Container gardening and size of Container

When it comes to container gardening, size can make all the difference. The general rule of thumb is: the bigger the better. Plants need plenty of room to spread their roots in order to thrive.

When growing vegetables in particular, the best yields are obtained when plants are grown in a container which as at least half as deep as the plant’s mature height. Therefore, most vegetables require containers that hold 6 to 8 inches of potting mix. Tomatoes, squashes and other large plants require deeper containers, as do root crops such as carrots and beets. However, the growing medium in deeper containers is more prone to compacting, so 12 to 15 inches is all you really need to grow most plants. Even fruits like lemons, blueberries and papaya can be grown in containers of this size with regular attention.

Large containers are also more forgiving as the extra soil or growing medium provides insulation for the plants’ roots; they are less likely to dry out than smaller containers, and also take longer to heat up on sunny summer days, preventing heat stress and wilting. However, there is an obvious trade-off between size and portability, so chose the container that best accommodates your needs. There are many dwarf varieties of plants that have been developed specifically for container gardening and are more likely to thrive in smaller containers if your place can’t accomodate a larger one.

Container gardening and size of container
Container gardening and size of containers

Recommended minimum container size for various plants

NamesHanging planterSmall 4”-6” planterMedium 8”-12” planterLarge >12” planter
BEANS (BUSH)green tickgreen tick
BEANS (POLE)green tickgreen tickgreen tick
BEETSgreen tick
BROCCOLIgreen tick
CABBAGEgreen tick
CARROTSgreen tickgreen tick
CORNgreen tick
CUCUMBERSgreen tickgreen tick
EGGPLANTgreen tickgreen tick
LETTUCEgreen tickgreen tickgreen tick
MELONSgreen tick
ONIONSgreen tickgreen tick
PEASgreen tickgreen tickgreen tick
PEPPERSgreen tickgreen tick
RADISHESgreen tickgreen tick
SPINACHgreen tickgreen tickgreen tick
SQUASHgreen tick
SWISS CHARDgreen tickgreen tick
TOMATOgreen tickgreen tick
CHERRY TOMATOgreen tickgreen tickgreen tick
TURNIPSgreen tickgreen tick
BASILgreen tickgreen tickgreen tick
CHIVESgreen tickgreen tickgreen tick
DILLgreen tickgreen tick
LAVENDERgreen tickgreen tickgreen tick
MINTgreen tickgreen tick
PARSLEYgreen tickgreen tickgreen tick
ROSEMARYgreen tickgreen tick
SAGEgreen tickgreen tick
SUMMER SAVORYgreen tickgreen tickgreen tick
WINTER SAVORYgreen tickgreen tick
THYMEgreen tickgreen tickgreen tickgreen tick
ANNUALS <12” IN HEIGHTgreen tickgreen tickgreen tickgreen tick
ANNUALS >12” IN HEIGHTgreen tickgreen tick
ANNUAL VINESgreen tickgreen tickgreen tickgreen tick
PERENNIALSgreen tickgreen tick