How To Plant In Planter Box [ Full Guide ]

Planter boxes are a great way to bring greenery and life to any space, whether it’s a small balcony, a patio, or a garden. They provide the opportunity to grow a variety of plants, from flowers and herbs to vegetables and even small trees, in a confined and controlled environment. However, successful planting in a planter box requires careful consideration of the box itself, the soil, and the plants that will inhabit it. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the steps involved in planting in a planter box, from selecting the right planter box to choosing the suitable plants and everything in between.

Quick Answer: How To Plant In A Planter Box

If you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick overview of the steps involved in planting in a planter box:

  1. Choose the right planter box: Consider the size, material, and drainage of the planter box.
  2. Prepare the soil: Ensure the soil is well-draining and nutrient-rich.
  3. Select the right plants: Choose plants that are suitable for the size of the planter box and the available sunlight.
  4. Planting in crowded planter boxes: If planting multiple plants in the same box, follow spacing guidelines and consider companion planting.
  5. Maintenance: Water, fertilize, and prune the plants regularly to ensure healthy growth.

Now, let’s delve into each of these steps in detail.

Choosing The Right Planter Box

Selecting the right planter box is the first crucial step in successfully planting in a confined space. Several factors should be considered when choosing a planter box to ensure a conducive environment for plant growth.

Size And Shape

The size and shape of the planter box are essential considerations. Larger planter boxes have more room for root growth and water retention, while smaller ones may dry out more quickly. Similarly, the shape of the planter box should complement the type of plants you want to grow. Rectangular planter boxes are suitable for growing rows of vegetables, while circular or square ones may be better for ornamental plants or small trees.


Planter boxes come in a variety of materials, including wood, plastic, ceramic, metal, and concrete. Each material comes with its advantages and drawbacks. Wood, for instance, is a natural and breathable material but may rot over time, especially if constantly exposed to moisture. On the other hand, plastic is lightweight and durable but may not provide the same aesthetic appeal as wood or ceramic. Consider the aesthetic, durability, and weight of the material before making a selection.


Proper drainage is crucial for the health of plants in a planter box. Without adequate drainage, water can accumulate, leading to root rot and other issues. Ensure that the planter box has drainage holes or the capability to add them, especially if it will be exposed to frequent watering. Additionally, some planter boxes come with built-in trays or reservoirs to collect excess water, which can be beneficial in certain environments.


Consider the mobility of the planter box, especially if you plan to move it around to optimize sunlight or protect plants from harsh weather. Some planter boxes come with built-in wheels, while others may require the use of a plant caddy or dolly for transportation.

In conclusion, when choosing a planter box, consider the size, shape, material, drainage, and mobility to create a suitable environment for the plants you intend to grow.

Preparing The Soil For Planting

Once you’ve chosen the right planter box, the next step is to prepare the soil for planting. The quality of the soil directly impacts the health and growth of the plants, so it’s essential to ensure that it is well-suited for the specific plants you intend to grow.

Soil Mix

When planting in a planter box, it’s advisable to use a high-quality potting mix specifically formulated for container gardening. These mixes are designed to provide good aeration, drainage, and water retention, which are essential in a confined space. Avoid using garden soil, as it may be too dense and lack the necessary nutrients for potted plants.

Drainage Material

To improve drainage in the planter box, consider adding a layer of drainage material at the bottom before adding the soil. This can be in the form of gravel, pebbles, or broken pottery shards. The layer of drainage material prevents water from accumulating at the bottom of the planter box and helps maintain healthy root systems.

Soil Amendments

Depending on the types of plants you intend to grow, you may need to amend the potting mix with organic matter or fertilizer to provide essential nutrients. Some plants may require a more acidic or alkaline soil pH, so it’s important to test the soil and make adjustments accordingly.

Soil Sterilization

If you’re reusing a planter box or soil from a previous planting, it’s essential to sterilize the soil to eliminate any pests, diseases, or weed seeds that may be present. This can be done by heating the soil in an oven or by solarization, a process that uses the sun’s heat to kill pathogens and weed seeds.

In summary, preparing the soil for planting involves selecting a suitable potting mix, ensuring proper drainage, amending the soil as needed, and sterilizing it if necessary.

Selecting The Right Plants For The Planter Box

Choosing the right plants is crucial to the success of planting in a planter box. Factors such as the size of the box, sunlight exposure, climate, and the types of plants that complement each other should all be taken into account.

Size Of The Box

The size of the planter box will largely determine the size and number of plants that can be accommodated. Larger planter boxes can accommodate a variety of plants, from flowering annuals to small shrubs, whereas smaller boxes may be more suitable for compact herbs, lettuces, or flowers.

Sunlight Requirements

Consider the amount of sunlight the planter box receives throughout the day when selecting plants. Some plants, such as tomatoes and peppers, require full sun, while others, like ferns and certain herbs, thrive in partial or full shade. Be mindful of the sunlight exposure in the chosen location and select plants accordingly.

Climate Considerations

If the planter box will be exposed to outdoor elements, consider the climate of your region when selecting plants. Some plants are better suited to hot and dry conditions, while others thrive in cooler, more humid environments. Be mindful of the hardiness zones and select plants that are suitable for your specific climate.

Companion Planting

In some cases, planting a combination of compatible plants in the same planter box can be beneficial. This technique, known as companion planting, can help deter pests, attract beneficial insects, and improve overall plant health. For example, planting marigolds alongside tomatoes can help deter nematodes, while growing basil near tomatoes can enhance their flavor and repel certain pests.

When selecting plants for a planter box, consider the size of the box, sunlight requirements, climate, and the potential benefits of companion planting to create a harmonious and thriving environment for your plants.

Tips For Planting In Crowded Planter Boxes

In some instances, you may want to maximize the planting space in a planter box, leading to a crowded or dense arrangement of plants. While this approach can create a lush and vibrant display, it requires careful consideration to ensure that each plant receives adequate space, light, and nutrients.

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Spacing Guidelines

When planting multiple plants in the same box, it’s essential to follow spacing guidelines to prevent overcrowding and competition for resources. Consult the planting instructions for each type of plant and provide the recommended spacing to ensure that they have adequate room to grow.

Vertical Planting

To optimize space in crowded planter boxes, consider incorporating vertical elements, such as trellises or stakes, to support vining or climbing plants. This allows you to grow more plants in a limited area while providing them with the necessary support for upward growth.

Container Size

Consider the root depth and spread of the plants when selecting the container size for a crowded planter box. Some plants, such as carrots and certain herbs, have shallow root systems and can thrive in smaller pots, while others, like tomatoes and peppers, require deeper containers to accommodate their extensive root systems.

Watering And Fertilization

In crowded planter boxes, it’s important to monitor watering and fertilization closely, as the competition for resources can be higher. Ensure that each plant receives adequate water and nutrients by watering evenly and using a balanced fertilizer, taking care not to over-fertilize, which can lead to excessive foliage and poor fruit or flower production.

Pruning And Thinning

Regular pruning and thinning are crucial in crowded planter boxes to prevent overcrowding and ensure good air circulation and sunlight exposure. Remove dead or yellowing leaves, as well as any overcrowded or excessively vigorous growth to maintain the overall health and balance of the plants.

In summary, when planting in crowded planter boxes, follow spacing guidelines, consider vertical planting, select appropriate container sizes, monitor watering and fertilization, and practice regular pruning and thinning to maintain a healthy and harmonious plant arrangement.

Planting in a planter box offers a versatile and attractive way to introduce greenery and color to any space. By carefully selecting the right planter box, preparing the soil, choosing suitable plants, and considering planting in crowded conditions, you can create a thriving and bountiful display of vegetation. With attention to detail and proper care, your planter box can be a source of joy and beauty for seasons to come. Whether you’re growing flowers, herbs, vegetables, or a combination of plant species, the process of planting in a planter box can be both rewarding and fulfilling.

Caring For Newly Planted Planter Boxes

Planter boxes are an excellent way to bring greenery and vitality to any space, whether it’s a balcony, patio, or small garden. They provide the opportunity to grow flowers, herbs, and vegetables in a defined and controlled environment, making gardening accessible to those with limited space or poor soil conditions. However, successfully planting in planter boxes requires proper care and attention.

When starting a new planter box, it’s crucial to prepare the soil before planting. Begin by selecting a good quality potting mix. A well-draining potting mix is essential for healthy plant growth in planter boxes. It should be lightweight, rich in organic matter, and have good moisture retention capabilities.

Start by filling the planter box with the potting mix, leaving some space at the top for watering. If you are using a deep planter box, you can create a drainage layer at the bottom using gravel or broken pottery. This layer helps to prevent waterlogging, ensuring excess water drains away from the roots.

Next, carefully remove the plants from their nursery pots. Gently loosen the roots to encourage them to grow outward. Place the plants into the planter box, spacing them appropriately to allow for proper growth. Press lightly on the potting mix around the base of each plant to secure them in place.

After planting, give the planter box a thorough watering to ensure the soil is evenly moist. This initial watering helps settle the soil and eliminates air pockets around the roots. Be cautious not to overwater as it can lead to root rot and other diseases. It’s always a good idea to check the moisture level of the soil using your finger or a moisture meter before watering again.

Fertilizing Planter Boxes

Fertilizing is crucial for the health and vigor of planter box plants. Since the plants are in a confined space and rely solely on the nutrients provided by the soil, regular fertilization is necessary to replenish the nutrients. The goal is to provide balanced nutrition to support healthy growth and abundant blooms or harvest.

There are two main types of fertilizers to consider: organic and synthetic. Organic fertilizers are derived from natural sources such as compost, manure, or fish emulsion. They release nutrients slowly and improve soil structure and microbial activity. Synthetic fertilizers, on the other hand, are manufactured with specific nutrient ratios and provide a quick nutrient boost.

When choosing a fertilizer, consider the specific needs of the plants you are growing in your planter box. Read the labels carefully to determine the nutrient ratios and instructions for application. In general, a balanced fertilizer with equal amounts of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) is suitable for most plant varieties.

Apply the fertilizer according to the recommended dosage and frequency. To avoid burning the plants, water the planter box before applying the fertilizer and then water again afterward. Regularly check the plants for signs of nutrient deficiencies or excesses, such as yellowing leaves or stunted growth, and adjust the fertilizer accordingly.

Proper Watering Techniques For Planter Boxes

Proper watering is paramount for the success of planter box plants. Overwatering can drown the roots, leading to root rot and other diseases, while underwatering can cause stress and hinder growth. The key is to maintain a balance and provide consistent moisture.

The first step is to understand the watering needs of the plants in your planter box. Some plants prefer consistently moist soil, while others prefer drier conditions. Research the specific watering requirements for the plant species you are growing to ensure you meet their needs.

When watering, aim to moisten the entire rootball evenly. Avoid watering the foliage excessively as it can encourage diseases. A watering can or a gentle spray nozzle on a hose is ideal for delivering water directly to the base of the plants.

To check if watering is necessary, insert your finger into the soil up to the second knuckle. If it feels dry at that depth, it’s time to water. Over time, you will develop a sense of the moisture needs of your planter box, and watering will become more intuitive.

It’s also important to note that environmental factors, such as temperature and humidity, influence the watering needs of plants. During hot and dry periods, you may need to water more frequently, while in cooler and humid conditions, less frequent watering may be required.

How To Protect Plants From Pests And Disease In Planter Boxes

Just like plants in the ground, those in planter boxes are susceptible to pests and diseases. However, the confined space of a planter box makes it easier to detect and control such issues. It’s essential to be proactive in preventing and managing pest and disease problems in your planter boxes.

One of the best preventative measures is to select healthy plants from reputable sources. Inspect the plants carefully for any signs of pests or diseases before purchasing and avoid introducing any potential problems to your planter box.

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Regular monitoring is crucial for early detection of pests or diseases. Check the leaves, stems, and flowers for any signs of infestation or damage. Common pests to watch out for in planter boxes include aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies. To tackle these pests, you can use organic insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils. Follow the instructions on the label carefully and apply the treatments as needed.

Diseases can also affect planter box plants, especially those caused by fungal pathogens. To prevent fungal diseases, provide proper air circulation by spacing the plants adequately and avoiding overcrowding. Water the plants in the morning to allow the foliage to dry during the day, as wet leaves provide a breeding ground for fungi. If fungal diseases do occur, remove and dispose of the infected plant parts to prevent the spread.

Maintaining Healthy Soil In Planter Boxes

Maintaining healthy soil in your planter boxes is essential for the long-term success of your plants. Over time, the soil can become depleted of nutrients and lose its structure, impacting plant health. Regular soil maintenance helps to improve fertility, structure, and overall plant vigor.

One way to maintain healthy soil is to replenish the organic matter. Organic matter improves soil structure, water-holding capacity, and provides slow-release nutrients to the plants. Add compost, well-rotted manure, or organic matter to the planter box periodically. Simply top-dress the soil with a layer of compost or incorporate it into the existing soil during the spring or fall.

Another important aspect of soil maintenance is avoiding nutrient imbalance. Over time, the repeated addition of fertilizers can result in an accumulation of certain nutrients, leading to nutrient imbalances. Regular soil testing can help identify any nutrient deficiencies or excesses. Based on the test results, adjust your fertilizer application accordingly to maintain proper nutrient levels.

Crop rotation is another effective technique for maintaining healthy soil in planter boxes. Avoid planting the same crop or plant family in the same location year after year, as this can lead to the buildup of pests and diseases. Instead, rotate the plantings to different locations within the planter box or rotate between different plant families.

Planting in planter boxes offers a versatile and rewarding way to bring plants into any space. By caring for newly planted planter boxes, fertilizing appropriately, watering correctly, protecting plants from pests and diseases, and maintaining healthy soil, you can ensure the success and longevity of your planter box plants. With proper care and attention, your planter boxes will thrive, providing a beautiful and abundant garden right at your fingertips.

How To Prune Plants In Planter Boxes For Optimal Growth

Planter boxes are a versatile and practical gardening solution for those who have limited space or want to add a touch of greenery to their outdoor or indoor area. These boxes provide an excellent opportunity to grow plants in a controlled environment, whether you live in a city apartment or a suburban home with a backyard.

Pruning is a crucial practice for maintaining the health and productivity of plants in planter boxes. Here are some essential steps to follow when pruning your plants:

  1. Know the pruning requirements: Each plant has different pruning needs, so it’s important to understand the specific requirements of the plants you are growing in your planter box. Some plants, like roses, require regular pruning to encourage new growth and maintain an attractive shape, while others, like succulents, may need minimal pruning.

  2. Choose the right tools: Having the right tools for pruning is essential to ensure clean cuts and minimize damage to the plants. Some common tools include pruning shears, hedge trimmers, and pruning saws. Make sure to clean and sanitize your tools before and after use to prevent the spread of diseases.

  3. Timing is key: Pruning at the right time is crucial for the overall health of your plants. In general, it’s best to prune flowering plants after they have finished blooming. This allows the plant to divert its energy towards producing new growth and flowers.

  4. Remove dead or diseased branches: Begin by removing any dead, damaged, or diseased branches from your plants. These branches not only detract from the plant’s appearance but can also hinder its overall health. Use a clean pair of pruning shears to make clean cuts just above a healthy bud or branch.

  5. Thin out dense growth: If your plants are becoming too thick or overcrowded, it’s important to thin out the growth to encourage proper airflow and prevent disease or pest infestation. Remove any branches or shoots that are crossing or rubbing against each other, as well as any weak or spindly growth.

  6. Shape and train your plants: Pruning can also help shape and train your plants to grow in a desirable form. For shrubs or trees, consider thinning out the interior branches to allow light penetration and improve the overall structure. Use pruning shears to make angled cuts just above an outward-facing bud or branch to encourage a balanced shape.

  7. Regular maintenance pruning: Pruning should be an ongoing process to ensure your plants continue to thrive. Monitor your plants regularly and remove any unwanted growth or dead flowers to keep them looking tidy and encourage new growth.

By following these pruning practices, you can ensure optimal growth and maintain the health and beauty of your plants in planter boxes.

Tips For Repotting Plants In Planter Boxes

Repotting is an important aspect of planter box gardening, as it allows plants to grow and thrive in fresh, nutrient-rich soil. Here are some tips to help you successfully repot your plants:

  1. Choose the right time: The best time to repot your plants is in the spring or early summer when they are actively growing. Avoid repotting during the dormant winter months, as this can shock the plants and inhibit their growth.

  2. Select the appropriate container: When repotting, choose a container that is slightly larger than the current one. This allows the plant’s roots to have room to grow without overwhelming them. Make sure the new container has drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.

  3. Prepare the new soil: Use high-quality potting soil that is suitable for the specific plants you are repotting. You can also mix in a slow-release fertilizer to provide essential nutrients to the plants over time. Fill the new container with enough soil to support the plant at its previous depth.

  4. Remove the plant from its current container: Carefully remove the plant from its current container by gently tapping the sides or squeezing the container. If the plant is root-bound, gently tease the roots apart to encourage them to grow into the new soil.

  5. Place the plant in the new container: Position the plant in the center of the new container and fill in the space around it with fresh soil. Press the soil lightly to secure the plant in place, but avoid packing it down too tightly, as this can hinder water drainage.

  6. Water and care for the repotted plant: After repotting, thoroughly water the plant to help settle the soil and eliminate any air pockets around the roots. Place the plant in an appropriate location where it can receive the right amount of sunlight and water it regularly according to its specific needs.

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Remember to gradually acclimate the plant to its new environment, especially if you are moving it from indoors to outdoors or vice versa. This helps minimize stress and allows the plant to adjust to its new conditions.

How To Overwinter Planter Boxes

Overwintering planter boxes is crucial, especially in colder regions, to protect the plants and ensure their survival during the winter months. Here are some steps to help you successfully overwinter your planter boxes:

  1. Choose frost-tolerant plants: Before the winter season arrives, it’s essential to choose plants that can withstand colder temperatures. Frost-tolerant plants like winter pansies, ornamental cabbage, and evergreen shrubs are excellent choices for overwintering in planter boxes.

  2. Insulate the planter box: Provide insulation to your planter box by wrapping it with burlap or bubble wrap. This will help protect the roots from freezing temperatures and reduce the risk of excessive moisture. Use twine or clips to secure the insulation material, ensuring it covers the sides and top of the planter box.

  3. Elevate the planter box: Lift the planter box off the ground by placing it on bricks or pot feet. This prevents the bottom of the planter from sitting directly on the cold ground, which can lead to root damage or waterlogging. It also allows for better air circulation and drainage.

  4. Water sparingly: During the winter months, plants in planter boxes require less water as they experience reduced growth. Avoid overwatering, as excess moisture can lead to root rot. Monitor the soil moisture level and only water when the top inch of the soil feels dry.

  5. Protect from harsh winds and extreme cold: Position your planter boxes in a sheltered location to shield them from strong winds and extreme cold. Placing them against a wall or near a windbreak can provide additional protection. If needed, use additional barriers, such as windbreak netting, to further protect the plants.

  6. Consider moving indoors: If you have the space and appropriate lighting conditions, you may choose to bring your planter boxes indoors during the winter. Select a well-lit area away from drafts and provide supplemental grow lights if necessary. This is particularly beneficial for more delicate or tropical plants that cannot withstand freezing temperatures.

By following these overwintering steps, you can ensure the survival and health of your plants in planter boxes, even in the harshest winter conditions.

Creative Design Ideas For Planter Boxes

Planter boxes not only serve as functional gardening containers but also provide an opportunity for creativity and aesthetic appeal. Here are some design ideas to inspire your planter box creations:

  1. Vertical gardens: Transform your planter boxes into vertical gardens by incorporating trellises or hanging structures. This allows you to grow climbing plants like vines or ivy, adding height and texture to your outdoor space. Consider using lightweight materials such as lightweight timber or metal for the trellises to support the plant growth.

  2. Colorful combinations: Experiment with different plant combinations to create vibrant and visually appealing planter boxes. Choose a variety of plants with contrasting colors, textures, and heights. For example, pair bold flowering plants with trailing foliage plants or mix cool and warm-toned plants for a striking composition.

  3. Herb and vegetable planters: Utilize planter boxes for growing herbs, vegetables, and fruits. Create a mini kitchen garden by planting various culinary herbs like basil, thyme, and rosemary. Mix in salad greens like lettuce and spinach or grow compact varieties of tomatoes and peppers. These edible planters not only provide fresh flavors but also add beauty to your outdoor or indoor space.

  4. Succulent and cactus arrangements: Create a low-maintenance and drought-tolerant planter box using succulents and cacti. Combine different shapes, sizes, and colors to create an eye-catching display. Remember to use well-draining soil specifically formulated for succulent plants and provide ample sunlight for their growth.

  5. Seasonal displays: Rotate your planter box displays with the changing seasons. Plant spring bulbs like tulips or daffodils for a burst of color in the early spring. Transition to summer blooms like petunias or marigolds, and fill with ornamental grasses and colorful foliage plants for the fall season. Consider adding winter-hardy evergreens or seasonal accessories like fairy lights for a festive touch during the winter months.

  6. Art and sculpture installations: Use your planter boxes as a platform to showcase art and sculpture installations. Incorporate modern or classic sculptures that complement your outdoor space or opt for unique handmade ceramics or metalwork. This adds an artistic touch to your garden and transforms the planter boxes into focal points.

Remember to consider the size and scale of your planter box design ideas to ensure they fit seamlessly within your available space. Regularly maintain and care for your plant combinations to ensure they continue to thrive and showcase their full potential.


Planting in planter boxes offers a multitude of possibilities for gardening enthusiasts. Proper pruning techniques ensure optimal growth and maintain the health of your plants. Repotting your plants in planter boxes allows them to flourish in fresh and nutrient-rich soil. Overwintering your planter boxes protects your plants from freezing temperatures. Finally, creative design ideas enhance the aesthetic appeal of your planter boxes. By implementing these best practices and embracing your creativity, you can create a beautiful and thriving garden in your planter boxes.


What Type Of Plants Can Be Grown In A Planter Box?

Planter boxes are versatile and can accommodate a variety of plants such as flowers, herbs, vegetables, and even small trees.

How Much Soil Should I Use For My Planter Box?

The amount of soil needed will depend on the size of your planter box. As a general rule, fill the box about two-thirds full with potting soil, leaving enough room for the roots of your plants to grow.

Do I Need To Place Any Kind Of Liner In The Planter Box?

Depending on the material of the planter box, it may be necessary to line it with a plastic or fabric barrier. This will help retain moisture and prevent the soil from spilling out.

How Often Should I Water My Plants In The Planter Box?

The frequency of watering will vary depending on the type of plant and the climate. It is best to check the moisture level of the soil regularly and water when the top inch of soil feels dry.

Can I Place My Planter Box On A Deck Or Patio?

Yes, planter boxes can be placed on a deck or patio, as long as they have proper drainage to prevent water from pooling and damaging the surface. You may also want to consider using a saucer or tray underneath the box to catch any excess water.