What can I plant in containers with boxwoods?

Brooklyn, NY

I live in a brownstone apartment and am responsible for two planters that sit in front of the building. They each contain a boxwood of some kind. I'm not much of a gardener, but I would like to add some flowers and/or vines to brighten them up a bit. They get about 6 hours of direct sun per day. Any thoughts on what might look nice? Would petunias work?

Thumbnail by katboyd
central, NJ(Zone 6b)

Petunias would work great, also Calibrachoa(million bells)
Verbena, marigolds

Victoria, Australia

Petunias would work great, also Calibrachoa(million bells) Verbena, marigolds

Couldn't agree more.. Petunias do best in full sun, but can handle partial shade, especially in hotter areas. They are very slow to grow from seed. If starting from seed, begin at least 10 to 12 weeks before planting out date.

Opp, AL(Zone 8b)

I would mix several types of foliage, mostly trailing plants, and try not to have more than 2 flower colors, like white and one real color because the overall appearance of the planters and patio area is fairly formal. Any other plants added to the planters that are more than half the height of the shrubs would look strange to me, and ruin the formal attitude.

Trailing things:
Tradescantia zebrina
Gibasis geniculata (Tahitian bridal veil)
Sweet potato vines
creeping Thyme

Cute, short flowers:
dwarf snapdragons
" zinnias (although their longevity might be less than desired)
wax Begonias

There will be a spot on the north side of each shrub that's much more shady from the shadow of the shrub. Be careful not to stick something that's barely going to get enough sun at 6 hours in that spot. Wax Begonia would be great right there although it can handle 6 hours of sun.

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

I would also pop in a handful of spring bulbs- snowdrops, then daffs depending on how big the planters are, could be full size or something small like Tete a Tete, then muscari or hyacinths maybe? Not too many, just a nice early breath of life.

Contra Costa County, CA(Zone 9b)

I agree with the 'keep it simple' basic idea.

One 'color' and white.
If one of those trails, and the other is a short upright that could look very good. Alternate, equally spaced around the barrel.

Be prepared that the plants suggested above will not live through the winter, so do not try- they will look ugly, ratty, then die. Pull them all out before the holidays, and add non-living holiday decor if you and the other residents want to.

You could do something like this:
1) Select some bulbs that will live in the barrel and come back every year. Grape Hyacinth are easy and reliable, and dense enough to provide a nice show.
2) As the bulbs are finishing their flower show allow the leaves to continue, and add the annual color.
If the bulbs finish early, you might have enough time for some cool season plants that will give you a nice show before it gets too hot. Pansy, Viola, Johnny-Jump-Up, Primroses and others.
If the bulbs stay looking good longer, then skip the cool season plants and go right into the warm season plants.
3) Remove the warm season plants in time for the holidays.

Brooklyn, NY

Thanks so much to all of you! Purpleinopp, you are absolutely right that the patio area (and our whole block) is fairly formal looking, but I had no idea how to achieve a more formal look in the planters. I really like the idea of white and one other color (probably purple). Diana K, I so appreciate the specific advice about how, when and where to place the plants. Can't wait to get started! And Pfg, I think it's a great idea to plant some bulbs so that we have "a nice early breath of life" (the planters look a little depressing in spring with just the boxwoods). Thanks again!

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

Good luck, and please post pics!

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

The Box plants may have depleted the soil in those pots so add a top dressing os maybe shop bought compost and add the more tender plants after that, make sure you water regularly as the Box will also be the more dominant for when watering is supplied to make sure you add plenty water and after the bedding plants have settled in, begin to feed say once a week with half strength liquid feed and another thing to keep in mind, Petunia's and other bedding plants require you to remove the dead / dying flowers as this will encourage the plants to continue flowering all summer, if you dont deadhead, the plants will flower once them die as they have done their job, that is germinate, grow a bit, flower send your seeds out to regrow next year. We trick the plant into thinking it has never set it's seeds yet by removing the flowers before the make seeds.
Sound like you have the making of a nice container gardener and bet Next year you will be hooked on container gardens.
Good luck and best regards, WeeNel.

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