How, or watch the video below.
Fresh, peppery and crunchy, radishes can transform salads and sandwiches – and the good news is that this root vegetable fares brilliantly on window boxes. Radishes are resilient plants, and can cope with poor weather very well – plus, they only need around three to four hours of sunlight a day, so if your window sill isn’t the sunniest spot, radishes might be a smart choice.
There are many different types of radishes – so if you think they’re all red and round, think again! You can get yellow, purple, oblong and cylinder-shaped radishes, but the ones that are best suited to window containers are the April Cross, Bunny Tail, Cherry Belle and Champion varieties. These plants are best sown from April – and you can expect your first radishes to appear just four to six weeks after planting. Radishes don’t require much feeding, but they can’t cope with waterlogging, so try to maintain a consistent level of moisture in the soil.
To learn more about growing radishes in window boxes, have a read of this article by Gardena, or watch the video below.
With their heart-shaped, overlapping petals and vivid colours, pansies are one of the most popular flowers to grow in window boxes. In spite of how pretty they look, they’re tough little plants: they can withstand single digit temperatures and will survive a frost – so if you’re looking to keep your window box looking colourful throughout the winter months, pansies are a wise choice.
Pansies are best planted in early spring or autumn, and though you can plant them from seeds, it’s much easier to buy plants from a local nursery. Plus, this way you’ll be able to enjoy these cheery blooms much sooner. Pansies like a bit of sun, but not too much: their ideal spot will get some morning sun but be shady in the afternoon. Pansies are pretty low maintenance, though they need regular watering and do best when planted in potting soil (do ensure it’s well-drained though!)
For more information, have a read of this article by The Old Farmer’s Almanac, or watch the video below.
9. Aloe vera
Another great plant to grow from home is aloe vera. Not only does this plant look impressive, but it also has many medicinal uses, and can be used to treat burns, improve digestive health, and clear up skin conditions. You can even use it to make healthy juices! Because aloe vera is a succulent plant, it flourishes in dry conditions, so if you’re growing it from home it’s best to choose a window sill that is somewhat sheltered, but still gets some sun.
It’s really important not to overwater aloe vera plants. They can’t handle standing water, so ensure the pot has plenty of drainage holes, and don’t water it unless the soil has gone completely dry. The most common reason aloe vera plants die is because they’re overwatered or the water doesn’t drain properly, so this is the number one thing to look out for. Remember that aloe’s plump leaves contain plenty of gel, and this stores water, as do their thick roots.
To find out more about growing aloe vera, have a read of this article by Gardening Know How, or watch the video below.
10. Spring onions
Another fresh and delicious vegetable that thrives in window boxes is the spring onion. Unlike regular onions, spring onions are shallow-rooting, which means they can be grown in shallow soil and can be planted close together. Plus, they can handle partial shade, so if you don’t have the sunniest window ledge, they’re a good choice.
Spring onions require good drainage, so it’s helpful to line the bottom of your window box with a layer of small rocks, which promotes proper drainage. Then, simply add your potting mix, press down, add your seeds and cover with another layer of potting mix. It will take around three to four weeks for them to germinate, and you should try to avoid picking your onions until they’re at least six inches tall – though the longer spring onions grow, the stronger their flavour will be.
To find out more about growing spring onions, have a read of this article by The Micro Gardener, or watch the video below.
Gardening is an extremely meditative activity – and the good news is that you don’t need to have a garden to create a mini oasis in your own home. Growing your own plants is as rewarding as it is relaxing, and whether you choose to grow plants you can eat, or ones that just look lovely, there’s a unique joy in seeing plants you’ve cared for flourish and grow. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have any gardening experience – it’s never too late to discover your green finger, and growing plants in a window box is a wonderful way to bring some extra life and vitality into your home.
Have you grown plants in window boxes before – or are you inspired to give it a go? We’d love to hear about your growing experiences and see pictures of your window box! Leave us a comment below or join the conversation over on the community forum.