How to Plant Vegetables in a Container


City-dwelling gardeners have discovered the wonders of container-grown vegetables. Limited space and time often discourage gardeners from attempting to cultivate vegetable plants. However, gardeners can plant vegetables in a container garden. This allows easy care and limits the exposure of plants to wildlife.

Step 1

Choose a container that will accommodate the mature size of the vegetable roots. Pot depth should exceed 8 inches for any kind of vegetable, including shallow-rooted plants such as lettuce or herbs. Container gardens limit the free expansion of plant roots. Ensure that the bottom of the container has drainage holes spaced every 4 to 6 inches to prevent water from pooling in the bottom of the planter. For larger planters, place the planter in its permanent location to limit lifting of the heavy pot.

Step 2

Fill the planter two-thirds full with new potting soil. This mixture should contain a combination of peat moss, perlite and sand to provides a disease-free environment for vegetable plants. Potting soils drain quickly and don't compact like typical garden soils.

Step 3

Follow the spacing recommendations on the seed packet label (or transplant label) so the vegetable has room to produce a crop. Do not crowd more than one plant in a container unless adequate room exists for more than one plant.

Step 4

Release the transplant from the temporary pot by squeezing the outside of the pot. Hold the main stem of the plant right above the soil level and lift gently to remove the plant from the plastic pot. Position the transplant into the fresh potting soil to allow the plant's root ball to lie about 1 to 2 inches beneath the pot rim.

Step 5

Add or reduce soil for proper depth. Fill around the plant with fresh potting soil and compact the soil gently to avoid root damage.

Step 6

Water the container at the soil level to limit potential damage to the leaves. Always monitor container-grown plants carefully to assess how often this micro-environment requires water. Soil may become dry within a single day during the hottest part of the summer. Test the soil moisture by pressing one finger into the dirt up to the second knuckle. Any wetness indicates adequate moisture. Fluffy or gray colored potting soil indicates a need for immediate watering.

Things You'll Need

  • Large plant container
  • Potting soil
  • Trowel


  • Oregon State University: Container Gardens
  • Texas A&M University: Vegetable Gardening in Containers
  • North Carolina State University: Vegetable Container Gardens
Keywords: growing container vegetables, city veggie gardens, veggie container gardens

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.