How To Plant Planter Box [ Full Guide ]

Create a beautiful and functional outdoor space with a planter box. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, a planter box allows you to grow plants, herbs, and decorative foliage in a confined space. This comprehensive guide will walk you through each step of planting a planter box, including choosing the right planter, selecting suitable soil, and picking the perfect plants for your box. By following these steps, you can ensure that your planter box thrives and adds a touch of natural beauty to your surroundings.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Planter Box

  1. Choose the Right Planter Box: Consider the material, size, and drainage capacity.
  2. Select the Right Soil: Use a high-quality, well-draining potting mix.
  3. Choose the Right Plants: Consider the plant varieties, their growth habits, and compatibility.
  4. Planting: Arrange the plants according to their size and the design you have in mind.
  5. Maintenance: Water, fertilize, and prune as needed for the specific plants you have chosen.

Choosing The Right Planter Box

When it comes to planting a planter box, selecting the right container is paramount. The planter box you choose will not only contribute to the aesthetics of your space but also impact the health and growth of the plants it holds.


Planter boxes are available in various materials such as wood, plastic, metal, and concrete. Each material has its own pros and cons:

  • Wood: Wood planter boxes provide a natural and rustic look. Cedar, redwood, and teak are popular choices due to their durability and resistance to rot. However, wood may require more maintenance and can deteriorate over time.

  • Plastic: Plastic planter boxes are lightweight, affordable, and easy to clean. They also retain moisture better than wood or metal. However, they may not offer the same aesthetic appeal as natural materials.

  • Metal: Metal planter boxes are durable and can withstand various weather conditions. They’re also available in a range of styles and finishes. However, metal can heat up and affect the soil temperature, potentially impacting plant health.

  • Concrete: Concrete planter boxes are sturdy and have a modern, industrial appeal. They provide excellent insulation for plant roots but can be heavy and may require additional drainage solutions.

Consider the aesthetic you want to achieve, the durability required for your climate, and the specific needs of the plants you intend to grow when choosing the material for your planter box.


The size of your planter box is crucial for the healthy growth of your plants. Consider the space available for the planter box and the plants you wish to grow. Larger planter boxes offer more room for plants to establish healthy root systems and can support a wider variety of plant types. However, smaller planter boxes are more portable and suitable for compact spaces.


Proper drainage is essential to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot and other issues. Ensure that your planter box has adequate drainage holes or consider adding a layer of gravel at the bottom to improve drainage. Additionally, some planters come with built-in self-watering systems, which can be useful especially for busy individuals.

Selecting The Right Soil For Your Planter Box

The soil you choose for your planter box plays a critical role in the success of your plants. Selecting a high-quality, well-draining potting mix is essential for providing your plants with the nutrients and moisture they need to thrive.

Characteristics Of Good Potting Mix

Look for potting mixes that offer the following characteristics:

  • Well-Draining: The soil should allow excess water to drain freely to prevent waterlogging, while still retaining enough moisture for healthy plant growth.

  • Nutrient-Rich: A good potting mix should be enriched with organic matter and essential nutrients to support plant growth.

  • Sterile: To prevent disease and pest issues, choose a potting mix that is free from pathogens and pests.

  • Lightweight: Lightweight soil will allow for proper aeration and root development, which is especially important for container-grown plants.

DIY Potting Mix

If you prefer to create your own potting mix, you can combine equal parts of peat moss, perlite or vermiculite, and compost. This mixture provides good drainage, aeration, and nutrient content, promoting healthy plant growth.

Preparing The Planter Box

Before adding the soil to your planter box, it’s essential to prepare the container. This includes ensuring that it is clean and free of any debris. Additionally, if your planter box doesn’t have drainage holes, consider drilling them to prevent water from accumulating at the bottom and causing root rot.

Choosing The Right Plants For Your Planter Box

The plants you select for your planter box should be well-suited for the size of the container, the amount of sunlight it receives, and the climate in your area. Consider the following factors when choosing plants for your planter box:

Varieties And Growth Habits

Select plants that complement each other in terms of size, texture, and color. Choose a focal point plant, such as a tall or dramatic species, and surround it with smaller, trailing, or filler plants to create visual interest.

  • Thrillers, Fillers, and Spillers: For an aesthetically pleasing arrangement, consider incorporating thrillers (tall, eye-catching plants), fillers (medium-sized, bushy plants), and spillers (trailing or cascading plants).

  • Consider Growth Habits: Some plants spread horizontally, while others grow upright. Factor in the growth habits of each plant to ensure they don’t overcrowd or overshadow one another.

Sunlight Requirements

Be mindful of the amount of sunlight your planter box receives throughout the day. Choose plants that thrive in the specific light conditions of your intended location. This may include full sun, partial sun, or full shade plants.

Climate And Seasonal Considerations

Select plants that are suitable for the climate in your area. Consider whether you want to plant annuals, which provide vibrant color for one season, or perennials, which return year after year. Additionally, consider the seasonal changes in temperature and sunlight when choosing your plant varieties.

Maintenance Requirements

Take into account the maintenance needs of each plant, including watering frequency, fertilization requirements, and pruning. Choose plants that align with the amount of time and effort you can dedicate to care for them.


Once you’ve chosen the right planter box, potting mix, and plants, it’s time to start planting.

Arranging The Plants

Before adding the soil, arrange your chosen plants within the planter box to get a visual sense of how they will look once planted. This step allows you to experiment with various layouts and ensure that the plants are positioned according to their growth habits and the overall aesthetic you wish to achieve.

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Planting Technique

When planting, start by filling the planter box with the potting mix, leaving enough space at the top to accommodate the root balls of your plants. Gently remove the plants from their nursery pots, loosen the root balls if they are root-bound, and position them in the planter box. Fill in any gaps with additional potting mix, ensuring that the base of each plant sits at the appropriate level.


After planting, thoroughly water the planter box to settle the soil and encourage root establishment. Monitor the moisture levels in the following days to avoid the soil drying out or becoming waterlogged.


Proper maintenance is crucial for the long-term health and beauty of your planter box. This includes watering, fertilizing, and pruning as needed for the specific plants you have chosen.


Monitor the moisture level of the soil regularly and water your planter box accordingly. Container-grown plants may require more frequent watering than those planted in the ground, especially during hot or dry periods. However, be cautious not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot.


To ensure your plants have the necessary nutrients for healthy growth, consider fertilizing your planter box. Choose a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer and follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Fertilize your plants according to their specific needs, which may vary based on plant type and the time of year.

Pruning And Deadheading

As your plants grow, they may require occasional pruning to maintain their shape and promote new growth. Some flowering plants may benefit from deadheading, which involves removing spent flowers to encourage further blooming. Keep an eye on the condition of your plants and perform any necessary maintenance tasks to keep them looking their best.

Planting a planter box offers a creative and flexible way to bring greenery and color to your outdoor space. By carefully selecting the right planter box, soil, and plants and providing proper maintenance, you can create a visually appealing and thriving container garden. Whether you choose to plant colorful flowers, aromatic herbs, or lush foliage, a well-designed planter box can enhance the beauty of your patio, balcony, or garden and provide you with a fulfilling gardening experience.

Preparing Your Planter Box For Planting

Planter boxes are a great way to bring life and greenery to any small space, whether it’s a balcony, patio, or even a windowsill. They allow you to grow a variety of plants in a compact and organized manner. However, planting a planter box requires some careful preparation and consideration to ensure the success of your plants.

Before you begin planting, it’s important to ensure that your planter box is ready to accommodate your plants. This involves checking the box for proper drainage, cleaning it, and preparing the soil.

1. Check For Proper Drainage

Proper drainage is crucial for the health and well-being of your plants. If your planter box does not have drainage holes, it is essential to create them. Without adequate drainage, excess water can accumulate in the box, leading to root rot and other issues. Drill or punch drainage holes in the bottom of the box, ensuring that they are evenly spaced and of an appropriate size for the plants you intend to grow.

2. Clean The Planter Box

Cleaning the planter box is an often overlooked but important step in preparing for planting. If you are reusing an old planter, it is essential to remove any dust, dirt, or debris that may have accumulated. Use a brush or cloth to scrub the interior and exterior of the box with mild soap and warm water. Rinse thoroughly, making sure to remove any soap residue. This will help prevent the growth of fungi and other pathogens that can harm your plants.

3. Prepare The Soil

The quality of the soil in your planter box plays a significant role in the success of your plants. It is essential to choose a soil mix that is well-draining, nutrient-rich, and suitable for the type of plants you plan to grow. You can either purchase a pre-mixed potting soil or create your own mix.

If you decide to create your own soil mix, start with a base of high-quality potting soil. You can then add amendments such as compost, perlite, vermiculite, or coconut coir to improve drainage and provide additional nutrients. Mix these ingredients thoroughly to ensure an even distribution.

Planting Your Planter Box

Once your planter box is prepared, it’s time to start planting. This section will guide you through the process of selecting and arranging your plants, as well as proper planting techniques.

1. Selecting Plants

When choosing plants for your planter box, consider their growth habits, light requirements, and compatibility. Select plants that have similar water and sun requirements to ensure they thrive together. You may also want to consider the height and color of the plants to create an aesthetically pleasing arrangement.

Consider using a combination of tall, medium, and trailing plants to create visual interest and depth. Tall plants can provide height and act as focal points, while trailing plants can spill over the edges of the box, softening the overall appearance.

2. Arranging Plants

Before you start planting, it’s a good idea to lay out your plants in the desired arrangement. This allows you to visualize the final look and make any necessary adjustments.

When arranging your plants, take into account their eventual size and growth habit. Place taller plants towards the back or center of the box, and shorter plants towards the front or edges. This will ensure that all plants receive adequate light and are not overshadowed by larger ones.

3. Proper Planting Techniques

To plant your chosen plants, follow these steps:

  1. Gently loosen the root ball of each plant to encourage proper root growth.
  2. Dig a hole in the prepared soil that is slightly larger than the root ball of the plant.
  3. Place the plant in the hole, ensuring that the top of the root ball is level with the surrounding soil.
  4. Backfill the hole with soil, gently pressing it down to remove any air pockets.
  5. Repeat the process for each plant, leaving enough space between them to allow for growth.

Once all the plants are planted, give them a gentle watering to settle the soil around the roots.

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Watering Your Planter Box

Proper watering is essential for the health and vitality of your plants. However, it can be tricky to strike the right balance, as both underwatering and overwatering can have detrimental effects.

1. Monitor Soil Moisture

The key to effective watering is to monitor the moisture level of the soil. Stick your finger about an inch deep into the soil. If it feels moist, wait for a day or two before watering. If it feels dry, it’s time to water your plants.

2. Watering Techniques

When watering your planter box, follow these guidelines:

  • Water the soil directly: Avoid watering the leaves of the plants, as this can lead to disease and fungal issues. Instead, focus on watering the soil around the plants, allowing the water to penetrate and reach the roots.
  • Water thoroughly: Avoid shallow watering that only wets the top layer of soil. To encourage healthy root growth, water deeply, ensuring that the water reaches the bottom of the planter box.
  • Use the right amount of water: Different plants have different water requirements, so it’s important to adjust your watering accordingly. Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot and other problems. Conversely, underwatering can cause stress and wilting. Find a balance by allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings, but not to the point of extreme dryness.

3. Consider Self-Watering Options

If you have a busy schedule or tend to forget about watering your plants, consider investing in a self-watering system. These systems feature a reservoir that holds water and slowly releases it to the plants as needed. They can help maintain a consistent level of moisture in the soil, ensuring optimal plant growth.

Fertilizing Your Planter Box

To keep your plants healthy and thriving, regular fertilization is crucial. Fertilizers provide essential nutrients that may be lacking in the soil, promoting robust growth and vibrant blooms. Here are some tips for fertilizing your planter box effectively.

1. Choose The Right Fertilizer

There are various fertilizers available on the market, each catering to specific plant needs. It’s important to choose a fertilizer that is appropriate for the type of plants you are growing. Look for a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer that contains a mix of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK) in a ratio suitable for your plants.

2. Follow The Recommended Application Rates

When applying fertilizer to your planter box, it is crucial to follow the recommended application rates. Over-fertilizing can burn the plants and leach excess nutrients into the environment, while under-fertilizing can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Read the instructions on the fertilizer packaging carefully and measure the correct amount for your planter box.

3. Fertilize At The Right Time

Fertilizing your plants at the right time is equally important. Generally, it is best to start fertilizing a few weeks after planting, once the plants have established their roots. This allows them to settle in and ensures that they can effectively utilize the nutrients provided by the fertilizer. Follow the recommended frequency for fertilization, as excessive or infrequent fertilization can both be detrimental to your plants.

Planting a planter box can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can ensure that your plants have a strong start and are set up for success. Remember to prepare your planter box adequately, select appropriate plants, and provide regular watering and fertilizing. With proper care and attention, your planter box will flourish with lush greenery and vibrant blooms, adding beauty and life to your surroundings.

Pruning And Maintenance Of Your Planter Box

Planter boxes are a popular and practical option for gardeners of all levels. They provide a convenient way to grow plants in a contained and elevated space, making them ideal for small spaces, balconies, and patios. Whether you’re a gardening enthusiast or a beginner, planting a planter box can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience.

Proper pruning and maintenance are essential for the health and longevity of your planter box. Regular pruning helps to promote healthy growth, prevent diseases, and maintain the desired shape and size of your plants. Here are some important tips for pruning and maintaining your planter box:

  1. Trimming dead or damaged branches: Start by inspecting your plants and removing any dead or damaged branches. Use clean and sharp pruning shears to make clean cuts just above a healthy bud or lateral branch.

  2. Maintaining the shape: Prune your plants to maintain their desired shape and size. This could involve removing excess growth, shaping the plants into a particular form, or training climbing plants along trellises or supports.

  3. Controlling pests: Keep an eye out for common plant pests, such as aphids or spider mites, and take appropriate measures to control them. This could involve using organic pest control methods or consulting a professional if the infestation is severe.

  4. Fertilizing: Apply a balanced fertilizer according to the specific needs of your plants. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results. Fertilizing helps to provide essential nutrients and promote healthy growth.

  5. Watering: Proper watering is crucial for the health of your plants. Make sure your planter box has proper drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. Water your plants when the top inch of soil feels dry, ensuring that the water reaches the roots thoroughly.

  6. Weeding: Regularly weed your planter box to prevent the growth of unwanted plants that compete for resources with your desired plants. This can be done by hand or by using appropriate weeding tools.

  7. Cleaning: Maintain a clean and tidy planter box by removing fallen leaves, debris, and any dead plant material. Cleaning not only improves the aesthetic appeal but also helps in preventing diseases and pests.

Troubleshooting Common Issues With Planter Boxes

Planting a planter box comes with some potential challenges. Identifying and troubleshooting these common issues will help you maintain a healthy and thriving planter box. Here are a few problems you may encounter and their solutions:

  1. Overwatering: Overwatering can lead to root rot and the decline of your plants. To avoid this, ensure that your planter box has proper drainage, water your plants only when the top inch of soil is dry, and avoid leaving excess water in the saucer or tray beneath the planter.

  2. Underwatering: On the other hand, if you notice wilting leaves and dry soil, your plants may be underwatered. Increase the frequency of watering, ensuring that the soil is evenly moist but not soggy. Mulching the top layer of soil can help retain moisture.

  3. Lack of sunlight: Insufficient sunlight can result in weak and leggy growth, as well as poor flowering or fruiting. Ensure that your planter box receives an adequate amount of sunlight according to the specific light requirements of your plants. If necessary, consider using artificial grow lights.

  4. Nutrient deficiency: Yellowing leaves and stunted growth may indicate a nutrient deficiency. Fertilize your plants with a balanced fertilizer or use organic compost to provide essential nutrients. Be careful not to over-fertilize, as this can lead to nutrient burn.

  5. Pests and diseases: Common pests such as aphids, mealybugs, and fungus gnats can infest your planter box. Identify the specific pest or disease and treat it with appropriate organic or chemical remedies. In severe cases, consult a professional for guidance.

  6. Invasive plants: Sometimes, aggressive and invasive plants can take over your planter box, choking out the desired plants. Regularly monitor your planter box for any unwanted growth and promptly remove or control these plants to maintain a healthy balance.

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Creative Ideas For Decorating Your Planter Box

A planter box not only serves as a functional gardening space but also offers an opportunity to showcase your creativity and enhance the beauty of your surroundings. Here are some creative ideas for decorating your planter box:

  1. Colorful plant combinations: Select plants with vibrant and contrasting colors to create eye-catching displays. Consider combining flowers in complementary hues or pairing plants with different-colored foliage for added visual interest.

  2. Vertical gardening: Utilize the vertical space of your planter box by incorporating climbers, such as sweet peas or morning glories. Install trellises or vertical supports to guide their growth and create a stunning vertical garden.

  3. Herb and vegetable gardens: Planting herbs and vegetables in your planter box not only provides fresh and flavorful ingredients for your meals but also adds a practical and functional touch to your garden. Consider growing herbs like basil, mint, or thyme, and vegetables like cherry tomatoes or lettuce.

  4. Add decorative elements: Enhance the aesthetics of your planter box by including decorative elements like small sculptures, wind chimes, or colorful ceramic tiles. These unique additions can add personality and charm to your garden.

  5. Mixing plants with other materials: Combine plants with non-living materials like pebbles, rocks, or driftwood to create visually appealing arrangements. This adds an interesting texture and dimension to your planter box.

  6. Seasonal decorations: Change the decorations of your planter box according to the seasons. Add pumpkins and autumnal foliage in the fall, poinsettias and evergreens during winter, and vibrant flowers and beach-themed accessories in the summer.

Tips For Seasonal Changes And Plant Rotations In Your Planter Box

To keep your planter box looking fresh and vibrant throughout the year, it’s essential to consider seasonal changes and rotate your plants accordingly. Here are some tips:

  1. Choose seasonal plants: Select plants that thrive in specific seasons to ensure continuous blooming and growth. Research the specific light, temperature, and water requirements of different plants to match them with the prevailing season.

  2. Rotate plants: Regularly rotate your plants to provide them with equal exposure to sunlight and prevent pests and diseases from becoming established in one area. This also helps prevent nutrient depletion in the soil.

  3. Consider companion planting: Companion planting involves growing different plants together to benefit one another. Some plants repel pests, while others improve soil fertility. Research companion planting combinations suitable for your planter box to maximize plant health.

  4. Refresh soil: After a season or two, replace the soil in your planter box to replenish nutrients and improve soil structure. Remove the existing plants, gently shake off excess soil from the roots, and replace with fresh potting mix.

  5. Plan for successional planting: Successional planting involves planting new crops or flowers as old ones are harvested or decline. This ensures a continuous supply of fresh produce or blooming flowers throughout the season.

  6. Protect from extreme weather: Extreme weather conditions can affect the health of your plants. Install shade cloth or provide temporary protection during scorching summers or frosty winters to shield your plants.


Planting a planter box is a versatile and enjoyable gardening activity. By following the tips and suggestions outlined in this article, you can create and maintain a stunning planter box that adds beauty and greenery to any space. Remember to prune and maintain your plants regularly, troubleshoot common issues promptly, and get creative with decorations and seasonal changes. With proper care and attention, your planter box will flourish and provide you with a delightful gardening experience year after year.


What Type Of Soil Should I Use For My Planter Box?

The best soil for a planter box is a high-quality potting mix that is rich in organic matter and has good drainage. Avoid using regular garden soil, as it may be too heavy and compact for the confined space of a planter box.

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

The frequency of watering will depend on the type of plants you have in your planter box and the climate in your area. As a general rule, check the moisture level of the soil every 2-3 days and water when the top inch of soil is dry.

Can I Use Any Type Of Plant In A Planter Box?

Yes, you can plant a variety of plants in a planter box, including vegetables, herbs, flowers, and shrubs. Just make sure to choose plants that are suitable for the size of your planter box and the amount of sunlight it receives.

Do I Need To Fertilize My Plants In A Planter Box?

Yes, it is recommended to fertilize your plants in a planter box every 2-3 weeks during the growing season. Choose a balanced fertilizer or one specifically formulated for the type of plants you have.

How Can I Prevent My Planter Box From Becoming Waterlogged?

To prevent waterlogging, make sure your planter box has proper drainage holes at the bottom. You can also add a layer of gravel or broken pottery pieces at the bottom of the box to improve drainage. Additionally, avoid overwatering and make sure the soil is not too compact.