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Selecting the Right Size Pot or Container for Growing Vegetables

cayenne chilli

Container gardening is a great way to grow vegetables when there is no space left in the garden beds, or when space is limited, such as in a courtyard or balcony.

When growing in a pot or container, the three main requirements are: 

Listed below are the recommended minimum pot and container sizes for growing the most common vegetables.

  1. Beans, Bush – 25cm pot
  2. Beans, Climbing – 30cm pot
  3. Beetroot – 30-42cm pot
  4. Beets (leaf) – 15cm pot
  5. Broad beans – 50cm pot or larger
  6. Cabbage – 33cm pot
  7. Capsicums – 25-30cm pot
  8. Carrots – 20cm pot
  9. Chillies – 25-30cm pot
  10. Cucumber – 25cm pot
  11. Eggplant – 30cm pot
  12. Garlic – 40cm pot
  13. Kale – 33cm pot or larger
  14. Leeks – 20cm pot
  15. Lettuce – 15cm pot or larger
  16. Mustard Greens – 15cm pot or larger
  17. Onions – 20cm pot or larger
  18. Peas – 20cm pot
  19. Perennial beans – 50cm pot or larger
  20. Potato – 30cm pot or larger, 100L grow bag
  21. Pumpkin – 42cm pot
  22. Radish – 20cm pot
  23. Rhubarb – 50cm or larger
  24. Rocket – 15cm pot
  25. Shallots – 20cm pot
  26. Spinach – 20cm pot
  27. Squash – 33cm pot or larger
  28. Sweet potato – 50cm pot or larger, 100L grow bag
  29. Sweetcorn – 50cm pot or larger
  30. Tomatoes – 30-42cm pot
  31. Tomatoes, Cherry – 20cm pot
  32. Turnips – 30cm pot
  33. Zucchini – 50cm pot or larger

How Many Vegetable Plants Can Fit in a Pot?

All vegetables require a certain amount of space in a garden bed or pot to grow well. If we look at the instructions on seed packets, or labels on seedling punnets, we see that they specify how far apart plants need to be planted.

If a label states that a particular lettuce variety needs to be planted 15cm apart, then only one plant would fit into a 15cm pot, assuming it’s deep enough to hold sufficient potting mix for the plant. By comparison, a 30cm pot would hold four plants, evenly spaced 15cm apart from each other.

Root crops require more depth, so we just use a larger pot, as standard sized pots get deeper as they get wider.

Standard sized pots get deeper as they get wider, large pots of 30-50cm are suitable for root crops

Selecting the Best Vegetable Varieties for Pots and Containers

When growing vegetables in pots and containers, it makes sense to pick smaller-growing varieties that will grow best in limited space.

Many dwarf varieties of vegetables, such as baby cabbages and cauliflowers, dwarf broccoli, and patio tomatoes, can be grown in smaller pots than their full-sized counterparts.

Chilli plants vary in size, and the smallest ones that only grow to 20cm will grow comfortably in a relatively small 15cm pot.

When selecting a pot for growing vegetables, underestimating the size of the pot is not the end of the world! If a vegetable outgrows its pot, carefully remove the plant from the old pot, without disturbing the roots, and repot the plant into a larger pot.

If you’re wondering how much potting mix/potting medium,/growing medium will be needed to fill the pots, see the article – How Much Potting Mix Does a Garden Pot Hold?

If vegetables in pots grow a bit too tall, and need staking, see the article – A Better Way to Stake Up and Support Vegetables in Pots

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