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Plants for outdoor contemporary planter at front door

carladr
March 12, 2019

Before I head to the nursery, I thought I would see if I could get some plant ideas from the houzz community. We have this planter outside the front door of our contemporary home. It is 80 inches wide, 41 inches high and 13 inches deep.


The area gets a bit of morning sun but is mostly in the shade. We live in zone 9b. The square black and white box above the planter is a doorbell and can't be moved. I'd love some ideas for plants in this planter.

Thanks!




Comments (42)

  • Embothrium

    Geographic area?

  • carladr

    Zone 9b (northern California)

  • vaporvac

    I know this isn't very unusual, but mother-in-law's tongue would suit the bill. Very low maintenance, can put up with low light and a lot of abuse, and has a geometric linearity that goes well in a modern setting. Of course, you could also go with taller succulents with some that trail over. I'll think on this one. Even jade plant would do well given the intensity of light. There's also aloe. What characteristics are you looking for in a plant?

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    I wouldn't go with succulents if the area is mostly shade. The sanseveria could certainly work. I would also consider Equisetum, which will provide a rather striking, erect architectural element that would compliment the lines of the house. Both are very tolerant of low light situations.

    Equisetum in planters.

  • groveraxle

    Philodendron selloum.


    carladr thanked groveraxle
  • PRO
    Colwynn Design

    I would suggest some kind of rush for a contemporary look that complements your house style. Horsetail Rush (Equisetum hymale) or California Gray Rush (one of the blue varieties such as 'Elk blue' or 'Occidental Blue will really pop in the shade).

  • vaporvac

    I love the equisitum idea! It is a water lover, so bare that in mind.I only mentioned succulents as I expect Ca to have higher light levels and I have some that do well in less than full light, but why bother with these other idea. I'm not sure Monstera would work unless it can be trained up something as my mom used to do. Mine is a monster and would easily spill into the walkway. It would certainly look lush.

  • groveraxle

    Oops, now that I see the entryway, forget the philodendron. You'd have to fight your way out with a machete. ;-) Equisetum would be perfect there.

  • Embothrium

    California has a large number of different climates, with the USDA Hardiness Zone system addressing only average annual minimum temperatures - and no other environmental factors. What specific part of northern California the planting site is in will be critical to what might work out where you are.

    https://www.sunsetwesterngardencollection.com/climate-zones/zone/northern-california


  • Christopher C Nc

    If you are in a cooler, coastal Nor Cal location I would think about filling it entirely with Fuchsia if possible. Everything has to be just right to pull that off. Out your way there should be a number of variety available.

  • carladr

    @Grover, I admire your perspective and the help you give to people who post on houzz so I did not want to mention the potential jungle the philodendrom may create, but your words sum it up perfectly with a great visual! :)

  • carladr

    @ Embothrium, we are in Sunset zone 16 (south of San Francisco)


  • carladr

    Before the doorbell was installed MIL Tongue was the plan for that area, but then I wondered if I needed something lower. If I used MIL Tongue, would I plant right up to the spot where the doorbell is and leave the remaining area empty?

  • K Laurence

    I live on the coast in So California, my succulents do fine in the shade, even without direct sun. I like them because they’re low maintenance & not messy, especially since it’s your entry. MIL tongue would provide sculptural interest while succulents would provide variegated forms & color. Either one.

    carladr thanked K Laurence
  • Christopher C Nc

    There are other shorter kinds of Sansevieria - MILT, than the standard green, one that is only six inches high. You could mix two kinds and have the short one below the doorbell.

    carladr thanked Christopher C Nc
  • emmarene9

    My first thought was Sansevieria but considering the doorbell location I think shade annuals would be better. Something like this window box.

  • Design Enthusiast
    I like asparagus ferns. They do really well in the shade and have a modern/unique look to them. I have them in a planter similar to yours and they look great
    carladr thanked Design Enthusiast
  • vaporvac

    I think I'm moving towards the asparagus fern! This look fantastic!

    carladr thanked vaporvac
  • Anne Duke
    Whatever you plant make sure it doesn’t invade the neighborhood. Asparagus fern comes to mind. Sansevieria would be my choice for slow growing, low to moderate light, low water and impact.
    carladr thanked Anne Duke
  • tatts

    Consider something scented, something that emits a scent as you brush by (as basil does).

    carladr thanked tatts
  • carladr

    What do you think about a combination of horsetail rush and creeping jenny?




  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

    How does the drainage work in that planter? When you pour water in where does it go? My first reaction to the design was that I'd put a shelf on top of it and not to plant directly in it at all. You could then display a range of plants or other objects which would be easy to change around. If I planted direct I'd use Sansevieria because it is a shaded, dry environment.

  • PRO
    Yardvaark

    It looks like this area is wholly covered. I'd look into silk artificial plants/flowers. I think they'd be a lot less trouble and some are quite high quality and good looking. No watering or trimming ... just the minimally occasional change-out.

    carladr thanked Yardvaark
  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    Oh, please.......no, no, NO to anything artificial!! Nothing will detract from appearance and value faster than fake plants at your entry! Your home appears to have some very stunning contemporary architecture and you want to enhance that, not detract from it.

    Either the sanseveria or equisetum can grow quite happliy in that stuation with minimal attention, either planted directly in the planter with drainage available or as potted plants just slipped into it. Or if those choices are unappealing, you could follow flora's suggestion of using it as a shelf to stage a variety of potted plants than can be changed out at will.

    But please, nothing fake!!

    carladr thanked gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
  • PRO
    Yardvaark

    Without knowledge of specifics, I can understand the general opposition to artificial anything. I prefer genuine myself, wherever artificiality can be detected. But the truth of artificial plants these days is that some extraordinary fakes, that cannot be distinguished from genuine article, are presently available. (I don't think we're talking 'from the dollar store here.) Some must be touched in order to know if they are artificial and even then it can be difficult. I have seen both Equisetum and Sanseveria that were 100% convincing. It doesn't make sense to avoid a fake if it doesn't look like a fake while making life much easier.

  • PRO
    carladr thanked Filipe Custom Woodwork
  • carladr

    It's so nice to come home from work and find so many great ideas. I definitely want to stick with live plants and I think the MILT might be the best bet, given our low light conditions. I just don't know how to plant it with the doorbell right above the planter.

  • vaporvac

    Someone above mentioned a shorter growing variety. I think you could combine the two and it would look fine. Drat about the door bell though! ; 0

    carladr thanked vaporvac
  • smitrovich

    I'm no help on the plants, but could you share the source for your exterior sconces?

  • carladr

    @smitrovich, the scones are from Hinkley Lighting (Atlantis collection).

  • smitrovich

    Thank you, carladr!

  • nevabeth
    I have Foxtail Fern in planters on either side of my front door. The one in the picture gets very little light. The one of the other side gets more and it is slightly larger but both look great. The bright green is beautiful. They overwintered outside in Arkansas and are looking a little scraggly, but they are starting to perk up with some warmer days.
  • PRO
    redesign
    Snake Grass is a great fit for a contemporary look.
    carladr thanked redesign
  • PRO
    redesign
    Here’s a photo:
    carladr thanked redesign
  • tqtqtbw

    I vote for carladr's horsetail rush and creeping jenny.

    Whatever you get, run your hands over it to make sure it is not a poke/stick hazard. If you get the ferns, select fox tail ferns rather than the looser-leaf asparagus ferns. Regarding scent plants, I love the smell of Powis Castle Silver Sage (Artemesia). Its gray color could be part of a impatient, begonia or caladium arrangement.

    carladr thanked tqtqtbw
  • PRO
    creations landscape designs

    Some plants that will work best are Salvia greggii (3x3 with various flower colors), Heuchera (2x2 with white, pink and fuchsia blooms), Monardella villosa (2x2 wth purple blooms and a minty scent), Juncus Patens (3x3 ornamental grass), Arctostaphylos 'Howard McMinn', (6x6 with pink flowers) Salvia spathacea (2x2 with fuchsia flowers), Satureja douglassii (1x1 with tiny white flowers and is edible. Tastes like spearmint).

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    Can't imagine Salvia greggii or manzanita doing well without any direct sunlight!! Both are full sun plants. And a 6'x6' shrub in that planter would seriously crowd that entryway!

  • PRO
    creations landscape designs

    Gargengal48 - I have grown both in shade with no issues. The Manzanita would not reach 6' in any planter. It would stay on the short side, unless planted in the ground.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    To each his own, I guess. I just can't imagine siting full sun plants in no direct sun at all. Right plant, right place and all that.

    And except for the Juncus, it's hard to imagine the form of any of those suiting the planter or the contemporary architecture.

    carladr thanked gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
  • carladr
    Will the horsetail rush and creeping Jenny do well in mostly shady conditions?
  • leslieap10

    Oh it's beautiful. Maybe fatsia japonica? Or ferns?

  • PRO
    Colwynn Design

    Horsetail Rush will do fine in shady conditions.

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