Suggestions for Flowers to Plant Around a Mailbox

Dealing With the Challenges of Street-Side Plantings

Columbines are tough enough to grow around mailboxes.
Columbines are tough. This homeowner took advantage of that toughness by planting them around the mailbox. Mitch Diamond/Getty Images

Readers often ask about the best flowers for landscaping around a mailbox. On the one hand, they realize the importance of adorning this part of the yard, since it is frequently the first part of your property that passersby notice. On the other hand, because of its location right near the street, it poses significant challenges. 

Reader, Debbi had just such a question. She wanted to dress up the mailbox area on her landscape with a planting but was well aware that delicate flowers are exposed to harsh conditions in such a location. "I have just a 3-foot by 3-foot area around a mailbox post," she wrote. "I want to plant flowers and am looking for ideas."

Ideas for Planting Around a Mailbox

A planting scheme dominated by annuals (supplemented by readily available and moderately priced non-annual plants such as hardy mums) is often the best option for landscaping around a mailbox. This area is usually located near the street, meaning that any plants growing there would be subjected to pollution (road salts, etc.). Depending on your neighborhood, vandalism, theft, or just plain carelessness (for example, kids or stray dogs traipsing through your planting) are also possibilities. Furthermore, if your house sets back at quite a distance from the road, it may be inconvenient to drag the garden hose out to the mailbox area to water plants -- meaning that plants lacking in drought-resistance are at risk of dying from thirst in such a location.

Perennials are relatively expensive (and some types even difficult to acquire) compared to annuals, so taking a chance with them in such an environment is risky. Besides, what you want in a flower planting around a mailbox (a highly visible area) is vibrant, long-lasting color. Annuals provide just that. One of the toughest annuals is the sun plant, portulaca. But if your mailbox is located in the shade, impatiens will probably perform better for you.

Because annuals are disposable and cheap, you can feel free to swap out an annual whose flowers are fading in favor of a fresh, new face. Your mailbox planting thus becomes fluid, rather than remaining static, with new plants brought in as the seasons progress. Here is a sample mailbox planting regimen for someone who lives in the North:

If all that sounds like too much trouble (or you feel confident that you live in a good enough neighborhood not to have to worry about vandalism, etc.), select perennials, vines and shrubs known for their ability to withstand pollution and dry conditions (or else simply plan on investing sufficient time on upkeep). For example, many homeowners choose to grow tough plants such as the following perennials and small shrubs for landscaping around mailboxes:

In the picture on the present page, the homeowner has used the perennial, columbine, which is a flower that holds up relatively well to dry conditions. Read this article on tough plants for challenging places for more ideas. 

Do not forget to include a vine to grow up the post that holds your mailbox. Many homeowners choose clematis, but if you wish to stick with annuals, try morning glory. Some plants not commonly thought of as vines will, in fact, climb if given support (such as a mailbox post); tough Emerald Gaiety euonymus is an example. To learn about other choices (and about how to use them), read more about flowering vines.