Easy Vegetables to Grow in Pots: Top Picks for Small Spaces

vegetables growing in pots on a kitchen counter

Not everybody has the space to grow vegetables in huge backyard rows. Many people are more likely to live in apartments or have small gardens but also may have very limited gardening knowledge. Which leads many to look for easy vegetables to grow in pots. However, growing vegetables in pots is sort of a fine art. So let’s show you everything you need to know about easy-to-grow vegetables in pots to improve your container gardening practice and enjoy your harvest!

A Quick Beginner’s Guide to Container Gardening & Vegetables

Container gardening is a term that some people may not be familiar with. Very simply, container gardening is the practice of growing plants in containers like pots, tubs, or other vessels rather than directly into the ground. 

Ideal for small or urban spaces where traditional gardening is not possible, small containers can be placed in any environment like patios, decks, balconies, or even indoors. Container gardening is a flexible approach to growing your favorite vegetables since the containers can be rearranged or moved around as needed depending on your particular space needs or if there’s more sunlight in a certain location

Additionally, it’s budget-friendly and environmentally friendly because you can reuse old containers around the home instead of buying new ones.

Growing Vegetables in Containers: What You Need to Know

You can grow different types of vegetables as well as herbs, shrubs, flowers, and small trees. However, in order to do it correctly, you need to consider the following:

  • Choose containers with good drainage holes. Most vegetables can thrive in containers at least 12 inches deep, but certain root vegetables and tomatoes can thrive in larger containers between 18 and 36 inches.
  • Be sure to choose containers that are made of materials like terracotta or plastic as these have better drainage and avoid containers made of materials that could leach harmful chemicals into the soil, which will affect plant growth. Additionally, the containers need to be heavy enough to avoid tipping over, especially for larger plants like tomatoes, and these materials can provide the necessary weight and durability.
  • Use a high-quality potting mix that retains moisture but also drains well. It’s important to avoid garden soil because it can compact and result in problems absorbing and holding water, which doesn’t help the vegetables to grow.
  • It’s also important to fertilize container plants regularly with a liquid or slow-release fertilizer and do this once a week.

The Best Veggies for Small Spaces

Whether on a small corner on the kitchen counter or a tiny outdoor patio or balcony, here are the best easy vegetables to grow in small spaces:

Leafy greens:

  • Lettuce.
  • Spinach.
  • Kale.
  • Arugula (rocket).

Root vegetables:

  • Beets.
  • Carrots. 
  • Radishes.

Fruiting vegetables:

  • Zucchini/summer squash.
  • Peppers.
  • Tomatoes (especially the cherry or plum varieties).

Easy Vegetables to Grow in Pots (both Indoors and Outdoors)

Lettuce, Spinach, Kale, and Arugula

A nutritious and fast-growing food choice, leafy greens like kale, spinach, lettuce, and arugula can be harvested repeatedly, providing a continuous supply of fresh produce. Particularly, kale and spinach can be excellent additions to various food dishes, from pasta to smoothies. 

Leafy greens are an easy choice for pots because they have shallow root systems, meaning they do well in smaller 12-inch containers. 

Leafy greens can grow well both indoors and outdoors as long as they receive partial shade, particularly thrive in environments with cooler temperatures, and do not require full sun exposure.


Tomatoes are a popular and common garden staple. Versatile and flavorful, they can be canned or used in a variety of dishes as a base. From Spaghetti Bolognese to making your own tomato ketchup, tomatoes can be an excellent addition to your garden.

Of course, while technically not a vegetable and defined as a fruit, you can still use this in a huge variety of dishes. Tomatoes are an excellent choice for gardens, but it’s better to opt for plum or cherry as they’re more compact. 

Tomatoes typically need a large container between 18 and 36 inches deep because of the extensive root systems, and it’s also important to provide the right support structures like trellises or cages for container-grown tomatoes. Tomatoes grow best outdoors in full sun exposure, but while they can be grown indoors, tomatoes tend to thrive better outside in a sunny, sheltered spot.

Pole Beans and Fava Beans

Pole beans and fava beans are fantastic additions to meals, providing a range of vitamins and minerals, including folate, manganese, copper, and iron, making them excellent nutrient-dense choices to grow. 

Pole beans and fava beans are excellent options if you want to save space because they can be grown vertically. Pole beans and fava beans are suitable for container gardening in small 12-inch to 18-inch deep pots, meaning you can make the most of these in small spaces like patios or balconies. They are relatively easy to care for, requiring regular watering and the occasional fertilizing. 

When growing pole beans and fava beans, they thrive best with six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day and prefer to be grown outdoors in full sun conditions.


Radishes are high in vitamins and minerals such as folate, potassium, vitamin C, and fiber, and contain compounds known as isothiocyanates that have anticancer properties and help to detoxify the body. Radishes are an excellent vegetable to grow because they have a rapid growth cycle, with some varieties being ready to harvest in as little as 24 days. 

A versatile food, radishes can be used in soups and stews as a complimentary ingredient to roasted new potatoes but also delicious in a salad. Radishes are one of the best vegetable plants for container growth because they only need four to six inches of soil depth, making them perfect for growing in containers. 

Radishes are relatively low maintenance, require very little care and attention, and can be grown successfully in containers either indoors or outdoors. Radishes are sun worshippers and require at least six hours of direct sun. If you give them too much shade, the radishes will focus more on leaf growth instead of developing their edible roots, but be aware that the intense midday rays can be detrimental. If you grow them indoors, you will need to supplement them with bright grow lights to mimic the direct sunlight it requires.


An excellent addition to salads and as a meal in itself, such as stuffed peppers, peppers contain huge beneficial compounds such as vitamins like B6, A, and C, minerals like manganese, folate, and potassium, as well as beneficial compounds such as capsaicin, which may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. 

Peppers can be successfully grown in containers in the right pot size, particularly compact or dwarf pepper varieties. Peppers thrive in warm, sunny conditions and prefer temperatures over 50°F. 

They can be grown both indoors and outdoors; however, they thrive best when planted outside in a warm, sheltered spot with full sun exposure. In cooler climates, peppers may perform better when grown undercover or in a greenhouse to provide the necessary warmth.


A staple dish in so many different meals, carrots are an excellent root vegetable that’s rich in beta-carotene, which is important for eye health and immune function, as well as a great source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. 

Carrots are versatile vegetables, and growing your own allows you to enjoy fresher, better-tasting produce in comparison to store-bought. What’s more, carrots are incredibly easy to grow for beginner gardeners, making them an excellent starting vegetable.

Carrots only need a container that’s at least 12 inches deep to accommodate their root growth, but shorter, compact varieties are better suited for container gardening. Carrots prefer full sun exposure and need between six and eight hours of direct sunlight per day, but as long as the proper soil, sun, and watering needs are met, you can grow carrots indoors and outdoors. 

Carrots require loose, well-draining soil, making them perfectly at home in a pot or planter, and while they’re able to tolerate a range of temperatures from 45°F to 70°F, they perform best in cooler conditions.

Zucchini or Summer Squash

Zucchini or summer squash are both rich in vitamins C, A, and B6, as well as minerals like potassium, and also contain high amounts of fiber, as well as antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin. 

Both versatile vegetables, zucchini and summer squash can be used in a huge variety of sweet and savory dishes as a healthy addition to meals. Both can be grown in containers as small as 12 inches to 18 inches deep and have very simple growing requirements in terms of sun exposure, soil, and water. 

They thrive best in full sun, requiring at least six hours of direct sunlight per day, and can be grown indoors and outdoors, provided their sun and watering needs are met. However, outdoor growing is preferred, specifically in warm, sheltered locations as they prefer warm temperatures above 50°F.

The Key Factors for Successfully Growing Vegetables in Containers

Choose a Vegetable You Can Successfully Look After

When it comes to the best vegetables for container gardening, it’s about getting those small wins first, especially as a beginner. When choosing the best vegetables for container gardening, consider the following:

  • The plant size and root depth. Choose vegetables with relatively shallow root systems that don’t need as deep a container, like radishes and leafy greens. As a beginner, it’s best to avoid large, sprawling plants and those with deep tap roots that need a lot of soil volume, like pumpkins or corn. 
  • Pick vegetables that can tolerate the amount of sunlight available in your container growing location, whether it’s full sun, partial shade, or a mix, and consider the temperature preferences. Some, like tomatoes and peppers, need warmer conditions, but lettuce and spinach prefer cooler weather, and it’s important to factor this into your decisions. 
  • It’s a very simple thing, but picking vegetables that you and your household will actually eat and enjoy will ensure you get that much more out of the process. 

Find the Right Containers

When hunting for easy-to-grow vegetables in pots, you should also bear in mind the following with regard to the right containers:

  • Match the container size to the mature size of the vegetable, both in terms of the plant size and root depth. 
  • Choose containers made of porous materials like unglazed ceramic, wood, or terracotta as these allow for better drainage, and avoid non-porous materials that can retain excess moisture. Also, be aware that any containers not designed for outdoor use become brittle over time, especially if you are growing vegetables on a windowsill or in a small garden space. 
  • Ensure the containers have adequate drainage holes in the bottom to allow excess water to escape, and consider using containers with built-in drainage trays or elevating them to promote airflow. 
  • If you are growing items in a small space, make sure that these containers fit, whether it’s on a small yard or patio, and look beyond traditional pots because other types of containers such as half barrels or recycled items can be just as effective.

Know How to Prepare the Soil

  • Many beginners can make a few mistakes, for example, using garden soil. Instead of garden soil, you should use potting compost specifically formulated for containers or a soil-less potting mix, which are typically made of ingredients like compost and peat moss to provide good drainage and aeration. 
  • You can improve the potting mix by adding additional ingredients, for example, organic fertilizers like blood meal and green sand or compost to increase the nutrient content. 
  • Before planting, you should soak the potting mix with water the day before to ensure it’s thoroughly moist and ready for use, while also making sure the container has adequate drainage holes. You can add a layer of coarse material such as gravel to the bottom, and this can improve drainage.

Get Into the Right Habits for Care and Maintenance

If you don’t know how to look after the vegetables, you need to consider the following:

  • Have a consistent watering schedule for your vegetables. 
  • Check the soil daily and water it when the top inch or two gets dry. 
  • Container vegetables need regular fertilization, so be sure to do it roughly once a week during the growing season with a diluted liquid fertilizer or water-soluble formula to provide nutrients. 
  • Regularly inspect vegetables for signs of pests or disease and remove or treat any affected plants to prevent the problem from spreading. 
  • Keep an eye out for weeds in the containers and remove them as soon as they appear. 
  • Replenish the potting mix with additional compost or fertilizer as necessary.


There are a variety of easy vegetables to grow in pots. When it comes to growing these, it’s not just about choosing the right type of vegetable, but as you can see, there are various factors to consider, especially for beginner gardeners. But make no mistake, if you want to start growing a vegetable garden within a small space, there are plenty of options.