Container Gardening

What Can You Grow in Deck Rail Planters?

Deck rail planters are great for decorative flowers and adding visual appeal to your home, but you can grow vegetables in them, too.

I’ve always loved deck rail planters and window boxes. They’re kind of quaint, and they can bring some natural beauty to a space that’s usually ignored. It’s always nice to walk by a house and see lots of colorful flowers hanging over the railings of a front porch or balcony.

Don’t get me wrong; I really do love seeing all the flowers. But I also see those deck rail planters and think about all the vegetables and herbs that would fit perfectly in them. And we all know that a healthy rosemary plant is every bit as pretty as any daisy, right?

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Growing vegetables in deck rail planters and window boxes

Deck rail planters are great for herbs. Most herbs don’t need deep soil to thrive, so they’re ideally suited for these set ups. 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.

Here are a few examples:

It’s easy to look just at the style and color and pick a planter, but it’s important to think about these other factors, as well. For instance, a black plastic planter will keep the soil warmer, which could be beneficial or not, depending on where you are. A wicker basket could offer plenty of drainage, which might be perfect for something like the aforementioned rosemary. The point is to match your plant with your planter. Which brings us to the original question: What vegetables can you grow in deck rail planters?

As it turns out, there are a lot of vegetables to choose from.

  1. Leafy salad greens grow quickly and they’re easy to care for.
  2. Radishes are perfect for deck rail planters. They grow quickly, don’t need a ton of space, and you can eat the greens as well as the root.
  3. Strawberries can thrive in containers as long as they have a good sunny spot.
  4. Hot peppers are easy to grow in containers and they’re such pretty vegetables that they can add some nice color and texture to your environment.
  5. Sweet peppers, too, can grow well in containers. Just make sure to leave enough space for them to spread out a bit.
  6. Spinach, like salad greens, can grow well in a planter, just be sure it doesn’t get overheated.
  7. Green onions don’t need a lot of depth to grow, so as long as you don’t overplant them, these work very well in deck rail planters.
  8. Cherry tomatoes can be prolific producers, they come in gorgeous yellow and red varieties, and they can be relatively low maintenance.
  9. Garlic is a set-it-and-forget-it plant if ever there was one. And since you plant them in the late fall or early winter, you won’t be growing much of anything else in your planters at that time.
  10. Swiss chard is colorful, nutritious, and easy to grow even in deck rail planters.

And if you’d still like more options, there are hybrid varieties of a number of different vegetables that are specially bred for containers. So while your options aren’t exactly limitless, you can go pretty darn far before you reach that limit.

Have you planted vegetables in deck rail planters? What would you recommend growing?

Discover 7 top tips for growing, harvesting, and enjoying tomatoes from your home garden—when you access the FREE guide The Best Way to Grow Tomatoes, right now!

By Amanda MacArthur

Amanda MacArthur is Senior Editor & Producer for Food Gardening Network and GreenPrints. She is responsible for generating all daily content and managing distribution across web, email, and social. In her producer role, she plans, edits, and deploys all video content for guides, magazine issues, and daily tips. As a best-selling cookbook author, Amanda cooks using ingredients from her outdoor gardens in the summer and from her indoor hydroponic garden in the winter.

2 replies on “What Can You Grow in Deck Rail Planters?”

Swiss chard and spinach have done very well for me over the years, in addition to lettuce mixes and herbs. I also throw in a few flowers like marigolds and nasturtiums for color and to be added to salads.

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