Even if you have a small yard or no yard at all, this doesn’t mean that you can’t garden. You can easily pick out the best vegetables to grow in pots and start a small container garden on your patio, porch, or balcony. You can grow virtually any vegetable you want in a container, but you may need to find a bigger pot for some vegetables.
However, you may end up with a smaller harvest because the plant’s root system couldn’t spread out as much as it would if you planted it in the ground. However, this shouldn’t stop you. Picking out easy vegetables to grow in pots is very popular right now, and you can easily fill your space to overflowing with healthy vegetables.
Growing your own food has really gained in popularity in recent years, even in places where people have no or very little yard space. Many vegetable varieties thrive in containers, so there’s no reason why you can’t have success with your selection of easy vegetables to grow in pots. We’re going to outline several fun and convenient options for you below.
Container Garden by Beck Gusler / CC BY-SA 2.0
Beans make the perfect addition as an easy vegetable to grow in pots on your balcony or patio. You need to pick the right container first, and it needs to have a minimum depth of 12 inches for your plants to do well. Beans also don’t like standing water, so the pot should have many drainage holes. You then decide if you’re going to go with a bush variety of beans that don’t need any extra support, or a pole bean that requires a trellis. Pole beans are nice to help take advantage of vertical space.
Your beans can grow up existing fences or other support systems like walls. However, pole beans take longer to produce and harvest. Bush beans are smaller, and they usually get between 18 and 24 inches tall while being ready to go in 60 days or less. Depending on the growing zone, you could get two harvests. They do best in zones 2 to 10 in full sunlight, and you’ll want to have loamy, sandy, well-draining soil.
Fava Beans by 305 Seahill / CC BY-ND 2.0
You may be surprised to see this root crop listed as an easy vegetable to grow in pots, but most do exceedingly well when you plant them in containers because you can ensure that your soil doesn’t get compacted. Beets work well for growing in smaller spaces, so they’re excellent for containers. Your container will need to be 12 to 18 inches deep, and this is one of the most important considerations to keep in mind because your beets need room to grow and develop.
The containers have to go in a space that gets full sunlight for a minimum of six hours a day, and the pH levels should stay between 6.0 and 7.5. To increase the acidity level of the soil, you can mix in some wood ash. It does well in a range of hardiness zones as it grows purely underground.
Beets by Liz West / CC BY 2.0
Carrots are a bright root crop that is an easy vegetable to grow in pots. It’s a cool-weather vegetable that you can plant two or three weeks before the final frost in your location. One important thing to remember about growing carrots in pots is that they need moist soil and regular watering. If the soil dries out, the carrot’s roots will crack and dry to give you a small harvest.
Since this is a root crop, it’ll need deeper pots to do well. At a minimum, the pot should be eight inches deep. Keep the soil as fluffy as you can, and avoid compacting it. Carrots grow in zones 3 to 10, and they need bright, direct sunlight. The soil should drain well between watering sessions and be loamy.
Carrots by Jones Tana / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
When it comes to easy vegetables to grow in pots, it’s extremely difficult to beat lettuces and leafy greens. Productive and fast-growing, chard makes a wonderful potted plant that is very low-maintenance. The leafy greens and baby lettuce plants need virtually no space to thrive, and they have more shallow root systems that allow them to grow happily in containers.
Also, chard is one of the few container vegetables that don’t require a huge amount of sunlight, and they’ll do wonderfully in a partially-shaded area. You’ll want to keep the soil loose and rich, and you should make a point to water it regularly.
Swiss Chard by Jeff Moser / CC BY-ND 2.0
5. Chili Peppers
Chili peppers are one easy vegetable to grow in pots that are both pretty and productive. They need a warm and sunny space to grow because the warmth will encourage spice development. As long as you can give them this, they’ll do well. Jalapenos are a classic chili pepper that is used in dips and salsas. You can purchase heirloom varieties that bloom very early in the season, and this means that they’re ready to harvest much sooner. You’ll get high yields in 65 to 70 days from planting.
Thai Hot chili peppers will grow well into 8 to 12-inch tall plants that are excellent for putting in containers. You can get roughly 200 ½ to 1-inch peppers on each plant, and they turn a bright red color when they’re ripe at around 85 days.
Red Chili Peppers by rpphotos / CC BY-NC 2.0
If there’s one vegetable that embodies summer, it’s the cucumber. They’re also a surprisingly easy vegetable to grow in pots, but there are a few important points to keep in mind before you add them to your containers to ensure that you have a good harvest. First, cucumbers need regular watering and they’re very heavy feeders. You want to ensure that the soil doesn’t dry out in the pot, and it needs plenty of compost to inject nutrients into the soil before you plant them.
Your container has to be a minimum of five gallons or more because your cucumbers need plenty of space to grow. You also need to put a support system in your container because this plant produces vines. It is best planted in zones 4 to 11, and you want to give it an area with full sunlight. The soil should be well-draining and loamy.
Cucumbers by Michelle / CC BY-ND 2.0
This easy vegetable to grow in pots is very well contained, and it comes packed full of nutrients. Kale is a powerhouse green that comes packed full of vitamins and nutrients, and it’s very versatile to allow you to use it in several ways. It also grows very fast. So, if you have three or four plants, you can easily feed four people all week. You will need to get a 12-inch in diameter pot that is at least 8 inches deep. The soil should be a well-draining but very nutrient-dense option. Plant it outside in zones 4 to 10 in partial shade to full sunlight for the best results.
Kale by sfbaywalk / CC BY 2.0
Lettuce is yet another easy vegetable to grow in pots, and you’ll get multiple times to harvest some leafy lettuce throughout your growing season. Lettuce is a very cool-season crop that you can plant a few weeks before the final frost of the season in your area. You’ll want to get a wider planter that is at least six inches deep because this will allow you to grow several heads in one pot.
If you plan to grow leaf lettuce instead of head lettuce, you can put them closer together, roughly four inches apart. Along with choosing the correct container, you want to use a loamy, sandy, well-draining potting soil that you water often since the container will dry out much quicker than the ground. Plant them in full sunlight to part shade in zones 2 to 10.
Lettuce by Renee Grayson / CC BY 2.0
Since peas require a support system or trellis, many people don’t think of them as an easy vegetable to grow in pots. However, if you pick out bushy or dwarf peas, it’s not a big deal. Also, kids love growing peas, and it may just surprise you how quickly they’ll eat them. Peas are another cool-season vegetable that you want to plant in the spring when the temperatures are still mild. They won’t need a huge pot either, and it’s more important to have a full container over a deep one. You’ll need a container that is between six and eight inches wide, and they grow quickly without a lot of input from you.
Since they’re a cool-season vegetable, peas require regular, frequent waterings to keep the soil slightly moist. You also need to position the pot so your peas get full sunlight for six to eight hours a day. You can plant them twice a year to get a bigger harvest, and they work very well for succession planting. Place them outside in zones 2 to 11 with loamy soil with great drainage.
Pea Pods by Lynnita W / CC BY-NC 2.0
Another easy vegetable to grow in pots is all types of peppers. When you put them in containers, peppers are usually very productive. It also helps with cross pollination between different pepper types. Both sweet and hot peppers can get grown in containers, and they do very well when you plant them in grow boxes. There are also some colorful peppers that look great in your garden or on your patio. Each pot has to be a foot deep for the best growth, and the pots have to be kept in a space that gets six to eight hours of sunlight each day. Ideally, the plants will get 8 to 10 hours of sun every day.
Peppers do require excellent drainage if you want them to excel as easy vegetables to grow in pots, and you’ll have to water consistently. However, having overly wet soil is bad for this plant, and they won’t tolerate standing water. They do best in zones 5 to 11, and you may want to move them to sheltered areas if it storms to avoid flooding them out.
Green Sweet Peppers by Julep67 / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Having potatoes in containers is actually one of the easiest ways to grow them. You’ll need to keep mounding the dirt over the plants as they grow, so containers make this whole process much easier. It does need a lot of water and soil to grow the potatoes in pots, but it can be well worth it. Using containers for your potatoes also reduces the chances of issues with blight and fungal infections as they spread a lot faster in-ground than in the pot.
You can also plant your potatoes in grow boxes or bags. No matter which container you decide on, your potatoes should get between six and eight hours of sunlight every day. They thrive in zones 3 to 10, and they need nutrient-rich soil that drains very well.
Potatoes by sethoscope / CC BY-SA 2.0
It is completely possible to grow pumpkins in containers, but you will need a very big container to pull it off. If you can get a container that is a minimum of 20 to 25 gallons, pumpkins are easy vegetables to grow in pots. If you want big pumpkins, you’ll need a larger container. Along with the big container, pumpkins are very heavy feeders, so you’ll want to fill the container with half compost to give the plants enough nutrients to grow.
You’ll also have to fertilize your containers every other week or the plant won’t fruit when it’s time to harvest them. There are dozens of pumpkin varieties you can grow, and many people go for miniature pumpkins that double as decorations. You can also grow two or three pound pie pumpkins. Pumpkins thrive in zones three to nine with full sunlight each day. The soil should drain well and be humus rich.
Pumpkins by Mike Mozart / CC BY 2.0
Radishes are a root crop and are an easy vegetable to grow in pots. Many people pass over these vegetables, but they’re one of the fastest-growing things to add to your garden. They also work well in children’s gardens because they’re ready to harvest in as little as 30 days. Since they’re a root crop, the soil should be very fluffy and not compact to encourage optimal growth.
Radishes do best when you plant them in containers that are a minimum of six inches deep, but if you want to grow bigger radish varieties, you’ll have to upgrade your container to 8 to 10 inches deep. Each radish will require three inches of space, and they need to be in partial shade or full sun. Plant them in zones 2 to 10 in a sandy soil that drains well.
Radish by NancyLiza / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Spinach is an easy vegetable to grow in pots, and it does very well in full sunlight or partial shade. Also, spinach easily adapts to a huge range of spaces. You can grow it inside on a sunny windowsill too because it’s not finicky. The containers you pick out to grow your spinach need to be six to eight inches deep, and you’ll want to pick out a full pot over a deep one. They grow well in zones two to nine, and the soil should be nutrient-dense and well-draining.
Spinach by Michael Stokes / CC BY 2.0
Most people are aware that you can grow tomatoes as a container plant. Along with being an easy vegetable to grow in pots, they’re also one of the most productive choices you can make. Tomatoes don’t tolerate cold weather conditions at all, so you don’t want them outside in the early spring months. You also need to slowly harden them off and acclimate to live outside before you move your containers outdoors.
You can grow determinate or indeterminate tomatoes, and determinate is the best pick as an easy vegetable to grow in pots because they’re not as big. You will have to harvest them all at once, so you should be ready to preserve them quickly. Indeterminate cultivars can be huge and get up to six feet tall, so you’ll need a minimum of a 15 gallon pot to successfully grow them. They also need a support system. Grow your tomatoes in zones 5 to 11 in full sunlight with a moist soil with excellent drainage.
Tomatoes by Katherine Kenny / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The final easy vegetable to grow in containers in zucchini. You can train it to grow up a trellis in your container to give it more support. Since this is a bigger plant, you’ll need a larger container to match the size and growth of your zucchini. The pot you pick out should be at least 12 inches deep and 24 inches in diameter. Zucchinis, like squash varieties, are very heavy feeders. So, you’ll have to add a lot of compost to your container before you plant the seeds. You’ll also have to add fertilizer several times during the active growth season.
Adding an A-shaped trellis is a great way to provide additional support for your plant and give the vines something to grow on. You can also secure the vines with garden tape to train them to grow up the trellis. Plant it in zones 4 to 10, and make sure that it gets a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of sunlight each day. The soil should be acidic, rich, and drain very well.
Zucchini by csouza_79 / CC BY 2.0
We’ve touched on 16 easy vegetables to grow in pots, and you can take this information and start a container garden of your own. You don’t have to have a lot of space to enjoy fresh vegetables all summer long, and this quick guide proves it.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.