You’ve probably heard that using old wood pallets isn’t the best idea, because you never know what they were carrying and could be filled with poisons you don’t want leaching into your soil and food. So then, if the most Pinterest-ed DIY project is null, what are the best containers for container gardening when you grow food? Mason jars. That’s the end of the list. Pure glass, no plastic. Just kidding. I mean you can grow a lot of things in mason jars and they’re technically containers and on the list, but we’ll also get into larger containers that you might do some gardening in.
I’ve tried a lot of gardening gadgets, and there’s no shortage of containers considered the best containers for container gardening, but some of them are downright complicated to put together and maintain, so I find it’s better to keep it simple and not waste your money. These tried-and-true options work great.
The Best Containers for Container Gardening
- Mason jars. Most herbs are naturally easy to grow, and some of my favorites, including basil, thyme, and rosemary can all grow from cuttings. So when you grow herbs in Mason jars, you don’t need to dig up mature plants to do it, nor do you have to start from seeds (unless you want to). There are a couple things to keep in mind before you begin, though. Learn more about growing herbs in mason jars.
- Window boxes. Spoiler alert: window boxes are not just for windows! You can attach them to lots of things, mount them to walls, and even hang them from each other using strong cording, ropes, or chains. Window boxes are some of the best containers for container gardening and are a great solution for your vertical vegetable garden design ideas since they can be modified to fit your space and needs. Learn more about building DIY window box planters.
- Deck rail planters. Deck rail planters are great for herbs. Most herbs don’t need deep soil to thrive, so they’re ideally suited for these setups. But not all deck rail planters are shallow. You can get them in a variety of sizes. In fact, there is a wide range of colors, materials, styles, and sizes available. Some are recessed in the bottom to fit over your rail, while others have hooks so they can hang from the rail. There are single pots and rectangular boxes and all sorts of possibilities. Learn more about growing food in deck rail planters.
- Hanging baskets. There are plenty of vegetables you can grow in hanging baskets on your porch, balcony, or deck railing and I consider them one of the very best containers for container gardening. You can nearly double your growing space by growing upward on your porch. Another good reason to plant vegetables in hanging baskets is to keep animals and pests from getting into your veggies. This is especially helpful if you have some nosy deer who keep coming for your tomatoes! Read more about the types of vegetables that grow best in hanging baskets.
- Fabric grow bags. Also known as fabric pots, these are fabric bags that you can grow plants in. They can be small, one-gallon containers, and you can get large, 200-gallon containers. The porousness of fabric grow bags leads to dryer soil near the edges of the container, where there is more contact with the air. When the plant’s roots reach that drier soil and the air, they stop growing, so you don’t end up with root-bound plants. That’s the claim to fame for these bags and people love them to grow potatoes. Learn more about the pros and cons of fabric grow bags.
- Standard containers. The plastic garden boxes and pots you’ll find at your garden supply store are last but not least. These containers are built with drainage and room for plants to grow, plus they come in any number of sizes. But when choosing a container, keep a few things in mind: A black or dark-colored vegetable garden box will absorb more heat, drying out your soil more quickly and potentially making the soil too hot for the plant roots. Size matters and you should choose one appropriate for what you plan to grow. Also, keep in mind heaviness, and whether you’ll need a garden box with wheels to move around. And if you need a plant with well-drained soil, consider clay pots over plastic. Learn more about choosing the best garden boxes for your patio, deck, or small space.
Container gardening is a great way to grow veggies if you’re short on space. If you live in an apartment or only have a small balcony, you can still enjoy heirloom tomatoes, fresh greens, and crunchy cucumbers. Gardening always comes with a learning curve, though. Container gardening is no different. Read about some of the mistakes I (and many others) have made, along with ideas on how you can avoid those same mistakes.
What do you consider the best containers for container gardening? Share your favorites below.