How to Grow Vegetables in Pots or Containers


Poor soil or lack of space needn't prevent you from growing your own fresh, nutritious vegetables all year long. When you grow vegetables in large pots, planter boxes or other containers, it's easy to control many factors that influence the success of your plants. You can mix up the perfect type of soil mixture, regulate watering and ensure that your plants get the maximum amount of sunlight, or shade, that they require by placing your containers in the correct areas.

Step 1

Purchase the number of containers you need to grow the vegetables you have chosen. Make sure your containers have drainage holes: for example, half wine barrels make suitable containers for vegetables, but you must drill several 3/8 to ½ inch holes in the bottom to ensure good drainage.

Step 2

Choose dwarf or compact varieties of vegetables, because they are best suited to container growing. For example, beefsteak tomatoes grow on large plants, while cherry tomatoes are more appropriate for pots.

Step 3

Place large containers where you want to keep them, because after you fill them with soil they will be very heavy and hard to move. Place plant saucers under containers before you fill them with soil to protect a wooden deck or patio from water damage.

Step 4

Fill your containers with soil. Purchase potting soil or make a combination of topsoil with compost and other organic ingredients. If you make your own soil mixture, use about three-quarters topsoil to one-quarter compost and other organic matter such as leaf mold, rotted manure, wood chips, sawdust or grass clippings. Water containers after you fill them until water comes out the drainage holes.

Step 5

Dig planting holes for your bedding plants that are large enough for their root systems. For most vegetable starter plants, leave at least 6 inches of space between plants. Then set bedding plants into the holes and cover with soil. Make a shallow furrow the correct depth for seeds, following seed packet instructions. Drop seeds into the furrows at the depth and distance apart the seed packet recommends. Water again.

Step 6

Fertilize most vegetables with a 10-10-10 plant food once a month, beginning one month after you plant them and continuing until midsummer.

Tips and Warnings

  • Although it might look nice to grow lettuce with tomatoes, their sun and water needs are different. Do a bit of research before you combine different types of veggies in the same pot.

Things You'll Need

  • Containers
  • Drill gun (optional)
  • 3/8 or ½ inch drill bit (optional)
  • Topsoil
  • Compost
  • Organic materials
  • Potting soil
  • Bedding plants or seeds
  • Trowel


  • Texas A&M University: Vegetable Gardening in Containers
  • BBC: Growing Vegetables in Tubs
Keywords: vegetables containers, small space gardening, tomatoes squash cucumbers

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides and eHow. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.