6 Great Containers for Growing Vegetables

Vegetable plants growing in orange container with trellis in outdoor patio

The Spruce / Jayme Burrows

Choosing a container for growing vegetables can be confusing and overwhelming. The choice can have a big impact on how productive your plants are and if they will survive. The main thing to keep in mind is to make sure that your vegetable plant has enough room for the roots to expand. If you are growing large plants (tomatoes), make sure that the pot will be big and heavy enough so the plant won't tip over in a stiff wind. For most vegetables, bigger pots are better.

The more soil your pot holds, the more room for error you will have because the soil is what holds nutrition and water for your plants. A greater volume of soil will retain water and nutrition for longer.

  • 01 of 06

    Try Your Hand at Earthboxes

    Earthbox growing container with large vegetable plants supported with string trellis in backyard

    The Spruce / Jayme Burrows

    If you had to pick one container for growing vegetables, it would be an Earthbox. These large, self-watering boxes are extremely water-efficient, fertilizer-efficient, and easy to use. The manufacturer's claim is that the Earthbox can provide double the harvest compared to growing vegetables conventionally. Growing vegetables in Earthboxes increases the yield, but the size of the vegetables tends to be larger than those grown in other containers.

    Earthboxes are a little pricey to buy, but they are very durable and are worth the cost. The manufacturer states that it has some that are more than 25 years old and that they are still functioning like new.

    The best news about the Earthbox is that if you keep the reservoir full of water, your plants will get the amount of water they need to thrive and this is perhaps (along with the right amount of sun) the most important thing for vegetables—particularly tomatoes.

    There are other types of grow boxes available made by other manufacturers.

  • 02 of 06

    Select Plant-Friendly Smart Pots

    Black smart pots made with handles growing vegetables in front of wooden patio table

    The Spruce / Jayme Burrows

    Smart Pots are made of black polypropylene and are fantastic for growing all kinds of vegetables and herbs. Since they are made of breathable fabric, Smart Pots are good for the roots of your plants, preventing them from becoming root-bound. Smart Pots are lightweight, economical, and are particularly great for growing potatoes and tomatoes. They also work for growing lettuce, herbs, blueberries, tomatillos, and eggplant. These fabric pots come in a wide variety of sizes, including a "Big Bag Bed," which is equivalent to a good-sized raised bed. Smart Pots are also great for urban gardeners and those who are storage space challenged—at the end of the season, you just wash them, fold them up, and store them.

    You can also cut Xs into the sides of the pots for side planting, which not only maximizes your growing space, it looks cool, too.

  • 03 of 06

    Consider Reusable Grocery Bag Gardens

    Reusable grocery bag holding vegetable plant off wooden fence next to white wall planter

    The Spruce / Jayme Burrows

    Herbs and vegetable plants seem to love growing in reusable grocery bags. Use the type of bags that are soft-sided and have smooth plastic outside and flannel or fabric on the reverse side. The ones that are all fabric don't usually last for the whole summer and can quickly disintegrate. You can grow all kinds of tomatoes in them; from giant indeterminate sprawlers to the more petite and well-behaved patio-sized plants. Try growing herbs, lettuce, peas, and potatoes as well as flowering plants.

    One cautionary note: Some bags are made of plastic, and when they disintegrate, they can be harmful.

  • 04 of 06

    Grow Great Vegetables in Straw Bale Gardens

    Plants growing out of straw bales.

    The Spruce / Kerry Michaels

    One of the many advantages of growing a straw bale garden is that it allows you to grow a vegetable garden on any surface. Do you have a sunny driveway? Plant your garden right on top of it. Making a straw bale garden is also one of the easiest and least expensive ways to get a fairly big growing space without digging a garden. At the end of the season, as the bales kind of disintegrate, the garden looks more than a little casual.

    You will need some time to get your straw bales prepped before you plant them. By adding fertilizer and water over about 10 days, the bales start to compost internally and after the heat of this process has diminished, the bales are ready to plant.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Plant Greens in Large Baskets

    Brown wicker basket growing salad greens on wooden patio table

    The Spruce / Jayme Burrows

    You can use a lot of large baskets for outdoor containers, particularly for herbs and salad greens. If you haunt second-hand stores and yard sales, you can find lots of big baskets for little money. Most baskets weather well, even those that are painted—some becoming even more interesting as they age. There are several ways you can prepare baskets—either line them with moss to help retain water or with a lightweight plastic bag—making large holes in the bottom of the bag for drainage.

  • 06 of 06

    Use Hanging Baskets

    Lettuce Basket

    The Spruce / Kerry Michaels

    Try planting hanging baskets with lettuce, salad greens, or herbs. It is unusual, fun, and tasty. The only downside is that once you cut some of the lettuce, the basket can look a little funky. One way around this is to keep seedlings always sprouting to replace what you've eaten.

    Also, coir dries out incredibly quickly—on a windy day, a warm breeze can suck the moisture right out of your soil. To combat this, line coir baskets with plastic and check them once a day, sometimes twice to see if they need watering. It's also a good idea to give a basket like this some shade mid-day if you live somewhere hot.