Why grow vegetables and herbs in containers?

Growing vegetables in containers or 'container gardening' is ideal way for those who have only small spaces such as a patio, terrace, or balcony to grow their own herbs and vegetables . As well as saving space, container gardening requires less weeding

and gives the gardener more control over growing conditions. Growing in containers means you can relocate your vegetables easily and allows for growing year-round. Some gardeners have more success with growing in containers as it is easier to control pests and overcome soil issues than growing directly in the ground.

What things do I need to consider when growing plants in containers?

There are 3 main things to consider...

  1. What Type of Container do I need?
  2. How do I care for a Container Garden?
  3. Companion planting - what combination of plants work best together?

What type of container do I need for growing vegetables and herbs in?

The best thing about container gardening is that you can use almost anything as a container, but it needs to be clean, durable and good drainage is essential. However, it is worth buying containers specifically for growing vegetables in as these tend to already have drainage and lots of other helpful extras. Vigoroot planters have reinforced handles making them easier to move around and they can be folded flat making them easier to store at the end of the growing season. These planters can ‘air-prune’ the roots of plants, dramatically changing their

formation and their capability to sustain the plant in a limited volume of compost. It encourages more vigorous rooting, which enables the plants to absorb more nutrients. It prevents the roots from growing too long and helps prevent plants from becoming ‘pot-bound’ which would normally limit the plants’ growth. This means that the plants can grow to a much larger size in a relatively small pot. The super strong root system also helps the plants to become more resistant to harsh weather, pests and diseases.

It is also possible to purchase planters for a specific vegetables or herbs. Herb Wall Planter has individual pockets for different varieties of herbs and can be suspended on walls or fences as a feature.

Multi-tiered planters are worth considering for vertical gardening as they take up

less space than planters ground based planters. Balcony Garden is an easily accessible growing system for small gardens, roof terraces, patios and balconies that grows the maximum number of plants in a small space.

Inexpensive options such as hanging baskets work really well if you have limited space and are great for growing tomato plants upside and strawberries.

One thing worth bearing in mind is the depth of the containers, make sure your containers is deep enough for the roots of the vegetables you would like to grow. For example, carrots need to have a sufficient space to develop into a good size. By the same token choosing a pot that is too big can lead to problems. This is known as over-potting.

How do you create a container garden from scratch?

Once you have decided on the type of container you’re going to use, make sure it has a drainage hole. Adding gravel to the bottom of pots and containers can help improve drainage. The best time of year to start a container garden is in spring when plants grow at their fastest.

How to Layout a Container Garden

It is good to design a container garden with a focal point, so something with height. Locate well matched companion plants together and combine spiller

plants (plants that spill over) with filler plants (plants which grow within containers). Depending upon your outside space and container size, it’s a good idea to leave between 3 and 6 inches apart. This will allow plants to have enough light and to have space in which to flourish.


How do you Care for a container garden?

When you grow plants in containers you give them everything you need, they don't help themselves.


Your first question may well be, what soil should be used for container gardens Choose a soil which is both loamy and well-draining  and ideally one which contains nutrients that will keep your plants healthy. 


This is where you may have more flexibility with container plants than with plants planted in the ground.  Place your containers where the plants in them will get the right amount of light and move them when needed.  For example you can move potatoes into a porch or grenhouse when a frost is forecast.  


Be sure that the soil in the containers remains moist and don’t let it dry out completely. At the same time be careful not to overwater either.

Plant Food

Normally plants would get a lot of what they need from the soil. Because they only have a small amount of soil in a container this will soon be depleted so you need to feed conatiner plants, especially heavy fruiting plants like tomatoes.  Feed regularly with a good quality liquid feed appropriate for the particular crop you are growing.   

Plant Protection

During winter and harsh weather protect containers with bubble wrap or move indoors for shelter. If there is a heat wave then move into the shade to conserve water.


If you have a plant like a fruit bush that will stay in a pot for more than one year then remember to check and make sure that they aren't outgrowing their pot. Check for roots appearing at the bottoma nd when roots fill containers repot to a larger one. This is particularly important for frut bushes as once they become pot bound, they stop fruiting and will more than likley never start agian.  Another way to avoid this is to plant in Vigoroot - an air pruning  fabric in whcih plants will never become pot bound.  Learn more here Vigoroot Video

Which companion vegetables grow well together in containers?

Companion planting is where two or more crops are grown together for the benefit of one, or all. It is an is brilliant way to succeed when growing vegetables in containers as it can help prevents pests, improve output, and even affect the taste of your final produce.

The most successful combinations mirror nature. They can be an important part of planning a successful and productive garden. Some vegetables can be grouped or grown together in the same container and others excel when grown next to their companion.

Which vegetable combinations that do well when grown next to each other?

What combinations vegetables do well when grown in the same containers?

  • Beans, carrots, and squash.
  • Tomatoes, basil, and onions.
  • Lettuces with practically any combination of herbs.
  • Spinach, chard, and onions.
  • Eggplant and any type of pole or bush beans.

Which herbs grow well together in a container garden?

Herbs also thrive when grown with certain plant families in the same container. These combinations include:

  • Dill with cilantro and lemon verbena
  • Marjoram with rosemary, oregano, sage, and lavender
  • Basil with parsley, cilantro, and tarragon
  • Lemon balm with lemon thyme and lemon verbena
  • Rosemary with sage, oregano, and lemon thyme

One last tip for growing a container Garden

Don't think that you have ot start everything from seed.  If you are a beginner gardener it may be easier to start off with plug plants from the garden centres as opposed to seeds. This will also mean that your crops will have a head-start and you will see results sooner.

Nicola Wallis