Best container garden vegetables

Porch Pick

Small, compact and neat, this bushy bean variety is ideal for growing in tiny spaces. These beans are sweet, crisp, and tender, and perfect for enjoying fresh off the vine.

‘Porch Pick’ Bush Beans

‘Porch Pick’ thrives in full sun, and is ready for harvest in 55 days.

Seeds are available from Burpee.

Scarlet Runner

This fiery-colored plant produces small, red, heart-shaped flowers and delicious, nutty beans.

‘Scarlet Runner’ Pole Beans

Growing vertically up a trellis is ideal for small spaces, and this bean will grow eagerly up a simple bamboo teepee.

This bean grows impressively easily, and it’s perfect for continuous picking, which is fantastic for potting up in an easily accessible space near the kitchen.

Pods are ripe for the picking in 60-70 days, and should be picked when fairly short, between four and six inches. They may be used as snap beans, and the pods are edible.

You can find seeds at True Leaf Market.

2. Beets

Minimum pot depth: 12”

Perfectly suited for growing in small spaces, beets are nearly un-beet-able in this category.

The only consideration is that they need a fairly deep pot to be able to develop freely. A pot with 10 to 12 inches of depth is ideal to encourage adequate root growth.

Read more about growing beets here.

Most varieties of beets will happily grow in pots. Here are a few favorites to choose from.

Chioggia

For a fun twist, try this gorgeous candy-striped beet with alternating red and white rings from the outside of the beet to the center.

‘Chioggia’ Beet Seeds

An easy-to-grow plant that takes only 55 days to mature, ‘Chioggia’ can thrive in either full sun or partial shade, meaning it’s perfect for slightly shaded balconies and courtyards. It has a sweeter taste than many other beets, so you may be able to convert some alleged beet-haters with your homegrown harvest.

Seeds are available from True Leaf Market.

Detroit Dark Red

This deep red, sweet beet is excellent both when harvested as a baby, an ideal option for small spaces, or it can also be harvested later on when the roots are more mature.

‘Detroit Dark Red Medium Top’ Beets

‘Detroit Dark Red Medium Top’ produces beets that are about 3 inches long, if allowed to grow to maturity, that are ready to enjoy in 59 days. This plant requires full sun.

You can find seeds and seed tape at Burpee.

3. Chard

Minimum pot depth: 8”

In a competition for the best crop for container gardening, it’d be hard to beat leafy greens and lettuces. Fast-growing and productive, these undisputed kings of the realm of edible potted plants make an easy and delicious potted crop.

Even better, leafy greens and baby lettuces need hardly any space to thrive, and have shallow root systems so they will happily grow in smaller containers.

What’s more, greens are one of the few potted veggies that don’t need much sunlight, and they will happily thrive somewhere a bit more shaded. Growing salads sure isn’t “rocket” science.

To start, there’s chard. This underrated plant offers a beautiful leafy and (sometimes) colorful bouquet, and it’s superb for growing in containers.

Read more about growing chard here.

Rainbow Mixture

With mixed red, white, pink, and yellow stalks, this rainbow seed mix produces chard that is as beautiful to look at as it is enjoyable to eat.

‘Rainbow Mixture’ Swiss Chard

This striking vegetable grows best in a sheltered spot, and is ready for harvesting in 50 days.

You can find your seeds at True Leaf Market.

Ruby Red

Another visual stunner, this variety of chard produces striking ruby red stalks and dark green leaves all the way through summer, and even into the fall.

‘Ruby Red’ Swiss Chard

With a refreshingly bitter taste, this crop can be harvested after 60 days. It grows well in full or partial sun.

Find these seeds at True Leaf Market.

4. Chili Peppers

Minimum pot depth: 12”

Chili peppers are perfect for spicing up small spaces. Both productive and pretty, they do, however, need a sunny and warm place to grow. But as long as you can provide that, they will happily thrive.

Read more about growing chili peppers here.

Jalapeno Early

Jalapenos are a classic for use in salsas and dips throughout the summer season. In fact, this is probably America’s favorite type of hot pepper!

‘Jalapeno Early’ Hot Peppers

‘Jalapeno Early’ is an heirloom variety that blooms early in the season, which means the harvest will come more quickly for this type of pepper plant. Expect about 65-70 days to maturity, with good yields.

Seeds are available from Eden Brothers.

Thai Hot

‘Thai Hot’ peppers grow on 8- to 12-inch plants that are perfect for growing in containers.

‘Thai Hot’ Pepper

You can expect a harvest of up to 200 ½- to 1-inch peppers per plant. These are bright red when ripe, and ready in about 85 days. And they are known for being very hot!

Seeds are available from Burpee.

5. Kale

Minimum pot depth: 8”

Another space-saving vegetable that’s perfect for pot life, kale is packed full of nutrients. Add it to your smoothies, sautee mature leaves, or pick them young for a fresh, tender option to add to salads.

Just three or four plants can supply a family of four with a nice weekly harvest. The main thing to remember is that your pot requires at least a 12-inch diameter, and it’s best to use a well-draining potting mix.

Read more about growing kale here.

Dwarf Blue Curled Vates

This type of kale is low and compact, producing beautiful, finely curled, bluish-green leaves in 55 days.

‘Dwarf Blue Curled Vates’ Kale

When placed in a location at least partially protected from wind, it can usually withstand cooler spring and winter weather. This variety will produce the best yields if planted in full sun.

You can find ‘Dwarf Blue Curled Vates’ seeds at Burpee.

Dwarf Siberian

This dwarf heirloom is very high yielding. Sweeter than most kale varieties, ‘Dwarf Siberian’ is leafy and bright green in color, and it grows well with full or partial sunlight.

‘Dwarf Siberian’ Kale

You can expect a harvest in 50-60 days.

Find seeds for purchase at True Leaf Market.

6. Lettuce

Minimum pot depth: 6”

Lettuce, with its shallow root system and easy-going nature, is absolutely ideal for growing in small, shady spaces.

Read more about growing lettuce here.

Burgundy Delight

I personally love burgundy lettuce, both for its taste and for the fact that it’s my favorite color.

‘Burgundy Delight’ Lettuce

Crunchy and crisp, this lettuce is as perfect growing in small spaces as it is for adding to salads. You can choose to harvest baby leaves, or wait for mature full-size heads to develop.

This variety grows best in full sun, and takes 35-60 days to mature.

You can find seeds at Burpee.

Slow Bolt Arugula

Perfect if you’re feeling a bit fancy, arugula has a distinctive, peppery taste that is a great addition to salads and sandwiches.

Slow Bolt Arugula

This edible annual looks similar in appearance to a dandelion leaf, with narrow, elongated leaves.

Arugula is best adapted to cooler temperatures, so provide a little shade by growing on a porch, or using row covers. But since this variety is slow to bolt, it should do better in the summer months than other varieties, continuing to be productive longer in the season without turning leggy and beginning to flower.

Seeds are available from True Leaf Market.

Read more about growing arugula with our comprehensive guide.

7. Onions

Minimum pot depth: 4”

Onions, especially green onions, grow well in containers. And as a staple in most meals, having a few onions handy nearby will never go amiss. They will provide a flavorful addition to your potted plant collection.

Read more about growing onions here.

Tokyo Long White

These space-saving bunching onions are long and thin, and ideal for growing in containers.

‘Tokyo Long White’ Bunching Onions

Mature in 65-100 days, these onions are slightly pungent, with long white shanks with stiff blue-green tops.

These resilient scallions are resistant against pink root as well as smut, Botrytis leaf blight, and thrips.

‘Tokyo Long White’ seeds are available from True Leaf Market.

White Lisbon

This fast-growing, mild onion does not form a bulb, and therefore doesn’t take up too much space. This means they can be planted more densely than other types, which is exactly what the edible container gardener wants to hear.

‘White Lisbon’ Bunching Onions

Young plants can be harvested at just 60 days, and mature ones at 120 days. These bunching onions grow best in full sun.

Seeds are available at Eden Brothers.

Want more information? Learn all about growing bunching onions here.

8. Radishes

Radishes will happily grow in even the smallest container. Scatter some seeds in the pot and give them a healthy, regular watering, and they will grow into a radish-ing potted plant.

Read more about growing radishes here.

Solaris Hybrid

This variety produces small, round, bright red radishes that you can expect to enjoy nearly year round, given the right conditions.

‘Solaris Hybrid’ Radishes

Robust and fast-growing, this hybrid produces radishes radically quickly. They’ll be ready to enjoy in only 25 days! Follow up with successive plantings for repeat salad-ready harvests.

For best results, these should be grown in full sun.

You can find ‘Solaris Hybrid’ seeds at Burpee.

Cherry Belle

This popular variety is a fast, easy-growing and easy-going radish. Happy to grow either indoors or out, in the sun or in the shade, the ‘Cherry Belle’ radish is perfect for container growing in any available space.

‘Cherry Belle’ Radishes

Mild and delicious, this variety takes only 3 weeks to grow to full maturity.

Seeds are available from Eden Brothers.

9. Spinach

Minimum pot depth: 6”

Like leaf lettuce, spinach almost seems made for life in a pot.

Like many varieties of lettuce, it develops well in partial shade, and in any kind of space – even on your windowsill.

You don’t need a very deep pot, as spinach has very shallow roots. But it is advisable to use quite a wide one in order for it to have the space it needs to spread out.

Read more about growing spinach here.

Bloomsdale Long Standing

This variety produces deep green, delectable leaves in abundance, and is a firm favorite of home and market vegetable growers.

‘Bloomsdale Long Standing’ Spinach

Adaptable to either sun or shade conditions, this popular spinach cultivar takes 45-55 days to reach maturity.

Seeds are available from Eden Brothers.

Okinawa

Okay, so this type of “spinach” isn’t quite all that it seems. It’s actually a leafy perennial green that is masquerading as a spinach variety, with many similar qualities.

Okinawa Spinach

There are many things to love about Gynura crepioides, one of which is that this little leafy vegetable is both ornamental and edible, with an attractive purple underside.

Another big plus for this plant is that it is incredibly low-maintenance, requiring next to no effort to grow.

Like traditional spinach, this plant is also incredibly good for you, so much so that it is known as “cholesterol spinach,” thanks to the fact that it may help to lower LDL cholesterol levels.

Native to Indonesia, it can easily be grown as a houseplant in a sunny window, and also makes an excellent patio plant. It will thrive outside in the summer, but is best sheltered indoors for the winter months.

You can find plants at Burpee.

10. Sweet Peppers

Minimum pot depth: 12”

Sweet peppers are so incredibly versatile, you’ll love adding your homegrown harvest to salads and stir fries, stuffing them, and slicing them up to serve alongside bowls of hummus and onion dip.

They’re so crisp, sweet, and delicious, I wouldn’t blame you for biting into one like an apple, like Chairman Takeshi Kaga does at the beginning of Iron Chef. Just sayin’…

Read more about growing sweet peppers here.

Confetti Hybrid

These petite peppers are a treat for the taste buds, and for the eyes. Ripening from green-striped to red, these multicolored 2-inch peppers are ideal for growing in containers thanks to their small size, and they’ll be ready to enjoy in only 55-60 days.

‘Confetti Hybrid’ Sweet Peppers

This plant does best in full sun, and will grow happily with or without extra support.

Plants and seeds are available from Burpee.

Jungle Parrot

This is a sweet and delicious hybrid whose tiny size and high yields make it a perfect patio plant.

‘Jungle Parrot’ Sweet Peppers

This plant produces bright, colorful peppers that are 2-by-2½ inches in size, and they’re sure to brighten up your balcony. This hybrid does best in full sun conditions, and peppers will be ready for picking in 75-85 days.

You can find plants and seeds at Burpee.

11. Tomatoes

Minimum pot depth: 12”

Tomatoes are without a doubt one of the most cheerful potted vegetables. Beautiful as well as delicious, tomatoes are both one of the best loved “vegetables” (although technically a fruit, if you want to be picky about it) and an ideal potted plant to grow at home.

What’s more, tomatoes are extremely productive in pots. In fact, they tend to be one of the most productive potted crops you can grow, providing around 10 pounds to harvest per plant in a season!

Tomatoes need lots of sunlight, so somewhere like a roof terrace or a sunny windowsill is perfect for them. Keep in mind that they will require regular watering.

Read more about growing tomatoes here.

Atlas Hybrid

This hybrid type is the first ever beefsteak variety of tomato that has been specifically designed for pot life.

‘Atlas Hybrid’ Tomatoes

Perfect for porches and decks in warm, sunny locations, this bushy, compact tomato is beautiful and bountiful, producing hefty one-pound tomatoes. This is a semi-determinate variety, which produces in 65-75 days.

You can find plants and seeds at Burpee.

Bush Early Girl Hybrid

This determinate hybrid is a fast-growing bushy variety. It produces large, sweet tomatoes in 65 days.

‘Bush Early Girl Hybrid’ Tomatoes

Self-supporting and requiring very little help, this variety is perfect for growing in pots. Place them in full sun for best results.

You can find ‘Bush Early Girl’ plants and seeds at Burpee.

Dotty for Potted Plants!

There’s no reason why a lack of space means you have to miss out on the magic of growing your own food. Potted vegetables provide the perfect way for everyone to get a bit green fingered, even in the tiniest of spaces.

Have you had a go at growing vegetables in containers? Let me know how you got on in the comments section below! Any types of veggies or favorite varieties that we missed here? Let us know!

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10 Vegetable Combinations for Container Growing

To get you started on the road to productive succession planting in a container garden, here are 10 excellent plant partnerships to try.

  • Arugula is an excellent vegetable for succession planting. It’s a cool-season, fast-maturing crop best grown in the early spring or late fall. Good warm-season succession crops to plant before or after it include peppers, eggplants, or snap beans.
  • If you grow onions in containers, they’ll be ready to pull in mid-summer. Follow your onions with a sowing of kale, turnips, or mustard greens. You can harvest these cold-weather crops well into the autumn.
  • Radishes are one of the best crops to employ in a succession planting plan. Their fast maturation time means you’ll have plenty of time to grow a second crop in the same container. Try following them with a planting of summer peppers, basil, or snap beans.
  • Carrots are a good crop to use for succession planting. Sow the seeds in very early spring and they’ll be ready to harvest about six weeks later, giving you plenty of time to plant cucumbers or a bush-type summer squash in their place.

Related: How to Tell a Summer Squash from a Winter Squash

  • After container-grown shell or snap peas have finished producing in early summer, pull the plants and sow a variety of pole beans in their place. They can share the same container trellis.
  • Follow a spring planting of lettuce with a crop of beets. Planted in mid- to late-summer, this root crop produces both edible greens and roots.
  • After your spring-planted, container-grown potato crop has been dug and stored in mid summer, use the same pot to grow a fall crop of broccoli, cabbage, or collards. Plant nursery-grown or homegrown transplants into the container soon after the taters are removed to give the plants enough time to mature before the season ends.
  • When spring-sown Asian greens, such as tatsoi or pac choy, have been harvested from a container, plant seeds of heat-tolerant greens, such as New Zealand spinach, Malabar spinach, and Swiss chard in their place.
  • Spring spinach plants are finished producing in most climates by late June. To fill in the blank they leave behind, sow annual herbs, like caraway, anise, and dill, in their place.
  • Kohlrabi can also be planted as a late-season container crop, after the harvest of summer zucchini or cucumbers is complete.

Tip: If onions stored in your kitchen have sprouted, you can regrow them.

What is Succession Planting?

Succession planting is a system that’s often used in in-ground gardens, but many gardeners don’t know that succession planting is also a smart practice for a container vegetable garden, too. Basically, when one crop is harvested, another is planted in its place, maximizing productive space and yields.

Both succession planting in containers and in in-ground gardens is possible because most vegetable crops prefer particular growing conditions. Any given crop could be a cool-season plant that prefers the cooler temperatures of spring and fall, or a warm-season plant that thrives in the heat of summer (some crops, such as carrots, beets, and chard, fit into both categories because they thrive in both cool and warm weather).

Succession planting makes use of these growing preferences by partnering two or more crops based on their preferred growing season and speed of growth.

Succession Planting Tips


There are three different ways you can utilize succession planting in a container vegetable garden:

  1. A fast-maturing, cool-weather crop is planted in the early spring and then is followed by one that requires a longer, warmer growing season.
  2. A slow-maturing summer crop is planted soon after the danger of frost has passed. After it’s been harvested, a fast-maturing, cool weather-loving crop is planted in its place.
  3. A third succession planting method involves two, three, or even four fast-maturing crops being planted in quick succession, with a new crop being planted as soon as the previous one has been harvested.

Of course, for succession planting in a container vegetable garden to be successful, you need impeccable timing.

How to Find Your Frost Dates and Hardiness Zone

  • Frost Dates Calculator | This calculator at Almanac.com is simple to use. Enter your city and state or province to find your first and last frost dates and number of frost-free days.
  • Plant Hardiness Zone | United States and Canada
    Plant hardiness zones are listed on seed packets and plant tags.

Get Your Timing Right

The key to success with all of this is in varietal selection for sure, but more importantly, it’s in the timing. If you plant something too late, there won’t be enough time for that crop and the subsequent one to mature before the season ends. On the flip side, if you plant a crop too early, before the weather is suitable, there could also be consequences. Succession planting must be timed perfectly.

To do this, turn to your calendar and the seed packets from the crops you intend to plant. Use the “Days to Maturity” found on the seed packets to determine how long each crop will take to mature. Make sure your growing season is long enough to accommodate both crops, and then determine the optimum planting time for each succession partner based on your average frost dates and those “Days to Maturity” numbers.

It does take a good bit of finessing and experimenting to figure out the best timing, so take lots of notes. Once you get the hang of it, succession planting can lead to big yields in container gardens.

Soil Care

It’s very important to pay attention to your soil when succession planting in containers. Growing multiple crops in a single season in the same container depletes soil nutrients very rapidly. In between plantings, add a few tablespoons full of granular organic fertilizer to each container (see the Guide to Organic Fertilizers here). Also, top off the pot with a shovelful of finished compost. And be sure that at the start of the gardening season, you’re filling your containers with a 50/50 blend of high-quality potting soil and compost. You should also use a liquid organic fertilizer, such as kelp or fish emulsion, every few weeks throughout the growing season.

As you can see, succession planting in a container garden is an excellent way to increase yields and extend the harvest.

Container Gardening Complete | Amazon

If you want lists of the vegetable, fruit, and flower varieties that perform best in containers, pick up a copy of Jessica’s newest book, Container Gardening Complete (Cool Springs Press, 2017). In its pages you’ll also find tons of practical advice on caring for containers, siting them properly, and tips on cleaning up your container garden at the end of the season to limit disease and pests.

Jessica Walliser is a horticulturist and co-host of The Organic Gardeners, an award-winning program on KDKA Radio in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is a former contributing editor for Organic Gardening magazine, and her two weekly gardening columns for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review have been enjoyed by readers for over ten years. Jessica’s fourth book, Attracting Beneficial Bugs to the Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control, (Timber Press, 2014), was awarded the American Horticultural Society’s 2014 Book Award. Her newest title, Container Gardening Complete, was released by Cool Springs Press in December of 2017.

Jessica is also the author of the Amazon best-seller Good Bug, Bad Bug: Who’s Who, What They Do, and How to Manage Them Organically (St. Lynn’s Press, 2nd ed. 2011) and co-owner of the gardening blog, Savvy Gardening.

Follow Jessica online:

  • JessicaWalliser.com
  • Savvygardening.com

Best Crops for Pots

Any vegetable that grows in the ground can be grown in a container. But some crops, such as corn and pumpkins, may not be worth the effort. You don’t have to stick with so-called patio (dwarf) varieties. Most standard-size vegetables are suitable for container culture. For beans and carrots, plan to sow seeds directly in the soil-filled container. Grow other types of vegetables from seed, or purchase ready-to-plant s. Eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes started from seed take about eight weeks to develop seedlings ready for transplanting.

BEANS

Pot depth: 14-16 in.

Soil temperature (at planting time): At least 60°.

Spacing: Direct-sow seeds 2-3 in. apart.

Pole beans are more productive over the long run than bush beans (which produce their crop all at once). Train the 6- to 8-ft.-tall vines on a trellis or tepee made from bamboo poles. Try ‘Blue Lake Pole’, ‘Helda’ romano, or heirloom ‘Kentucky Wonder’.

CARROTS

Pot depth: 9-14 in.

Soil temperature: At least 55°.

Spacing: Direct-sow seeds 1/2-1 in. apart; thin seedlings 1-2 in. apart.

Choose a deep pot for carrots with long roots, such as ‘Nantes’ half-long type (7 in. long). Shallower pots are adequate for shorter carrots such as ‘Short ‘n Sweet’ or round ones like ‘Thumbelina’ (shown). Don’t let the soil dry out.

CUCUMBERS

Pot depth: 18 in.

Soil temperature: At least 70°.

Spacing: One plant per pot.

Bush types like ‘Bush Champion’ and disease-resistant ‘Salad Bush’ take up half the space of trailing types. ‘Lemon’ cuke (shown) also bears well on a trellis.

EGGPLANTS

Pot depth: 14-16 in.

Soil temperature: At least 70°.

Spacing: One or two plants per pot.

With their colorful fruits and attractive foliage, eggplants have outstanding ornamental value. Try ‘Black Beauty’, an American heirloom with bulbous, purple-black fruits, or ‘Little Fingers’ (shown), an Asian type with slim fruits.

Isa Foltin / Getty Images

Bell peppers are sweet and brightly flavored, with a refreshingly crisp texture when raw and a lusciously soft texture when cooked.

Quick idea No. 1: Sauté minced garlic and diced onion in olive oil. Add chopped bell peppers, tomatoes, and basil. Cook on low heat until the mixture is thickened and reduced by half. Serve over tofu, chicken, omelets, or toast.

Quick idea No. 2: Cut tops off peppers and seed them. Stuff with cooked bulgur, crumbled tofu, sautéed garlic and onion, olive oil, parsley, tomato, and mint. Bake until peppers are softened.

Recipe: Fennel-Pepper Slaw

― Kaitlin Louie

PEPPERS

Pot depth: 14-16 in.

Soil temperature: At least 60°.

Spacing: One or two plants per pot.

Choose from an amazing array of colors, shapes, and heat levels, from mildly spicy ‘Anaheim’ to searing hot ‘Thai Dragon’. Among sweet peppers, try ‘Ariane’ (shown), an orange bell, or ‘Giant Marconi’, a long, red one that’s great for grilling.

POTATOES

Pot depth: 18 in.

Soil temperature: At least 45°.

Spacing: Plant tubers 6 in. apart.

Potatoes are productive if there’s ample room for tubers to develop. Bury seed potatoes in an 8-in. layer of soil at the bottom of the pot. As plants grow, pile more soil up to the top set of leaves. Try small- to medium-size ‘All Blue’, ‘Red Pontiac’, or ‘Yukon Gold’.

SQUASH

Pot depth: 18 in.

Soil temperature: At least 60°.

Spacing: One plant per pot.

Summer squash is more productive than winter squash. Grow compact varieties like ‘Gold Rush’ yellow zucchini, ‘Spacemiser’ green zucchini, or ‘Sunburst’ scallopini (shown).

Thomas J. Story Some veggies are more suitable than others for container gardening

TOMATOES

Pot depth: 18 in.

Soil temperature: At least 60°.

Spacing: One plant per pot.

Use small wire cages or stakes to support determinate types (2- to 3-ft.-tall varieties that produce their crop all at once); try ‘Bush Celebrity’. Use sturdy 5-ft.-tall cages for indeterminate types (tall kinds that produce fruits all season) such as ‘Early Girl’ (shown).

More: Sunset’s One-Block Feast

Container vegetable plants: The best varieties for success

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Find our full disclosure here.

Growing flowers, vegetables, herbs, and even fruits in containers is not only an easy way to grow, it’s also beautiful and productive. We’ve written lots of articles on container gardening here on the blog, including posts on the best berries for containers, how to care for a container garden, and inspiration for growing herbs in pots. But, today’s post is a bit different. Today, I’d like to share some specific varieties of container vegetable plants for your garden.

Growing Vegetables in Containers

Before sharing what I consider to be some of the best container vegetable plants for your garden, I’d like to take a moment to point out that choosing the right varieties to grow is just one step in successful container gardening. You also need to make sure you choose the right-size container, fill it with high-quality organic potting mix, and locate the container in as much sun as possible. My fellow Savvy Gardening contributor, Niki Jabbour, wrote an excellent post on the importance of these three factors last year. You can read her post here to make sure your container garden gets off to a good start.

Now, onto the topic at hand: Choosing the best vegetables for container gardening.

Lettuce is one of the easiest crops to grow in containers.

The Best Container Vegetable Plants

While you can grow just about anything in a container, it pays to select varieties that are tailor-made for growing in tight quarters. Breeders have taken notice of the increased number of gardeners who want to grow food in containers, and as a result, the diversity of container-specific vegetable varieties has been on the rise for the last decade or so. This has been a huge boon to gardeners looking to grow short-statured, compact vegetable varieties in containers; we have a wider selection than ever before!

I’ll start by introducing you to five of my favorite tomato varieties for container gardening in this short video:

When writing my most recent book, Container Gardening Complete (Cool Springs Press, 2018), I did a lot of research into the best vegetables for container gardening. What I discovered was hundreds of different varieties, each full of flavor and beauty but bred to be a perfect fit for container gardens. The result of all that research is a list of container vegetable varieties that are high-yielding, disease-resistant, and delicious!

The list I’m including in today’s post is a sampling of the more-extensive collection of container vegetable varieties you’ll find in my book, but the following varieties are an excellent place to start.

Unlike some other veggies, almost all types of peppers are easy to grow in containers.

Vegetable Varieties for Container Gardening

(Seed sources and more info can be found by clicking on any of the individual variety names found in this list.)

Peas:
• ‘Peas-in-a-Pot’
• ‘Tom Thumb’
• ‘Little SnapPea Crunch’
• ‘Snowbird’

Carrots:
• ‘Romeo’
• ‘Tonda di Parigi’
• ‘Little Finger’

Carrots are fun to grow in containers, including these round ‘Romeo’ carrots.

Cabbage:
• ‘Tiara’
• ‘Caraflex’

Lettuce:
• ‘Little Gem’
• ‘Red Cash’
• ‘Tom Thumb’

Cucumbers:
• ‘Patio Snacker’
• ‘Salad Bush’
• ‘Bush Champion’

• ‘Spacemaster’

Watermelon:
• ‘Bush Sugar Baby’
• ‘Sugar Pot’

‘Sugar Pot’ watermelon is quite happy in a container. This one has just started to set fruit.

Corn:
• ‘On Deck’

Eggplant:
• ‘Patio Baby’
• ‘Pot Black’
• ‘Morden Midget’

‘Fairy Tale’ is another excellent eggplant for containers. It reaches just 18″ tall.

Summer Squash:
• ‘Burpee’s Best’
• ‘Bush Baby’
• ‘Patio Green Bush’

Winter Squash:
• ‘Butterbush’

• ‘Honey Bear’
• ‘Bush Table Queen’

Tomatoes:
• ‘Patio Princess’
• ‘BushSteak’
• ‘Sweetheart of the Patio’

• ‘Tumbler’
• ‘Glacier’

You’ll find plans for this DIY self-watering container in my book, Container Gardening Complete. This one has two ‘Glacier’ tomatoes, some basil, and a patio cucumber plant in it.

As you can see, there are many wonderful container vegetable plants worth growing. Try a few new varieties every year to ensure a delicious yield of fresh veggies from your container garden. And, to save money and grow a great container garden, head to our article on homemade potting soil recipes for container gardening. For a more extensive list of vegetables for containers, pick up a copy of Container Gardening Complete.

Do you grow vegetables in containers? Which varieties are your favorites? Share them with us in the comment section below.

Related posts about container gardening:
The best fertilizers for container gardens
Tips for summer container garden maintenance
3 container garden ideas to give as gifts
Container gardening trends
Container gardening cheat sheet

Even if you’re short on space, you can still have a lovely, prolific garden by growing vegetables in pots. From tomatoes to potatoes, there are suitable container varieties that produce a good yield. In this article, we’ll explore the best container vegetable varieties, which bear the most fruit for the space, and how to grow them easily in your home.

Growing Vegetables in Pots: Get the Most from Small Spaces

Kruscha /

Basically anything can be grown in a container as long as you have good soil, sunshine, water, and some kind of nourishment for the plants. Most plants need at least six hours of sun, and good drainage. Often container plants need to be watered twice as often as traditional gardens.

I usually go for varieties that have a high yield, because with a container garden the amount produced is obviously smaller. For me there’s no point growing melons in a container—it’s lot of time spent for few fruits. I also like to stick to heirloom varieties as much as possible to ensure plant diversity for a long time to come.

I recommend keeping your plants healthy by purchasing a good quality organic potting mix from your local gardening center. Don’t use regular compost or soil: potting soil is made for potted plants, and therefore provides good drainage that other soils might not. I also use fish fertilizer every 4-6 weeks to keep my plants well fed, especially tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. It’s a little stinky but it’s highly nutritious and the plants love it, and are better producers for it.

Container Types

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Container gardens are great for novice gardeners. It helps to familiarize you with how to grow plants, without worrying about weeding or crop rotation. It also allows you to try different varieties.

You can use many different types of containers—anything from 5-gallon buckets, to decorative pots. Even burlap sacks work well for certain veggies (like potatoes). The important factor is to make sure they have good drainage. If you’re using a bucket, for example, be sure to drill drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.

Most plants do best in a container that’s about 12 inches deep, to support a robust root system. That said, there are some below that are okay in shallower pots. Now, without further ado… the best vegetables for your container garden:

1. Ground Cherries

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Ground cherries are one of the most prolific plants I have ever had the pleasure of growing. They’re not only beautiful, but also sweet and delicious. Despite their name, they’re not cherries, but actually part of the tomatillo family.

The plants are low and bushy and each plant produces close to 100 fruits a season, which is a lot of bang for your container garden. If you’ve never tried one before, they taste like a cross between pineapple and a very sweet tomato. In a word, “addictive”.

The Smithsonian shares five ways to eat ground cherries.

2. Peppers

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You can grow any kind of pepper in a pot. Just make sure the pot is wide enough for the leaves to expand. I like Banana, Italian Pepperoncini, and Red Cherry peppers because they’re small. As a result, the yield is usually greater than larger bell peppers, and they all taste fantastic when pickled.

3. Eggplant

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Eggplant is easy to grow as long as your plants get a lot of direct sunlight and are well fed. They thrive in warmer locations, so depending on where you live you can grow them in the summer or year round.

The fruits come in purples, pinks, and whites. Some varieties are even striped. The shape can vary too, from the typical oblong to round and plump, or long and skinny. The leaves and flowers are beautiful, too. I like Rosa Bianca, both for its beauty and taste.

4. Brussels Sprouts

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Brussels sprouts look like baby cabbages growing on a tree trunk. They take 90 days to mature, grow vertically. and don’t need trellis supports. Plant them in early spring because they don’t like hot weather. Like most brassicas, they also don’t mind a bit of shade.

5. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are probably the most well-known container vegetable. I like Galina and Stupice varieties, as both are very tolerant, small and tasty. Of course, there are many good varieties to choose from, and if you ask your local nursery or garden center they can set you up for success. Check out our article on the 10 best cherry tomato varieties.

It’s best to grow container tomatoes from starts rather than seeds. Tomatoes need to be staked, so be sure to plant the stakes when you plant the starts. You can also plant them upside-down, which is visually stunning.

6. Carrots

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Carrots prefer to grow in cooler temperatures. They also need deep containers that have really good drainage. That said, they also need to be watered regularly to prevent the roots from drying and cracking. Try growing them in a bag, like potatoes or other root vegetables.

Nantes is the recommended variety for containers, it is a bit shorter and the end is more rounded.

7. Winter Squash

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The smaller the fruit, the easier it is to handle a container. In this situation, you need the right amount of outside space for the plant to grow, rather than accommodating a large root system in the pot. Try Delicata squash: they’re sweet and delicious, with beautiful flowers. When you plant the seeds, add a trellis to the pot and train the vines to grow up. Place the pot up against a wall for more stability.

8. Chard

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Chard grows easily in containers due to its large, upright leaves. Rainbow chard is my favorite; it looks beautiful and adds a lot of color to the container garden. You can pick it when the leaves are still small, or wait longer for them to grow to their full potential.

9. Garlic

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Garlic is wonderful for container gardening, because you can eat both the bulb and the green tops. You need a wide container to grow it, with 5-6 inches of space between each clove as the ideal spacing. Here are some essential varieties to try out.

10. Cucumbers

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Cucumbers grow well and have many uses, from fresh eating to pickling. However, vining cucumbers take up a lot of space. You can train them on a trellis to save space, but for cucumbers, get the best bang and grow Bush Crop cucumbers in a smaller space.

11. Fingerling Potatoes

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Potatoes come in a wide variety of colors and are fun to grow with kids. For potatoes, you need a container that’s at least 12 inches deep. Plant 3 to 4 regular potatoes in the pot. If you choose a fingerling variety—like Russian Banana or Peruvian Purple—you can plant about 8, and the yield will be higher.

Once they begin to grow, make sure all the stems are fully covered with soil. Within a few months, they’ll be ready to harvest. I suggest buying organic potato starts from a reputable company. Store-bought potatoes have often been treated with chemicals. You can even grow potatoes indoors.

12. Radishes

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Radishes thrive in containers, as they’re very easy and fast to grow. They also come in a variety of shapes, from plump and round to long and skinny. I adore the French Breakfast variety.

If you don’t think you like radishes, try them smeared with butter and sprinkled with salt. You won’t be able to get enough.

13. Peas

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Peas are easy to grow in pots, but they need some support, like a trellis. These early season plants actually stop producing when it warms up. They’re also high in nitrogen, so when they’re finished for the season, pull up the plant and replace it with something else. The second plant will benefit from the nitrogen in the soil.

Cascadia or Sugar Daddy are two varieties of sugar snap peas. The best part about them is that the peas are edible at any stage (although the fatter, the sweeter), and you can also eat the shoots and tendrils.

14. Sorrel

Image via Plews Garden and Design

Sorrel is a delicious green that has a citrus flavor to it. It may also be considered an herb, but it functions in most recipes like a leafy green vegetable. It does well in shady spots, so it’s perfect for a porch garden that might not get much sunlight.

15. Spinach

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Spinach grows very well in containers. You can harvest “baby spinach” often, when the leaves are still small. It also does well in partial shade and only needs about 3-4 hours of sunlight daily. Plus, you can grow it in a shallower container, like a window box.

16. Summer Squash

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Like cucumbers, vining squash take up a lot of garden real estate, therefore bush varieties are better. Try Black Magic Zucchini or Bush Crookneck. They need about 7 hours of sunlight. Practice companion planting and add a few marigolds or nasturtiums to the pot to keep pests at bay.

17. Arugula

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Arugula is very easy to grow, and is quite prolific. It does better in a contained area, making it a perfect candidate for your container garden. It’s also super versatile; works both like a leafy green and a salad green in the kitchen. Both the leaf and the flower are edible.

18. Rhubarb

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Rhubarb is a wonderful container vegetable. It does take some time to develop, because you can’t harvest it until the second year, but it’s also a perennial, which means it’ll grow back year after year. Rhubarb does well in partial shade, and has beautiful big leaves. Take note that its large root system requires a very deep pot: 20 inches at least.

19. Lettuce

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Lettuce doesn’t need much sun, and grows quickly. You can grow pretty much any variety in any container. You can even grow it in a shopping bag. I like Rouge d’Hiver: it’s cold hardy and delicious when picked small. Jade Jem looks just like mini romaine lettuce, also grows quickly, and has a long harvest period.

20. Green Beans

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Bush type beans are the best for container gardens. They do well with support from a trellis. Try varieties like Rolande or Provider for high yields and delicious flavor.

In Conclusion

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This list and growing guide should give you confidence that a container garden can produce well. If you want even more options, check out your local garden center. They can help you choose varieties that do well in your particular part of the world.

When you taste your first delicious homegrown produce, you’ll be glad you did.

Container Vegetable Plants: Suitable Vegetable Varieties For Containers

You may think vegetables aren’t well suited for container gardening, but there are many good container vegetable plants. In fact, nearly any plant will grow in a container if the container is deep enough to accommodate the roots. Read on for more info on some good container vegetables.

Veggie Plants for Container Growing

As a general rule, the best veggie plants for container gardening are dwarf, miniature or bush types. (A few suggestions are offered in the list below, but there are many varieties – check the seed packet or nursery container). Most container vegetable plants need a container with a depth of at least 8 inches. Some, like full-size tomatoes, need a depth of at least 12 inches and a soil capacity of at least 5 gallons.

The larger the container, the more plants you can grow, but don’t crowd the plants. For example, a single herb plant will grow in a small container, while a medium-sized pot will accommodate one cabbage plant, two cucumbers or four to six leaf lettuce plants. A large pot will grow two to three pepper plants or a single eggplant.

Vegetable Varieties for Containers

Use this helpful list of container vegetable plants to inspire you to try your hand at porta growing with vegetables.

Small Pots (1/2 gallon)

Parsley
Chives
Thyme
Basil
(and most compact herb plants)

Medium Pots (1-2 gallon)

Large Pots (2-3 gallon)

Dwarf carrots (Thumbelina, Little Fingers)
Eggplant (Morden Midget, Slim Jim, Little Fingers, Bunny Bites)
Dwarf tomatoes (Patio, Tiny Tim)
Brussels Sprouts (Half Dwarf French, Jade Cross)
Sweet peppers (Jingle Bell, Baby Bell, Mohawk Gold)
Hot peppers (Mirasol, Apache Red, Cherry Bomb)

Super-Large Pots (3 gallon and up)

Bush beans (Derby, Provider)
Tomatoes (Needs at least 5 gallons)
Broccoli (All varieties)
Kale (All varieties)
Cantaloupe (Minnesota Midget, Sharlyn)
Summer squash (Peter Pan, Crookneck, Straightneck, Gold Rush Zucchini)
Potatoes (Needs at least 5 gallons)
Pumpkin (Baby Boo, Jack Be Little,
Winter squash (Bush Acorn, Bush Buttercup, Jersey Golden Acorn)

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