10 edible container plants you can grow in any garden

Grow your own with the best container plants for small gardens – they're perfect for little hands, too

Container plants are perfect for small gardens and you can eat these ones
(Image credit: Getty Images)

These container plants are great whether you've got a small garden, balcony or window box. There are loads of fruit and vegetables that will thrive in containers, so a lack of space doesn't have to stop you growing your own. Planting seeds in containers and then nurturing them, watching them grow and eating the finished products is also a great activity for children of all ages.

If recent supermarket shortages have made you think about becoming more self sufficient, these container plants are the perfect place to start. We've rounded up 10 of the easiest to grow and explained the best time to plant them, plus where you can buy the plants or seeds online right now.

For more advice, see our container gardening tips and ideas.

Best places to buy container plants:

All of the following offer seeds and saplings to get your started, plus the containers if you don't have anything to grow them in already.

1. Herbs

Herbs are easy container plants to grow

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Herbs are the easiest edible plants to grow and deserve a spot in any container garden. You can grow thyme, chives, mint, sage, parsley, oregano and rosemary outdoors, and basil and coriander will prefer being in your kitchen. Choose herbs that you love to cook with and then keep them near the back door so you can maximum use out of them.

When to plant container herbs

Sow herb seeds indoors in spring and then move everything apart from basil and coriander outdoors once there's no chance of frost.

2. Tomatoes

Grow tomatoes as container plants in a small garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

There's a reason why tomatoes are one of the most popular plants to grow – they'll thrive anywhere from pots to hanging baskets. You'll find that bush or trailing varieties are the best for growing in containers. Keep them evenly watered and feed regularly with a high-potash fertiliser for the best results.

When to plant container tomatoes

You should plant young tomato plants in containers in May once all risk of frost has passed.

3. Chillies

Grow chillies as container plants

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Perfect for adding a kick to your cooking, chilli plants grow best under glass, which means they'll thrive just as well on your windowsill as they will in a greenhouse. They can also survive outdoors if you have a south-facing garden and sheltered spot for them. Interesting fact: the warmer the conditions, the spicier the chilli.

When to plant container chillis

Sow your chilli seeds indoors and then, if you need to, move outdoors from May onwards.

4. Lettuce and salad leaves

Lettuces are a great container plant

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Impress your guests (when they're allowed back over) with home-grown lettuce as the perfect accompaniment to any barbecue. Almost all lettuce varieties grow well in containers, thanks to their shallow roots. They do best in wide containers and need rich soil and adequate drainage, so make sure your pots have holes in. They're ready to cut when a firm heart has formed in the centre.

When to plant container lettuce

For a summer crop, sow lettuce outdoors from late March to late July.

5. Carrots

You can grow short-rooted carrots in a container

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Like potatoes, carrots usually need deep soil to grow well, but there are varieties you can grow in containers. Opt for short-rooted varieties like Early Nantes or Chantenay Red Cored for the best chance of success. Top tip: It's important not to damage the foliage that grows at the top of carrots as this releases a small that attracts carrot flies, which will ruin your crop.

When to plant container carrots

Sow seeds 2–3cm apart from late March to July. Only water during dry periods.

6. Radishes

Radish are perfect container plants

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Peppery radishes are great in salads and a good vegetable for newbies to grow. They're easy to look after and ready to harvest in as little as a month, so you'll see quick results. As with lettuce, you'll need a wide, shallow pot with drainage holes, and you need to invest in some rich compost. 

When to plant container radishes

Sow seeds about 1cm deep and at least 2.5cm apart between March and August. Harvest after about a month before they become woody. 

7. Potatoes

Grow potatoes in tall containers

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When it comes to comfort food, chips, wedges and mash are right at the top of the list. Luckily, potatoes are really easy to grow in the UK. They do need relatively deep soil, but you can still grow them in containers such as barrels, plastic dustbins or even stacked tyres. Choose salad varieties, like Charlotte, or easy-to-grow varieties like Red Duke of York or Rocket.

When to plant container potatoes

Put up to three tubers in a 40L container. They'll be ready soon after the plant flowers – about 10-12 weeks.

8. Spring onions

Spring onions are easy container plants to grow

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Spring or salad onions are a great crop for containers because they don’t need deep soil. They are also really easy to grow and are ready in just eight weeks. You can grow them outdoors in a sunny spot or even on a windowsill. Spring onion plants need to be watered in dry weather, but other than that you can leave them to it.

When to plant container spring onions

Sow about 1.5cm deep into containers every couple of weeks from March onwards for a lasting supply.

9. Beetroot

Beetroot grow well as container plants

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Growing beetroot is a double win as you not only get the deep burgundy roots we're used to seeing in supermarkets, you can also eat the leaves, which are similar in taste to spinach. Beetroot will grow in any pot that's at least 20cm wide and 20cm deep. You'll need to water the plants in dry weather and they're ready to harvest once they are the size of golf balls. Top tip: Soak the seeds in warm water for a few hours before sowing to speed up germination.

When to plant container beetroot

To avoid having loads at once, sow a few seeds every couple of weeks from March to July.

10. Chard

Chard is a good container plant to grow

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A close relation of beetroot (and spinach), is chard. It's becoming more popular in the UK as its colourful stems make it look as good as it tastes. You'll need a container at least 25cm deep that's placed in a sunny spot and to remember to water the plants regularly. Harvest the leaves regularly, starting with the outer leaves, to encourage regrowth.

When to plant container chard

Sow seeds about 2.5cm apart from March to July.