The best vegetables to grow in pots if you want a high-yield harvest from your container garden include cherry tomatoes, leafy greens, bush beans, and peppers.
We’ll cover 16 of the top container vegetables that thrive in pots, planters, and raised beds along with the best growing conditions and care tips to maximize your success.
Whether you have a balcony, patio, or just a few square feet of garden space, with the right vegetable choices and care, you’ll be amazed at how much fresh, homegrown produce you can enjoy from a small container garden!
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Best Vegetables To Grow in Pots in Your Outdoor Garden
1. Cherry Tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes are a perfect feature of an everbearing, indeterminate growth pattern, which signifies that they will continue producing their bright red fruits until impacted by the first autumn frost. You can grow cherry tomato plants successfully in either terra cotta or plastic pots that measure at least 12 inches in diameter and provide ample drainage for excess water.
During the entire duration of the cherry tomato growing season, you will need to supply the plants with regular and even moisture through light, frequent watering and fertilize them once every two weeks using an organic, all-purpose fertilizer formulated specially for tomato plants to optimize their yields.
2. Bush Beans
Bush beans, also commonly known as bush snap beans, are an excellent option for container vegetable gardening due to their non-vining, compact growth habit which makes them suitable for growing in limited spaces. You should cultivate bush bean plants in pots that are at least 12 inches in diameter and have a well-draining soil mixture to prevent root issues from overwatering.
During their entire growing season from spring until early fall, bush beans will require consistent soil moisture to optimize production. Therefore, you will need to water them thoroughly after the top one to two inches of soil become slightly dry but should allow the bush bean soil to mostly dry out in between waterings to avoid causing root rot from overwatering.
Pepper plants, including bell peppers, chili peppers, and other cultivars, make excellent choices for container vegetable gardens thanks to their typically compact, bushy shapes and high productivity in confined spaces. You should begin growing pepper plants indoors in containers, seed starter trays, or pots starting in early spring.
Transplant the seedlings to their permanent containers, at least 12 inches in diameter, once they have established a few sets of true leaves and nighttime temperatures remain above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. During their long growing season from spring through fall, pepper plants require consistent warmth, moisture, and nutrition to thrive and produce an abundant crop of peppers.
You will need to rotate the container to maximize exposure of the pepper plants to direct, full sunlight throughout the day. In addition, through regularly feeding the plants with a balanced organic fertilizer and pruning off any damaged or diseased leaves as well as suckers and non-fruit bearing branches, you will be able to optimize the yield of peppers per plant from your container garden.
4. Leaf Lettuce
Leaf lettuce varieties are an excellent choice for container vegetable gardens on patios, decks, and balconies due to their easygoing nature, fast growth, and space-saving characteristics. Leaf lettuce plants grow quickly and with minimal fuss in pots and planters at least 10 inches wide that provide good drainage and aeration for the roots.
Leaf lettuce prefers cooler temperatures between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, making it an ideal container vegetable for spring and fall planting. On particularly hot and sunny summer days, you may need to shelter my containerized leaf lettuce plants from the harshest afternoon sun by draping a shade cloth over the pot to protect the delicate leaves from wilting or sunscald.
Consistently water the leaf lettuce plants from the bottom to moisten the root zone while avoiding soggy leaves and fertilize with an organic vegetable fertilizer every two weeks during the active growth stage. By doing this, you will be able to maximize the productivity and longevity of your leaf lettuce crop throughout the milder months of spring and autumn when the weather conditions are most suitable.
With proper care and ideal growing temperatures, several harvests of tender, tasty leaf lettuce can be produced from the same container planting.
5. Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is an easy-care container vegetable that produces heavily throughout the growing season. The leaves and leaf stalks are both edible. You should plant Swiss chard in pots at least 12 inches wide with nutrient-rich soil. During the growing season, it will need consistent moisture to prevent wilting. Given enough space, a mature Swiss chard plant can produce up to 50 leaves in one season, meaning a bountiful harvest from your container garden.
During its entire growing period from spring through fall, Swiss chard will require consistent moisture to prevent the large, spinach-like leaves from wilting, especially on warm, sunny days. You will need to water the plant thoroughly whenever the top few inches of soil appear dry and then allow the soil to partially dry out between waterings.
Cucumbers grow well in containers and produce high yields for such a compact plant. You should start them from seed indoors in late spring and transplant seedlings to containers that are at least 12 inches wide. Cucumbers need consistent moisture and fertilization to produce well.
Trellising the vines will help contain the sprawling growth and improve air circulation, reducing diseases. Picking cucumbers regularly will also encourage more fruit production throughout the summer and early fall.
Cucumbers will need consistent supplies of moisture and nutrients to produce their heavy crop of fruit throughout the summer and early fall. You will need to water the containerized cucumber plants thoroughly whenever the top few inches of soil become slightly dry and apply a balanced and organic fertilizer at least once a month to ensure adequate nutrition for maximum yield.
7. Summer Squash
Summer squash varieties such as yellow squash and zucchini are very productive container plants. You should start the seeds indoors in spring and transplant seedlings to containers at least 12 inches wide with nutrient-rich soil.
Summer squash plants require consistent moisture and fertilizer to produce lots of fruits. You should make sure to harvest fruits while they are young and tender to encourage continued production. Common pests like squash bugs can be physically removed from the plants and the soil around the base of the plant.
Carrots do surprisingly well in containers with the right conditions. You’ll need a tall, deep container at least 12 inches wide and filled with loose, sandy soil. Carrots prefer cooler temperatures in spring and fall.
You should thin the seedlings to two to three inches apart once they have sprouted to allow for good root development. Frequent light watering will keep the soil moist but not soggy. With the proper container and care, you can harvest tasty, nutrient-dense carrots from your patio or balcony.
9. Green Onions
Green onions are an easy-to-grow container vegetable for patios and balconies. You can simply plant green onion sets or seeds in pots at least eight inches wide filled with organic potting soil.
Green onions like fertile, well-draining soil and even moisture. You should pinch off the green tops regularly to encourage bushier growth and a larger yield of green onions. Within a few months, You’ll have an abundant supply of green onions for salads, salsas, and stir-fries from your container garden.
Green onions thrive in fertile, well-draining soil and require consistent moisture throughout their growing period. You will need to water the containerized green onions thoroughly whenever the top few inches of soil appear dry and then allow the soil to partially dry out between waterings.
Basil is one of the most popular herbs to grow in containers for its fragrant leaves and versatility in the kitchen. Starting basil from seed or transplants, you’ll want a container at least eight inches wide with a nutrient-rich potting mix. Basil thrives in warm temperatures around 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit and requires even moisture to perform well. Regular fertilizing will also boost its growth and production of leaves for your cooking needs.
With the right care, you can enjoy a bountiful supply of fresh basil from all seasons from your container garden. Basil thrives in warm temperatures between 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, making the height of summer an ideal time for container basil gardening.
Radishes are an excellent choice for container vegetable gardens thanks to their small size, fast maturation rate, and adaptability to confined spaces. You should sow radish seeds directly into a container at least eight inches wide filled with loose, friable potting mix composed mostly of inorganic materials like perlite and vermiculite to facilitate the development of the radishes’ tapered roots.
Radishes thrive when grown under cool temperatures between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and sprout quickly once seeded, typically germinating within 3 to 10 days. Thinning the seedlings after their first true leaves appear to stand roughly one to two inches apart will provide the optimal space needed for the radish roots and foliage to develop to their full plant potential and produce the highest quality radishes.
12. Baby Bok Choy
Baby bok choy is an ideal Asian green to grow in containers on patios and decks due to its heat tolerance, compact size, and productivity. You should start baby bok choy seeds indoors in springtime once nighttime temperatures remain above 50 degrees Fahrenheit and then transplant the seedlings to their permanent pots that are at least eight inches wide once they have developed their first set of true leaves.
You should fill the containers with an organic potting mix specifically formulated for growing herbs and vegetables. Baby bok choy thrives when grown under cool temperatures between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, making spring and fall the prime seasons for cultivating this Asian leafy green in containers.
The plants will require consistent moisture to ensure the small heads develop properly. You will need to water them thoroughly whenever the top few inches of soil appear dry and then allow the bok choy soil to partially dry out between waterings.
Beets do surprisingly well in containers with the proper setup. You’ll need a tall pot at least 10 inches wide filled with loose, organic soil. Beets prefer the cooler temperatures of spring and fall.
You should thin seedlings two to three inches apart to allow for optimal root development. Frequent shallow watering will keep the soil moist but not soggy. Proper container care will reward you with fresh, sweet beets for salads and sautés grown right on your patio or deck.
14. Green Beans
Green beans are a prolific producer and space saver in container gardens. They have a vining growth habit, so staking or caging the vines will maximize yields. You’ll need a container at least 12 inches wide with fertile, well-draining soil.
During their summer growing season, green beans require consistent moisture and warmth. Regular weedings and fertilizing will help maintain optimal growing conditions for a bountiful harvest of tasty, nutritious green beans from your container garden.
Spinach is an easy container vegetable for patios, balconies, and decks. It grows quickly and is nature’s harvest from seed in spring or fall. You can plant spinach seeds or transplants in pots at least 8 inches wide with organic soil. Spinach prefers temperatures around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, so it may need a shade cloth on hot days.
Frequent shallow watering and occasional fertilizing will keep your spinach productive through the early and late growing seasons. With proper care, you should be able to harvest several crops of spinach leaves from your container garden.
Microgreens are one of the easiest plants to grow in containers, so they are perfect for small balconies and indoor spaces. You can sow seeds for a variety of microgreens like broccoli, arugula, spinach, and mustard greens directly into pots filled with moist seed starting mix.
Microgreens thrive in brightly lit areas and require frequent misting or shallow watering to keep the soil mix moist. Within 7 to 14 days, you can harvest your first crop of these nutrient-dense, flavor-packed microgreens to add a burst of color, crunch, and flavor to salads, soups, and sandwiches. With just a few pots or a sunny windowsill, you can enjoy a continuous supply of freshly grown microgreens all year round.
Growing vegetables in containers is a fun and rewarding way to enjoy fresh, homegrown produce even if you have limited space, so here’s a feature of the top three:
- Basil is one of the most popular herbs to grow in containers for its fragrant leaves and versatility in the kitchen.
- Bush beans, also commonly known as bush snap beans, are an excellent option for container vegetable gardening due to their non-vining, compact growth habit.
- Radishes are an excellent choice for container vegetable gardens thanks to their small size, fast maturation rate, and adaptability to confined spaces.
Overall, container vegetable gardening is a satisfying and attainable goal for anyone with a desire to grow their own food, even if they live in an apartment or have limited outdoor space. With the right plant choices, setup, and care, you’ll be amazed at how much fresh produce you can enjoy from just a few pots on your patio or deck!