10 Best Vegetables That Grow in Containers

Growing Veggies Without a Garden Patch

There is no such thing as foolproof vegetable gardening, but container vegetable gardening comes close by reducing the threats posed by weather and critters. Another great benefit of container gardening is that you do not need a vast space or in-ground garden patch. Some of the easiest vegetables to grow in containers are nightshades like tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant, as well as fast-growing crops like peas and lettuce. Take a look at 10 vegetables that you can grow even if you do not have a garden plot but do have a patio, porch, or balcony with good sun exposure.

Tips

A larger volume of soil will hold moisture and nutrients longer. You might consider starting with a larger container than you think you need to reduce your margin of error.

  • 01 of 10

    Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum)

    Tomato plant growing in pot

     

    Cavan Images / Getty Images

    Growing tomatoes in containers is easy and incredibly satisfying. Most tomatoes also are happiest in big containers and will need staking or a tomato cage. This support keeps the heavy fruit from bending and breaking the vines. If you are buying tomato seedlings, look for short, stocky plants that do not have blossoms yet. Tomatoes do not like the cold, so do not put them out too early. Make sure you harden off or gradually acclimate seedlings to outside living before you plant them. When planting tomato seedlings, plant them deeply—much deeper than you do most plants. Also, keep dogs and cats away from this plant, the leaves are toxic if ingested by pets.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 8 to 11
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Deep, moist, good drainage
  • 02 of 10

    Peas (Pisum sativum)

    Sugar snap peas dangling down from a pea plant
    Jenny Dettrick/Getty Images

    Peas can be planted in early spring and then again when it gets cool in the fall. There are three types of peas: English peas, snow peas, and sugar snap peas. They are perfect for succession planting by enriching the soil with nitrogen. Plant them in early spring. Once it gets warm, and they finish producing, pull them out, and plant something else in that container. Nitrogen is a vital nutrient fertilizing the soil for the next batch of plants. Peas are also one of the best vegetables to grow with your children; they grow quickly and easily.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Good drainage, enriched or loamy soil
  • 03 of 10

    Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum)

    Garden potatoes

     

    Wildroze / Getty Images

    Freshly picked potatoes taste entirely different than the potatoes you buy in a grocery store. They have higher water content and a bitter, earthy flavor to usher in the freshness of spring. Growing ​potatoes in containers require a lot of soil and water but are worth the resources and effort. Containers also add an extra level of protection against fungus or blight (Phtophthora infestans), which spreads easier among in-ground plants.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 10B
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Good drainage, loamy soil
  • 04 of 10

    Squash (Curcurbita)

    Zucchini growing in container

     

    tacojim / Getty Images

    Squash is an easy vegetable to grow, and squash blossoms are beautiful, delicate edibles. Most squashes require a lot of space and a reasonably large container. Its ideal growing conditions include lots of light, good soil, as well as consistent watering and feeding. If you are going to grow winter squash in a container, make sure the variety you choose is not one of the giant types, which can weigh more than 20 pounds and topple the containers. 'Honeybear' is an award-winning smaller variety of acorn squash, and there are even tiny pumpkins you can grow.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 10
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Rich soil, good drainage
    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Lettuce and Salad Greens (Lactuca sativa)

    Lettuce growing in container

     

     

    Alphotographic / Getty Images

    Growing lettuce and other salad greens in containers is fast. Container growing gives you the flexibility to control weeds and pests more easily than in-ground planting. Lettuce does not need as much sun as most vegetables. Some great salad greens and mesclun mixes you can buy for container gardens that taste great and look good in decorative pots include Johnny's Elegance Greens Mix and Hudson Vally Seed Library's Mesclun Mix.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Partial sun
    • Soil Needs: Moist, fertile soil
  • 06 of 10

    Hot and Sweet Peppers (Capsicum annuum)

    Chili plant

     

    ruvanboshoff / Getty Images

    Both hot and sweet peppers can be spectacularly beautiful, especially orange and purple sweet peppers in containers. They thrive in grow boxes but can be grown in any large container with plenty of sun, good drainage, and consistent watering. Dry soil or overly wet soil is disastrous for peppers. One of the most significant benefits of planting peppers in containers is that you can move your plants inside if continuously stormy weather threatens your area for several days. Peppers come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Hot peppers range in spice level from mild to searing to hardly edible.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 11 and up
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Moist soil with good drainage
  • 07 of 10

    Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus)

    Cucumber Plants on Trellis
    Cucumber Trellis. Kerry Michaels

    Cucumbers are a fast-growing vegetable commonly grown in containers. These water-loving plants do best in large plastic or ceramic pots that help the soil retain moisture. Growing cucumbers in containers is a great way to give them the heat they love (hotter ambient temperatures raise soil temperature quicker in pots than in-ground). There are two main types of cucumbers: bush and vining. Either can grow in a container. Bush cucumbers tend to be shorter with smaller yields. Vining cucumbers will require a trellis or tomato cage.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 12
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Good drainage with moist, fertilizer-enriched soil
  • 08 of 10

    Radishes (Raphanus sativus)

    Radish plant

     

    mzajac / Getty Images

    Radishes grow ridiculously quickly; most go from seed to harvest in just a month. They also do not need much space—they can grow in containers that are 4 to 6 inches deep. These plants do not like getting too hot, but you control this easily by moving the plant into the shade or adding water to cool them down. There are many varieties, which means you can select your seeds based on appearance and flavor; some types are gorgeous. The tops or radish greens are also edible, as are the pods. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 10
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Good drainage with moist soil
    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Arugula (Eruca vesicaria)

    Growing arugula

     

    temmuzcan / Getty Images

    Spicy arugula leaves are tasty, and its edible flowers are a sweet treat. They are also beautiful. Arugula does not need a huge container—a pot 8 inches deep and 6 inches in diameter works. Another benefit of growing arugula in a container is that you can move it. Arugula needs about 6 hours of direct sunlight but does not like scorching, afternoon sun. It is best to let this plant get full morning sun and move it or position it so that it only gets partial sun in the afternoon.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 11
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Good drainage with moist soil
  • 10 of 10

    Eggplant (Solanum melongena)

    Fresh eggplant

     

    Nataliia_Melnychuk / Getty Images

    Eggplant is one of those great vegetables that also works as an ornamental. Some eggplant varieties can get dense and heavy; do not use those types in your container garden. Look at compact cultivars like 'Fairytale' and 'Hansel' which are beautiful and tasty. Large containers are needed to support the roots of this plant and its bush-like growth. Also, if you are getting ceramic pots, consider getting glazed pots, which retain water longer.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 12
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Good drainage, evenly moist soil

More Info on Container Gardening and Further Research