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What Are Good Dwarf Shrubs for Planter Boxes?

“Hi, I am desperately trying to find mini shrubs to fill in a long planter box in my backyard. I have two boxes in full sun and looking for an arrangement that looks great all year around. So, I think I need small shrubs (max 2 feet tall) mixed in with flowers, but I have no idea where to start, what looks good together. I did see Purple Pixie Weeping Loropetalum on a Home Depot website, but it seems like it would die. Any suggestions, articles, places I can look at arrangements would be greatly appreciated.” Question from Andrea of Brooklyn, New York

Answer: There are lots of dwarf shrubs suitable for container culture that are hardy to your USDA Hardiness Zone 6 location. You are correct about the Loropetalum. It is hardy to Zone 7, so it will not tolerate the cold where you live. Here are some very compact, evergreen options that would look pretty in your containers year-round and survive in your planter boxes. All will grow best with well-drained containers filled with a top-quality mix, like Fafard® Ultra Outdoor Planting Mix.

Compact, Hardy Shrubs for Containers

  1. Tater Tot® Arborvitae reaches 12-24 inches and has the cutest, tidiest mound of evergreen foliage.
  2. Jelly Bean® Blueberry stays small, looks like a tiny boxwood, and has the benefit of edible berries and colorful fall leaves.
  3. Lil’ Ditty® Witherod Viburnum is tiny and has clusters of white flowers in spring, attractive foliage, and fall/winter berries.
  4. Invincibelle Wee White® Smooth hydrangea reaches 12-30 inches and has big clusters of white flowers in summer.

Compact Evergreen Perennials for Containers

There are many evergreen perennials that you should consider. These include the herbal Berggarten sage, fragrant Sweet Romance Lavender, tidy, pink-flowered Germander, the golden, trailing Angelina sedum, and tough, evergreen Christmas Fern.

I hope that some of these suggestions are useful.

Happy Gardening,

Jessie Keith, Fafard Horticulturist

About Jessie Keith


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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