How To Grow Vegetables in Planter Boxes (Ultimate Guide)

You can enjoy the rich flavors of homegrown vegetables even if you don’t have a yard or have only a postage-sized dirt patch where the soil is too poor to support any form of life. Most vegetables grow happily in planter boxes and reward you with huge harvests if you fulfill their needs for water, food, and light.  

To grow vegetables in planter boxes, you must start with the right-sized container and fill it with a rich potting mix that lets the roots grow freely. You must regularly water and fertilize your plants and ensure they receive adequate light. Also, protect your vegetables from pests and diseases.

From choosing the right-sized planter and preparing the potting mix to sowing seeds and supporting the plant by watering and fertilizing regularly, growing vegetables in containers involves a series of time-sensitive and coordinated tasks. Thankfully, I’m here to describe everything you’ll need to know in detail.

1. Decide What You Want to Grow

Choose the vegetables you want to grow in planter boxes wisely. The size of the planter box, the support structures you have to build, and the amount of TLC you have to provide to keep your veggie garden thriving depend on your choice of vegetables. 

Consider the following factors when choosing vegetables for planter boxes:

Plant Vegetables That You Eat

It doesn’t make sense to use valuable time, energy, and resources to sow and grow cauliflowers if no one in your family except you will take a bite. 

Also, plant those veggies that you consume in large quantities. For instance, plant several basil plants if you make pesto often or plenty of tomato plants if you make sauce.

Plant in Season

Keeping veggies alive and thriving outside their natural growing season takes considerable time and effort, not to mention plenty of fertilizer and insecticides. For instance, if you live in zone 5 and want to grow tomatoes in January, you must grow them indoors and invest in an intensive setup to provide supplemental heat and light. 

Consider the Light Available for Growing

Some vegetables thrive in full sun and need a minimum of six hours of sunlight every day. Some vegetables prefer part shade. Consider the amount and intensity of sunlight hitting the site where you intend to place the planter box. 

Choose Veggies According to Their Water Requirements

This holds true for water-hungry vegetables like cucumber and gourd. If you live in a drought-prone region or in an off-grid home where you use rainwater or water from a nearby stream, think carefully before planting these water-hungry crops during seasons with scanty rainfall. 

However, living in a particular region does not mean you can never grow your favorite vegetables. You just have to get creative and tweak the normal process a bit.

For example, if you live in a hot climate and want to grow cool-weather crops like beets and lettuce, you may have to place the planter boxes near an east- or north-facing wall to protect your crops from the harsh afternoon heat.

2. Choose the Right-Sized Box

Plant roots need space to spread laterally and extend downward to absorb nutrients and water. The roots of vegetables growing outside in the ground can easily access nutrients and moisture in the soil. 

When you grow vegetables in planter boxes, the roots have restricted space to grow and can access only a limited amount of soil nutrients and moisture. The planter box must have adequate depth to accommodate the needs of growing roots.

The roots also anchor the plant to the soil. The roots of tall plants like okra, eggplants, and peppers need ample space to grow deep. Otherwise, these plants can topple under the weight of their fruit-bearing branches.

The depth of a planter box depends on the type of vegetables you want to grow. For instance, the roots of vegetables like okra and pumpkin grow deep. These vegetables must be planted in planter boxes deeper than those needed for veggies with shallow roots, such as lettuces.

A planter box with a depth of 6-8 inches (15.24 – 20.32 cm) suffices for most vegetables.

Here’s a table that will help you choose an appropriately sized planter box for your veggies:

VegetablesDepth of Planter Box (in inches)
Turnips, Beets, Lettuce, Green Onions, Chard, Bok Choy, Mustard Greens, Sorrel, Spinach, Garlic, Endive6-8 (15.24 – 20.32 cm)
Broccoli, Beans, Cauliflower, Peas8 (20.32 cm)
Cabbage, Okra10 (25.4 cm)
Carrots, Tomatoes, Peppers, Arugula, Collards, Kale, Leeks, Radishes, Eggplants, Brussels Sprouts, Cucumbers, Corn, Asparagus, Squash, Zucchini12-16 (30.48 – 40.64 cm)
Kohlrabi16 (40.64 cm)
Potatoes, Sweet Potato18 (45.72 cm)
Artichoke, Pumpkin, Rhubarb, Horseradish20 (50.8 cm)

Disadvantages of Deep Planters

While you must grow vegetables in planters with the right depth, do not use containers that are too deep for the plants.

There are several disadvantages:

More Soil

You’ll need more potting soil to fill the oversized planters. This may become expensive if you have many containers. 

Excess Moisture

The plants may end up “sitting” in water in a deep planter. The potting soil in a planter that is too deep for the plants tends to remain wet because the roots cannot absorb all the moisture. This means your veggies will sit in water, increasing their chances of developing root rot.

Failure to Anchor

Plants can fail to anchor in the soil as well. Potting soil is fluffy in texture and tends to shift. A surplus of potting soil in the container creates an unstable growing medium and can prevent plant roots from anchoring securely. Tall plants like tomatoes or eggplant can flop under their weight if the roots are not packed in tightly. 

While it is critical to get the size of the planter box right, you should also remember the following tips when using a container to grow your veggies:

Ensure the Planter Has Adequate Drainage Holes

Any container you choose for your vegetables should have drainage holes at the bottom to prevent waterlogging. Root rot tends to set in if plants sit in water for an extended period.

However, drainage holes tend to get choked over time by wet soil. This creates waterlogging. Soil particles, compost, and nutrients also tend to leach away when excess water drains out from the holes. 

Here are some tips to help you prevent the drainage holes from clogging while containing the soil particles:

  • DO NOT fill the bottom of the planter with gravel, stones, or broken terra cotta chunks. 
  • Place ONLY a piece of stone, a broken shard of terracotta, or a small terracotta pot turned upside-down over the drainage hole. 
  • You can use a fine plastic mesh, woven weed barrier, cheesecloth, landscape cloth, or a coconut fiber disc to cover a drainage hole.
  • You can use a coffee filter, a tea bag, paper towel, newspaper, or burlap to cover a drainage hole, but these will disintegrate quickly.

Choose a Durable Planter Pot for Outdoor Use

Outdoor planter boxes should be able to withstand the elements without losing their looks. You can choose from metal, plastic, fiberglass, or wooden planters. However, besides durability, you must also consider the planters’ price and weight and strike a happy balance between these factors. 

Fiberglass is an extremely durable material that retains its glossy finish even after constant exposure to harsh UV rays and bitterly cold and snowy weather. Although priced slightly higher than plastic planters, fiberglass pots make up for it with their long-term durability and enduring looks. 

Fiberglass and plastic resin planters are lightweight and can be easily moved around by a single person. Additionally, plastic pots are one of the most economical options and are ideal for you if you want to create a large container garden. 

However, plastic pots do not last as long as fiberglass or metal planters when exposed to harsh weather elements. 

Although metal planters are very durable, they are heavy and not easy to move around. They are also pricey. 

Metal also tends to get heated in hot weather and can quickly dehydrate the soil. You have to water your vegetables more often if you plant them in metal planters. 

Terracotta pots let plant roots breathe, but they are not frost-resistant. They do not last long if you place them outdoors in regions with frosty winters.

Choose a Color According to the Temperature in Your Area

Fiberglass and plastic resin plants come in a variety of colors. Metal planters, too, can be powder coated to make them colorful. 

The color of a planter box has more importance than just aesthetics. The color determines how much heat the pot will absorb and retain. 

Dark-colored pots absorb more heat and retain it for longer than lighter-colored ones. A dark-colored pot will dehydrate the soil quickly in a warm climate with brutal summers. As a result, your veggies may die if you don’t water them frequently. 

On the other hand, planting in a dark-colored pot in a cold climate keeps the roots warm and aids plant growth. 

Terracotta pots have an earthy color that doesn’t impact heat absorption and retention. However, terra cotta is a porous substance, and water evaporates fast from the soil in such a planter. If you live in a hot climate, you must frequently water your vegetables planted in terracotta pots. 

3. Position the Box

You have to carefully choose where you place a planter box. It should only be moved around sparingly, especially if it is very heavy or after filling it with soil.

Consider the following when choosing a spot to place a vegetable planter:

What Will I Plant?

Some vegetables thrive in full sun and need 6-8 hours of sunlight daily, while others do well in part shade. Choose a spot for your planters based on the vegetables you want to grow. For instance, keep the pot in a south- or west-facing spot if you want to grow tomatoes or cucumbers. North- and east-facing sites are cooler and are ideal for lettuces and beets. 

Is It Too Hot Where I Want to Keep the Planter?

Many warmth-loving vegetables still need to be protected from the harsh afternoon sun, especially in hot climates. Keep the planter box in a location where there is afternoon shade. 

Is the Spot Exposed to Stiff Breezes?

Tall vegetable plants tend to flop over if exposed to strong winds. Stiff breezes also dry out the soil in the plant and dehydrate the plant. Keep your veggie planters in a location sheltered from high winds.

Is There a Source of Water Nearby?

I suggest you keep the planters in an area you can reach with a watering hose. Carrying a heavy watering can to and fro daily and twice a day in summer can be quite challenging and back-breaking. 

Is There a Microclimate That Will Affect Temperature?

If you place the containers on an asphalt driveway, they will heat up quicker than they would if placed on a grassy lawn. The soil in the pots kept on the driveway will dry out quickly, but, on the other hand, most veggies will love the extra warmth on a cold day. Consider such microclimates when choosing a spot for your planters. 

After you choose a site for your planter box, move the empty containers to the spot before filling them with the potting mix.

4. Fill the Box With Potting Mix

DO NOT use garden soil in your planter boxes. These soils are heavy and tend to compact, so plant roots cannot grow freely. Heavy soils also do not drain well and can cause water to stagnate in the pot. 

Furthermore, garden soil can breed pests and fungal spores that can spread disease and harm your veggies if you use it to fill your planters. 

You must use high-quality potting soil or mix for your container-grown vegetables. Contrary to its name, potting soil may not contain any soil at all. It is a specially-formulated blend of ingredients that makes the overall growing medium fluffy, lightweight, and aerated.

Potting soil comprises ingredients like coir or coconut husks, peat moss, vermiculite, perlite, bark chips, and compost.

Benefits of Potting Mix

A high-quality potting mix supports plant growth in the following ways:

  • It provides a sterile growing medium so that plants remain disease-free. 
  • Its light, fluffy texture lets the roots grow freely.
  • It provides nutrients to growing plants.
  • It retains moisture.
  • It allows excess water to drain out of the pot so that there is no waterlogging and plants do not develop root rot.
  • It has the proper pH or acid-base balance to support vegetables.
  • It prevents the growth of weeds.

You can buy a high-quality potting mix for your planter from your local garden store or online. 

DIY Ingredients

You can also create your own by mixing a few of the following ingredients:

Peat Moss

Adding peat moss to a potting mix improves the water-retention capacity of the growing medium. It is acidic and can neutralize alkaline soil by decreasing the pH level. However, it is expensive and is a non-renewable resource, the harvesting of which releases carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. 

Coconut Coir

Like peat moss, coconut coir increases the water-holding capacity of the growing medium. It is light and porous and makes the potting mix fluffy and aerated. Coconut coir is also believed to decrease fungus and algae buildup in the soil. 

Vermiculite

Vermiculite improves soil aeration and increases the water- and nutrient-retention properties of the growing medium. It is sterile and prevents damping off of seedlings. Use the largest size of vermiculite in your potting mix. 

Perlite

Perlite keeps the potting medium light and fluffy and helps roots grow. It improves the drainage capacity of the potting mix and helps circulate air between the roots of the plant. Although perlite improves the water-retention capacity of the growing medium, vermiculite is superior in this regard. 

Bark

Adding shredded pine bark or bark chips to the potting mix creates a light and airy growing medium that allows roots to grow freely and breathe. Bark decomposes slowly and increases the stability of the potting mix. Finely-grounded bark is an excellent substitute for peat moss. 

Compost or Manure

Well-rotted and aged compost or manure not only adds nutrients to the potting mix but also makes the growing medium airy and improves drainage. You can use homemade compost or manure collected from your farm. You can also buy them from the store.  

Coarse Sand

You can use coarse sand instead of vermiculite and perlite. Coarse sand lets plant roots grow freely. Being heavy, it provides support to top-heavy vegetables. However, you must only use garden-grade sand because sand intended for construction work or play sand usually contains industrial impurities that can contaminate your veggies.

You don’t have to use all these ingredients to make your potting mix. 

Choose one or two ingredients to make the potting mix light, porous, and airy. Just ensure that the potting mix is dense enough to support plants. Also, include one or two ingredients that will increase the water-retention capacity of the mix. 

Ideal Vegetable Mix

Here’s what you can include in a potting mix for vegetables: 

  • Two parts of aged compost or manure
  • One part coconut coir
  • One part vermiculite or perlite or coarse sand
  • Fertilizer mixed in the ratio specified on the package

Seasoned gardeners do not recommend adding garden soil to the potting mix. However, if you have many containers to fill, adding some garden soil to the mix can reduce the total costs of your potting mix.

You can add one part of garden soil to your potting mix. However, you MUST sterilize the soil first to kill pathogens and weed seeds.

Here’s how you can sterilize garden soil:

  1. Gather clean topsoil or garden soil. 
  2. Spread the soil in a baking tray.
  3. Cover the soil completely with aluminum foil. 
  4. Bake at 180 °F (82.22 °C) for 30 minutes.

5. Sow Seeds or Plant Seedlings

You can directly sow seeds in the planter box or plant seedlings that you may have grown indoors or bought from the local garden center.

I suggest that you sow seeds of vegetables like carrots, spinach, radishes, lettuces and other greens, corn, and beans directly in the planter boxes. 

The seedlings of vegetables like carrots, spinach, and lettuces are difficult to transplant because they are fragile, and their roots might get damaged during transplanting. 

On the other hand, some vegetables like corn and beans have a short growing season and don’t need any extra time to get a jump start.

If you live in a warm climate, you can directly sow almost all your vegetables. However, if you live in a cold region, sow your veggie seeds indoors to get ahead of a short growing season and ensure you can harvest a crop before the first fall frost. 

And no, you don’t need expensive grow lights to sow seeds indoors. Check out my article where I explain how to sow seeds indoors without lights: How to Start Seeds Indoors Without a Grow Light

Add tags right after sowing or transplanting to help identify the plants and track how each vegetable variety performs. 

Grow More by Multi-Sowing

You have space for only so many containers. However, you can grow more of a vegetable in a single planter box by multi-sowing seeds.

Gardeners usually sow more seeds in a single planting hole than they need because not all seeds may germinate. They then thin the seedlings and grow only the healthiest and the biggest ones. However, in the multi-sowing method, you don’t thin the seedlings

You will probably have smaller vegetables or thinner stalks, but you will get a bigger crop from a small space using less compost. 

Here’s a chart to give you an idea of how many seeds you can sow per planting hole:

Vegetable Seeds for Multi-SowingSeeds Per Planting Hole
Beetroot4
Corn2
Chard2-4
Kale4
Onion for Salad8-10
Peas for Shoots4-5
Radish5-6
Rocket3-4
Spinach for Salad4
Turnip5

Multi-sowing seeds works only for some vegetables. For instance, vegetables like cauliflowers, tomatoes, and peppers get bushy at the top and need room to grow. These plants tend to develop fungus and mold if they are too crowded. 

You don’t need to multi-sow bean seeds because a single plant produces quite a large crop. You can multi-sow celery (which is also known to regrow). The stalks will be thin, but you can use these in soups. 

Support Plant Growth and Diversity With Companion Planting

Planting more than one type of vegetable in a planter box helps you maximize the available growing space. You can also grow different vegetables together for mutual advantages. This practice is called companion planting.

Here are some of the advantages of companion planting for your vegetables in planter boxes:

  • You can maximize your available growing space. You can practice vertical gardening and train vine vegetables to climb up trellises. This frees up space to plant more veggies in the same container. 
  • You can enhance crop diversity. Planting several vegetables in a single container lets you increase crop diversity without increasing the number of containers. 
  • You attract beneficial insects and pollinators. Fruiting vegetables need pollinators to produce fruits. Consider including herbs and flowers in your companion planting scheme to attract pollinators.
  • You deter pests and unwanted wildlife. Certain vegetables, herbs, and flowers planted in your vegetable garden keep away pests and wild animals. In a later section of the article, I will explain how you can carry out companion planting as a pest control measure. One example of this is planting tomatoes and garlic together.
  • Companion planting can keep away weeds. Intensive planting leaves no room for weeds to grow. The trailing leaves of vegetables, such as pumpkins, cover the soil and prevent weeds from sprouting.     
  • Intensive planting shades the soil and keeps it moist. Planting several vegetables in a single container covers the soil, prevents UV rays from drying out the soil, and keeps the root zones of the plants cool.
  • Some tall plants act as trellises for vine vegetables. For instance, pole beans can climb up using a corn plant as support. 
  • Tall plants can provide shade to understory veggies. Vegetables like lettuce and pumpkin grow well in the dappled shade created by tall plants like corn.

The key to creating a companion planting scheme is to group plants that are good neighbors and keep bad neighbors far apart. 

Here’s a chart to help you plant veggies that support each other’s growth:

CropCompanion Plants
BeansBroccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Potatoes, Radishes, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Squash, Strawberries
CarrotsBeans, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Onions
Cabbage, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Collard Greens, Kale, Turnips, Rutabagas, KohlrabiOnions, Tomatoes, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Collard Greens, Kale, Turnips, Rutabagas, Kohlrabi
CucumbersBeans, Beetroot, Onions, Radishes, Peas
LettuceRadishes, Pumpkins, Corn, Squash
PeppersBasil, Onions, Okra
PotatoesBroccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Collard Greens, Kale, Turnips, Rutabagas, Kohlrabi, Beans, Corn, Lettuce, Spinach, Radishes
TomatoesCarrots, Cucumbers, Squash, Basil
ZucchiniBeans, Corn, Radishes, Peas

Just as some plants support the growth and increase the productivity of other vegetables, others are known to inhibit the growth of other crops. For instance, keep fennel away from all vegetables and plant it in its own container. 

You should also not plant vegetables that have similar nutrient, light, and space needs together. For instance, do not companion plant root crops that grow at similar rates. They will compete for space underground, and you will end up with smaller fruits.

Also, do not plant vegetables that attract the same pests and are vulnerable to the same diseases together. I will list some common pests and diseases that attack vegetables in a later section of the article so that you know which vegetables you can or cannot plant together.

6. Water to Keep the Soil Moist

You must water your container-grown vegetables diligently because, unlike the same access to moisture in the soil. 

Keep the soil moist but not soggy. You may have to water twice daily on hot, sunny days. 

Mulching keeps the soil moist. You can use organic mulches like straw, coconut coir, leaf mold, shredded bark, or bark chips. They will break down over time and add nutrients to the soil.

You can install a drip irrigation system if lugging a can full of water across the yard is cumbersome. A drip irrigation system is an automated watering system for plants. It is connected to your garden hose or spigot. When you turn it on, it waters all your containers at once. 

Here’s a video by YouTube user HortTube with Jim Putnam that demonstrates how to install a drip irrigation system for potted vegetables:

Besides saving your time and effort, using a drip irrigation system is a water-efficient practice. It also decreases the instances of fungal attacks and mold by minimizing water splashes on the leaves and fruits of the plants.

7. Provide Plant Support, if Needed

Tall plants like tomatoes and eggplant need to be supported to keep them from flopping under the weight of their fruits. 

You can train vine vegetables like pumpkins, cucumbers, and squash to climb vertically. Vertical gardening lets you maximize the available growing space and increases airflow around the leaves. Improved air circulation, in turn, prevents mold and fungal attacks.

You can choose from the following types of plant support for your container vegetable garden:

Trellises

Trellises are support structures that are made of metal or wood and are ideal for vegetables like cucumbers, squash, and pumpkins. 

Stakes

Drive a wooden or a metal stake into the soil after you have sowed the seeds or transplanted the seedlings. As the plants grow, use twine or fabric to loosely tie the stems to the stake to keep the plant upright. Stakes are ideal for plants like tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers.

Flat Arches

Flat arches are made of powder-coated steel and enhance the visual appeal of your garden. Their slimline design makes them easy to install and ideal for large planter boxes where you can plant vine vegetables with weighty fruits. 

Cages or Tower Obelisks

Cages and tower obelisks can be circular or square and are ideal for tomatoes, pole beans, and peas. They let you constrain the plant and prevent it from growing too far away from the root and snapping. You can buy these support structures or make your own with wood or metal. 

A store-bought trellis may have its own stand, so you only have to place it on the ground behind a planter box. If you install a support structure in the planter box, ensure that you place it right after sowing the seeds or transplanting a young plant. Trying to drive a stake or an obelisk into the soil after the plant has matured can damage the roots. 

8. Fertilize Regularly for Increased Yield

Planter-grown vegetables need a steady supply of nutrients to help them grow and produce fruit. 

You can add fertilizer to the potting mix when preparing the mixture. Use a slow-release balanced, organic fertilizer and sprinkle just a tiny amount in the soil. You can use a 10-10-10 or 14-14-14 fertilizer and apply about 2.5 tablespoons per 5-gallon pot. 

Applying too much fertilizer at this stage will cause the young plants to shoot up too quickly before developing a robust root system.

Ensure that you mix the fertilizer thoroughly into the soil. Water the potting mix deeply after sowing or transplanting.

Start feeding your veggies a water-soluble fertilizer once weekly, starting a month after planting. Usually, fruiting and root vegetables benefit most from a phosphorus-rich fertilizer, such as one with a 15-30-15 composition, while leafy vegetables need a nitrogen-rich blend or a balanced fertilizer. 

You can make your own liquid fertilizer with comfrey that is high in potassium and supports fruiting vegetables, or borage or nettle that are high in nitrogen and enhance the growth of leafy vegetables.

You can add ingredients like blood meal, feather meal, liquid bone meal, and rock phosphate to your homemade fertilizer to make it more potent.

Keep in mind the following tips when applying fertilizer to your potted vegetables:

  • Dilute the fertilizer according to the instructions on the package.
  • Water the soil a few hours before applying the fertilizer to maximize absorption. 
  • Avoid using chemical fertilizers that, over time, decrease the quality of the soil
  • DO NOT fertilize if the plant shows signs of stress, such as wilting or drooping.

9. Adopt Pest Control Measures

Pests can decimate vegetable plants in no time at all. Although plenty of organic and chemical pesticides do an excellent job of killing pests, I suggest that you adopt preventative measures to keep your crops pest-free in the first place. 

You can prevent pest attacks with good gardening techniques.

The following practices can go a long way in preventing pest infestations and diseases in your vegetable garden:

  • Ensure that the plants are in a sunny location.
  • Remove leaves to ensure there is adequate airflow around the plant.
  • Ensure the soil in the planter box drains well. 
  • Avoid watering from above to prevent water from splashing on the leaves. 
  • Water during the day so that the leaves have ample time to dry. 
  • Check for signs of pest infestation regularly. 
  • Burn diseased plant trimmings immediately. 

Planting your veggies in a certain way and introducing flowers and herbs in your vegetable garden can prevent pest attacks.

Read on as I explain three planting schemes for your container vegetable garden.

Practice Crop Rotation

Every vegetable is susceptible to attack by a set of specific pests that infest only that crop. These are called host-specific pests. Many of these harmful microorganisms overwinter, remain in the soil, and multiply over several seasons. 

If you continue planting the same crop in the same patch of soil year after year, the plants will be subject to attacks by the same pests.

For instance, the Ascochyta Spot fungus affects French and runner beans and causes brown spots to develop all over the plant. This fungus can remain in the soil for several years and affect any bean plant you grow at the site. 

Crop rotation is the practice of growing diverse crops on the same patch of soil across successive seasons. It replaces a crop that is vulnerable to a severe attack by a pest with one that is not susceptible to damage by the same pest. 

Crop rotation breaks the life cycle of insects and diseases by cutting off the food supply of the pests. 

The rule of thumb for crop rotation is: Never plant the same plant in the same spot for consecutive seasons. 

Plant Separately Vegetables That Attract Similar Pests

Some pests and insects attack several different types of vegetables. For instance, the cabbage moth attacks almost all brassicas. If you plant cauliflowers, cabbages, and broccoli together, a cabbage moth infestation can wipe out all the vegetables. 

The following chart will help you figure out the planting scheme so that you can keep apart vegetables that tend to attract similar pests:

PestVegetableSymptoms
African Black BeetleSweetcorn, Potatoes, Tomatoes, Cabbages, Cauliflowers, Pumpkins
  • Chewed-up spots at or below soil level
  • Holes in tubers
Cabbage White ButterflyCabbages, Cauliflowers, Collard Greens, Kale, Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Turnips
  • Holes in leaves
  • Velvety green caterpillars
Cluster CaterpillarStrawberries, Cabbages, Cauliflowers, Collard Greens, Kale, Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Turnips
  • Eggs on the underside of leaves
  • Skeletal appearance of leaves
  • Holes in leaves
  • Gray-green caterpillars
Corn EarwormCorn, Tomatoes, Lettuce
  • Holes in leaves
  • Damage to corn cobs
Diamond-Back Cabbage MothCabbages, Cauliflowers, Collard Greens, Kale, Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Turnips
  • Tunnels in leaves
  • Patches eaten on the underside of leaves leaving a transparent layer on top
  • Bright green caterpillar
Garden WeevilAsparagus, Beetroot, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Peas, Spinach
  • Chewed-up stems and leaves
  • Holes in tubers
Looper CaterpillarPotatoes, Beans, Tomatoes, Peas
  • Damage to leaves, flowers, and fruits
  • Caterpillar moving in a looping motion
Vegetable WeevilCabbages, Cauliflowers, Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Turnips
  • Chewed-up stems and leaves
WirewormPotatoes, Onions
  • Holes in tubers
Two-Spotted MitesAsparagus, Peas, Beans, Artichokes, Okra, Parsnips, Tomatoes, Strawberries, Capsicums, Eggplant, Squash, Pumpkins, Cucumbers, Zucchini
  • Yellow striations on leaves
  • Webbing
  • Mites visible on the underside of leaves
ThripsSquash, Pumpkins, Cucumbers, Zucchini, Peppers, Tomatoes, Onions, Beans, Cabbage, Celery
  • White streaks on leaves

You can cover your vegetables with mesh covers to protect them from caterpillars, moths, carrot fly, cabbage root fly, aphids, and cutworms. The net protects your crops from birds, rabbits, deer, and raccoons. 

Crop rotation is also a good alternative to chemical treatment. Avoiding chemicals for pests and diseases protects the wildlife on your property and enhances biodiversity. 

Plant Herbs and Flowers That Repel Pests

Several herbs and flowers do a great job of repelling pests in your vegetable garden. Besides, planting herbs and flowers attracts pollinators and adds to the visual appeal of your garden. 

The following herbs can repel pests in your vegetable garden:

  • Basil
  • Borage
  • Lavender
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Thyme 
  • Rosemary 

Flowers such as marigolds, sunflowers, nasturtiums, and zinnias also repel pests. 

For instance, when planted alongside brassicas, nasturtiums draw aphids and cabbage moths away from your cabbages and broccoli. When planted with cucumbers and tomatoes, nasturtiums drive away aphids, cucumber beetles, whiteflies, and squash bugs.

Marigolds are believed to deter harmful pests like tomato hornworms, thrips, squash bugs, cabbage worms, and whiteflies. 

Final Thoughts

There are several benefits of growing vegetables in planter boxes. 

You don’t have to be restricted by the lack of a yard or fertile garden soil to grow your own food. You can extend the growing season of heat-loving vegetables by growing them in pots and bringing them indoors to overwinter. You can become self-sufficient in your food requirements. 

You can create an attractive edible display of colors, shapes, and textures on your patio or along the driveway.

Most importantly, growing vegetables in containers gives you complete control over what goes into your food and, eventually, inside your body.

Dr. Moritz Picot

Dr. Moritz Picot is a horticulture enthusiast and the founder of TheGrowingLeaf.com, where he serves as the lead content writer. He established the website in 2022 as a valuable resource for both gardening aficionados and beginners, compiling all the gardening tips he has accumulated over the past 25 years. Alex has a passion for nurturing plants, transforming backyards into inviting spaces, and sharing his knowledge with the world.

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