Build an indoor window box this winter

Published Jan 8, 2017 at 9:00am

When the gray skies of winter linger, enjoy the color and charm of an indoor window box. There are many ways to begin this project; use as much creativity as you would in a garden.  

First, choose the box itself. You can use wood, or consider metal, plastic, wicker, and even terra-cotta containers. You can make your own or just buy it.

Next, choose how you will display it. You could mount the box to a window like the outdoor version; or interpret the concept more loosely by putting the box on a table or windowsill.  

Selecting the plants is the fun part! Consider starting with houseplants you already own. Instead of using soil inside the window box, arrange individual containers inside rather than plant them permanently. This will give you a chance to easily change the look of your box at any time.

Old nursery pots are cheap and functional, but they are not very attractive. You can easily hide them inside the box under sphagnum moss. In fact, not only can you drop different containers within the box, you can even use jars of water with plant cuttings collected, such as golden pothos or wandering jew.

Using this ‘container inside a container’ technique also allows you to group together plants that have different moisture needs.

Separate pots with their own drainage saucers can be watered individually. You can easily swap plants out of a window box for seasonal appeal or special occasions. Consider a theme for your indoor box; here are some ideas.  

Kitchen Herb Garden

What better window box to have than an edible one; one filled with fresh herbs for cooking. You can purchase seeds or seed starting kits to grow herbs from scratch; or buy plants such as rosemary, parsley, basil, and different thymes.

Most herbs will prefer a sunny window and somewhat warmer temperatures. Don’t expect your indoor herbs to grow to the same size they would in an outdoor garden, but they will grow to provide you with enough herbs for those favorite recipes.  

Houseplant Paradise

Nothing could be easier for a window box theme garden than to collect plants around the house or those cuttings that have been sitting in a glass. Arrange your collection just like you would an outdoor window box; the higher plants should be in the back, shorter plants in front, trailing plants placed in the front or the sides.

For some interesting plants, consider dracaena, cactus, golden pothos, wandering jew, or African violets. If you over-wintered some outdoor annuals such as impatiens or coleus, the box would be a beautiful way to display them. Add them with your houseplants.  

Early Spring Bouquet

Get a preview of spring with bulbs. Tulip, hyacinth and crocus are plentiful at florists, supermarkets, and department stores in the late winter. Add some foliage plants such as the spiky dracaena or a rubber plant. Consider purchasing cut flowers such as daffodils, place them inside a jar of water and fill the spaces between plants in your window box.

With minimal work and a little imagination, you can bring the color, charm and warmth of a window box indoors for enjoyment year round.  

Help only a click or phone call away

Need some assistance? Help is available by visiting Cornell Cooperative Extension Oneida County’s website at For information on different plants or assistance with a specific question, contact the Horticulture Hot Line at 736-3394 and ask to speak to a master gardener volunteer.