15 Best Vegetables That Grow in Containers – Top Picks 2024

Last Updated on April 13, 2024 by Kimberly Crawford

Why do so many people rave about growing vegetables that grow in containers? Well, the benefits are too good to ignore! Growing your veggies in containers is a smart pick if you’re tight on space or don’t want to mess with a big garden.

You can set up a pot on a balcony, deck, or even a sunny spot inside your home. It’s not just about saving space; it’s about grabbing those fresh veggies right from your own mini garden, no matter where you live.

Plus, think about this: no more bending over rows and rows in a huge garden. That’s a back-saver right there! Whether you’re up in a high-rise or just have a tiny patch of sun on your patio, container gardening is a go-getter for fresh eats right at home.

In this article

1. Tomatoes


Tomatoes are a top choice for newbie gardeners and pros alike because they do great in pots. Let’s talk about which tomato types you should consider and how to keep them happy and healthy.

Types of tomatoes best suited for containers

Not all tomatoes are the same when it comes to container gardening. Here’s a quick guide to the best picks:

Tomato TypeContainer SizeWhy It Works
Cherry Tomatoes5 gallonsThey’re compact and keep producing a bunch of fruits throughout the season.
Bush Tomatoes5 gallonsThese guys don’t spread out much, so they’re space-efficient.
Dwarf Varieties3 gallonsPerfect if you’re really short on space. They grow small but still pop out tasty tomatoes.

Tips for planting and care

Growing tomatoes in containers isn’t just throwing seeds in soil and hoping for the best. Here are some tips to get you a bunch of ripe, juicy tomatoes:

  • Pot and Soil: Grab a pot at least 5 gallons in size for most tomato types. Make sure it has holes in the bottom for drainage. Use a high-quality potting mix to keep your tomato plants fed and happy.
  • Sunlight: Tomatoes love the sun. They need about 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight each day. No shady business here!
  • Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist. Tomatoes in pots might need water more often than those in the ground, especially during those hot days.
  • Feeding: Give your tomatoes some food! A balanced liquid fertilizer every couple of weeks during the growing season will do wonders.
  • Support: These plants can get a bit wild and will likely need some support as they grow. Use stakes or cages to keep them upright and off the ground.

2. Peppers

chili pepper

Peppers are another garden favorite that adapt well to container life. Whether you like them sweet or spicy, there’s a pepper variety that will fit perfectly on your porch or patio.

Variety of peppers that thrive in pots

Peppers come in many shapes and sizes, and quite a few of them are well-suited for growing in containers. Here’s a table to help you choose:

Pepper TypeContainer SizeCharacteristics
Bell Peppers2-5 gallonsLarger pots for bigger yields.
Jalapeños3 gallonsCompact and prolific, perfect for small spaces.
Banana Peppers3 gallonsLong and slender, these need less room to grow.

Sunlight and watering requirements

Peppers love their sunbathing. Aim for:

  • Sunlight: At least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day.
  • Watering: Keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. Water deeply when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch.

By balancing the sun and water, you’re on your way to producing some fiery or fabulously sweet peppers right from your balcony or backyard.

3. Lettuce

lettuce vegetable

Lettuce is a superb choice for container gardening due to its quick growth and minimal space needs. It’s ideal for continuous harvesting, too.

Advantages of growing lettuce in containers

  • Space Efficiency: Lettuce grows well in shallow containers, making it perfect for small spaces.
  • Control: You can manage soil quality and moisture more effectively, which is great for leafy greens.

Harvesting techniques to maximize yield

  • Cut-and-Come-Again: Harvest outer leaves first, allowing the center leaves to continue growing. This technique lets you get multiple harvests from a single plant.
  • Entire Head: If you planted head lettuce, you can wait for the whole plant to mature and then harvest the entire head at once.

Either method will give you fresh lettuce for your salads and sandwiches way fresher than any store-bought greens!

4. Carrots

carrot vegetables

Carrots are a delight to grow in containers because you can control the soil environment to produce perfect, sweet roots every time.

Choosing the right container depth for carrots

The depth of the container is crucial for growing good carrots. Here’s a quick guide:

  • Short-rooted varieties: At least 8 inches deep.
  • Longer-rooted varieties: 12 inches or more is ideal.

Soil and spacing considerations

  • Soil: Use a mix that is light and free of stones; sandy loam is best. This ensures the carrots can grow straight down without resistance.
  • Spacing: Sow seeds thinly across the surface. Once they sprout, thin them so each carrot has enough room to develop. Aim for about 2-3 inches apart.

5. Spinach


Spinach is a fantastic green to grow in containers because it doesn’t need much root space and it can be harvested multiple times throughout the season.

Benefits of growing spinach in pots

  • Quick Harvest: Spinach grows quickly, making it perfect for container gardening.
  • Less Pest Trouble: Elevated containers can help reduce issues with pests like snails and slugs that love to munch on spinach leaves.

Ideal conditions for growth

Spinach thrives with:

  • Cool Weather: Spinach prefers cooler temperatures, ideally between 50-70°F (10-21°C).
  • Partial Shade: While spinach can handle full sun in cooler climates, it benefits from afternoon shade in warmer areas to prevent bolting (going to seed too quickly).

With these conditions, your spinach will be lush and ready to eat in no time.

6. Cucumbers

cucumber vegetables

Cucumbers are traditionally vine plants, but they can be adapted to grow in containers with the right setup, making them perfect for vertical gardening.

Training cucumbers vertically in containers

Training cucumbers to grow up supports saves space and can help prevent disease.

  • Use Trellises or Stakes: This allows the vines to climb up, maximizing sunlight exposure and air circulation.

Pot size and support structures

  • Pot Size: A large pot, at least 5 gallons, is necessary to accommodate the root system.
  • Support Structures: Use sturdy trellises or cages to support the weight of the vines as they grow.

This setup not only helps manage the plant’s growth but also makes harvesting those crisp cucumbers even easier.

7. Radishes


Radishes are one of the fastest-growing vegetables, making them a top choice for quick results in container gardening.

Quick-growing nature of radishes

  • Fast Maturity: Radishes can be ready to harvest as soon as three weeks after planting.

Tips for successive planting to ensure continuous harvest

  • Successive Planting: Plant a new round of seeds every week or two to keep a steady supply of radishes coming.
  • Even Moisture: Keep the soil consistently moist for quick growth and to avoid tough, woody radishes.

With these strategies, you’ll enjoy a regular supply of fresh, spicy radishes right from your pot to your plate.

8. Beets


Beets are not only nutritious but also well-suited for container gardening with a bit of care, especially in managing soil and seedlings.

Soil and fertilizer requirements for beets

  • Soil: Use well-draining soil rich in organic matter to promote healthy root development.
  • Fertilizer: Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer at planting time to support growth throughout the season.

Importance of thinning the seedlings

  • Thinning: Once seedlings are about 2 inches tall, thin them so they stand 3-4 inches apart. This ensures each beet has enough room to grow large and not just produce small, crowded roots.

9. Kale


Kale is a hardy and versatile green that adapts well to container gardening. It’s a nutritious choice for your edible garden and relatively easy to maintain.

Kale varieties that are container-friendly

Several kale varieties perform well in pots:

  • Dwarf Blue Curled: Compact and perfect for smaller containers.
  • Red Russian: Tolerant to some shade and very cold-hardy.
  • Lacinato (Dinosaur Kale): Known for its rich, tender leaves, ideal for tight spaces due to its upright growth habit.

Pests and common issues to watch for

Kale can attract a few common garden pests and issues:

  • Cabbage worms and aphids: Regularly check the undersides of leaves and apply organic pesticides if necessary.
  • Powdery mildew: Ensure good air circulation and avoid overhead watering to prevent this fungal issue.

By choosing the right variety and keeping an eye on common pests, you can enjoy a steady supply of kale from your container garden.

10. Eggplants


Eggplants are heat-loving plants that also require adequate space and support to thrive, especially in containers.

Temperature and spacing needs for eggplants

  • Temperature: Eggplants need warm conditions, ideally daytime temperatures between 70°F and 85°F (21°C to 29°C).
  • Spacing: Ensure each plant has at least 5 gallons of soil; more space is better for larger varieties.

Staking and support recommendations

  • Staking: Use stakes or cages to support eggplants as they grow; this helps prevent the plants from tipping over under the weight of the fruits.

Proper care, including the right temperature and sturdy support, will help your eggplants produce a bountiful harvest right on your patio or balcony.

11. Green Onions

green onions

Green onions are one of the easiest vegetables to grow in containers, making them perfect for beginners and those with limited space.

Simplicity of growing green onions in small spaces

  • Container Size: Small pots or even window boxes are sufficient as green onions have minimal root depth.
  • Growing Medium: Use well-draining soil and keep the plants evenly moist.

Harvesting and regrowing from scraps

  • Harvesting: Cut the green tops as needed, leaving about an inch above the root for regrowth.
  • Regrowing: You can also place the root ends in water to regrow green tops, transferring them back to soil later.

This simple cycle of harvesting and regrowing makes green onions a sustainable and continuous contributor to your kitchen.

12. Swiss Chard

swiss chard

Swiss chard is not only a nutrient-rich vegetable but also adds a splash of color to container gardens.

Colorful addition to container gardens

  • Varieties: ‘Bright Lights’ has stems in shades of yellow, red, and pink, while ‘Fordhook Giant’ is known for its large, white, tasty stems.

Light and nutrient requirements

  • Light: Swiss chard needs plenty of light, at least 5-6 hours of direct sunlight daily.
  • Nutrients: Feed with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every four weeks to support robust growth.

13. Zucchini


Zucchini is a prolific summer squash that can thrive in containers if given the proper care.

Container size and care for zucchini plants

  • Container Size: Zucchini requires large containers, at least 5 gallons, but ideally 10 gallons or more to accommodate their vigorous root system.
  • Soil and Watering: Use a well-draining potting mix and keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged.

Managing blossom end rot and mildew

  • Blossom End Rot: Prevent this by ensuring consistent moisture and using calcium-rich fertilizer.
  • Mildew: Keep the foliage dry and provide good air circulation around the plants to reduce the risk of powdery mildew.

Proper maintenance can help you avoid common problems and ensure a healthy harvest of zucchini from your container garden.

14. Arugula


Arugula is a fast-growing leafy green, known for its peppery flavor, making it a popular choice for salads.

Quick growth cycle of arugula

  • Arugula can go from seed to harvest in as little as 4 to 6 weeks, making it an ideal choice for continuous cropping.

Harvesting leaves young for best flavor

  • Harvesting: Pick the outer leaves regularly when they are young and tender, which encourages the plant to produce more foliage.
  • Taste: Young leaves have a milder, less bitter taste compared to older, larger leaves.

Growing arugula in containers allows you to manage harvesting easily and enjoy fresh greens at your fingertips.

15. Potatoes

potatoes field

Potatoes are surprisingly well-suited to container gardening, particularly when using grow bags or large pots.

Using grow bags or large pots for potatoes

  • Container Choice: Grow bags are ideal for potatoes because they are breathable and allow for easy harvesting by opening the side of the bag.

Layering soil technique for optimal growth

  • Layering Soil: Start with a few inches of soil at the bottom, place your seed potatoes, and cover them with more soil. As the plants grow, continue to add soil around the stems, encouraging them to develop more tubers.

This technique, known as “hilling,” helps produce a larger yield from each plant. Using containers also helps prevent soil-borne diseases, making it a clean and efficient method for growing potatoes.


why choose vegetables grow in containers

We’ve explored a variety of vegetables that thrive in containers, from the sunny love of tomatoes and peppers to the cool needs of lettuce and spinach. We’ve also delved into the practicalities of growing zucchini, arugula, and potatoes, each with their own unique requirements and rewards.

Container gardening offers numerous benefits, including flexibility in managing soil and light conditions, ease of access, and the joy of harvesting fresh produce right from your balcony, patio, or even a sunny window.

Whether you have a small urban space or just prefer the convenience of gardening without a traditional plot, containers provide a fantastic solution. Each vegetable we discussed brings its own flavor and nutritional benefits to your table, and the personal satisfaction of growing your own food is an added perk that can’t be bought at any store.

So, don’t let space limitations hold you back. Grab some pots, choose your favorite veggies, and start your container gardening journey today. You’ll be amazed at what you can grow, even in the smallest of spaces!


What vegetables are easiest to grow in containers for beginners?

Beginners can start with vegetables like lettuce, radishes, and cherry tomatoes. These require minimal maintenance, grow quickly, and can thrive in small to medium-sized pots, making them ideal for those new to container gardening.

How often should I water vegetables in containers?

The frequency of watering depends on the type of vegetable, the size of the container, and the climate. Generally, container plants require more frequent watering than garden plants because pots can dry out quickly. Check the soil daily: if the top inch is dry, it’s time to water.

Do I need special soil for container vegetable gardening?

Yes, it’s best to use a high-quality potting mix specifically designed for container gardening. These mixes are formulated to retain moisture and provide good drainage, helping to prevent issues like root rot and under-watering.

Can I reuse potting soil from one year to the next?

While you can reuse potting soil, it’s advisable to refresh it with new soil or add compost to replenish nutrients. Old soil can compact over time and may have depleted nutrients that are essential for healthy plant growth.

What size container is best for growing vegetables?

The size of the container will depend on the vegetable. Small vegetables like herbs and green onions can grow in smaller pots (1-3 gallons), while larger vegetables like tomatoes and eggplants typically need larger containers (5 gallons or more). Always ensure the container has adequate drainage holes.