herbs planter on raised bed
ECO gardener

Raised bed gardening is a captivating and versatile way to bring the beauty of nature into even the tiniest of spaces. The allure of a planter box lies in its ability to transform limited spaces, patios, and urban rooftops into lush, thriving oases of greenery and color.

That said, there are certain factors to keep in mind to maintain the health of the garden. These factors include sunlight, water requirements, and the growth habits of the plants you’re growing. In this guide, we’re outlining useful tips to help you build the raised bed garden of your dreams by knowing the best plants to grow in a container or raised planters.

What Plants Grow Best in a Planter Box?

herbs and vegetables planted on raised beds

The plants you should put in your planter box depend on several factors, including your location, climate, the size of the planter, and your personal preferences. Here are some plants that thrive planter boxes:

Herbs: Herbs like basil, mint, parsley, rosemary, and thyme are excellent choices for planter boxes. They're compact, aromatic, and can be used in cooking.

Salad Greens: Lettuce, spinach, arugula, and kale are quick-growing leafy greens that do well in planter boxes. They're perfect for fresh salads.

Flowers: Annual flowers like marigolds, petunias, pansies, and zinnias can add a burst of color to your container or planter box and attract pollinators.

Tomatoes: Dwarf or determinate tomato varieties are suitable for larger planter boxes. They produce tasty, homegrown tomatoes.

Peppers: Bell peppers and chili peppers can thrive in planter boxes, provided they receive enough sunlight.

Strawberries: Strawberry plants can be grown in hanging baskets or planter boxes with pockets. They yield delicious fruits and look charming as well.

Dwarf fruit trees: If you have larger planter boxes, consider dwarf fruit trees like citrus, apple, or fig. They can provide you with fresh fruit in a limited space.

Ferns and foliage plants: For shaded or partially shaded areas, ferns, hostas, and other foliage plants can add lush greenery and texture.

Succulents and cacti: These low-maintenance plants are perfect for sunny planter boxes. They come in various shapes and colors.

Bulbs: Spring-blooming bulbs like tulips, daffodils, and crocuses can be planted in the fall for a beautiful spring display.

What Should I Look For in a Planter Box?

backyard garden with ecogardener Elevated raised bed

Selecting the right planter box is essential for the health and success of your plants. Some factors to look for when choosing a planter box, includes:

  • Size and weight
  • Material
  • Drainage
  • Durability
  • Mobility
  • Insulation
  • Style

Size and weight: Ensure the planter box is appropriately sized for the plants you intend to grow. It should provide enough room for the root systems to develop. In general, deeper planters allow for larger and healthier plants. If you plan to move the planter frequently, choose a lightweight material like plastic or fiberglass. Heavier materials like concrete can be more challenging to move.

Material: Planter boxes come in various materials, including wood, plastic, ceramic, metal, and concrete. Each material has its pros and cons in terms of aesthetics, durability, and insulation properties. Some planters are made from eco-friendly or recycled materials, which can align with sustainable gardening practices.

Drainage: Good drainage is crucial to prevent waterlogging and root rot. Look for planters with drainage holes at the bottom. If your chosen planter doesn't have them, consider drilling holes yourself.

Durability: Invest in a planter that will withstand the test of time. Quality construction and materials are key to longevity. If the planter will be exposed to the elements, select a weather-resistant material like cedar, teak, or rot-resistant wood species. Some materials, like plastic and fiberglass, are naturally weather-resistant.

Mobility: If you want to move your planter around, look for models with wheels or casters for easy relocation. Decide whether you want a planter box that sits on the ground or an elevated one. Elevated planters are great for reducing strain on your back and can also help with pest control.

Insulation: Consider the insulation properties of the planter material. In extreme temperatures, some materials can help regulate soil temperature better than others. Consider how much maintenance the planter will require. Some materials may need regular sealing or painting to maintain their appearance.

Style: The planter should complement your garden or outdoor space. Some planters come with built-in trellises, self-watering systems, or other handy features that can make gardening more convenient. Choose a style, color, and design that fits your overall landscaping and personal taste. If you have specific requirements, you can even consider custom-made planter boxes designed to fit your unique needs and space.

By carefully evaluating these factors, you'll know which planter boxes suit your gardening needs and design preferences.

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Factors to Consider When Growing Plants in a Raised Bed

Different types of raised beds in the garden

When growing plants in containers, several important growth factors need to be considered to ensure the health and success of your garden. Here are key factors to keep in mind:

Potting Mix: Use a high-quality potting mix or container soil specifically designed for the types of plants you're growing. Container mixes have good drainage and aeration properties, crucial for healthy root development.

Watering: Container plants rely on you for water, so regular and consistent watering is essential. However, overwatering can be just as detrimental as underwatering. Ensure that your container has drainage holes to prevent waterlogged soil.

Sunlight: The amount of sunlight your plants receive is critical. Different plants have varying light requirements (full sun, partial shade, full shade). Place your containers in locations that match your plants' light preferences.

Temperature: Container plants are more susceptible to temperature fluctuations than those planted directly in the ground. Be mindful of extreme heat or cold, and consider moving containers to sheltered areas when necessary.

Fertilization: Container plants need regular feeding because the nutrients in the potting mix can deplete over time. Use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer or liquid fertilizer according to the specific needs of your plants.

Need soil amendments? Check out ECOgardener’s Granulaed Humic Acid and Powdered Seaweed Extract Soil Conditioner. Best for your garden soil to promote nutrient uptake for healthy plant growth!

Pruning and deadheading: Regularly remove dead or spent flowers, yellowing leaves, and overgrown branches to promote healthy growth and prevent disease.

View our collection of Essential Gardening Tools to help you maintain your garden!

Mulching: Applying a layer of mulch on the surface of the potting mix helps retain moisture, regulate soil temperature, and reduce weed growth in your containers.

Looking for an alternative to traditional mulch? Get ECOgardener’s Premium 5oz Pro Garden Weed Barrier Landscape Fabric to make your gardening easier and 100% hassle-free.

Pest and disease control: Container plants can still be vulnerable to pests and diseases. Keep an eye out for signs of trouble and take action promptly with appropriate treatments or preventative measures.

Repotting: As plants grow, they may become root-bound in their containers. Repot them into larger containers as needed to allow for continued growth.

Support: Some plants may require stakes or trellises to support their growth, especially taller or vining varieties.

Pollination: If you're growing fruiting plants like tomatoes or peppers, consider hand-pollinating if natural pollinators are scarce.

Rotation and companion planting: If growing multiple containers, consider rotating their positions periodically to ensure even light exposure. Companion planting can also help deter pests and improve overall plant health.

Building a planter box garden is a unique and rewarding experience. With the right container, soil, care, and attention to plant-specific requirements, you can nurture a thriving oasis even in the smallest of spaces. From herbs and flowers to vegetables and trees, the possibilities are endless.

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