20 Easy vegetables for container gardening. Best tips on how to grow tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, zucchini, cucumber, potatoes etc in pots!
No matter how big or small a garden you have, it is fun to grow your own food in even tiny spaces on patios, decks, and balconies. Before we talk about all the delicious vegetables you can grow in containers, here are a few basic important rules that apply to all container vegetable gardening.
Most vegetables do best with 6 hours or more of full sun, and good quality potting soil and compost mixed with slow release fertilizer. Choose sunny locations protected from strong winds. Here’s a complete guide on vegetable gardening, with great tips on soil building, starting seeds, growing, harvesting, & more!
Water-loving vegetables such as lettuce, cucumber, and eggplant do best in plastic or glazed ceramic containers, which are impervious and retains moisture better. Always make sure to have drainage holes on the bottom of containers.
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Containers require more regular watering than in ground gardens. In hot and dry climate, self-watering planters with built-in reservoirs are good choices.
When in doubt, choose larger containers 12 inches or deeper. Bigger pots also hold more soil, so the plants don’t dry out as quickly between watering. Good soil is key. Here are some of the best ways to make compost for your garden, and 35 great DIY compost bin ideas.
Now let’s look at some easy and best veggies to grow in your container garden!
Lettuce is one of the easiest vegetables to grow. Check out our 16 favorites here.
Most varieties of lettuce grow easily in pots. Because lettuce have shallow roots, the best containers are wide and shallow, 6-8 inches deep is often enough. You can either direct sow your lettuce seeds in the pots or transplant seedlings into bigger pots. Source: Fine Gardening | Renee’s Garden
Tomatoes are most popular vegetables for container gardening. The compact bush or determinate tomato varieties, grow especially well in pots or grow bags from 5 gallon to 20 gallon in size. Indeterminate tomato varieties grow larger and do better in large pots 20 gallon or bigger. Source
In recent years, micro dwarf tomatoes are becoming quite popular. They can be quite productive even in small 1 gallon pots indoors and outdoors. As the smallest of tomato plants, micro tomatoes can be grown indoors or out, and are great for windowsill, balcony or patio gardening. By Cheryl on Instagram
Onion containers should have at least 10 inches of soil depth. Each onion needs about 4 inches of space to grow. You can plant multiple onions in a 5 gallon bucket or even a plastic tub. By Rodrigo on Instagram
We also love to grow onion scraps from grocery store onions. You can use the green shoots as scallions. Sometimes they will even grow into multiple heads of onions. Tutorial on how to grow onion scraps here!
Eggplant loves lots of sunlight and heat. Choose the hottest location, and a large pot at least 15 gallon in size. Keep soil moist but not soggy. Source
Peppers are easy to grow in pots and look beautiful when they fruit, with peppers of so many shapes and colors. There are so many varieties of peppers. For best results, look for varieties that are labeled “compact” or “for containers”. Source
Hot peppers such as jalapeños, Serrano, Thai chili, Habanero aka Scotch Bonnet, tend to be more compact plants which can grow well even in small 1 gallon to 5 gallon containers. Habanero pepper photo below by Karin on Instagram
Bell peppers can benefit from support trellises because of the heavier fruits. Install the support such as stakes or tomato cages shortly after planting to minimize damage to the brittle pepper plants.
When growing zucchini in pots, bush types such as ‘Astia’ and ‘Bush Baby’ are especially great for container planting. Via Growing North
You can plant zucchini in 5 gallon or larger pots. Zucchini plants love moist soil and hot sun, so keep them well watered. Fertilizers formulated for other fruiting vegetables like tomatoes and peppers are good for zucchini plants.
Almost every gardener has experienced a huge zucchini harvest. Here are some delicious ways to preserve and use lots of zucchini!
There are many different types, in various shapes, sizes and colors, for harvesting at different times of the year.
For container planting, choose cabbage varieties with small to medium size heads. Plant one head of cabbage in each 5 gallon or larger pots. Via Amy on Instagram
Like many leafy greens, mustard greens are cool season vegetables that are some of the easiest to grow in containers. The best type of containers to grow mustard greens are shallow and wide. You can even use window boxes or wine crates to grow mixed greens, like in Karin‘s beautiful balcony garden.
With tender leaves and succulent stems, fabulous flavors and high vitamin content, Bok Choy is one of our favorite vegetables that is also one of the easiest vegetables for container gardening . These favorites from Asia are popular in a variety of dishes. The small plants are upright and compact, which makes them perfect for growing in pots. Via Savvy Gardening
Here we have a whole article on best secrets to grow lots of potatoes in all kinds of pots, bags and containers.
If you are wondering about those potato towers you see all over the place, read this first: do potato towers work or are they myths?
Nutritious and easy to grow, sweet potatoes love sun and heat. They are vigorous, and once they start growing, will readily spread. A pot can help contain the sprawling vines and make it easier to harvest.
They require a rich, free-draining soil mix, such as good garden soil, horticultural sand and manure or compost mixed together using a 1:1:1 ratio. A pot provides warmer soil temperatures as it can transfer heat from the sun directly into the root environment. Via Garden of Eaden
Beets are easy-to-grow cool season vegetables with delicious greens and roots. Similar to onions, beets are compact root vegetables which grow well in containers. Each beet needs about 4 inches of space and 10 inch of soil depth to grow. Via Container Garden Beds
Radishes are fast growing vegetables for container gardening. Grow them indoors on a windowsill or outdoors in pots. Via Savvy Gardening
For most common radish varieties, like Easter mix or French Breakfast, select a pot that’s at least 6 inches deep, with 2 to 3 inches of spacing between plants.
If you’re growing larger varieties, such as Daikon or Beauty Heart radish, you’ll need at least a 12 to 14-inch deep container with at least 4 inches of spacing between plants.
Because carrots are long and skinny root veggies, you can grow a lot of carrots in a single pot! A 10 gallon grow bag with 16 inches in diameter can hold 20 to 30 carrots.
Carrots have many varieties with root lengths ranging from 2 inches to 12 inches or more . Choose pots that are deep enough to accommodate the roots of your carrot variety. Source
Okra is an African native and staple of the Deep South. It thrives on heat. Okra plants can grow to 7-8 feet tall. They are quite beautiful with deep red stems, large flowers that look like Hollyhocks, and great-tasting pods. Via Burpee Seeds
They grow best in large containers such as pots 15 gallon or bigger, or half wine barrels.
Like tomatoes, corn can grow into very big plants, so dwarf varieties tend to be better choices for container growing. Corn plants or seeds require a spacing of 6 to 8 inches apart, which means you can plant multiple plants in one large container with a depth of at least 12 inches. Via Pinterest
Cucumbers like warmth, fertile soil and consistent moisture. Choose a container that is at least 5 gallons, preferably bigger. Remember to add a trellis to support your cucumber vines. ( Original image source lost. Please let me know if you find it!)
Need trellis ideas? Here are 15 best DIY cucumber trellises you can make!
Vertically supporting cucumbers improve air flow, and protect the fruit from soil critters. The cucumber tendrils wrap themselves around the cage or trellis, making it easy to train upward. You can use tomato cages, bamboo stakes or wood frame to support the plants. Via Burpee Seeds
Sweet peas are the perfect garden treats to plant in containers. You can pack a lots of plants in just one window box or pot, because they only need to be spaced at 4” apart. There are some dwarf varieties that reach only about 18 inches tall, requiring no staking. For most varieties, set up a trellis when plants are still small. You can also consider training them up a wall or railing. Via Francesca on Instagram
Melons aren’t vegetables strictly speaking , but they are in the same family as cucumbers. I just have to include some fun ideas here on how to grow melons in containers and how to support the fruits. See video tutorial below-
Happy growing! See you soon!