What Can I Grow in a Container?
What could be more convenient than stepping onto the patio to pick a handful of beans for supper? Or gathering berries for cereal from your front porch? Container gardening lets you tend a garden even where there's no in-ground space, transforming spots like a balcony or driveway into an excellent growing space.
Container gardening suits growing many different edible crops, including vegetables, herbs, and fruits. For a container vegetable garden, consider growing plants like these:
- Greens- Pots are ideal for leaf lettuce, cabbage, collards, Chinese (napa) cabbage, spinach, and mustard. Plant great-looking edibles like red cabbage, radicchio, Swiss chard and Japanese Giant red mustard to create eye-catching container combinations.
- Tomatoes- Determinate or bush types fit neatly into pots. Be sure to insert a stake or cage for support. If you want cherry tomatoes (which tend to grow tall), choose varieties with a truly small plant size, like Sweet 'n' Neat, Red Robin, or Tumbling Tom.
- Eggplants, peppers- Both of these plants create beautiful pots that are highly ornamental. Consider Asian eggplants, which are long, slender, and delicious. Beans-Both pole and bush types work well in containers, as long as you trellis them.
- Beets, radishes- Both of these root crops yield well in pots. You can also pick some leaves from these plants to eat as greens. Squash, cucumbers, pumpkins-These plants all come in mini sizes known as bush types that are well suited for a vegetable container garden. These, too, will need to be trellised.
- Potatoes- These can be grown in deep pots that provide plenty of space for tubers to form.
- Carrots- Deep pots can grow full-size carrots, or choose round French-type carrots for shallow containers.
- Corn- Look for dwarf corn, which will yield just a couple ears per stalk.
Most types of herbs thrive in containers, including parsley, dill, sage, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. Other edible crops that adapt nicely to container gardening are fruits, like strawberries and figs.
Narrow "columnar" apple trees bear full-size fruit and adapt well to container gardening, as do some citrus fruits. With citrus, start with varieties known to do well in pots, such as Meyer lemon, kumquat, lime, or mandarin orange. Look to purchase plants that are growing on what is called a dwarfing rootstock, which is what keeps the tree small enough for containers.
Container gardening isn't just limited to edible crops, of course. Flowers like zinnia, begonia, fuchsia, and verbena are just a few of the many blooming annuals sold for container gardening. Tropical plants (think mandevilla, canna, hibiscus) thrive in containers and bring south-of-the-border color to any garden.
Consider including shrubs in your container gardening designs, too. Plant breeders have been shrinking favorite shrubs into sizes that thrive in containers. You can find dwarf butterfly bush, hydrangea, ninebark, azalea, sweetspire ,and many others. Small shrub roses, which still produce full-size flowers, also thrive in containers.
The secret to success with container gardening is choosing the right size pot and filling it with premium potting soil. For vegetables, herbs, flowers, and shrubs, Miracle-Gro® Potting Mix will provide just the right mix of nutrients in a light, fluffy soil. For berries and trees, fill pots with Miracle-Gro® Moisture Control® Potting Mix to help protect against over-and under-watering, which is vital for fruit plants and woody plants.
With so many choices, you can create a beautiful, productive container garden that is the envy of the neighborhood! For more information, click any of the links below.
Written by Julie Martens Forney