The 8 Best Vegetables to Grow in Containers

Written by Angie Menjivar
Updated: June 20, 2023
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If you don’t have space for a garden but want to grow your own veggies, you have the option to grow them in containers! With these plants, the soil is depleted more quickly than when you plant them in the ground, which means nutrients drain out. However, so long as you adjust how frequently you water and feed your plants, you can soon have your own supply of your favorite veggies. Discover the eight best vegetables to grow in containers!

The 8 Best Vegetables to Grow in Containers

1. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are one of the easiest to grow in your garden. Yes, they’re technically a fruit but since they pair well with so many other veggies and they’re a fantastic choice for newbies, we had to include them in the list! Decide what kinds of tomatoes you’re interested in growing and match your container size.

Cherry tomatoes, for instance, require a smaller container than beefsteak tomatoes. You don’t have to splurge. For many tomato varieties, a five-gallon bucket suffices. Their soil needs to be deep and moist and well-drained. Tomatoes require full sun, and you can grow them year-round in all growing zones. Provide them with fertilizer every two weeks.

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Early girl tomato

As tomatoes grow, they need support.

©knelson20/Shutterstock.com

2. Potatoes

For potatoes, you need plenty of soil and water. By growing them in containers, you allow the veggie to develop a unique flavor. Instead of what you’re used to tasting when you buy a bag at your local supermarket, you get to enjoy an earthier flavor experience. The loamy soil you select should drain well. Potatoes need full sun to grow and do best in 3 to 10B growing Zones. Use fertilizer a week prior to planting, every couple of weeks while they grow, and stop four weeks from harvesting.

Fresh Baby Potato Crop with earthworm Just Dug Out Of The Ground in farm. man holding dirty potatoes harvest in garden

Potatoes need loamy, well-drained soil.

©ArieStudio/Shutterstock.com

3. Lettuce

You can have the perfect base for your best salads growing right on your balcony! These grow quickly and if you need to elongate the life of your lettuce, just move your container into a more shaded area when the weather gets hot. Lettuce doesn’t require full sun to flourish; rather, partial sun does the trick. It needs moist and fertile soil and grows best in Zones 4 to 9. A fish emulsion as fertilizer works great for lettuce — use it every two weeks.

Lettuce grows quickly in containers!

©Melica/Shutterstock.com

4. Peppers

Take your pick when it comes to peppers. Go the sweet route or the spicy route! They need lots of sun and good drainage. Stay on top of your watering schedule because these veggies constantly need moist (not soaked) soil. You can grow these year-round in any growing zone. They need full sun to thrive.

Cayenne pepper plant with ripe peppers

When growing peppers in containers ensure they receive lots of sun and good drainage.

©Peter Acker/Shutterstock.com

5. Cucumbers

The hydrating crunch of cucumber adds texture to an otherwise simple salad, and you can have your very own only a few feet away from your kitchen. Cucumbers are some of the best vegetables to grow in containers. They grow quickly and as you may have guessed they love water. Opt for ceramic or plastic when growing these to aid with retaining the moisture in the soil. Choose either bush or vining varieties. Enrich their soil with fertilizer, provide either full or partial sun, and grow in Zones 4 to 12.

growing cucumbers in the garden

Cucumbers need lots of water to thrive.

©Andrey Shtanko/Shutterstock.com

6. Peas

Peas typically require support as they grow so they don’t droop. They enrich the soil they’re in, which means after you harvest them, you can plant something else. These are good in the spring and fall. They need full sun and loamy, well-drained soil. They thrive in Zones 2 to 11.

Peas enrich the soil they’re in, making them great for succession planting.

©287797673/Shutterstock.com

7. Radishes

Radishes are another veggie that grows fast — all you need is a month! So long as the container is about five inches deep, you’re good to go. Radishes need full to partial shade and moist soil with good drainage. They grow well in Zones 2 to 8.

 Radishes can grow well in containers

. Radishes can grow well in containers but need full to partial shade and moist soil with good drainage.

©iStock.com/Nastco

8. Eggplant

Don’t go for the traditional heavy variety. These won’t work well in a container. Choose a cultivar instead. One that’s meant for growing in a container (like ‘Fairytale’). They grow bushy and have deep roots, so you need a large container. Eggplants need full sun, moist soil, and good drainage. They grow well in Zones 5 to 12.

Growing fresh eggplant on branch.

Use smaller eggplant varieties for containers.

©iStock.com/Lari Bat

Tips for Container Plants

To help your container plants thrive, you should set up a schedule for watering them. Check their soil and get to know your plant daily to ensure you find the right amount of water to keep them happy. Pruning should be done either in the later part of winter or the earliest part of spring.

To control pests, start with healthy plants. Quarantine new plants before introducing them to others, and always work with clean tools. You may even want to introduce some ground beetles and ladybugs to help out. Use neem oil as a natural form of pest control as well.

Harvesting Container Plants

To maximize freshness, wait until your veggies have fully developed. Then, let them be so they can fully ripen, and you can enjoy them. Harvest in the earlier part of the day as well. Your veggies are still nicely hydrated at this time.

Summary of the Eight Best Vegetables to Grow in Containers

#Vegetable Planting Zones
1 TomatoesAll zones
2Potatoes3 to 10B
3Lettuce4 to 9
4PeppersAll zones
5Cucumbers4 to 12
6Peas2 to 11
7Radishes2 to 8
8Eggplant5 to 12

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Marti157900


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About the Author

Angie Menjivar is a writer at A-Z-Animals primarily covering pets, wildlife, and the human spirit. She has 14 years of experience, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and continues her studies into human behavior, working as a copywriter in the mental health space. She resides in North Carolina, where she's fallen in love with thunderstorms and uses them as an excuse to get extra cuddles from her three cats.

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