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A Dozen Vegetables You Can Grow in Pots

You don't need a massive plot of land to enjoy the spoils of a great garden. Growing your veggies in containers maximizes garden space and allows you to move pots to a sunny spot for better production.

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Assortment of vegetables growing in containers veggiesDelBoy/Shutterstock

A Big Selection

To say there’s a large selection of garden containers available for sale these days is an understatement. And that’s not even taking into account all the repurposed pots that have made their way into gardens. Fortunately, there’s a pretty big selection of vegetables that like growing in those pots. The secret: fill them with a lightweight potting mix containing a slow-release fertilizer and moisture-holding crystals. And, of course, keep your veggies well watered because pots dry out more quickly than ground soil.

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growing banana peppersD and D Photo Sudbury/Shutterstock

Banana Peppers


You can grow any number of peppers in a container, but one of the absolute easiest vegetables to grow in pots or containers is the banana pepper. Less fickle about temperature ranges when it comes to pollination, it easily sets fruit when bell peppers are struggling at the same feat. The upright plants need no staking, and the sweet, banana-shape peppers are a nice addition to fresh salads. Remove peppers with pruners, as pulling them often breaks the stems.

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growing onionsCandiceDawn/Shutterstock

Onions


Onions are a great addition to the garden, growing equally well in the ground or in containers. The key factor is water for these easy vegetables to grow in pots. They need a loose, well-drained soil so the bulbs don’t rot. But with short roots, a consistent source of moisture is important for plump bulbs to develop. Grow your choice of white, yellow or red onions. These are easy vegetables every Midwestern gardener should grow, some are even easy vegetables to grow in pots.

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purple lettuce leafPeter Turner Photography/Shutterstock

Leaf Lettuce


Leaf lettuce is nutritious and delicious. Unfortunately, it can also be expensive, which is why more and more gardeners are growing it themselves as they make easy vegetables to grow in pots. This cool-season stalwart is easy to raise in place from seed. And it’s so productive you can harvest the veggies continually for weeks on end. Many different varieties are available, some with colorful and frilly leaves that give it cache as an ornamental. A large container is best so there’s room for multiple plants.

Learn how to start vegetables from seed.

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Kalefeelphoto2521/Shutterstock

Kale


This nutritious superstar has quickly jumped from the garnish tray to the dinner table. Although some varieties of kale can get awfully big, there are smaller varieties like ripbor kale and curly kale that grow just 1 to 2 feet tall and are better suited to containers. Kale prefers the cool temperatures of spring and fall but can be coaxed to continue bearing in summer in northern gardens if given some shade in the afternoon. When harvesting these veggies, snip the outside leaves so the interior of the plant can keep developing new leaves. Do you know the best place to store your vegetables?

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determinate tomatoesduckeesue/Shutterstock

Determinate Tomatoes


While it’s true tomato plants can get quite large and unwieldy, plant breeders have come up with smaller varieties of these veggies to grow in containers. These are usually determinate types, meaning they grow to a certain size and stop. No need for heavy metal cages. The only real drawback is that they mature a crop all at once.

Love tomatoes? Here are five ways to grow tomatoes.

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chivesJana Kollarova/Shutterstock

Chives


Chives are a perennial, so you only have to buy them once. In fact, after three or four years, they will need dividing, so you’ll end up with extra plants. These are very popular plants for mixing in the ornamental garden, due to the rosy purple flowers. Both the flowers and the stems have a mild onion taste and are used to flavor many different dishes. They’re fairly easy vegetables to grow in pots.

Here are 10 more veggies to try in your garden.

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cherry tomatoesDel Boy/Shutterstock

Cherry Tomatoes


Cherry tomatoes are one of those veggies you can grow almost anywhere there’s soil, sunlight and water. That also goes for containers, or in this case, hanging baskets, where the cherry tomatoes can hang down. How convenient for harvesting! Keep them evenly watered to avoid the dreaded cracking that occurs when a dry spell is followed by an abundance of water.

Top 10 tomato growing tips.

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radishesDel Boy/Shutterstock

Radishes


Radishes mature in as little as a month. They also prefer cooler spring temperatures. Did we mention they’re also one of the more compact veggies you’ll find? Those attributes mean they make a great spring container plant. And the best thing is, once they’re harvested, the container is open for a summer favorite…or even an ornamental.

Growing vegetables but not in pots? Here’s what you need to know about preparing the soil.

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potted growing hot peppersTany Telnova/Shutterstock

Hot Peppers


Hot peppers are a cinch to raise, so long as temperatures stay below 90 degrees F. They’ll continue growing in hotter weather but will drop their flowers without setting fruit. When they do set fruit, watch out. Their bright colors and interesting shapes make them quite the ornamental plant. When harvesting, wear gloves or wash your hands after handling to avoid irritating your eyes if you accidentally rub them with “hot pepper fingers.”

Check out the tools every vegetable gardener needs.

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growing eggplantRatda/Shutterstock

Eggplant


Some smaller varieties, such as Patio Baby mini eggplant, grow just 1 to 2 feet tall, so they’re perfect for containers. Larger eggplants need larger pots—up to 24 inches in diameter per plant—and staking to support the fruit-laden branches in late summer. Even so, containers are a good idea in cold climates because the soil warms up quicker, much to eggplant’s liking. Do you know about square foot gardening?

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growing broccoliRatda/Shutterstock

Broccoli


Broccoli does just fine in pots—if the pots are large enough. A 6-inch container won’t be any match for these plants when they become top-heavy with produce and tip over. Whiskey barrels, on the other hand, have the necessary mass and rooting space to accommodate broccoli. Cool temperatures and plenty of moisture are the main requirement of these veggies. Harvest the center head but leave plants in place because they will develop side florets that can also be harvested.

Want something ornamental for your container? Here are some great flowering plants for pots.

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microgreens sprouts growing veggiesPeter Hermes Furian/Shutterstock

Microgreens


Here’s a vegetable you can grow on your kitchen counter! Microgreens are the recently sprouted seeds of various vegetables, from radishes to alfalfa, after they have developed their first true leaves. This usually takes 1 to 3 weeks, depending on species. Microgreens are nutritious and the leaves and stems add interesting texture and taste to salads and sandwiches. Find out what you should plant side-by-side and why.

Luke Miller
Luke Miller is an award-winning garden editor with 25 years' experience in horticultural communications, including editing a national magazine and creating print and online gardening content for a national retailer. He grew up across the street from a park arboretum and has a lifelong passion for gardening in general and trees in particular. In addition to his journalism degree, he has studied horticulture and is a Master Gardener.