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Soto Journal & Inspiration

How to plan your windowsill scheme

Will Williams, Soto’s Creative Director and winner of several RHS medal-winning gardens highlights the best plants for windowsills and how to care for them.

Windowsill boxes are a great way to add personality to even the smallest of outdoor spaces. Having colourful foliage on windowsills increases to kerb appeal and adds a touch of style from the very first impression of your home. For more tips on upping the kerb appeal of your property and adding value to your home, read our journal entry.

To make the most of this small space it is important to understand the direction your window faces and that you select easy to care for plants that have year round interest. It is also critical you can water the plants and not just rely on the rain to do the job for you!


Evergreen plants in wondowsill box containing ivy and ilex domes

Soto Green Windowsill 

The top 8 outdoor windowsill plants

We are often asked at Soto, what are the best plants to grow on my windowsill? There are many options for outdoor windowsill plants, but we always suggest low maintenance plants that have lots of seasonal interest.

The Soto Windowsill edit takes your gardens scheme to even the smallest of spaces and allows for a cohesive look. The edit takes away the need-to-know what plants work together and importantly we’ve considered how to make the most of your garden all year. If you’d prefer to create your own arrangement, we’ve listed the best windowsill plants from the Soto edit:

The Ilex Dome is great for adding evergreen structure to your windowsill scheme. It has small, dark green glossy leaves and produces small white flowers in the summer months. Ilex Domes are popular windowsill plants because they are very low maintenance, they only require a light trim in the first few years to encourage a bushy form. Great for direct sun but do well in partial shade too. Ilex Domes come in several sizes so Soto recommend the 20cm Ilex dome for windowsills.

Lavender is a sun loving plant, perfect for south facing windows. Lavenders long spikes of dark purple flowers provide colour and fragrance throughout summer. Popular with bees and butterflies, it reminds the Soto team of summer holidays in Europe. It would be beautiful to look on to from a sunny kitchen.

Geranium Rozanne has striking violet-blue flowers the shape of saucers, with white centres. The blooms appear delicate and provide vibrant colour from spring until autumn. Perfect for windowsills because it trails beautifully over the side of containers providing a pretty splash of colour. This small plant is drought tolerant so great if you aren’t the most diligent at watering. This geranium can sit in any light conditions so would work well in sun or shade.

Catmint has small purple flowers which contrast with fresh green leaves to offer soft and scented foliage. Loved by pollinators, this plant has a long flowering period from early summer all the way into autumn. Catmint could be considered a large windowsill plant, but it would make a lovely feature on a sunny windowsill.

The Australian Daisy produces lots of daisy like flowers which start white and then progress to an enchanting pink for a two-tone pop of colour. They are great for softening edges in sunny windowsill box’s and combining with other plants that like to be in bright light.

The Mexican Feather Grass brings movement and texture to your windowsill throughout the year. Also known as 'Angel Hair', the grass waves in the wind and are joined by feathery seed heads in the summer. The grass starts green before fading to a soft buff colour.

Ivy is easily recognisable by its distinct teardrop leaf shape. Incredibly versatile it looks beautiful trailing over the side of window boxes, it really is one of the best windowsill plants. This small plant will perform in direct sunlight and full shade.

Japanese Forest Grass brings bright green zest to your windowsills. It is happy in any light conditions so perfect for windows in indirect light. The grass originates from the mountains South-West of Tokyo and in the summer the grass is a lush green before developing to a golden brown, adding seasonal interest in winter.

Soto House Sunny

How To Grow Plants On A Windowsill

Is a windowsill in direct light? Will wind kill my plants? How do I know how much to water my plants? These are all questions we get asked at Soto when it comes to caring for plants on windowsills. In this section of the Masterclass, we cover how to look after outside plants on a windowsill.

Understanding the direction your window faces

The two most important aspects of keeping windowsill plants alive is the amount of light they get and how much they are watered. How much direct light a plant needs will dictate if your windowsill is suitable or not. South facing gardens should contain plants which do well in the hot sun. North facing gardens will require shade loving plants. At Soto, we list our plants according to the aspect they thrive under.

Knowing the aspect of the windowsill is simple, use the compass on your phone. Stand looking out of your window, if you are facing east or west, you will have a partial aspect. South facing means full sun. North facing means full shade. There is more information in our understanding your aspect in our ‘Mastering the Basics’ series.

Watering windowsill plants

Make sure you check the plant pots for dry soil and get into a good watering routine. Plants in pots dry out much quicker than when planted in the ground, so it is important to water windowsill plants regularly, especially when it is warm. This is particularly true of terracotta pots which absorb water meaning it can be easy to think you’ve watered the plants sufficiently. 

Watering thoroughly when planting in pots can make a significant difference when growing healthy plants. Occasional watering, giving a big drink to the plant is more beneficial than small amounts of frequent watering.

Another way to help your windowsill plants thrive is to improve the drainage and soil structure with grit and mulch. Mulch should be added to windowsill pots twice a year to feed the plants, suppress weeds and help maintain moisture levels. Follow our watering and planting masterclass for detailed steps.

The best pots for windowsills

Any pot can be used for plants on windowsills, so long as they can fit on the window ledge! Traditionally, a trough shape fits the shape of a windowsill and makes a perfect window box.

Fibre clay looks like stone or concrete but is much lighter, so is a great option for windowsills. These pots can be left outside all year because they are resistant to frost and UV. Pots with drainage holes prevent overwatering which can cause roots to rot but not all plant pots come with them. They are simple to make when you know how! We’ve put together a video on how to drill drainage holes in pots which gives expert advice to ensure there is sufficient drainage for your demonstrating how to do this and other steps to take to ensure there is sufficient drainage from your pots.

Check the plant for the warning signs of stress

There are three main signs that your windowsill plants may need some TLC:

Wilting: Plants often wilt if they haven’t been watered enough but they can wilt if they have been over watered too. Check the soil to see if it is dry or not.

Yellow or brown leaves: Discoloured leaves on windowsill plants could mean that your plant is either not receiving enough water, that it isn’t receiving enough nutrients, in which case give it a feed or it has been exposed to too much cold. If this is the case the plant wasn’t hardy enough. When choosing plants of windowsills select hardy plants or very hardy plants. All Soto plants fall under these categories.

Leggy plants: Plants appear leggy, otherwise known as bolting, when they have been exposed to too much heat. To help remedy this, give the plants some extra water and prune back when needed to encourage new denser growth.

There are many different plants suitable for growing on a windowsill but the most successful widow schemes contain hardy plants with year long interest. The most important thing however is that they are planted in the suitable light aspect and are well watered from planting.

Lavender in a fibre clay windowsill trough with ilex dome

Soto House Sunny

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