What to Plant in Window Boxes in Full Sun

Choosing the perfect collection of plants for your window boxes can be an overwhelming decision, one made even more complicated when that window box is in a full sun location. Planting window boxes that will really pop means choosing plants that can handle the conditions where they’re to be placed, instead of trying to force delicate plants to try to adapt to a less than ideal environment. Before you load up your window box, however, you should ensure that it is installed with heavy duty brackets that can support the weight of water and soil, which can be quite impressive.

Read on to learn more about choosing the perfect full sun garden plants for your window box.

Look to Full Sun Garden Plants for Window Box Success

Plants that have evolved facing the sun head-on are your best bets for beautiful window boxes. There are a number of excellent herbs, food plants and cascading flowers for window boxes, making the sky the limit for your personal vegetative expression! Many gardeners have been experimenting with a variety of plant types in window boxes and hanging baskets, going pretty far from the expected. Depending on what you’re looking for in a window box, these full sun plants could easily become favorites:

Moss Rose Flower | Picture by Evelyn Avila

Moss Rose

Delicate, crepe-like flowers aren’t normally the first thing that comes to mind when you think of sun-loving plants, but moss rose takes the prize for toughest little dainty flower. The succulent foliage, cascading form and multicolor flowers add a lot to a sunny planting.

Herb Window Box With Basil | Picture by The Bitten Word


Who said you have to leave the herbs and veggies in the garden? Window boxes are a great place for both herbs and small vegetable plants, including ever-fragrant basils. Most have an upright habit plus gorgeous (and delicious) glossy leaves. Basil does tend to attract bumblebees, however, so the bee-adverse should be(e) careful.

Signet Marigold Flower | Picture by Audrey

Signet Marigold

The cute, constant blooms of the signet marigold also do double duty as edible flowers, giving you another way to make your salad more “wow.” They appear in yellow, orange, gold and bi-color varieties and can bloom until fall, giving you a beautiful background to set behind something special or a wall of color that speaks for itself.

Purple Morning Glory Flower | Picture by Jon Callas

Morning Glory

Growing morning glory means preparing yourself for a massive cascade of leaves and blooms as the season goes on. Erupting like a gentle wave out of a window box and pouring down to the ground, morning glories can add movement to your garden, or you can train them from their first appearance to climb up a trellis or textured wall to create a massive and cool background.

Ice Plant Flowers | Picture by Art Poskanzer

Ice Plant

The dramatic daisy-like flowers of the ice plant shimmer like frozen petals atop a mat of succulent evergreen foliage when planted in full sun. Although generally thought of as a ground cover, ice plant is a window box winner. Its spreading habit and bright petals surrounding a white to yellow center are great for introducing color to otherwise drab areas.

Million Bells

Petunias are a container garden mainstay, but their cousins the million bells are just as deserving of window box glory. These small mounding plants bear masses of tiny, petunia-like flowers non-stop, keeping your window boxes full of fresh color all season long.

Watering Full Sun Window Boxes is Vital

Placing a window box in a full sun area is a high stakes game. The intense heat that can come from the sun added to the head that radiates back from your home’s siding can quickly dry out tender window box plants, making it difficult to keep them alive without frequent watering. If you live in a particularly dry area, it might be smart to add a window box reservoir that can dole out water and reduce the need for hand watering.

If you’d prefer to use the full depth of your window box for soil instead of reducing it with a reservoir, a drip irrigation system could be the ticket. They come with a lot of parts, but they’re surprisingly easy to install and adjust to give your plants the water they need, spread out throughout the day. Programmable timers will allow you to choose when to irrigate and how much, so you can give plants exactly what they need. This article is a great place to get started with drip irrigation systems for window boxes.

Photo credit: Moss Rose: Evelyn Avila ; Basil: The Bitten Word ; Marigold: Audrey; Morning Glory: Jon Callas; Ice Plant: Art Poskanzer; Million Bells: A. Yee

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