In a previous post, I wrote about why growing plants in containers is such an easy and fantastic way to be part of the gardening community. I also talked about the advantages to growing in containers, which are numerous.
So now that you are determined to start your container garden and make it the most beautiful, colourful, lush, edible potted paradise that was ever seen, you’ll want to actually choose your plants. All things being equal, I do think some plants take to growing in containers better than others.
9 Easy Plants to Grow in Containers
When you are perusing the shelves of plants at the garden store, or the seed varieties in the garden catalogues, it can be really overwhelming. A pretty good formula for success when you are starting out can be thought of as annuals + herbs + beans/peas + lettuce. All of these plants really thrive in containers, and bonus, they look really pretty too.
- Mint – in fact, mint is best in containers, because it is a hearty grower (and by that I mean, invasive and will take over). You can even find neat kinds like chocolate mint.
- Basil – ah, the herb of summer, no? Basil enjoys full sun and can be used for pizzas, pastas, sauces, pestos, fresh rolls, you name it. Also, with basil, if you cut off a piece of the plant right below where a leaf is growing out of the stem, put that piece in water, and wait a week, you’ll see new roots growing. And then you can plant that new basil! I’ve made (so far) seven plants out of the one basil plant I purchased. Mother Nature is a genius.
- Dill – feathery and green, dill eventually forms beautiful yellow seed heads, that, if you leave on the stalk to dry, become – you guessed it – dill seeds. Use dill for salads, pickling, or saving seeds for your spice collection.
- Cilantro – let cilantro flower and you’ll actually start to see coriander seeds growing, which you can later dry and use in your spice grinder. Amazing! I plant cilantro from a seedling. It’s also great in smoothies, like this pineapple coconut cilantro smoothie.
- Bush beans – try unique kinds, like Jacob’s Cattle or Golden Wax Bush Bean; you could also try growing pole beans, but make a note that they can really climb, and they’ll need some kind of trellis or support once they start growing.
- Peas – dwarf varieties, like Tom Thumb Pea, fit perfectly in a container, but if you provide a bit of a trellis or bannister, you can grow regular size peas too.
- Lettuce, kale, and/or spinach – grown from seed, lettuce and its other leafy friends don’t take up much room but provide much deliciousness. And there is a variety to meet any one of your taste expectations – enjoy looking through the seed catalogues. You get, like, 100 seeds for $3 bucks, so have a little low-risk fun here.
- Annual flowers, like pansies, impatiens, lobelia, and morning glories add colour and visual snap to your garden.
- Foliage plants, like coleus, sweet potato vine, or lysimachia grow well in containers, add interesting variety, and do well in shadier conditions.
This list isn’t exhaustive by any stretch. These are just a few of the plants I’ve had good success with every year. Note that most of the herbs and flowers primarily require full sun. Lettuce and peas are also better in June and then again in late August, since they don’t really grow as well in the full heat of July. The beauty of pots, though, is that you can move them around and position them, so they can follow the sun or perch in that one corner where you know the sun often falls or where there is a bit more shade.
If the suggestions above don’t feel like they are diverse or challenging enough, try adding a few:
- dwarf varieties of vegetables, like Paris Market Carrots or Baxter’s Bush Cherry Tomato;
- dwarf varieties of fruits, like Top Hat Blueberry or any kind of columnar apple tree;
- strawberries, like June-bearing or Everbearing. Strawberries love living in neat containers, and if you bundle them up over the winter, they can live on the next spring (they are perennials).
Look out for Part 3 in the Adventures in Gardening Series, where I’ll give you my best tips for success – all the info you’ll need to have balcony gardening success.
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