Growing Leafy Greens in Containers – A Full Guide

Introduction: Hello gardeners, today we are back with a great information of growing leafy greens in containers.Leafy greens are very healthy and some of the easiest edibles to grow.  Leafy greens are a broad term for plant leaves eaten as a vegetable, which contains many nutrients.

A step by step guide to growing leafy greens in containers

There is a variety of tastes and textures of leafy greens and depending on the type could taste better to eat raw or cooked. Spinach and lettuce taste sweeter and are tenderer, kale, and Swiss chard are tougher, and mustard greens taste bitter. Leafy green vegetables are a very important part of a healthy diet. They’re packed with several vitamins, minerals, and fiber but low in calories. What are we waiting for? Let’s get in to the  details of growing leafy greens in containers/pots.

Choose your container for growing leafy greens

You can grow leafy greens in a plastic or terra cotta planter pot. For example, lettuce roots don’t require more than four inches of soil for the plant to anchor and thrive, so your choices are many.

You can produce lettuce in plastic gallon bottles if you cut openings in the side. You can use buckets, or large coffee cans without their lids, hanging baskets, boxes, or even large plastic cups. Old colanders create excellent homes for growing leafy greens too. A 4 to the 6-inch container can hold up to three plants.

Planting leafy greens in a container

Start with a good-quality potting mix or seed-starting soil. Fill it an inch or two below the rim to prevent soil, water, even seeds from running over once filled and then watered. Dampen the soil and then sprinkle seeds. If you choose more orderly arrangements, make a shallow furrow to drop seeds in. Most leafy greens can germinate in temperatures of 40 to 60F.

Plant lettuce seeds at about one-fourth inch depth and lightly cover the seeds and pat the dirt gently. Water slowly at first to prevent seed migration (a big bunch of mesclun in one corner of an otherwise empty container). Maintain the soil evenly moist until seedlings emerge.

Keep the soil fertile

Successive crops of greens take nutrients out of the soil, therefore after every crop you remove, add a 2- to 3-inch layer of compost to the soil and work it in well.

Caring for container leafy greens

Once seedlings are up, you can water less often, but more deeply to help the leafy greens establish roots. It can still help to thin seedlings, at least in areas of the container where the leafy greens are bunched up. One of the biggest benefits of growing cool-weather leafy greens in containers is flexibility. As the weather warms or shadows change, you can move the container to a spot that gets afternoon sun, or to the north patio of your home to extend the plant’s season.

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Growing leafy greens in a container

Lettuce is one of the oldest veggies, developed from prickly lettuce, and which as its name suggests was a less than desirable green. By weeding out the less desirable traits, such as the spines, more edible lettuce was formed. Today, their hundreds of different cultivars of greens to choose from and, along with the lettuces, you can wish to grow other greens such as spinach, beet greens, kale, or Swiss chard. Keep in mind that not every plant has similar growing requirements. For instance, herbs are generally low maintenance, drought-tolerant plants. They wouldn’t be included in with delicate greens but could be container grown alongside the salad bowl garden. To grow salad in a pot, choose a tray, pot or window box that is at least 18 inches (43 cm.) wide and 6-12 inches (15-30 cm.) deep. Be sure that the selected container has adequate drainage holes in the bottom.

Fill the container with pre-moistened, good quality potting soil or one of your making soils. Sow the seeds densely with ½ inch or 1 cm between seeds. Keep the pot moist during germination. Thin the green plants when they are a few inches tall using a pair of scissors. You can then toss the thinnings into a salad as microgreens. When the plants are 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm.) tall, fertilize them with a soluble fertilizer at half strength. Plants can be harvested after a few weeks by cutting just the plant leaves you to want.

Leafy greens growing list for containers

Some of the leafy greens growing in Containers in your balcony or patio;


Spinach grows so easily in containers and effortlessly at home. You can grow it in any container that’s at least 6 inches deep and feet wide. Spinach seeds are small, black and tiny. You can sow Spinach seeds in a container with coco peat or a mixture of coco peat, compost, and red mud, cover it with a tiny layer of and water just to maintain the soil moist. You will be able to see tiny seedlings in 2 to 3 days and within a month; you would have bright green Spinach leaves ready for harvest. Harvest the outer big leaves and leave the small ones inside to produce. If you keep planting fresh plant seeds every month, you never would have to buy Spinach again.

Growing Celery in Containers.
Growing Celery in Containers.

Celery can be a challenging vegetable to grow in a container. The celery needs a long growing season, up to 140 days. The plant has shallow roots; it can be grown in a small container, though the pot shouldn’t be smaller than 8 inches deep. You can plant celery in a container in the early spring or the late summer if your area has mild winters. Put the container outdoors, in a spot that receives full sun. 

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Swiss chard

When planting Swiss chard in containers, the pot does not want to be too deep because the root system isn’t deep but you do want to take into account the large leaves. Good drainage is very important so your Swiss chard does not become waterlogged in its container. Make sure soil is free of any microorganisms that may cause disease. Add organic matter for nutrients if required. A 5-gallon container is a good size for Swiss chard. The plant itself can produce 1 to 2 feet tall.

Container Swiss Chard.
Container Swiss Chard.
Iceberg Lettuces

Iceberg Lettuces or Crisp Head lettuces require cool weather so don’t think of growing them in harsh summer conditions. They need ample sunlight and good watering. It is a good idea to first grow the seedlings indoors under partial sunlight and then once the first 3 to 4 leaves appear, thin the seedlings or spread them out into the container each one 10 inches away from the other.

The distance between the seedlings is important for the Iceberg Lettuce as it needs space for the head to grow. As the plants grow, provide them a dose of compost tea or some organic manure introduced at the sides of the tray. Water them well and when the head is produced and is between the size of an apple and a coconut, you can harvest them and this takes approximately 45 days but can vary. If you’ve planted several lettuces, you can space the harvesting to just make sure you don’t end up with all fully grown lettuces harvested on one day.

Lettuce Seedlins in Container.
Lettuce Seedlins in Container.

It is very easy to grow in your balcony or patio and even indoors. You can plant up to 2 kale plants in a standard 12 inches (5-gallon) pot and move it simply around in the shade or out of the cold in winter. Growing kale indoors is a great method to ensure a fresh supply of this delicious green all year long.

Growing Kale in Container.
Growing Kale in Container.
Mustard Greens

Mustard greens are very tolerant of frost and heat, and remarkably easy to grow in pots, indoors or outdoors. Obtain a shallow 6 to 8 inches deep pot; a window box would be fine, fill it with regular potting mix with a lot of organic matter.

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Mizuna is best grown in cool weather, but unlike several leafy greens, it is slow to bolt in hot weather. Sow mizuna plant in the garden in spring as soon as the soil can be worked. It will germinate in the soil as chilly as 40°F or 4°C. Mizuna can be started indoors early for transplanting out mid-spring just before the last frost. Mizuna, like most greens, is easily grown in pots or containers. Select a container at least 6 inches deep and wide. Grow mizuna plant in well-draining potting soil. Mizuna grows best in compost-rich soil and keeps the soil evenly moist; not too wet and never completely dry. Prepare planting beds ahead of sowing or transplanting by adding plenty of aged compost and aged manure.

Leaf Amaranth

Leaf Amaranth is similar to Spinach in the way it is grown only that it is harder than spinach and resists medium to harsh sunlight. The plant leaves are used just like spinach and can be used in Chinese cuisine for stir fry dishes and soups.

Scatter the seeds similar to spinach in the pot with the potting mixture. Cover with a thin amount of soil or potting medium the usual logic is that one must cover the seed with soil for about three times the size of the seed. Since the Amaranth seed is just a tiny dot, you would want a very thin layer of soil. Sowing to harvest time is again 30 days.

Endive and Escarole

Endive and escarole are cool-season biennials developed as annuals. Both plants are salad greens similar to lettuce but stronger flavored. Grow endive and also escarole in full sun. These plants choose well-worked, well-drained soil that is moisture retention. Add aged compost to planting beds in advance of planting and side-dress these plants with compost at midseason. Endive and escarole prefer a soil pH level of 5.0 to 6.8. Endive and escarole could be grown singly in a 6-inch pot. In larger containers, grow these plants on 10-inch centers.

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Watercress can also be grown in consistently wet soil with a soil pH level of 6.5-7.5 in full sun. Fill the pot or container with a mixture of rich soil, sand, and pebbles. You could use a soilless mix of equal parts perlite or vermiculite and peat. Put the container in a 17-inch saucer filled with 2 inches of water. In the early spring, thinly sow the seeds 1/4 inch deep on top of the potting soil mix. Watercress stems from the store root readily and removes the last pair of leaves from the stem and bury the node beneath the potting medium. The final spacing of seedlings or cuttings must be 8 inches apart. Grow the watercress plant in full sun.

Fenugreek or Methi

Fenugreek or Methi is easy to grow and the average Indian doesn’t even have to go buy seeds for it. Methi seeds that we use for cooking at home can be used for growing Methi plants. Methi is used for several Indian dishes. Methi grows well in natural and slightly acidic soil (pH 0-6.7:0). Mix well a lot of compost into the soil so that the soil fertile and Mix River sand to make for good drainage. Methi is a small plant, you can easily sow in a pot, and patio or balcony can easily in your apartment or house. Fill the pot with the well-drained and compost-rich soil. Check the pot drainage hole before filling the soil in the vessel. This is important for saving your plants. After the planting, you keep it in sunny spots, and they prefer full sun.

Growing Arugula.
Growing Arugula.

Growing arugula in pots is easy. You can grow it in almost every climate, though planting time could differ. Make sure to use a quality potting soil and maintain it moist but not wet. Also, space out the plants 4 to 6 inches apart, when they grow a bit tall. Start harvesting the mature greens after 6 weeks.

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