The Best Herbs and Vegetables for Container Gardens

Garden Center · Planting

Looking for some creative ideas for your container gardens this year? Why not make them equal parts stylish and functional by growing edible plants? There are so many tasty vegetables and fragrant herbs you can use to elevate your home cooking. Nothing beats homegrown produce straight from the garden—or the kitchen windowsill!

Growing Food Becomes Easy and Accessible with Container Gardens

Veggies and herbs tend to require lots of sunshine and space to grow. If you’re dealing with any of the following, you can still grow an incredible edible garden by planting your crops in containers:

  • A heavily shaded garden
  • Minimal greenspace
  • No yard and only a small balcony

Container gardens are great because you can move them around wherever the sun is shining. Instead of sticking to the garden bed, you can grow them on your patio, the front steps, a South–facing windowsill—whatever your heart desires! 

Here are the best varieties of vegetables and herbs to grow in container gardens for unbeatable flavor and powerful nutrients. The supermarket stuff just doesn’t compare to homegrown, freshly picked produce! 

Easy Vegetables to Grow in Pots

Not all veggies work well in planters, but you’ll have excellent results if you choose the following varieties!

Tomatoes

Tomatoes fall into two categories: determinate and indeterminate. Determinate varieties produce their harvest all at once and have a bushier, compact form, so they’re easy to maintain in containers. Indeterminate varieties grow on vines and steadily produce fruit until frost, so if you grow them in containers, use a tomato cage or stakes to keep them upright. 

These vigorous growers will need plenty of fertilizer and compost to nourish them through their growing season. Fertilize once per month with a formula specifically created for tomatoes—they need extra calcium and magnesium to prevent diseases like blossom end rot. During the hottest summer months, you’ll likely need to water every day—inconsistent watering can result in splitting fruits!

Mini Cucumbers

Perfect for pickling or a cool, refreshing summer snack, we can’t get enough of mini cucumbers! Vining varieties grow best in containers with trellises, so you can train them to grow upward and keep those cukes off the ground. Bush varieties don’t grow very tall, and they look quite pretty if they cascade down the sides of a container or hanging basket. Grow them in a sunny spot that gets 6–8 hours of sun per day. Avoid watering the plant overhead—instead, water the soil directly to reduce the risk of powdery mildew. 

Peppers

Colorful peppers have just as much ornamental value as a container garden full of flowers! Large bell pepper plants will need a pot at least 12 inches deep and wide, but there are plenty of tiny hot peppers that can grow in smaller pots—they almost look like a bundle of colorful Christmas tree lights! When transplanting your seedlings into their pots, be sure to water the soil well to encourage those roots to spread. They need 6–8 hours of direct sun per day, but they’ll do best if they have some protection from strong winds. Placing them by a South- or West-facing wall will yield the best results. 

Delicious Herbs for Container Gardens

Herbs are some of the simplest edible plants to grow in containers—many people grow them as houseplants indoors! Nearly every herb can be grown in a plant pot. 

The key to growing delicious herbs is pinching off the flower heads as soon as they appear. Herb flowering is called “bolting;” if you let them expend all their energy creating flowers and seeds, they won’t produce as many of their tasty leaves, and they often won’t taste as nice. 

Herbs can also be grown in mixed planter arrangements, but it’s important to put compatible plants together with similar growth speeds. A fast-growing plant will overtake a slow-growing plant. 

Here are some plant combination ideas for container herb gardens:

  • Basil + Parsley 
  • Rosemary + Thyme
  • Cilantro + Tarragon
  • Sage and Oregano
  • Lemon Thyme + Lemon Verbena
  • Sage + Lavender

Plant mint by itself, and avoid planting it with other mint varieties. Different varieties can cross-pollinate, and the results can be less palatable than you’d like!

Discover even more delicious herbs and vegetables for container gardens in Moultonborough and visit the Stephens Landscaping Garden Center! Our staff are always happy to help get you all set up with the necessary supplies to keep your edible container garden thriving. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram for updates and featured products.

How to Add Texture to Your Landscape

Garden Center · Landscape Design

Texture is a defining feature of any beautiful garden. From soft and airy to bold and impressive, a variety of textures gives your garden another dimension of feeling. You can achieve this by growing an assortment of plants or using different materials in your landscapes. Here are some ideas to get you started!

How to Create Texture with Plants

Usually, when we refer to texture, we’re talking about the sense of touch. For example, some surfaces feel rough, while others feel smooth. When we’re talking about a garden, texture comes from how the plant looks, including the plant’s shape, the type of leaves and flowers, and how light interacts with the foliage. 

SL Garden Center-hosta in garden bold textureBold Texture

Plants with big leaves or prominent flowers bring a bold look to the landscape. They stand out among the other plants and draw attention, like hostas, peonies, and blazing stars. Too many bold plants in one area compete for the spotlight and create a cluttered look. To balance out the bold plants in your landscape, nestle them among plants with other textures. 

Coarse Texture 

Some plants bring a coarse look into the garden. They stand out by their spiky flowers, stiff leaves, or bumpy, veiny, or rugged foliage. Comfrey, rhubarb, and globe thistles are all examples of uniquely coarse-textured plants. Mixing them among fine plants creates a pleasing contrast and sense of depth in your garden.        

SL Garden Center-lavender and yarrow bloomsFine Texture 

Fine texture comes from any plant with a soft and airy look; this often includes plants with clusters of tiny flowers, like yarrow, or those with soft, light, and thin leaves, like lavender and fennel. Soft grasses that wave in the wind also bring fine texture into the garden. 

Medium Texture 

Some plants may not be noticeably coarse, fine, or have any bold features. If their texture doesn’t stand out, we can call them medium texture. Many plants fall into this category, but that doesn’t mean they’re not important in the garden. They’re necessary to balance the fine and coarse textures. Plus, they may have beautiful color, scent, or something else besides texture to offer your landscape.

Creating Texture with Mulch and Stonework     

Just as plants are not the only part of your landscape, they also aren’t the only components that create texture. Anything visible impacts texture, including mulch and stonework in your garden. 

SL Garden Center-adding mulch to garden bedTexture with Bark Mulch 

By the same token, smaller pieces of bark mulch also create a finer look than large pieces. Finely shredded wood or bark gives a softer and airier feel to a bed, whereas big nuggets of bark have a bolder and rougher look and many interesting colors, lines, and bumps.  

Smooth and Coarse Rocks  

Not surprisingly, rough, jagged rocks bring a coarse texture to the landscape. Crushed stones or volcanic rocks on a garden bed are good examples. They contrast the smooth look of river rock and pea gravel. If you look closely, you’ll also notice that smaller stones bring a finer look to the landscape than larger stones. 

SL Garden Center-focal points in gardenBoulders and Other Focal Points 

Besides the mulch or stone you put on your beds, any boulders in the landscape or other focal points like wooden barrels, rustic benches, and art pieces also have certain textures. Once you start to notice the texture of an object, you have one more tool for creating beautiful visuals in your garden. 

There are no hard and fast rules for interpreting texture. Once you start paying attention, maybe you’ll notice more nuanced categories than those above, or perhaps you will simplify them into coarse and fine categories. Whatever your approach, playing with texture in your landscape is a beautiful way to add depth, contrast, and vitality to your landscape.

For more gardening ideas, feel free to visit our garden center in Moultonborough, New Hampshire! Follow us on Facebook or Instagram for updates and featured products.