Winter Window Box

Bulk up your planters with this cold-hardy combo. Then, give the look a festive spin in minutes.
Ellen Ruoff Riley

It's finally cold, and now containers that were filled with voluminous summer flowers appear vacant. But winter is equally stellar when you know what to plant. Adapt these tips to your containers for a great look that's easy to accomplish.

From Tall to Short
You've heard this before: Begin with a focal point, the one element that draws attention. In our window box, a tall pyramid-shaped boxwood serves as the anchor plant. To each side, a small, round boxwood repeats the texture and fills the container with substantial foliage.

Between the shrubs, paperwhites bring additional height and texture to the back of the box. Purchase them as loose bulbs or already growing. A 6-inch pot of paperwhites can be separated into several clumps and placed on each side of the pyramid-shaped boxwood.

Fill the front of the box with color and texture. Center green-and-white flowering cabbages (in 4-inch pots) in front of the tall boxwood to emphasize the focal point. Silvery dusty miller and white violas continue the color scheme, while two (6-inch) pots of variegated ivy trail over the front.

The Power of Color
Let the house and trim palette dictate the shades in your window box. Deep green shrubs act as a neutral backdrop. Flowers and vibrant foliage make the mix interesting, whether casual or formal. Sticking to a white-and-silver scheme, as we have here, creates a dressy appearance. For the holidays, adding red nandina berries delivers extra punch with little effort. Center the clusters below the focal point for the most dynamic effect.

Care
Cold weather dehydrates plants and soil. Water window boxes when they begin to dry, especially before a hard freeze. Check the moisture level weekly, and remember: If your box is sheltered by an eave, rain may not reach it.

 

Hale and Hardy for the Window Box

Shrubs

  • boxwood
  • dwarf Alberta spruce
  • Leyland cypress
  • 'Chattanooga' Colorado
  • blue spruce 

Foliage

  • flowering cabbage
  • flowering kale
  • dusty miller
  • variegated ivy
  • parsley
  • monkey grass 


Flowers

  • pansy
  • viola
  • paperwhite
  • cyclamen (tolerates cold but not a hard freeze)

     

"Winter Window Box" is from the December 2005 issue of Southern Living.