QUESTION: Which vegetables would you say are the easiest ones to grow in pots? I have a friend with a container garden who’s having terrible luck growing vegetables. I want to point her in the right direction for some surefire successes. — Stella P.
ANSWER: There are plenty of vegetables your friend can grow in containers with confidence because they’re just that easy, so we’ll focus on the top three in this article. You really can’t go wrong with radishes, peppers, and greens or microgreens for a container garden of easy-to-grow vegetables that you can depend on to produce tons of vegetables to cook for your family and share with your friends.
Radishes need just a small amount of loose soil, so they do great in the fine, aerated potting soil of a container. The limited volume of containers also helps keep the soil where radishes are growing moist, which the plants really love.
A bonus of choosing radishes for your container garden is the speed at which they grow. You can be harvesting fresh radishes from your plants just one month after planting seeds. Just thin your initial planting to leave three inches of room between plants.
Set your radish containers up where they’ll get full sun to partial shade, and make sure the pots you use provide plenty of drainage. In hot regions, radish plants are prone to bolting. You can minimize the risk of bolting if you live in a warm climate by situating your radish plants in partial shade or keeping them cool with some extra water when the weather is especially sweltering.
Many people don’t realize that the greens of radishes are just as edible as the red and white roots. You can find ideas for serving radish greens at the end of this article on ways to cook with the radishes you grow in your garden.
Radishes also don’t need as much soil to grow as many of the other vegetables you can grow in pots. You can grow healthy, thriving radish plants in containers that hold only four to six inches of soil depth. The largest varieties will need more room—eight to 10 inches of soil depth.
Gardeners who choose to grow radishes will have lots of attractive, flavorful varieties to choose from, so enjoy perusing seed catalogs to choose the type you’ll grow.
Peppers are a cinch to grow in containers, and they’re fun for gardeners because of the vast array of types to choose from. Both hot and sweet peppers can be grown successfully in containers, so intersperse your pepper plants with your flowers and enjoy the green, red, orange, purple, and yellow jewels peeking out from between the leaves.
Any large container with at least 12 inches of soil depth that offers plenty of drainage for your pepper plants will be suitable. Plant varieties that are on the smaller size will work best in most container gardens. Make sure to position the plant pots where your peppers will get lots of sunshine, and keep the soil moist but not overly saturated.
Peppers thrive in sunny, hot regions and can survive happily in weather that would be too warm for other plants. Make sure to place your containers where your pepper plants will get at least six hours of sunshine each day. They do especially well when given some fertilizer to help them produce lots of peppers.
Too much moisture or soil that gets too dry between waterings can cause disease or even death for your pepper plants. That means if rainstorms in your area would flood your container garden, you’ll need to move your plants indoors or under a shelter or awning until the rain passes.
Find out more about how to grow peppers in containers at this link, or consult the list below for instructions on growing specific types of pepper plants.
- Bell Peppers
- Cayenne Peppers
- Ghost Peppers
- Habanero Peppers
- Jalapeno Peppers
- Paprika Peppers
- Serrano Peppers
- Tabasco Peppers
Greens and Microgreens
There’s almost nothing easier than sowing seeds for some lettuces or other salad greens and either waiting for them to mature or cutting them early as microgreens or baby greens. They’re also a quick-growing vegetable that offers a nearly instant return on your investment of time and energy. You can grow a continuous harvest by replanting the seeds for your salad greens every three weeks or so.
For most lettuce types (leaf lettuce especially), salad greens, and microgreens, the container’s width is more important than offering lots of depth. Even containers just six to eight inches deep can house lots of lettuce or salad greens if they’re wide enough.
Cooler temperatures are best for growing these plants, so you’ll have the most success if you sow your seeds in the spring or fall. It is possible to grow lettuce in the summer if you offer the plants partial shade—most importantly during the heat of the day. Our article “What lettuce grows well in summer?” has a list of varieties that are especially well suited for hot weather.
Find out more about how to grow lettuce in containers at this link, or find out more about how to grow microgreens at this link. Consult the list below for instructions on growing specific types of lettuces and salad greens.
- Arugula [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/arugula-grown-in-pots/]
- Baby Bok Choy [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/grow-bok-choy-brassica-rapa-subsp-chinensis/]
- Butter Lettuce [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/grow-butter-lettuce/]
- Collard Greens [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/how-to-grow-collard-greens/]
- Flowering Kale/Ornamental Kale [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/how-to-grow-flowering-kale/]
- Garlic [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/how-to-grow-garlic-2/]
- Kale [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/how-to-grow-kale-including-three-favorite-ways-to-prepare-kale/]
- Kalettes [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/how-to-grow-kalettes-new-superfood-the-kale-and-brussels-sprouts-vegetable-hybrid/]
- Lamb’s Ears [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/grow-lambs-ears-stachys-byzantina/]
- Mustard Greens [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/growing-mustard-greens-brassica-juncea/]
- Orache (Red Mountain Spinach) [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/how-to-grow-orache-red-mountain-spinach/]
- Purslane [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/how-to-grow-purslane/]
- Radicchio [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/grow-radicchio-cichorium-intybus-var-foliosum/]
- Romaine Lettuce [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/grow-romaine-lettuce/]
- Spinach [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/how-to-grow-spinach-in-a-container/]
Of course, there are more vegetables you can grow in pots that are pretty easy other than these top three. Here’s a quick roundup of your other options.
- Beans [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/how-to-grow-bush-beans-climbing-beans/]
- Beets [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/how-to-grow-beets/]
- Broccoli [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/how-to-grow-broccoli/]
- Broccolini [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/how-to-grow-broccolini/]
- Cabbage [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/guide-to-growing-cabbages/]
- Carrots [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/how-to-grow-carrots-garden/]
- Cucumbers [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/how-to-grow-cucumbers/]
- Eggplant [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/growing-eggplants-from-seedlings-to-harvest/]
- Green Onions [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/grow-green-onions-allium-cepa/]
- Melons [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/15-gardening-tips-for-growing-melons/]
- Onions [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/how-to-grow-onions-guide/]
- Peas [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/how-to-grow-peas/]
- Potatoes [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/how-to-grow-potatoes-in-a-container/]
- Purple Sprouting Broccoli [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/grow-purple-sprouting-broccoli/]
- Squash [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/grow-squash-in-pots/]
- Tomatoes [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/the-complete-guide-to-growing-tomatoes-in-containers/]
- Turnips [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/grow-turnips-brassica-rapa/]
- Zucchini [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/everyone-can-grow-zucchini/]
Every vegetable garden that relies on containers should have some radishes, peppers, and salad greens in the mix. These plants are just so easy to grow in pots that it’s a shame to miss the opportunity to enjoy the fresh produce they’ll yield.