Are Window Planter Boxes Hard to Maintain?

Window planter boxes are great ways for people who live in smaller or communal living spaces to enjoy the benefits of gardening, even without access to a yard. The colorful boxes can also beautify and add character to a street. However, if you are considering installing a planter box, you may be concerned about how much maintenance it will require.   

Window planter boxes are not hard to maintain, although they require more attention than a backyard garden or potted plants. Plants in window boxes need more consistent watering and fertilizing, and some boxes need to be treated for adverse weather conditions. 

In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss how to care for a window planter box, the types of planter boxes available, and the pros and cons of having one. If you’re considering displaying your love of gardening on your windowsill, keep reading! 

How to Maintain Window Planter Boxes

Window planter boxes are not necessarily hard to maintain, but they do require regular attention and consistent care. Here are some of my recommendations on how to keep your window planter box looking healthy and beautiful: 

1. Water Regularly

One of the most difficult parts of maintaining a window planter box is the watering requirements. Window boxes are not deep, so the soil dries out more quickly than in a backyard garden. Therefore, plants growing under these conditions require watering at least once daily.  

If you are concerned about maintaining this schedule, you can use an irrigation system to water the plants.

Another way to help your window box plants retain moisture is using water-storing crystals, also known as hydrogels. Hydrogels are small pockets of water-absorbing polymers that act as sponges. They can hold quite a bit of water, which they gradually release into the soil.

2. Fertilize Often

Plants in window boxes need more help with root growth and blooming than plants in traditional gardens with more space. Therefore, they will benefit from the use of regular fertilizing

I suggest using slow-release fertilizer pellets when you first plant your plants in the box. They promote healthy growth, prevent wilt, and encourage the growth of roots, leaves, and flowers. They also reduce leaf yellowing. For more about yellowing leaves, check out my other article: Why Are Your Oriental Lily Leaves Turning Yellow?

After the pellets are completely gone, you should use a liquid fertilizer at least once a week.   

3. Add Fresh Potting Mix Every Season

You should have soil left over from the previous season every year, so you don’t need to clean out the box and replace all the soil entirely. However, your plants will benefit from a layer of fresh soil every season to help them rejuvenate themselves. 

When you mix in new potting soil, I recommend adding a soil amendment such as sphagnum peat moss. A soil amendment will help the soil retain moisture. You can also add some compost to increase the soil’s fertility. 

4. Treat Wood Boxes so They Can Withstand the Weather

If your window box is made of metal or plastic, you don’t need to worry about treating it for the weather. However, if you have a box made of wood, you’ll need to ensure that it can withstand the weather conditions in your area. 

One way to do this is to use a moisture-protecting sealant. Be sure to get a non-toxic sealant so your soil is safe from harm. Plus, it can help waterproof boards and protect them for years. Because your window planter box is always outside and exposed to the elements, it is important to protect it from harm. 

Another way to protect your wood box is to place a plastic sheet on the bottom. However, ensure that you punch some drainage holes in this sheet so the water can drain effectively.  

5. Monitor Your Plants and Adjust Accordingly

Finding the perfect plants for your window box may be a trial-and-error process. The best plants for this environment are flowers that thrive in full or partial sun because your window box will likely get a lot of sunlight. 

Additionally, you should avoid including plants that are sensitive to underwatering in your window box. Hopefully, you’ll be consistent and attentive with your watering, but letting the soil in a window box go dry is easy. Therefore, you should look for drought-tolerant plants. 

Window boxes look best when they combine flowering and non-flowering plants. These are my favorite non-flowering plants:

  • Ivy
  • Potato vines
  • Ti plants

You can also experiment with growing your own herbs, such as basil or cilantro.  

Types of Window Planter Boxes

There are many different types of window planter boxes you can choose from. Here are some common materials that manufacturers use to make planter boxes: 

  • Plastic 
  • Iron 
  • Wood 
  • Fiberglass 
  • Metal 
  • Terra cotta 

It’s worth reiterating that wood planter boxes require additional maintenance so they can survive tough weather conditions. They are vulnerable to rot and insect damage and are heavier than the other materials on this list. 

However, wood boxes are appealing because they go well with various architectural styles. Plus, you can paint them to suit your taste. Iron and metal boxes are sturdy, but they may rust easily depending on how much moisture you get in your area. 

These boxes come in various sizes and heights, so be sure to carefully measure the area where you wish to install the box and purchase the proper size. 

All window planter boxes should have holes for drainage already, but if you don’t think there are enough holes to ensure adequate airflow, you should drill more before you set up the box. 

Window Planter Boxes: Pros and Cons

Let’s take a closer look at some of the pros and cons of having a window planter box so you can determine if it is the right choice for you and your home.

Pros of Window Planter Boxes

There are many benefits to setting up a planter box in your window:

  • The plants in the box add beauty and character to your street.
  • Plants and flowers can lighten up a cramped space. 
  • Being around plants and nature is good for your health and soul. 
  • You can grow your own produce and herbs.
  • You can grow a garden, even if you don’t have a yard. 
  • Scented flowers can fill your apartment or home with a delicious aroma. 
  • The box adds to your home’s curb appeal. 

Cons of Window Planter Boxes

As delightful as they can be, there are also downsides to window planter boxes:

  • The plants may attract insects that can get through your window screens, such as aphids or spider mites
  • Plants in window boxes require more consistent watering. 
  • Drainage from the box can stain the side of your house or apartment building. 
  • The plants require more consistent fertilizing.
  • You may need to prune the plants more often to ensure they look presentable year-round.
  • Certain plants don’t do well in planter box conditions. 
  • Boxes made of wood, metal, or iron may not last very long because of their exposure to the elements. 
  • If you’re still developing your green thumb and you accidentally kill a plant, everyone will be able to see. 

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide if a window planter box is right for you, your space, and your lifestyle. A planter can be a great addition to any space, but only if you’re prepared to maintain it properly.  


There are many advantages to having a window planter box, although one disadvantage is that they do require more consistent care and attention than other gardening methods. However, even with the additional care that’s required, planter boxes are not hard to maintain if you are dedicated and committed to the cause.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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