The best vegetables to grow in containers are all listed here.
So, you don’t have an ample garden space, but want to grow your favorite crops?
Did you know that most vegetables can be grown in containers, and you can have a full harvest from your small space, or from anywhere for that matter?
Even delicious tomatoes, peppers, and lettuce – all salad ingredients!
Containers and pots are perfect areas for growing vegetables. They will fit into limited spaces such as balconies, stairs, decks, fire escapes.
In short, whatever you have as your space can be the perfect space for a container garden.
What Vegetables Do You Want To Grow?
Research the vegetables you want to grow in containers. You want to find out what the best ones are for your growing zone. You might be asking, “what’s a growing zone?”
USDA has defined 13 growing zones across the US based on average low temperatures. Knowing your zone for hardiness, frost, and heat can help you determine the best plants for your area.
You can find your growing zone in a few places. The National Gardening Association provides a hardiness zone finder on their website. This is the most widely used map.
They will even give you a vegetable planting guide for your area.
Seed Packet Information
You can purchase your plants as baby seedlings or starts that are ready to plant.
Or you can start your plants from seeds.
Your seeds will come in little packets. The packets have everything you need to know about the plants that will grow from the seeds.
Here’s an example of a bell pepper seed packet backside. There is a ton of information about the plant here.
Read the seed packet or seedling tag. It will tell you all about the plant you are going to grow.
- How to start the seeds.
- The dates to transplant the seedlings outdoors.
- Planting instructions like how deep and how far apart they should be planted.
- The sunlight exposure requirements. Examples: Full sun. Part shade.
- The number of days to harvest or maturity.
Make sure the maturity days match your zone growing period. The peppers shown above have 70 days to harvest. You will need to have 70 days of summer in order to get peppers off of these plants.
Don’t be like me! I disregarded days to harvest information and ended up in disaster and no tomatoes.
You see, my area has a shorter growing period. Last year, I tried to grow tomatoes that had 100 days to harvest on the packet.
It turns out we don’t have 100 growing days available in our area and I didn’t get to harvest any tomatoes from those plants. We simply ran out of summer!
Size does matter when it comes to containers!
Choosing the right pot for the plant size and root depth can make or break the successful container vegetable garden.
Use premium potting soil to grow your container veggies. Regular garden soil won’t work for container gardening because it tends to be too heavy for containers and will become compact.
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Growing Vegetables in Pots
If you follow the Recipe For A Successful Container Garden below, you can harvest as much from a vegetable grown in a container as you would from a one that’s planted in the ground.
Recipe For A Successful Container Garden
- Pick a suitable variety of vegetable
- Provide the appropriate container
- Use good quality potting soil
- Give it the care it needs.
- Harvest the vegetables and enjoy!
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Looking for the best vegetables to grow in containers? Here are some of our favorites. Happy gardening!
Sometimes known as rocket, Arugula is a member of the mustard family. It has a crunchy, peppery flavor that is delicious in salads and sandwiches. It’s a trendy green used widely as a salad ingredient.
Arugula pesto is delicious and easy to make with fresh arugula.
It is expensive to buy at the store; but, in contrast, arugula seed is inexpensive and is very easy to grow lots of it in a container and harvest for your salad.
Starting with a pot that is at least eight inches deep and six inches in diameter, fill it up to one inch below the top with a good potting soil that is well-draining with added compost.
Arugula likes full sun in the morning with afternoon shade. If you want to harvest it for a more extended season, place it in an area with mid-day shade. Water as needed.
Arugula will bolt or go to seed if it’s too hot.
It’s ready to harvest in as little as 30 days. Harvest early and often.
Picking the outside leaves first will help the plants last throughout the season. The inside leaves will continue to grow and be ready to cut.
Sow new seeds every two weeks until it’s too hot so that you have a harvest always available. Start planting new seeds again in the fall when it’s cool again.
Here’s a link to organic, non-GMO arugula seeds at Amazon.
Another great vegetable to grow in containers is Asian greens. They aren’t just bok choi or Chinese cabbage anymore.
There is a wide variety of different Asian greens available with flavors that range from mild to spicy and colors that range from green to red to purple and yellow. Beautiful additions to the container garden.
Asian greens grow fast and don’t require too much sun. They can be in part shade if they get 4 hours of the morning sun. Plant in spring or late summer, since they grow best in colder weather.
They like moist, fertile, well-drained soil. Plant seeds ¼” deep and 2 inches apart. Fertilize them to encourage more growth and mulch to prevent weeds.
Asian greens are prone to flea beetles that chew small round holes on the leaves. Grow arugula under to prevent flea beetles.
Harvest 20 days after sowing the seed.
Here’s a link to Tatsoi Asian greens at Amazon.
For growing beans in containers, you can use either pole beans (tall, vining beans) or bush beans (squatty, take up more space).
Use a pot with holes for drainage at the bottom. Cover the holes with wire or mesh to prevent soil from leaking out the bottom.
Once the soil is warm, sow the seeds in a well-drained soil mix that is high in organic content.
Place the container in a sunny location.
Plant one inch deep and space the seeds 3 inches apart or plant 3 to 4 seeds around each pole for vining varieties. You can plant seedlings if you want.
Place a trellis or support in the pot for pole beans to climb on.
Water the beans when the soil feels dry at two or three inches deep. Add mulch to help retain moisture.
Fertilize with a slow-release fertilizer. Inspect regularly for insects and diseases.
Companion planting: Since beans fix nitrogen in the soil so you can plant plants that need more nitrogen under them like savory, kale and celery.
Harvesting is different for the two types of bean.
- Bush beans mature all at once, so you have to be ready to go get them!
- Pole beans will give you an extended yield and a longer season for picking.
Harvest the beans when they are just full as they will get tough if you wait too long.
One bean that we liked last year was Yard-Long Asparagus Beans. These beans get up to 2 feet long, maybe not a yard. Anyway, here’s a link to some yard-long bean seeds at Amazon. You’ve got to try them in your garden.
Bitter Melon or Bitter Gourd
This plant has two names: bitter melon and bitter gourd. It is said that bitter melon will help with diabetes control.
Quite bitter, you can eat the leaves and leafy shoots too.
This plant is a tropical climber, and it can grow up to 16 feet long. As a result, it will definitely need a tall trellis or support structure that’s at least 5-6 feet tall.
A flexible plant, you can grow it as an annual in the summer in a temperate zone climate or as a perennial in the hot-weather zones.
You’ll need a pot that is at least 12 inches deep, and add a sturdy trellis to support the plant.
Soak the seeds overnight and plant them in permeable, sandy loam soil that’s rich in organic matter.
Place in full sun to grow. Give it regular watering.
Harvest the melons when they are green and unripe, about 3-6 inches long. The darker the green, the riper the melons.
Here’s a link to bitter melon seeds at Amazon.
Bugs Bunny’s favorite, carrots grow best in cool weather with 6+ hours of full sunlight. They need regular watering, and consistently moist soil or the roots will dry out and crack.
Choose containers that are wide with a depth of at least 10 inches. Then, fill them with potting soil to within 3 inches of the top.
Sow the seeds on top and sprinkle dirt all over the seeds. Once the little plants emerge, thin them, so there is a space of 1-2 inches between each seedling.
Or you can BUY SEED TAPE! Easy to use, the seeds are already spaced apart for you. Easy peasy, there is no need to try to space the seeds!
Fertilize your carrots every three weeks.
The carrots are ready to harvest in 2 ½ – 3 months. Just pull from the ground, wash, and eat.
We even have some in the ground now from last fall that are delicious after living through the winter!
Here’s a link to our favorite Scarlet Nantes Carrot seeds that are available at Amazon. These carrots are uniform in size, beautiful color, and delicious!
Swiss chard is a cool-weather crop, but it tolerates heat better than kale. If you want, It can also be grown in a pot indoors.
The pot you use can be shallow as the roots are not deep, but remember that chard has big leaves when determining pot diameter size!
Plant the seeds or seedlings 6 inches apart.
Chard prefers a shaded location. Water well in the summer to keep from the chard from getting bitter.
Harvest it from the outside leaves. The inside leaves will continue to grow and provide a continuous harvest.
We plant this non-GMO heirloom rainbow swiss chard.
Oh, cilantro! Our family thinks of fresh salsa when we think of cilantro. We make a lot of salsa, LOL!
But really, cilantro has several different faces: the leaves are known as cilantro, the seeds are known as coriander. It looks like parsley and is commonly known as Chinese parsley.
Cilantro is a cool-season plant and will bolt or go to seed if the temperature goes over 75 F. You can extend its growth cycle by planting it in a container with taller vegetable plants that can provide shade.
It is also easy to grow indoors so you might have to move the container inside when it’s hot outside.
It is almost effortless to start cilantro from seeds. Place the seeds in well-drained, fertile soil. Water regularly.
Sow new seed several times during the season for a prolonged harvest all summer.
Harvest the top leaves with sharp scissors, leaving some of the plants to continue to grow. If you want coriander, allow some of the plants to go to seed.
Here’s a link to an heirloom non-GMO cilantro with a 90% germination rate.
A cousin of kale, collard greens are an excellent alternative to spinach or other leafy veggies.
A warm-weather plant, they are grown as an annual vegetable.
They could be grown as a biennial throughout the winter if you’re in a warm, frost-free climate.
Choose a pot that is 12” deep and 2’ wide. Remember, collard greens have shallow roots but large leaves.
Use good potting soil and place the plants 2 – 3 feet apart or 1 plant per 2’ pot
Keep the container in a sunny location and water as needed.
Continue to harvest the collard greens regularly until the first hard freeze occurs. You can have greens all summer!
Georgia Southern collard greens are the best in my opinion. Here are some non-GMO, heirloom seeds for you to try.
Cucumbers should be set out in May in most areas. The best results come from healthy plant starts, not seeds.
Some cucumber varieties are better for containers than others. Some excellent bush variety options include Hybrid, Picklebush, and Salad cucumbers.
Be sure to have more than one cucumber plant in your container garden, because they need a male and female flower to pollinate.
Use a medium to a large container at least 12” across and 8” deep with several drainage holes for the cuke plants.
Insert a stake or trellis in the pot when cucumber is young. Tie the vines to the support as the plant grows. Place in full sun and give it regular watering.
Cucumbers are heavy feeders. Fertilize them with low nitrogen food every couple of weeks.
Pick the cucumbers when they are the size you want. Slice and enjoy! Just think of all the delicious recipes you can make with your fresh cucumbers grown in a container.
Last year, we have good luck with these non-GMO Slicing Diva cucumber seeds. Bonus: they mature in 60 days.
This is a heat-loving hot weather crop and needs high temperatures both day and night.
They want heat, full sun, and evenly moist soil.
You’ll want to look for varieties that are suitable for pots such as mini eggplant, or perhaps the long and thin Japanese style.
Only one plant per 18-inch pot. Keep an eye on the plant as it grows. As plants produce fruit, their size may require staking.
Heavy feeders like tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes, you’ll need to use a balanced fertilizer per the directions.
Eggplants mature 45-60 days after planting and will produce fruit through the summer. Harvest as they are ready and plan a delicious feast.
Try these new miniature eggplants. They are so cute and are white with violet/purple stripes on them. We’re going to plant some of these seeds this summer. We can compare notes in the fall!
A member of the allium family, garlic is delicious and so good for you. We use garlic in everything!
Usually, the bulbs are used, but the garlic greens and blossoms are an added bonus and can be eaten too. Just add them to salads, sandwiches, and stockpots.
Choose a container that is 8-10 inches deep and fill it with permeable, well-draining potting soil.
Plant the bulbs flat side down. They should be 2-3 inches deep and 5-6 inches apart.
Give the garlic regular watering to keep the soil evenly moist. Fertilize every two weeks.
After a few weeks growing, you can pick the greens once they are 4-6 inches tall.
Harvesting the bulbs is different, however, and it takes at least 10 months for them to be ready. You’ll know they’re ready when the leaves turn brown and dry.
Remove the bulbs from the soil and let them dry for a week or so. After they dry, they’re ready to use!
Here’s a link to the California Softneck garlic bulbs that we plant in our gardens.
Just think of all the kale recipes you’ve been reading. It’s been the kitchen darling for a while now.
A nutritious crop, kale is a cool-weather crop but can take some summer heat. Also, it is a pretty ornamental that can be planted in the winter garden for color.
Plant the seedlings 6 inches apart. Keep the soil moist to keep them growing consistently.
Fertilize lightly throughout the season.
Place the container in full sun in colder climates, in partial sun in warmer climates.
Harvest kale many times during the season, cutting from the lowest, outermost leaves to the tender inside young leaves. The plant will continue to grow and provide new leaves.
We found that we like this non-GMO Lacinato kale the best. It produces dark blue-green to black leaves with a heavily crinkled texture. It looks great and tastes even better!
So many lettuce varieties to choose from!
It is a cool-season crop, so choose when to plant it in your area to avoid the hotter weather.
Lettuce grows quickly, so you don’t have to wait long after you plant the seeds to have delicious salads.
Once you begin taking leaves off, they will regrow so you can harvest lettuce several times during the season.
Lettuce will bolt or go to seed in the heat. Extend your season by replanting seeds every couple of weeks or so for new crops.
There are five groups of lettuce: butter-head, celtuce, crisp-head, loose-leaf, and romaine.
The types are pretty self-explanatory. Loose-leaf and romaine lettuce are probably the best for container gardening because they require less space than head or stalk lettuces.
Loose-leaf lettuces tolerate heat better and are the easiest to grow. They have a stronger taste that might take some getting used to. They mature quickly in 40-45 days, and they are ready for harvest.
Choose a wide planter that is not deep, then fill it with loose and well-worked soil. You can sow seeds indoors for later transplanting or plant them directly into the ground.
Leave at least 4 inches between each plant.
Do not fertilize unless you feel it needs it. The plants must be at least 8-10 weeks old before fertilizing them because the roots might burn.
Utilize shallow, frequent watering to keep the soil slightly moist at all times.
Harvest lettuce in the morning to avoid shocking the plants. To keep the harvest going, replant at two-week intervals.
This is a fun collection of different lettuces for you to try.
Any climate works since mustard greens love the warmth, but they can be grown anywhere.
They require little attention, and they will produce lots of leaves. Just give them evenly moist, fertile soil in any pot and fertilize them weekly.
Harvest the greens when the leaves are 6-8 inches long for a better harvest.
Pick small leaves for sandwiches and salads, towering stalks for use in sautéing and curry.
Replant seeds every 2-3 weeks for successive waves of flavorful young greens.
We are going to try this broadleaf heirloom mustard green in our garden this summer. If you try them, let me know how you like it.
A warm-season crop, okra thrives in temperatures around 75-95 F. It’s a good companion plant to tomatoes.
It needs warmth, excellent sun exposure, and plenty of fertilizer to set the plant to fruit heavily.
The dwarf varieties do best in pots and containers. You should start okra from seed as it does not transplant easily.
It’s best to choose a five-gallon pot that is at least 10-12 inches deep and 10-12 inches wide. It will need good drainage.
Fill the pot with loamy and crumbly, well-draining soil.
Place the pot in a sunny location. Keep the soil slightly moist.
Harvest frequently when the fruits are 3-5 inches in length and enjoy. Yum, chicken gumbo and pickled okra are two dishes that sound so good right now!
We have enjoyed this long pod heirloom okra in our gardens.
Peas are a warm-season crop and need to be planted in the spring.
They prefer moderate conditions and will grow quickly without much attention.
Dwarf or bush varieties work better for container plantings as they are a more manageable size.
Choose a pot with good drainage. Fill with potting soil and plant the seedlings 3-4 inches apart.
Place bamboo poles or stakes in the middle of the pot for the plants to grow up with.
Peas need full sun exposure and slightly moist soil, so water frequently. Check to see that the ground is wet but not drenched to prevent root rot.
Fertilize twice during the growing season and use a low nitrogen fertilizer.
Peas are happy with companion planting: corn, tomatoes, turnips, parsnips, potatoes, eggplant all work. Do not plant peas around garlic or onion.
Check the maturity days number to determine when to pick your peas. Be ready to enjoy a subtle sweetness.
We plant sugar peas and dun peas in our garden and use dun pea seeds for microgreens too. Here’s a link to the pea seeds that we order from Amazon.
Peppers and Chilies
Aw, peppers and chilis hold a favorite spot in my heart! I love every one of them, and plant several varieties every year.
Peppers and chilis love sunny spots and need full sun and proper circulation to thrive.
Choose a large pot that’s at least 12 inches deep with sufficient drainage holes for your peppers. Note: a pot 12 inches across x 12 inches deep will hold one plant.
Fill the pot with the best potting soil you can find that is well-drained and loose.
Plant the peppers 12 inches apart. Tie the main stem to a stick for support.
Keep the soil moist and never allow it to dry out completely. Water the ground, not the foliage, as wet leaves could cause fungal infections.
Peppers and chilies are heavy feeders. Use tomato fertilizers for them, following the directions. Don’t use too much!
Harvesting takes 2-4 months. The longer you leave chilies on the plant, the hotter they get.
Since we love all kinds of peppers, we got this heirloom pepper seed variety pack to plant in the garden. It includes 8 hot and sweet peppers.
Radishes Grow Very Well in Pots
One vegetable that grows very quickly is the radish. They are the perfect veggie for container planting.
Small and wide pots that are well-drained are best. Choose containers that are six inches deep for the round radishes, eight to ten inches deep for the longer varieties.
Use soil with good drainage that’s high in organic matter. Plant the seeds 2-3 inches apart.
Place the containers where they will receive 6-8 hours of direct sunlight every day.
Water every other day, no overwatering!
Since they are a cooler-season vegetable, they grow in the spring and autumn. You want to re-sow seeds as you harvest them weekly.
Harvest delicious radishes in 24 days!
There are several benefits to growing radishes.
- They are inexpensive to grow, and the yield is high
- The radish foliage attracts flea beetles away from your valuable crops
- Radishes repel cucumber beetles and squash borers, so plant them among squash and cucumbers to protect them from these pests
- Plant in rows and use as a natural garden marker to organize gardens
We love radishes!
I found a radish seed collection that includes champion, watermelon, French breakfast, China rose, and Daikon radishes. Each variety comes in its own packet.
I’m going to get this to save me from buying separate packets of the different radishes.
Although usually grown in the ground, rhubarb can also be successfully placed in a pot.
The larger the pot, the larger the plant can grow. It needs a really deep container that’s at least 20 inches deep to be able to root properly.
Use light-weight, well-draining soil. Plant the crown 1-3 inches deep and backfill around it.
Place the rhubarb in full sunlight. Keep the soil moist but don’t let it get too wet, to protect the roots from rot.
Fertilize with 10-10-10 around the base and water in well.
While the stalks are good to eat, the leaves are toxic. They contain oxalic acid and are especially harmful to children and pets.
My grandma always grew rhubarb. I remember marveling at the giant dinosaur leaves.
If you can find someone who has rhubarb in their garden, you can get a start from them. If you can’t, Amazon has some seeds available. This Victoria rhubarb is milder and sweeter than other types.
Looking for an excellent vegetable for container growing that is also good for you? Spinach is the one!
It grows well in partial shade and even indoors on a windowsill. It’s an easy, fast-growing crop.
But, it is a cool-season crop and tends to bolt in the heat, so plan on the favorable temperatures for planting times. We plant spinach in the cool of spring through June, and then again in September and October.
Plant spinach in a pot at least 6-8 inches deep. Fill it with potting soil almost up to the top, and sow the seeds at least one inch apart.
Keep consistent moisture and water frequently. Fertilize it well, as it’s a heavy feeder.
It takes 40-45 days to reach harvesting size and allows for successive plantings. Harvest from the larger outside leaves and move in.
Companion plantings include parsley, marigolds, petunias.
We get Bloomsdale Spinach for our garden. It is non-GMO and ready to harvest in about 50 days.
Squash in Pots
Squash is so easy to grow you can be successful growing it in almost any location. Plant some in a container, and you’ll harvest in no time.
Just an FYI, zucchini is more productive than winter squash and is one of the most suitable plants for containers.
Zucchini plants really spread out so you’ll want some that are bred for container gardening. Some suggestions to consider include small zucchinis like Jackpot Hybrid, Geode, Eight Ball, and Black Magic.
Fill a large pot with potting soil. Provide a trellis or stake. Fertilize every two weeks and get your zucchini recipes ready.
Companion plantings include marigolds and nasturtiums to help with pests.
We have found that the Black Beauty zucchini is the best for our growing area. Each squash is straight and uniform in size, with a dark green color.
Tomatoes in Containers
Tomatoes are everyone’s favorite, but they’re not always the easiest to grow.
Many types of tomatoes are suitable for containers. Determinate (bushy) tomatoes do better in containers, but the indeterminate (vining) tomatoes can be grown in pots or containers as well.
Be sure to stake them! Tomatoes need sturdy support as they grow and produce the fruit.
The most important thing you should consider when planting tomatoes is matching the eventual size of your tomato plant to the overall size of the container.
Talking about pots, the bigger, the better for tomatoes! Start with at least a 15-gallon container for each tomato plant to ensure its roots are not restricted.
Make sure the pot has plenty of drainage on the bottom.
Fill the pot with good quality potting soil to one inch below the pot rim.
Plant the tomatoes deeply. Roots will grow from the stems that are underground and produce larger healthier tomatoes.
To plant, cover 2/3 of the tomato stem to encourage more root growth after removing all leaves and branches below the soil line.
Add support like a tomato cage or stakes to the pot around the plant.
Add a layer of mulch to the top of the soil to help keep the soil moist.
We have a short growing season, and I have found that the smaller tomatoes do better than the large ones.
I planted several different cherry tomato varieties last year and a couple of heirloom tomatoes. The cherries definitely had a better yield.
I’m going to plant the cherry tomatoes again, especially the black cherry. And I want to try this new supersweet 100 this year. It is ready to harvest in 57 days.
Water Your Tomatoes The Right Way
How do you water your tomatoes the right way?
- Keep the soil moist but don’t get it too wet.
- Too much moisture could cause root rot.
- Too little water could cause blossom end rot.
- Inconsistent watering could cause the tomatoes will split, crack or explode.
Try to water in the morning. Water the soil, not the leaves to help prevent blight and fungus from occurring. If they do, you will need to prune the diseased parts out.
Feed your tomato plants with a tomato-specific continuous-release fertilizer.
Pick a good spot for your tomatoes, and place the pot in a location where it will have at least 6-8 hours of sun.
Clean up at the season’s end. Remove all the old plants.
If you are planning on tomatoes or peppers in the same pot next year, remove the soil, wash any remaining dirt away and sterilize the container before you put it away for the season.
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Recipe for Success: The Best Vegetables to Grow in Containers
So there you have it! Veggies in containers!
You can see that containers and pots are the perfect vessels for growing any vegetables that you desire. These are in a wooden raised bed container.
Research the vegetables you want to grow in containers to determine the best one for your zone and the plants’ needs.
Remember the recipe for success: pick a suitable variety of vegetables, provide the appropriate container, use good quality potting soil, give it the care it needs.
Read about some tips and tricks every gardener should know.
You can harvest as much fruit from a vegetable grown in a pot as you would from one produced in the ground.