16 Vegetables That Are Easily Grown in Pots or Containers

Are you thinking of adding vegetables to your container garden this season? Some vegetables actually grow better in pots or containers than others. In this article, gardening expert Logan Hailey shares her favorite vegetables to add to your container garden this season!

vegetables in pots


If you don’t have a backyard or community garden plot, you can still grow an abundance of fresh veggies. Believe it or not, I once had a 4-foot x 8-foot apartment balcony with over 40 varieties of crops growing in containers!

Almost any vegetable crop can be grown in a container as long as you choose the right size pot and a container-friendly seed variety. Tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and greens are just a few of the possible candidates for a spring or summer container garden.

You can also extend your season with fall or winter kale, onions, roots, and more. When the weather cools, containers offer the ease of moving indoors if needed. The following crops are eager to please in containers!


Close-up of two white pots of growing basil against a gray background, in a kitchen. The basil plant has bushy stems covered with medium oval glossy bright green, slightly cupped leaves with serrated edges.
One of the most popular herbs, basil is commonly grown in containers.
  • Best Container Varieties: ‘Genovese Compact’, ‘Everleaf’, ‘Tulsi’
  • Minimum Container Size: 8” pot, or 1 quart to ½ gallon container

Basil is one of the most popular garden herbs for a reason: this homegrown herb yields in a great abundance from a small space. It tastes decadent on a range of dishes. And it is superior to wilted, store bought leaves.

Basil is a warm-weather crop that savors the extra coziness that a pot offers. If you plant basil in the spring (after the chance of frost has passed), one plant can fuel your pesto and garnish needs for most of the season.

The trick for long-lasting container basil is to harvest it regularly. Pluck the tips of the leaves to prevent basil from bolting. You can also plant a second succession of basil in midsummer and bring it indoors when the weather begins cooling in the fall.


Close-up of a growing green lettuce in a decorative ceramic gray pot against a blurred dark green background. The plant has young, elongated, oval-shaped leaves with corrugated edges, pale green in color.
Lettuce is an easy crop to grow with minimal space requirements.
  • Best Container Varieties: ‘Crisphead’, ‘Butterhead’, ‘Oakleaf’, ‘Romaine’, any lettuce seed mix
  • Minimum Container Size: 6-8” pot or a railing planter

Most varieties of lettuce are beginner friendly and require very little space. This cool-weather crop does best in the spring and fall. If your climate is very warm, move lettuce pots to a slightly shaded area or plant them in the bottom margins of a large tomato planter.

Lettuce is shallow-rooted and only needs a container about 6” deep. You can grow lettuce as a baby green salad mix or as heads:

  • For a baby mix, scatter your seeds throughout the container densely at about 3-5 seeds per inch.
  • For lettuce heads, grow a single lettuce plant in an 8” pot or plant several heads 6-8” apart in a longer container.


Close-up of ripening tomatoes in white pots on a light windowsill. The plant has upright stems covered with pinnately compound green leaves with serrated edges, and small, round fruits with pointed undersides covered with a glossy red skin.
Grow tomatoes in containers to enjoy a summer-long harvest of juicy cherries or slicers.
  • Best Container Varieties: Any plum or cherry tomato, or dwarf varieties like ‘Micro Tom,’ ‘Tumbler,’ ‘Sunrise Sauce,’ or ‘Yellow Canary’
  • Minimum Container Size: 24” diameter pot (at least 24” deep) or a 15-20 gallon grow bag

Although they take up more room, tomatoes are an ideal container plant because they are the gift that keeps on giving. You can grow a large potted tomato plant and pick juicy cherries or slicers all summer long.

A 20-gallon grow bag is one of the best options for tomatoes. Your pot should be at least 24” deep to account for the tomato’s root zone. Just like planting in the ground, you should plant seedlings deeply so roots can form along the stem.

Determinate varieties will bush out and stabilize themselves in a pot, but indeterminate varieties prefer a tomato cage or stake to support their vining growth.

Technically, all tomatoes can be grown in pots. However, dwarf varieties have been bred to yield more from a small space. For the best results, prune your tomato suckers regularly to encourage the plant to produce more fruit.


Close-up of a ripening pepper in a large clay pot, in a sunny garden. Pepper leaves are green, shiny, lanceolate and pointed. Pepper fruits are slightly elongated, with pointed tips, bright yellow.
Peppers are naturally compact plants that are great for container gardening due to their long growing season.
  • Best Container Varieties: ‘Shishito,’ ‘Poblano,’ ‘Jalapeno,’ ‘Habanero,’ ‘Holland Mini,’ or ‘Baby Belle’
  • Minimum Container Size: 3-5 gallon pots or grow bags

Most peppers are naturally very compact plants. Moreover, they are specially adapted to container growing because they have such a long growing season.

You can plant pepper seeds in pots indoors about 6-8 weeks before your last frost. This head start will ensure you have a thriving pepper bush by early summer.

Hot peppers like jalapenos, cayennes, and habaneros tend to be the most compact types that can thrive in a 2-3 gallon container. Sweet peppers prefer a pot that is at least 18-24” deep and 12-24” inches in diameter. A 5-gallon pot or grow bag usually works great. For the quickest ripening, opt for baby or mini bell peppers.


Close-up of a ripe eggplant in a large black plastic container against a blurred background. The plant has large, broad and slightly pubescent ovate leaves. The fruit is small, round, with noticeable ribs, with a smooth, glossy dark purple skin.
Eggplants are compact plants that expand up to 2-4 feet at maturity.
  • Best Container Varieties: ‘Patio Baby,’ ‘Orient Express,’ ‘Calliope,’
  • Minimum Container Size: 3-5 gallon pot or grow bag

Like their pepper cousins, eggplants naturally grow as compact shrubs. At full maturity, most varieties expand to 2-4 feet wide and tall. While the chunky Italian eggplant is the most well-known, Asian eggplant varieties yield more fruits per plant and the eggplants are more tender. Mini eggplants like ‘Patio Baby’ grow adorable 2-3” long fruit on compact 18-24” plants.

The fairly deep roots of eggplant require a pot that is at least 12” deep and ideally 18-20” in depth. A tomato cage or similar trellis system can prevent eggplant branches from sagging when they get heavy with fruit.

Be sure that your container is very sturdy so it doesn’t tip over. Terracotta or whiskey barrel planters with big drainage holes are great for eggplant.


Close-up of a young Kale in a white pot, in the garden. Kale leaves are dark green, wrinkled, and curly with a rough texture and a slightly waxy surface, growing in the form of a rosette.
Kale is a popular cool-season container plant that grows well in full sunlight and well-drained soil.
  • Best Container Varieties: ‘Dwarf Siberian,’ ‘Black Magic,’ ‘Blue Scotch Curled’
  • Minimum Container Size: 3-gallon pot

For cool-season container gardens, kale is a popular frost-hardy potted plant. The beauty of kale and its cousins has even garnered it a place in the ornamental landscaping industry.

As long as you give kale full sunlight and well-drained soil, it will earn its spot in your patio garden. However, beware that kale will bolt in the summer heat, so it’s best to reserve your plantings for the spring or fall.

A single kale plant grows about 1-2 feet tall and wide and provides practically endless harvests of nutrient-dense leaves all season long. You can plant kale in early spring and enjoy it for many months to come.

Be sure that you harvest kale leaves by snapping the lower leaves at the base and leaving the upper central buds to keep producing. This can also encourage the plant to stay bushy and compact.

Bush Beans

Close-up of two large pots of growing Bush beans in the garden. Bush beans have long green leaves divided into three leaflets. The leaves are slightly fluffy to the touch and have a slightly rough texture. The fruits of bush beans are elongated, slender, have a slightly curved shape. pale green. There are small round seeds inside the pod.
Green beans are versatile container plants that can be grown in a window box.
  • Best Container Varieties: ‘Provider,’ ‘Amethyst,’ ‘Contender,’ or ‘Royal Burgundy’
  • Minimum Container Size: 1 gallon or a large railing planter

Green beans willingly grow as miniature bushes in the ground or containers. It’s so pleasant to walk out your back door to a lush bean plant filled with dangling pods ready for fresh eating or your favorite recipes. Purple green beans add an ornamental touch!

Beans can grow in a large window box or a 15” pot. A larger pot can accommodate several bean plants spaced about 6” apart. Compared to pole beans, bush beans tolerate a more shallow container. Just 6-8” of soil is enough for their stout root zone.


Close-up of spinach growing in an elongated white container on a white background. The plant has green, flat, smooth leaves. They have a wide triangular shape with a delicate texture. The leaves grow in a rosette form from the stem.
Spinach is a great plant for container gardens in the cooler seasons and can be grown in small spaces.
  • Best Container Varieties: ‘Space,’ ‘Kolibri,’ ‘Auruch,’ ‘Sunagel,’ or ‘Hammerhead’
  • Minimum Container Size: 1 quart

This frost-hardy green is ideal for filling your container garden in the spring, fall, and winter when other crops have died off. You can grow a lot of spinach in a small space by using the “cut and come again” method. This means you plant spinach at a rate of 3-5 seeds per inch in rows 2” apart. You can also scatter seeds across the entire surface of a rounded pot.

When the spinach leaves are about 5-8” tall (roughly 3-5 weeks depending on the weather), use scissors or a sharp knife to cut the leaves a couple of inches above the soil.

As long as you leave the central growing tips intact, the spinach will grow back within the next few weeks and you can make another cut.

Alternatively, grow individual spinach plants in separate smaller containers to get larger leaves. These can be picked from the bottom just like chard or kale. Avoid sowing spinach in the summer because it won’t germinate in hot soils and may bolt in warm weather.

Swiss Chard

Close-up of Swiss chard in a small black pot, outdoors. The plant has large, delicate, slightly wrinkled leaves that range in color from bright green to dark red or purple. The leaves are triangular in shape with thick and pronounced veins. The stems are thick, juicy, crisp, pale purple and red-pink in color.
Rainbow chard grows well in a shallow container, about 8” deep, and produces continuously from spring to fall.
  • Best Container Varieties: ‘Bright Lights,’ ‘Heart of Gold,’ ‘Ruby Red,’ or ‘Rhubarb Supreme’
  • Minimum Container Size: 3-5 gallon pot

Thanks to its shallow roots (similar to a beetroot), rainbow chard will gladly grow in a pot that is about 8” deep. Plant a single chard plant per container to ensure that it has plenty of space to grow to its full glory.

Chard continuously produces from spring to fall. The lower leaves can be harvested regularly by snapping their vibrantly colored stems from the base. Ensure there are plenty of drainage holes in the base of the pot so the roots of your chard don’t rot.


Close-up of a growing Chives in a large clay pot against a gray textured wall. Chives are a member of the onion family, and their leaves are long and thin, resembling blades of grass. The leaves are bright green, tubular, hollow.
Chives are a low-maintenance, perennial container plant that grows well in partial sun.
  • Best Container Varieties: ‘Garlic Chives’ or ‘Common Chives’
  • Minimum Container Size: 1 gallon

Perennial chives are a unique container pot because they will come back every year in growing zones 3-10. As opposed to their scallion cousins (green onions), chives are actually a clumping perennial that produces slender, onion-flavored leaves that look a bit like grass from a distance.

Chives grow extremely well in pots and are easy to care for. They don’t mind the partial sun of a windowsill. When harvesting, grab a bundle of just what you need and use sheers to cut the chives a couple of inches above the base. With proper watering, they will regenerate very quickly!

They also produce gorgeous purple pin-cushion flowers throughout the summer. These blossoms are edible and flavorful. Crumble them up for a colorful garnish on any savory dish.


Close-up of a growing Scallions in a black plastic pot in a sunny garden. The plant has long, thin, tubular green leaves with a white bulb at the base.
Scallions are easy to grow in containers using “sets” or seeds, and can be grown in a small container.
  • Best Container Varieties: ‘Nabechan,’ ‘Parade’, or any onion variety sown close together
  • Minimum Container Size: 1 quart

Also known as green onions, scallions are another onion-family crop that thrives in a container. These slender baby onions are super easy to plant and don’t require much effort to yield. You can grow a clump of scallions in a fairly small container (or even a glass jar with water in it).

The quickest way to start scallions is with onion “sets” (pre-established bulbs). However, seeds are also a great option for producing an abundance of green onions.

Be sure that you space scallions about ½ to 1” apart and mound the soil around the base as they grow. This will give you nice white-blanched stalks that are far superior to those found at the supermarket.


Close-up of a large clay pot with a growing radish, on a wooden table, in a sunny garden. Radish leaves are small, green and pinnately lobed. The radish root is an edible fruit that is oval in shape and bright pink in color.
Radishes are easy to grow in any container and require only a small amount of growing space.
  • Best Container Varieties: ‘Sora,’ ‘Rover,’ ‘French Breakfast,’ or ‘Easter Egg’
  • Minimum Container Size: 1 quart to 1 gallon pot

Radishes are notorious as the easiest vegetables you can grow. This beginner-friendly root will grow in any container. I’ve even seen them grow to golf-ball size in a seed-starting tray! Each root only requires about 1 square inch of growing space.

Radishes are shallow-rooted and mature in as little as 30 days. In a gallon pot, you can plant about a dozen radishes spaced about ¾ to 1” apart. Sow at any time during the season and make sure that the container drains freely. To avoid pithy or tough radishes, harvest when the roots reach a couple of inches in diameter.

Mustard Greens

Top view, close-up of a growing Mustard greens in a large black plastic pot, in a sunny garden. The plant has oval pale green leaves with frilled edges. Mustard greens are covered with small drops of water.
Mustard greens are resilient plants that can grow in pots, with baby greens being the most tender.
  • Best Container Varieties: ‘Miz America,’ ‘Mizuna,’ ‘Green Wave,’ ‘Ruby Streaks,’ or any other mustard
  • Minimum Container Size: ½ gallon to 1 gallon pot or long window planter

Known for their spicy or peppery flavor, mustard greens are a kale relative that can grow just about anywhere. In fact, you may notice yellow wildflowers along the road that are actually wild mustards. With that type of resilience, you can trust that mustard greens will eagerly grow in pots.

Baby greens are the most tender and least spicy. From early spring to midsummer, sow seeds about 2” apart across the surface of any size container.

They can be planted densely like baby lettuce mix. Do a “cut and come again” harvest by chopping the leaves about an inch above the soil surface. This will leave the growing tips to produce another round of greens.

For extra spicy, full-size greens, sow one mustard plant per quart container. Expect the plant to grow as large as you’ll let it and harvest its leaves the same way as you would chard or kale.


Close-up of cabbage microgreens in a white pot on a white background. The plant has small sprouts consisting of thin short stems with bright green glossy heart-shaped leaves.
Microgreens are small seedlings that are grown in containers and harvested at a very early stage.
  • Best Container Varieties: Any variety of greens
  • Minimum Container Size: 1 quart

A popular container choice, microgreens are almost exclusively grown in containers because they are harvested at such an early stage. Many gourmet restaurants grow microgreens right on a shelf in the kitchen.

There are special microgreen growing trays that provide the best sanitation and drainage. However, you can also densely sow leafy greens in practically any container and harvest at the cotyledon (slender baby leaf) stage.

Technically, any leafy crop can be grown as a microgreen. Some of the most popular include kale, radish, watercress, broccoli, chard, and arugula.

Dense planting and quick harvest are key. Thickly broadcast the seeds on the soil surface, lightly press them into the soil, and keep them moist but never soggy. Cut the greens in as little as 10 days!


Close-up of Collards in black plastic pots. The plant is covered with drops of water. Kale leaves are large, dark green, smooth, with a slightly rough texture. They are shaped like cabbage leaves, but wider and flatter with a distinct vein running through the center of each leaf. The edges of the leaves are slightly wavy.
Collard greens are nutritious and easy to grow in cool-weather container gardens.
  • Best Container Varieties: ‘Georgia,’ ‘Champion,’ or ‘Flash’
  • Minimum Container Size: 3-5 gallon pot

Collard greens are popular in southern cooking, but their incredible nutrient density should earn them a space in any garden. These greens are easy to grow and great for cool-weather container gardens.

Give each chard plant about a square foot of space. Plant in early spring or about 3 months before the first expected frost. Collard leaves can be harvested just like kale or chard by snapping off lower stems as needed. You can also follow the baby leaf lettuce instructions for a quick, tender collard harvest.


Close-up of a growing turnip in black plastic trays on a windowsill. The turnip has large, broad and slightly hairy pale green leaves that grow in a rosette form from the base of the plant. Turnip root is rounded, white with a slight purple tint.
Grow turnips in a container garden, planting as many seeds as possible with enough space between each plant.
  • Best Container Varieties: ‘Hakurei’ or ‘Tokyo’
  • Minimum Container Size: 1 quart

Most people don’t think about roots when creating a container garden, but turnips do surprisingly well in a pot. If the idea of mashed purple-top turnips sounds gross to you, I highly recommend trying the sweet, tender Japanese type called ‘Hakurei.’

Also known as salad turnips, these pearly white roots are crisp and sugary enough to snack on straight out of the pot.

Like radishes, turnip plants can grow in as little as 1 square inch of space. Plant as many seeds as you can fit in any size container, ensuring that there is at least 1-2” between each plant.

Final Thoughts

Nearly any veggie crop can be grown in a pot as long as you choose a dwarf variety or a large container or grow bag.

The only crops you should avoid are those that require massive amounts of space or prefer to ramble, such as:

  • Pumpkins
  • Winter squash
  • Rhubarb
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Corn

Before planting in a pot, check the standard spacing of any given crop. Then, calculate the diameter of your container based on how much space the plant needs in each direction.

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