Container Gardening Tips: Growing Vegetables & Fruit in Planters

A steady supply of fresh vegetables or fruit is an added bonus to the pleasures of container gardening. Lack of space is no longer a limitation for gardeners who love to grow their own vegetables and fruit.

Vegetables in Planters

growing tomatoes in plantersPlanters offer ideal growing conditions for the newer compact cultivars of vegetables, such as carrots, specifically suitable for containers. Intermix vegetables and annuals and you'll have a container vegetable garden that is attractive as well as productive. Peppers are both edible and very attractive in planters. Lettuce looks great and is easy to grow in garden planters—choose the 'cutting mix' which contains several kinds of lettuce, as well as spicy salad greens such as mustard and arugula.

You will have better results if you plant your vegetables in a good-sized planter or planter box. Wooden planters and planter boxes are ideal for vegetables. There are many planter styles available in garden shops now, that are specifically designed for growing tomatoes and vining vegetables. Drainage holes and adequate watering are a must as vegetables will rarely survive any stress. Be especially alert to signs of pests and diseases in your vegetable planters—slugs in wet climates will find your leafy plants irresistable but there are simple solutions.

Vegetables that are well adapted to garden planters:

  • carrot
  • bean (bush type)
  • cucumber
  • eggplant
  • kale
  • lettuce
  • onion
  • pea (needs trellis)
  • peppers (hot or sweet)
  • radish
  • summer squash (bush type)
  • tomato
  • watercress

Growing Fruit in Planters

When it comes to growing edible plants, don't stop at herbs and vegetables—garden planters offer tremendous flexibility to experiment with fruit growing as well.

The ideal planter for growing fruit has thick walls that will slow moisture loss and insulate the plant roots. A clay or terra cotta planter is fine for strawberries, but for fruit trees, a durable, thick-walled plastic, resin or wood planter or half-barrel are the best choice.

Drainage is very important, and a wide, stable base to prevent the tree from blowing over is a good idea. Regular watering and fertilizing are critical to keeping your fruit plants in production each season. Since your trees will remain in the same pot for several seasons, it is wise to check the pH of the soil at least once a year. Kits are available at your local garden center. With the exception of blueberries, keep the soil above pH 6.0.

Over-winter your fruit trees and plants in a protected place or if too heavy to move, wrap the planter in cardboard or leaf-filled garbage bags.

Dwarf varieties are an excellent choice for fruit trees on balconies and patios.

Fruit for your planters:

  • blueberries
  • strawberries
  • dwarf varieties: apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, pears, plums and citrus fruits