Grow Salad Greens and Herbs in Containers

Salad greens and herbs are among the easiest food plants to grow from seed in pots. In fact, it makes sense to have containers filled with greens on your deck or patio even if you have an in-ground garden! Here are a few tips:

Larger pots are better. 

Go big! Pots that are 12 inches in diameter work well, but the larger the better. Why? The larger the pot, the more potting mix and water it will hold. The last thing you want to see when you come home from work is a pot of wilted salad greens.

Use a quality soil mix. 

Garden soil is too dense for containers. Rather, use a soilless mix. A good soilless mix will contain peat moss or coir along with an ingredient to improve drainage such as perlite, a naturally occurring mineral that both retains water and creates air “pockets” in the mix. Some mixes also contain vermiculite, a silicate material, and small pieces of bark. If you have a good source of compost, you can enrich your container mix with about 10 to 20% compost. 

Sprinkle seeds of lettuce, arugula, and other salad greens sparingly. 

Just like in the garden, seeds sown too thickly will compete for nutrients and quickly bolt. Particularly if you are growing baby greens, sprinkle your seeds so that they fall no closer than an inch apart. That way you’ll avoid the painstaking chore of thinning your seedlings. 


Fertilizing can mean incorporating a slow-release product into your soil mix at the outset, or watering with a half strength solution of organic fertilizer or fish emulsion every 10 days to two weeks. Be sure to feed baby greens after your first cutting to encourage regrowth.   

Greens & Herbs For Containers:

  • Arugula 
  • Asian greens (such as Tatsoi and Mizuna)
  • Baby Leaf mixes
  • Basil
  • Bok Choy
  • Cilantro
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Mesclun mixes
  • Mustard greens
  • Parsley
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard

Harvest baby greens repeatedly.

Lettuce, arugula, Asian greens, mustard greens, kale, Swiss chard, and mesclun mixes can all be grown as baby greens. Sprinkle the seeds sparingly into your container, cover lightly with soil mix, and keep the soil mix in the container evenly moist until the seeds germinate. Beginning when your baby plants are about 4 inches tall, harvest by cutting the greens with scissors or a sharp knife just above the growing tip. You can generally get two to three cuttings from a single planting.

Choose dwarf or baby leaf varieties. 

Some greens, such as kale and bok choy, can grow large. For containers, dwarf varieties are a better choice. Look for packages labeled “for containers” or “baby leaf” as many new varieties have been developed especially for container growing. 

Plant a succession of greens.  

Sow your favorite greens in succession. Plant them in different pots 10 days apart for a constant supply. Try to mix it up to break pest cycles. Follow lettuce with arugula, for example, or Asian greens with basil. 

Thwart critters.

Squirrels delight in digging up newly planted containers. Wire cloches or repurposed wire baskets let in sunshine and air, but keep out squirrels. You can also suspend bird netting or chicken wire above your seedlings. 

source : Home Garden

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