Patio Farming: The Best Plants for Your Container Garden

Posted by on Jun 2, 2014 in Gardening |


If you’ve been dreaming of a beautiful backyard garden but don’t have a lot of space, a container garden is your answer. An abundance of plants can be grown in containers on patios, decks, balconies and rooftops. As long as you have access to some sun, you can grow in pots. I’m sure you’re wondering now just what types of plants you can grow in containers? Well, wonder no more, you’re about to find out!

Decorative plants

Flowers

Flowers are a fantastic choice for pots, and you can get really creative with varieties. Practically any flower will flourish in a container, from the almighty orchid to the simple and sweet petunia. It would be quicker to name the types of flowers that can’t grow in pots, so if flowers are your fancy, head on down to the garden store and pick out some beauties for your new container garden!

bouquet of mixed flowers

Succulents

Succulents are a great addition to any container garden. They look beautiful mixed and matched together and due to their short root systems, they can grow in practically any sized container. Be sure to get special potting soil for these guys as they like good drainage. Buy potting soil made for cactus and water only when the soil dries out.

Terrariums

You can add some intrigue and wonder to any room in your home with a lovely terrarium. These can be simple or incredibly complex. The basics for a beautiful terrarium is an inch of pebbles or small stones in the bottom of your glass container, then a layer of activated charcoal, followed by a layer of potting soil. Add in your plants from largest to smallest and you’re good to go! Great plants for terrariums include: moss, cactus, succulents, air plants, baby’s tears and African violet.

Trees

There are many types of trees that are adaptive to growing in pots. Choose trees that will grow no taller than 20 feet so they can be moved if needed and will not outgrow a large pot.

If growing food is your fancy, there are plenty of fruit and nut trees that can grow in large containers. The wonderful thing about this is, if you live in a region that sees harsh winters, you can still enjoy growing citrus trees such as Meyer lemon and kumquat as you can move them indoors when needed. Dwarf varieties of apple trees and olive trees will also thrive in large pots.

Decorative trees, such as the emerald elf maple and dwarf conifers, can also be grown in containers. Palm trees also come in dwarf varieties so those of you living in tropical locales can enjoy these lovely trees on your patio.

Fruits and Vegetables

Small root veggies: carrots, radishes, green onions, turnips

Small root vegetables grow very well in pots. The lack of existing roots, rocks and other debris means the roots of these veggies can grow unhindered to be perfectly shaped. Those of us with rodent pests have to worry about root veggies getting stolen out from under our feet. This isn’t the case when they’re grown in pots. If you’re going to try your hand at growing root veggies in pots, be sure to select small varieties and be sure to thin them according to the instructions on the seed packet. Select a potting mix that includes perlite, as these crops love to grow in loose soil.

Radish seedling

Potatoes

Potatoes are wonderfully suited to growing in containers. The best part is, you don’t have to dig them all out come harvest time, simply tip over your pot and grab those sweet golden nuggets! An important thing to remember when planting potatoes in containers is to use one that’s tall enough to hill up soil around the stalks as they grow, or use a container that can grow with your plants. Some people use stacked tires, stacked cinder blocks, cylinders made of chicken wire or rubbish bins for potatoes. The nice thing is, they will grow in practically anything as long as they have good drainage and nutrient rich soil.

Herbs: parsley, basil, chives, rosemary, oregano, thyme

Herbs are champions of the container garden. They are often seen growing on windowsills for a reason. They don’t mind containment, and even thrive on it. You can mix and match different herbs in the same pot or separate them for larger yields.

A word of warning: If you’re going to grow any type of mint in a pot, make sure it has its own container. Mint spreads like crazy and will quickly choke any plant you house it with. Woody perennial herbs like rosemary, sage and lavender perform well in their own large pot, so they can spread out and return to life every spring.

For more information on growing herbs, see our posts on how to start an herb garden and 5 herbs every garden should have.

Chives

Strawberries

Strawberries will grow well in a number of small containers. We’ve grown them in strawberry planters, window boxes, gutters and vertical PVC pipe. They do well in these tight spaces because their roots don’t spread too much. The key to growing strawberries in containers is to make sure they are able to get the water and nutrients they need in the space they have. Inserting a PVC pipe drilled with small holes into the center of the pot can help with consistent watering. Another key to growing strawberries in small containers is to prune their runners whenever you see them. If you have just enough space for the plants already growing, you certainly don’t have space for their offspring.

strawberry plants in strawberry pot

These plants are just the beginning to container gardening, the proven winners in this category. There are many more crops that can grow in containers with a little dedication and the right circumstances. The important thing to remember is to start small with just a few. Once you master those, you’re on your way to growing everything under the sun!

Form floral and edible container gardens with season-long impact in the Craftsy class Container Gardening: Fresh Ideas for Creative Containers. You’ll learn how to grow the freshest herbs, create a stunning water feature, update old containers & more!

Have you had success with growing crops in containers? Which types grew the best for you?