Planter boxes are becoming more and more commonplace in households today because they look great and they’re extremely versatile. Planter boxes allow budding greenthumbs to create gardens in even the most confined of spaces: apartment balconies, tiny backyards or even an indoor herb garden.
Deciding what to plant in your planter box is a decision based on your personal needs and preferences and the climate in which you live. Here are our recommendations for the 5 best plants to grow in planter boxes based on practicality, aesthetic and sustainability.
Herbs are by far the most practical plant to grow in your planter box. Not only will you save money at the grocery store, but herbs are very low maintenance and easy to harvest. It’s best to group perennial and annual herbs in separate planter boxes so you can adjust their growing conditions based on each group’s specific needs.
Perennial herbs are herbs that only need to be planted once, and will grow back every year. Mint, thyme, sage, lemongrass, rosemary and oregano are our perennial herb recommendations to grow together in a planter box. These plants all require the heat of sunlight to intensify their oils but are fairly low-maintenance otherwise. Perennial herbs require little water and fertilizer to grow.
Because they’re so low-maintenance, you can position your planter boxes both inside or outside. If you plan to place your planter box with perennial herbs inside - try to do so in a place that’s exposed to the sun throughout the day (for example, near a window or on a balcony with natural sunlight).
Annual herbs are those herbs that have a lifespan of one year. After one year (or season depending on location) these plants will need to be reseeded. Basil, coriander, parsley, dill and chives are all annual, so can be grown together in the same planter box. Annual herbs are a little more high-maintenance than perennial herbs due to the need for space, sun and moisture but can certainly still thrive in the Australian climate.
Clivias are a nice and bright option for your planter boxes. Clivias are particularly suitable for the versatile eastern Australian environment. The flowers of the Clivia plant boast beautiful orange/red tones, so are sure to add a pop of colour to your space. Clivias require little sun and are best grown in a shaded position so are a fantastic option to bring some life to your balcony, undercover patio space or any dark areas not currently being used. Clivias require watering only a couple of times a week in summer, with very basic care instructions. The low-maintenance nature of the clivia plant makes it a very popular plant in Australian gardens.
Ficus Lyrata (fiddle lead fig)
The popular Ficus Lyrata plant is a tall, green and leafy plant ideal for displaying indoors or on patios and balconies. This plant loves bright light and is a great companion for your office space if you're looking to spice things up. The Ficus Lyrata is often dubbed the ‘it’ plant of the design world due to its minimalistic visual appeal. This plant can be a spectacular focal point in the home, growing to around three metres tall if not pruned.
Despite its reputation for being hard to keep alive, the Ficus Lyrata is actually a hardy and relatively low-maintenance option when kept in a planter box. It is a tropical plant, so it will require frequent watering to replicate the moist environment of the tropics (make sure you also have a well-draining planter box!), but it otherwise won’t demand much.
Vegetables are another great and practical option to grow in your planter box. Like herbs, growing vegetables can save you money at the grocery store and are a very practical plant to grow. Plus, we all know that dinner tastes so much better when made using ingredients straight from the backyard (not to mention growing your own means one less trip to the supermarket during iso!).
Leafy greens tend to be the easiest vegetables to grow. Spinach, lettuce, silverbeet and bok choy are all excellent planter box options because they can grow well in confined spaces and they grow all year round.
Planter boxes most certainly cater for heartier vegetables too. The catch with this is that you have to know what time of the year to plant them as most vegetables are seasonal. We recommend downloading the app ‘Growit!’. Growit! is an app that gives you gardening insights based on your location, including information about the best times of the year to grow your favourite vegetables in your planter box.