The Best 11 Vegetables to Grow in Pots and Containers

Growing up with a little garden, producing plants in pots was my first taste of growing my own food. From the chives in the big garden pots, to the little pots of mint and coriander sitting on the kitchen windowsill, these experiences were the first to pique my interest in gardening.

Vertical image of several orange and black plastic pots filled with soil, with small chard plants growing inside, with a tree in soft focus in the background, printed with green and white text in the top third and at the bottom of the frame.

As more and more people are looking to branch out in their experimentation with edible crops, it’s becoming very clear that green finger fever isn’t just confined to the countryside.

Urban agriculture is really taking off, with people growing food in the most improbable places: rooftops, balconies, windowsills, and every other little nook and cranny that is available to them.

Growing food in pots is often the easiest way to do this. Able to fit perfectly in little corners of any city, container growing offers the perfect way for people with limited space to get into edible gardening.

Horizontal head-on image of terra cotta pots of various sizes, stacked upside down, sitting in shallow terrra cotta saucers, and filled with small vegetable plants of various types, on a wooden deck with a brick wall in the background.

Pots are obviously not just for city dwellers – they can also offer a valuable alternative if your soil is too poor to grow in, and can often be much more accessible to growers with physical differences and disabilities.

So, what kind of vegetables are on offer for container growers, and which will provide the best yields when grown in a small space? Here, we take a look at the top 11 vegetable varieties to grow in pots.

The Best 11 Vegetable Varieties for Growing in Containers

  1. Beans
  2. Beets
  3. Chard
  4. Chili Peppers
  5. Kale
  6. Lettuce
  7. Onions
  8. Radishes
  9. Spinach
  10. Sweet Peppers
  11. Tomatoes

The 11 Best Vegetable Varieties for Growing in Containers

As a general rule, hybrid and dwarf varieties of plants are usually a good bet in pots, as they require less space to grow.

Horizontal image of several long, narrow, black plastic containers of leafy greens and vegetables, growing on a porch with a black metal railing.

Below, you’ll find a list of the top 11 types of veggies to grow in pots, with several of our favorite cultivars for each that are particularly well suited to container growing.

1. Beans

Minimum pot depth: 12”

Thanks to their attractive foliage and flowers, green beans are a great addition to any balcony or courtyard. You can read more about growing green beans here.

There are two ways to approach growing beans in pots. You can either choose a “bushy” variety of bean, which will grow happily in a pot without any extra support, or you can choose to grow a climbing variety, and run pole beans up a trellis. This is ideal for making the most of your vertical space, as you can run them up walls and fences.

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' green beans growing on a green stem, in a terra cotta pot, with a mottled pink background.

‘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.

Closely cropped square image of scarlet runner beans, with green bean pods and leaves, and pink flowers, with a bright blue sky in the background.

‘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.

Square closeup image of a chioggia beet that has been sliced in half to show the red and pink concentric circles inside, with green leaves, on brown soil.

‘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.

A beige bowl of five 'Detroit Dark Red' beets with purple stems and green leaves.

‘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.

Closeup closely cropped square image of the pink, white, and yellow stems and green leaves of rainbow swiss chard, growing in brown soil.

‘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.

Overhead square image of several bunches of 'Ruby Red' Swiss chard that have just been picked from the garden, with red stems and dark green leaves.

‘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!

Four green jalapenos on a brown wood surface.

‘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.

Overhead square image of long, thin, red, green, and pale orange Thai hot peppers, on a wood surface.

‘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.

Overhead square image of 'Dwarf Blue Curled Vates' blue-green curly-leaf kale, completely filling the frame.

‘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.

Closeup square image of curly green leaves of 'Dwarf Siberian' kale.

‘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.

Square image of the torso and arm of a woman in a pink t-shirt and blue jeans, holding a container filled with 'Burgundy Delight' lettuce just picked from the vegetable patch in the background.

‘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.

Square closeup image of green arugula growing in bright dappled sunshine.

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.

Square overhead image of several trimmed 'Tokyo Long White' bunching onions, with white bulb ends and green tops, on a wood surface.

‘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.

Square overhead image of a several 'White Lisbon' bunching onions with green tops and white bulb ends, with roots on the bottom, on an unfinished wood surface.

‘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.

Square image of two hands holding a bunch of 'Solaris Hybrid' radishes, with bright red roots and green leaves, and a beige apron with a faint pattern printed on the fabric in the background.

‘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.

Square vertical closeup closely cropped image of a bunch of pink 'Cherry Belle' radishes, with green leaves, and one that has been sliced in half to show the white flesh inside in the foreground, on a weathered unfinished wood surface.

‘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.

Square overhead image of a bunch of 'Bloomsdale Long Standing' spinach, tied with a piece of twine, on an unfinished weathered wood surface.

‘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.

Square closeup image of the elongated green and purple leaves of Okinawa spinach.

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.

Square overhead image of a plate of green and red 'Confetti Hybrid' sweet peppers, with four more at the top left of the frame, scattered on a brown wood surface.

‘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.

A wooden bowl of red 'Jungle Hybrid' sweet peppers, with more in the background growing on a plant with green leaves in an off-white pot, with orange and yellow marigolds in soft focus behind the container.

‘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.

A wooden barrel of 'Atlas Hybrid' tomato plants, next to pink and yellow flowers, with a green lawn and more plants and trees in the background.

‘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.

Closeup square overhead image of a red 'Bush Early Girl Hybrid Tomato' with green stem, surrounded by more whole and sliced tomatoes on an orange surface.

‘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.

Tomatoes and other vegetables planted in terra cotta pots, on a wooden deck.

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!

© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via Burpee, True Leaf Market, and Eden Brothers Nursery. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

About Natasha Foote

With a passion for soil health and growing trees, Natasha Foote is a biologist who was hit with a serious case of green fingers, and decided to swap sterile laboratories for getting her hands dirty in the soil. Formerly a farmer and researcher working with the agroforestry project Mazi Farm in Greece, when she wasn't working on the farm, she was busy studying soil biology under the microscope. Now, you can find her in the south of France where, in between enjoying all the fresh peaches, plums, apricots, and cherries that the area has to offer, she's working on various agricultural projects whilst writing about all things green.

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