How to Grow Vegetables in Pots


Whether you live in an apartment, have bad soil or limited yard space, you can still enjoy fresh-picked vegetables that are grown in pots. Often called container gardening or mini gardening, this form of growing takes a very small amount of space, but can provide an abundance of vegetables. Planning ahead and supplying the best possible environment for growing ensure better results. You cannot grow all types of vegetables in containers, but plenty will thrive when grown this way.

Step 1

Decide on a location to grow your vegetables. The majority of vegetables require a minimum of six hours of sunlight. Find a site that can supply this amount of light, and provide enough room for all of your pots.

Step 2

Choose pots and containers large enough for vegetables to grow. Provide at least 9 inches deep of soil for vegetables with shallow roots, like lettuce, spinach and onions, and no less than 16 inches for deep-rooted vegetables such as tomatoes, beans and summer squash.

Step 3

Select containers that provide good drainage (four holes) or add additional holes in the bottom of the pot. Wash out any containers with a mixture of nine parts water and one part bleach, then rinse well before you use them.

Step 4

Fill your pots with top-quality soil or soilless material. Use a shovel or hand trowel to fill each pot and leave a few inches of room on top of container.

Step 5

Apply a balanced fertilizer, like time-released 10-10-10, at planting. Follow the direction to add the correct amount to each pot. Mix it well into the soil.

Step 6

Plant vegetable seeds or transplants. Use a hand trowel to dig holes for transplants, or bury seeds as directed. Plant tomatoes 1/3 to 1/2 deeper than they were planted when purchased.

Step 7

Provide support for vegetables, such as peppers, tomatoes or cucumbers. Place cages or stakes in the pots at planting time. This prevents root damage later on.

Step 8

Add a 1-inch layer of mulch to the top of each pot to retain moisture in the soil. Do not cover the site you placed seeds in. Add mulch after the seedlings appear.

Step 9

Supply water to each pot until water drains from the bottom. Check the pots daily to determine if the soil is dry 1 inch down; only water when the soil is dry at this level.

Step 10

Use a water-soluble fertilizer like 20-20-20 or 15-30-15 one month after planting, or when vegetables start to produce. This will supply the required nutrients to growing vegetables, since most nutrients will be removed with watering.

Step 11

Examine plants for any signs of diseases or pest. Look closely at the leaves, stems and fruit for color changes or signs of pests. Contact your area's extension for details on specific problem encountered and how to handle it.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Hand trowel
  • Gloves
  • Pots
  • Soil
  • Fertilizers
  • Mulch
  • Stakes (optional)
  • Cages (optional)


  • Ohio State University FactSheet: Container Vegetable Gardening
  • University of California Cooperative Extension: Growing Vegetables in Containers
  • Maryland Cooperative Extension: Container Vegetable Gardening in Containers

Who Can Help

  • Texas A&M University Extension: Vegetable Gardening
  • My Great Home: Growing Your Own Vegetables
  • University of Florida Extension: Minigardening
Keywords: container gardening, mini gardening, vegetable gardening