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Sun & Drought-Resistant Window Box Flowers

By M.H. Dyer ; Updated September 21, 2017
Plants in sunny window boxes must tolerate reflected heat and light.
window box image by Andrew Breeden from Fotolia.com

Window boxes are an ideal solution for space-challenged gardeners, adding bright color that contrasts beautifully with the solid color walls of a house or apartment. Even gardeners who cope with difficult, hot, dry summer conditions can fill a window box with a variety of tough but colorful blooming plants.


Annuals are ideal choices for window boxes, providing a single season of bright color. Annual vinca (Catharanthus roseus) is a low-growing plant ideal for a window box. Vinca produces blooms in shades of lavender, purple, pink, white, salmon and red from early summer to the first frost. Creeping zinnia (Sanvitalia procumbens) won't grow past 6 inches tall, but each plant will spread out to 2 feet. French Marigold (Tagetes patula), with its upright growth habit and bright yellow, orange or gold blooms, thrives in hot, dry climates. With its bright, daisylike flowers, Gazania (Gazania rigens) is a sun-loving plant that requires little water. Moss Rose (Portulaca grandiflora) is a desert plant that adds intense color to a window box, growing to heights of 6 to 9 inches.


Perennials aren't often planted in window boxes, as the plants are susceptible to freezing during the winter. However, perennials can be a good choice for warmer climates, or for gardeners who are able to protect window boxes during the colder months. Bergamont (Monarda didyma), also known as bee balm, is a durable perennial bloomer with bright blooms and a pleasant, lemony scent. Lavender, a shrubby perennial with tiny blooms, is a good choice, for a hot, dry climates. Vinca major is an evergreen ground cover that remains green year-round. Vinca major benefits from a weekly watering during warm weather.


Sedum is an annual plant tailor-made for window boxes in hot, dry climates. Planted in a well-draining container, sedum is a plant-it-and-forget-it variety that tolerates extreme heat and dry conditions. Dragon's blood (S spurium), spreads quickly and produces a mass of dark red flowers in late summer. Gold moss sedum (S. acre) is a sunny plant that displays bright, golden flowers. Sedum x "Autumn Joy" has an upright habit and coppery pink blooms. Meteor (Sedum spectabile) brightens a window box with large pink blooms and bluish-green foliage. Sedum Acre is low-growing with masses of greenish-yellow flowers.

Vining Plants

Vining plants beautify a window box with trailing foliage and cascades of blooms. Cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit) is a vining plant that trails up to 10 feet, with delicate foliage and tiny, bright red flowers. Licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare), trailing to 6 to 12 inches with fuzzy, silvery gray leaves, tolerates hot, dry conditions. Lotus Vine (Lotus berthelotii) is a hot weather lover that produces feathery, trailing foliage and bright crimson flowers. Trailing Lantana (Lantana montevidensis), thrives in hot, windy, dry climates, producing white or lavender blooms on trailing stems.


About the Author


M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.