How to Grow Vegetables in Containers

Even if you don’t have room for a regular garden, you can still enjoy growing and harvesting fresh vegetables from a garden all summer long. Container gardening is the solution.

There are a number of vegetable plants that thrive very well in pots, and these vegetables are attractive as well as beneficial to those who love gardening.

Container gardening will allow you to begin growing and harvesting garden-fresh vegetables even if you don’t have a yard, and best of all, these plants will be easy to care for. There is less weeding involved in this type of gardening, and pests are also easier to control.

Types of Containers to Consider

If you’re thinking about growing vegetables in containers, there are many different types to consider. Container types may include wooden barrels, terra cotta pots, porcelain, plastic, and many more. The possibilities are endless when considering the types and materials.

Glazed and unglazed ceramic and terra cotta pots of varying sizes and designs, filled with plants.
Mix up colors and materials in your planters and pots for an eclectic look.

No matter what type you choose for your vegetables, make sure the vessel has drainage holes in the bottom. Proper drainage allows the roots of garden vegetables to remain healthy by keeping them out of standing water.

It’s also important to make sure vessels are large enough to give the roots space as the plants grow and if they are on public display, be sure to choose pots that can be well-maintained to keep their visual appeal.

Preparing a Container for Planting

Begin container gardening by choosing fertile soil that will fill a vessels of your choice. Basic potting soil is great choice and is readily available at your local home center.

Add soil to the pot until it’s approximately two-thirds from the top, and prearrange vegetables before planting them.

Be sure to leave plenty of space surrounding each plant by following individual instructions specifically for the vegetables you have chosen.

After deciding the placement of vegetables, gently remove plants from their original seed trays, and carefully loosen their roots. Dig adequately sized holes, and plant the vegetables according to label instructions.

Fill in the holes with surrounding soil, and add additional soil to bring the level about an inch below the top.

What to Grow?

Many different varieties of produce will work in containers but we’ve listed some of the easier ones below. However, you can grow just about anything but you may need to think outside of the box and go vertical with trellises and other support mechanisms.


Beans of all types grow very well in containers. For those who want to give container gardening a try, the most practical variety of beans to grow are bush beans.

Pole beans can reach heights of eight feet, but bush beans grow to a maximum height of around twenty inches. This is a more practical bean variety for this type of gardening.

Although bush beans need lots of sunshine, they require cooler climates in order to properly grow and produce beans. During the hottest days of summer, beans may not grow or produce as prolifically, but keep up with regular harvesting, and your beans will continue to produce for weeks.


If you love beets and thought you couldn’t grow them because you don’t have a yard, you were mistaken. Container gardening will allow you to successfully grow juicy, succulent beets right outside your door.

They are cool-season vegetables that can be planted as a spring or autumn crop, and beet seeds can be planted every three weeks for successive harvests.

Beets require rich organic soil, that’s less acidic. Add lime to the soil to reduce acid levels if necessary, and provide your beets with lots of direct sunshine.

Beet roots should be less than two inches in diameter when harvested, and beet greens should be picked when they are no more than six inches long for the best flavor.

Read more about growing beets in containers here.


Short-rooted carrots are great vegetables to plant when container gardening. As long as your vessel is deep and full of loose sandy soil, you can successfully grow carrots.

Sew short-rooted varieties of carrot seeds in early spring. A couple varieties of short-rooted carrots to consider are “Little Finger” and “Thumbelina,” but any short variety will do well.

Follow specific directions for the variety you choose, and you’ll be able to produce dozens of fresh carrots throughout spring, summer, and early autumn.

Read more about growing carrots in containers here.


If you love crisp green cucumbers on a hot summer day, there is no reason why you can’t grow them in a container garden. Cucumbers are fantastic vegetables and bush varieties of cucumbers are best for growing in pots and other vessels.

These bush varieties only reach a height between two and four feet. The type or variety you choose is entirely up to you.

Consider starting your cucumber seeds indoors about a month before the last frost. The potted cucumbers may be placed outside after all danger of frost has passed.

Cucumbers prefer full sun, and adding mulch to the soil will help keep the roots of plants equally moist.


Some of the finest green peppers my mother ever grew were grown in a container garden. Her peppers were big, crisp, firm, and juicy. You can grow big beautiful peppers in larger pots, and if properly cared for, your peppers might be the best ever too.

Peppers are easy to grow as well. They reach a maximum height of about 2 ½ feet, and they require full sun to grow to their full potential.

Pepper seeds can be started in a seed tray indoors about two months before moving the plant outside. After the danger of frost has passed, place the plant outside, and as the days become warmer you’ll have big beautiful peppers.


Although tomatoes are actually considered fruit, most people use them as they would use a vegetable. For this reason, tomatoes have been included in this list of vegetables that do well in container gardening.

The ripening fruit of tomatoes adds lots of color and interest to your landscape, and tomatoes grown in this manner are some of the juiciest flavorful tomatoes you could ever grow.

Consider growing your favorite variety of tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes grow especially well in a container garden. It’s easy to open your door and pick several cherry tomatoes for a salad or to pop in your mouth as a tasty snack.

Tomatoes require full sun to reach their full potential, so place them in a sunny location. They cannot endure any amount of frost, so be sure you don’t set your plants outdoors until all danger of frost has passed.

Fertilizing and Watering

Container gardening in many ways is easier than regular gardening, but vegetables as well as other plants such as herbs require more watering while growing in pots.

The soil in containers dries out much more quickly than ground soil, especially when placed in full sun. Be sure to check every day to see if vegetables require watering, particularly during the hottest days of summer.

Plants and vegetables grown in above ground vessels require regular fertilizing. Fertilize vegetables with a liquid fertilizer approximately every ten days.

Alternately, a slow-release fertilizer may be used, and it will provide the necessary nutrients the entire season. Follow all fertilizer label instructions.

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