The Best 12 Plants to Grow in Containers

You’ve decided to grow some of your own food. You don’t have a lot of space but you are going to give growing food in containers a try. But you need to know what plants grows best in pots. No problem here’s a list of 12 plants to grow in containers.

Plants that grow best in containers

If you are new to container gardening, you can find the basics to get you started. Go to What’s a Container garden to read all the tips then come back to pick what you’ll be growing.

The Best 12 Plants to Grow in Containers

I’ve grown these plants either in containers or in small raised bed in our backyard. Most of these plants are easy to grow but there are a few things you need to know to be successful.

I’ve included tips for growing each of the 12 plants. I hope you find it helpful.

Cherry tomatoes growing in pots

1. Cherry Tomatoes

Most cherry tomato plants produce lots of tomatoes. Perfect for salads or snacking.

You can find a pretty good variety of plant starts too. Which is really nice. Or you can start your own from seed.

If this is your first year gardening. I’d suggest starting with a plant if you have a shorter growing season like us up North.

You’ll also want to make sure you have a pot that is 12 inches deep. If your space is really limited try using a hanging planter to plant your tomatoes in or even one of these funny tomato planter.

Be sure to place your tomatoes in an area that gets about 5-6 hour sun. Tomatoes like warm weather and they need sun.

When the fruit sets be sure to water well consistently. Inconsistent water can split your tomatoes. It’s better to water a little each day than a lot once a week.

See my other tomato growing tips here.

2. Green Beans

Green beans are great to grow. There are two main types of beans, bush and pole beans. You can grow either in a pot.

Make sure you use a pot that is about 12 inches deep or more. If you’ll be growing pole beans, you’ll need a support for the beans to grow up. A tomato cage in the pot or bamboo stakes in the shape of a teepee can work.

The pole beans keep producing all season long which makes them worth the hassle of staking them. If you don’t want to use supports, try a bush variety.

Bush green beans grow shorter and are self supporting, meaning no tomato cage or stakes needed. The only drawback is they produce a batch of beans all at once and then they are done.

You might get a few more here and there but that’s about it. So you’ll need to replant or use succession planting to keep harvesting beans if you’ll be growing bush beans.

Lettuce plants to grow in a container garden

3. Lettuce

Lettuce is so easy to grow and you don’t need a deep pot to grow it in either. You can use shallow pots or even a gutter attached to a deck railing to grow your lettuce in.

Any variety of lettuce can be grown but one thing to remember is head lettuce needs more room to grow. But leaf lettuce can be grown closer.

You can harvest a few leaves here and there and leave the plants to produce more leaves.

Find my lettuce growing tips here.

4. Peppers

Peppers are a plant that took me a while to master growing. But I think it was more about our short, often cooler growing season that worked against me. If you live in an area with lots of heat and sun, peppers are for you.

You can grow spicy or sweet peppers in pots. Just be sure the pots are 12 inch deep. And the darker the color of the pots the better the soil heats up, the more the peppers will like it.

Our neighbor when I was a kid used to grow his peppers in 5-gallon bucket he painted black. He would move them to the sidewalk to soak up the sun and the heat from the pavement each day. He grew beautiful peppers too.

The main thing to remember with peppers is they love heat so find them a warm sunny spot and you should be set.

Radishes growing in our backyard garden

5. Radishes

If you are an impatient gardener, you’ll want to grow radishes. They are one of the fastest growing plants and they do well in containers.

Radishes need a moderately deep pot, about 8-10 inches deep. And unlike the pepper they don’t like the heat. They are a cool weather plant.

Perfect for planting in the cooler early spring weather. You can find more radish growing tips here and how to prepare the radishes you grow here.

Radishes are the perfect plant to start with if you are new to gardening.

6. Spinach

Spinach is another cool weather plant. So plant it in the spring with your radishes.

They grow much like lettuce. You can plant them in a 6 inch deep pot or even grow spinach in a deep window box.

If you have a short cooler spring season look to purchase slow to bolt spinach so you can grow it a little longer in your area.

Peas can be grown in pots

7. Peas

Peas are like green beans they come in two main varieties, bush and pole. The pole varieties need support so using a tomato cage or some support will be necessary.

The dwarf or bush varieties are easier to grow in pots. They don’t need support like the pole varieties.

This is another plant that likes cool weather. They die off when it gets consistently over 70 degrees.

So plant these early, around mid-February in a moderately sunny place. And enjoy fresh peas from the garden until it gets hot out.

You can find out more about growing bush peas here or growing sugar snap peas here.

8. Zucchini Squash

Zucchini can be grown really easily and be very prolific. They are so prolific that one plant is likely all you’ll need to grow to get the amount of zucchini you’ll need.

This is a hot weather plant so be sure to find a sunny place and plant them once the weather starts to heat up.

You’ll need a big deep pot, something like a half barrel planter should work well. Just plant one to two plants in the pot.

You can find both vine and bush varieties of zucchini. I would suggest using a compact bush variety.

We grow jackpot bush zucchini and it grows great in our backyard garden. We get enough zucchini for our family and can give many away during the growing season with just two plants.

cucumbers growing in pots

9. Cucumber

Cucumbers are a vine plant but there are bush varieties too. If you are growing bush varieties, you won’t need any support just room beyond the pot for the plant to spread out.

If you pick a vine variety, then you will need a support system like green beans need. A heavy tomato cage should work well.

Cucumbers are heavy feeders so be sure to add either compost to the top of the pot or use a regular fertilizer schedule to ensure they get what they need.

Get more cucumber growing tips here.

10. Garlic

Garlic can be expensive and growing it at home is relatively easy. You plant garlic in the fall and let it grow all winter long, then harvest the next season.

You can use cloves from the store but it’s best to purchase garlic from the garden center to plant.

You’ll need a pot that is 6-8 inches deep and fairly big, if you plan to grow quite a bit of garlic. You’ll want to leave 4 inches between each of the cloves to give them room to form heads.

One word of warning, once you grow your own garlic you won’t want to go back to the stuff at the store. The home-grown garlic is so much stronger and flavorful.

Get more tips for growing garlic here.

Chives growing in pots

11. Chives

Chives are great to grow. This plant is a perennial which means it will come back year after year.

You want to plant your chives in a 10-12 inch deep pot. Give them lots of sun and water.

Chives are not only great for baked potatoes but you can use chives in salads, soups and more. And you can even eat the flowers too. They taste a lot like garlic. So pretty and delicious.

12. Strawberries

Strawberries are great to grow in containers. They don’t need a deep pot. They can be grown in strawberry pots or even in a hanging pot made for strawberries.

If you have a gutter to hang off a deck or patio railing your strawberries can grow in there.

Strawberries need regular fertilizer and must be watered well when the fruit is forming so they will grow bigger.

Homegrown strawberries taste so much better than store-bought berries.

Find all you need to know about growing sweet strawberries here.

A few of the plants that grow well in a container garden

Those are the best 12 plants to grow in containers. If you are ready to grow your own food on your patio or in your backyard, these are a great place to start.

I’d love to hear what you’ll try growing first. Leave me a comment below and let me know.

Happy Gardening!

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5 thoughts on “The Best 12 Plants to Grow in Containers”

  1. We don’t have space for a garden in our yard, but we do have space for pots! I’ll have to try growing some of these next year…you make it sound so easy to do for a non-gardener like me.

    Thanks for the great tips!

  2. Hi I have had success with cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and chillies in pots however I have a problem with the peppers, they never seem to reach a decent size, normally small and then the shape starts to change as if there is something lacking.
    Thanks Brian D

  3. Kimberly Smith

    Hi. Thanks for sharing. I live in Texas. What’s the best way to deal with pests that can get into soil? Mainly those itty bitty microscopic bugs that seem to just live in the dirt and damage the roots. No matter what or where I plant they just appear. I know there will be bugs but these things seem to get all over my stems of green beans and tomatoes. (I don’t have pics to show).

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