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Container Gardening – Which Plants Grow Best in Which Sized Containers?

Container Gardening – Which Plants Grow Best in Which Sized Containers?

Which Sized Containers for Which Sized Plants?

Is this you – you go to the plant nursery and pick up a six-pack of pretty flowers or a gallon veggie plant. Then you head over to the container aisle and pick up the those small 4″ pots and a 1-gallon containers for the veggies thinking you have picked out the perfect sized container. Well, you haven’t. And you are not alone. Figuring out which plants grow best and in which sized container might seem easy, but it isn’t always.

Think Ahead

When deciding what size container to plant in you need to think ahead to what that plant will grow into at full maturity. This is when you need to read the little tag that comes with the plant and Google images for that plant for your area. For instance, a rosemary bush is just that – a bush. In the Southwest it grows three feet wide and is a perennial. Whereas in the Northeast it is an annual plant that only grows about 1.5 feet wide. A good rule of thumb is if the plant is a bush, then it needs to be planted in at least a 2-gallon pot.


The number one vegetable planted every year is the tomato plant. More often than not, it is never grown in the right size container. Just remember, the more roots a tomato plant has the more tomatoes it can grow. It needs to be grown in a 2-5 gallon pot. Vegetables that grow a head like broccoli, cauliflower, or head lettuce need a 2-gallon container. Most herbs like basil, mint, and cilantro can be grown by themselves in a 1-gallon container. If you get a large 5- or 10-gallon container, then you can create a container garden and have a few plants growing together.


If you are growing a trailing flower like alyssum, plant it at the front of a container and plant something else behind it like a Butterfly Bush. Any flowering plant that is a vine like Honeysuckle or Snail Vine need to be planted in at least a 5-gallon container. Roses should be planted in no less than 5-10 gallons – even those small miniature roses you see for sale in the grocery store.

Grow in as big of a pot as you can and leave those little 4- and 6-inch containers at the store as they won’t do your plants any good.