Plants for Planter Boxes

Planter boxes create attractive fixtures in the garden or on a patio. Filled with plants that produce colorful foliage and flowers, planter boxes can be attractive and functional. Planting plants of one color is one way to create a professional looking planter box as well as planting plants that are the right size for the container. Mixing textures, such as adding ornamental grasses with flowering or trailing plants, is another way to make a beautiful planter box.

Boston Ferns

Boston ferns produce lots of beautiful fernlike foliage and can grow quite large if given the right growing conditions. Boston ferns look best if given plenty or water. The soil in the planter box containing Boston ferns should not be allowed to dry out. A weekly application of a water-soluble fertilizer appropriate for container plants diluted to half strength will keep Boston ferns green and vigorous. They should be located in full to mostly shade. Direct sun exposure is not recommended for planter boxes. Boston ferns are not frost tolerant.


For a sunny location, verbena is a beautiful option. It is available in varieties of purple, pink, white or red. Verbena fills a container quickly and trails over the sides creating an attractive look. In the Southern United States, verbena may be perennial, returning every year. In most areas, it should be considered a colorful annual. It likes rich soil and added moisture during dry periods.


Geraniums look good all summer as they produce bright flowers of pink, orange or red, depending on the variety. Geraniums survive best in part shade with adequate moisture. For a trailing habit, look for the trailing geranium variety.


Daffodils welcome the arrival of spring as they are one of the first plants to bloom. They produce grassy foliage from bulbs followed by trumpet-shaped flowers of yellow, orange or white. Although popular as a plant for planter boxes, they decline quickly after the bloom period. Annuals can be planted over the daffodil bulbs so the daffodils can return the following spring. Allow the daffodil plant foliage to decline completely before removing because the bulbs use the foliage to create energy for the next year's blooms.


Coleus has bright colorful foliage of orange, purple or different shades of green. Grown specifically as a foliage plant, Coleus can withstand hot temperatures if provided sufficient shade. There are new varieties called "Sun Coleus" developed to withstand prolonged periods of direct sun. However, all varieties need occasional pinching back to keep a neat shape that is not prone to sprawling or wind damage.

Dusty Miller

Dusty miller is grown for its gray silvery foliage, although some varieties produce small yellow flowers. It is cold tolerant and looks nice in mixed containers because it provides a nice texture or backdrop for smaller flowering plants such as pansies.


Petunias are one of the most popular flowering plants for planter boxes. They are fragrant, colorful and drape over the sides of the container. There are many improved varieties available that are more heat tolerant and have more vibrant color and trailing abilities than the old-fashioned varieties. Petunias are an annual plant.

Keywords: planter boxes, container gardening, container plants

About this Author

Based in Rockdale Texas, Jim Gober has been writing garden-related articles for 25 years. His articles appear in several Texas newspapers including The Rockdale Reporter, The Lexington Leader, The Cameron Herald and The Hearne Democrat. He is a Master Gardener and Certified Texas Nursery and Landscape Professional. He holds bachelor degrees in English Writing from St. Edward's University and Finance from Lamar University.