Best plants for a balcony vegetable garden

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Your outdoor space can be the perfect place for a balcony vegetable garden! Many veggie and culinary herb plants thrive when grown in containers on a balcony. Patio container plants warm up quickly, and their containers can be filled with high-quality soil (AKA perfect conditions!).

A balcony vegetable garden is a perfect place to grow veggie plants that grow well in containers and don’t mind the heat. This includes garden favorites like salad greens, culinary herbs, and even fruiting plants like peas and tomatoes if the balcony gets some sun.

Check out the list below for my 5 top picks for edible crops to grow on your own balcony vegetable garden!

The best plants for your balcony vegetable garden

Enjoying fresh heirloom tomatoes on the balcony garden

1. Tomatoes

Yum! Like strawberries, tomatoes love warm soil. They thrive in warm, sunny environments (like a warm, sunny balcony!). Growing a small tomato plant or two on your patio garden makes summer SO delicious.

You’ll need a bigger container for your tomatoes, as they need to develop strong roots to produce a good crop of tomatoes. Most tomato plants will grow to be at least 4′ tall, so be sure to put it in a large corner of the patio. A 5-gallon grow bag is probably the smallest container you’ll want to use for tomatoes…and a half-barrel garden works very well!

Even though they do take up a bit of space, growing your own tomatoes in your apartment balcony vegetable garden is well worth it. Read more here about the tastiest types of tomatoes to grow.

Kale growing on the balcony garden

2. Leafy salad greens

Leafy greens just might be the most reliable patio veggie crop. You can grow new plants throughout the growing season, so you’ll always have delicious, fresh produce for your smoothies and salad. They do take up a bit of room, so once you’re comfortable growing plants on balcony gardens it may be worth investing in a proper balcony planter to further improve your patio vegetable garden.

Fortunately, greens are quite easy to grow, even if your balcony isn’t in the sun all day. Compared to most other veggies, greens don’t need as much light to grow. They’re also relatively easy to tend and harvest.

“Think of containers as problem-solvers. Short on space to work with? No time to maintain an entire garden? Want to grow plants that need special conditions? Containers to the rescue. They offer a manageable way to enjoy all the beauty and benefits of your own personal garden, whether it be on a balcony, patio, rooftop, windowsill, or wall.”

Sunset Outdoor Design & Build: Container Gardening: Fresh Ideas for Outdoor Living, by Hank Jenkins & The Editors of Sunset Magazine
Alpine strawberries held in a hand

3. Strawberries

Strawberry plants do well in containers because they thrive in warm, well-drained soil. The heat from the sun on your patio will warm up the soil in the container and speed up plant growth. While not technically a “veggie”, strawberries will be one of the first crops that are ready to eat from your balcony garden. They also look great year-round in a window box. Here are some more ideas for strawberry growing containers.

Some varieties produce fruit in June only, while others produce a second crop in late summer (and some just fruit all growing season!). I keep my strawberries outside all summer and move the varieties without many runners indoors when the frost hits to enjoy berries all year long.

“Containers can be placed on any level surface — decks, balconies, and along driveways and sidewalks.”

University of Maryland Extension, Growing vegetables in containers
How to set gardening goals you'll actually achieve | home for the harvest

4. Culinary herbs

Culinary herbs make wonderful container plants for a little veggie garden on the balcony. Most gardeners who have large backyard gardens tend to grow herbs in containers rather than directly in the soil because some herbs can take over the rest of the garden. It’s also really nice to have them right outside the patio door for easy access while cooking.

Leafy green herbs like basil, sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano, mint, and chives are all lovely balcony garden herbs. If your patio is hot and sunny, these herbs will survive the heat so long as you keep them well-watered.

Some other leafy greens such as cilantro prefer a lower-heat environment. Here are some herbs that can be grown in shady spots. Consider the environmental conditions for your apartment balcony vegetable garden and do a bit of research before picking which herbs to grow. Learn more about growing herbs in containers here :)

Snap peas growing on white trellis

5. Peas

Peas are one of the hardiest crops that can be grown outdoors in your balcony vegetable garden. When you grow them vertically, they don’t take up much space at all. They also look lovely trailing up a balcony trellis! Peas can be grown through a frosty shoulder season and produce edible veggies within several months of planting. We’ve sprouted peas here in Zone 5 in the first week of October!

Pea shoots are also edible and can be snipped off and added to salads or smoothies. They’re fun to grow and lovely to look at. Seeds for organic peas are also easy to find online. Who could want more?!

“You can grow just about anything in a container, from plants that stimulate the senses with aroma and texture to abundant edible gardens. With the proper soil, drainage, exposure, and nourishment, your garden will flower and fruit just as it would in the ground.” 

Sunset Outdoor Design & Build: Container Gardening: Fresh Ideas for Outdoor Living, by Hank Jenkins & The Editors of Sunset Magazine
5 best edible plants for a balcony garden | home for the harvest

Planning your apartment balcony vegetable garden

Are you thinking about growing some produce on your balcony this year? I’ve put together a free Garden Planner to help you through the process of planning out your garden. It starts right at the beginning of the planning process and takes you through each necessary step of garden planning.

FAQs about balcony veggie gardening

What veggies grow well on balcony?

Veggies that can be easily grown in containers generally grow well on a balcony. This includes shallow-rooted salad greens and also fruiting plants that like warm soil. Some of the best plants to grow on a balcony are cherry tomatoes, lettuce, strawberries, and culinary herbs.

Can tomatoes grow on a balcony?

Tomatoes can be grown on a balcony, but the variety of tomato and the balcony characteristics should be taken into account. Use Tiny Tim or similar for a small space. Tomatoes of all types need a minimum of 4-6 hours of direct sunlight to thrive.

The plants can also get quite big. Unless you have room for a 2’x6′ tomato “tower”, choose a determinate variety. Cherry tomato varieties are especially good for a balcony because you get tomatoes more frequently (even if they aren’t too big).

What are the best tomatoes to grow on a balcony?

The best tomatoes to grow on a balcony are generally determinate varieties with short fruit maturation dates. These plants stay compact and the fruit grows to ripeness quickly. Here are some great varieties to consider:
– Tiny Tim cherry tomato
– Patio tomato

How do you start a small balcony garden?

To start a small balcony garden, first check out how much sunlight your balcony gets (and what time of day), as well as figuring out how you’ll water your plants. Then think about what kind of containers/planters to use, and how to get high-quality potting mix to fill them.

Hanging baskets are also a great way to maximize space and add a decorative touch to your balcony vegetable garden. There are a variety of plants that can be grown in hanging baskets. One such plant that is perfect for this is pepper plants, which come in a wide range of colours, flavours and sizes. Make sure to use a good potting soil, as peppers require a well-draining soil!

Before you go…

You’re not stuck to using the balcony only! Did you know you can grow your own lettuce indoors year-round? It’s actually pretty easy with an AeroGarden or a Click and Grow Smart Garden. There are even quite a few gourmet varieties available!



Vegetable gardening

Want to start planning your garden? Click below for a free gardening planner to improve this years garden!

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Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a Master Gardener and founder of the gardening website Home for the Harvest. She has been featured by Better Homes & Gardens, Real Simple, Good Housekeeping, Mother Earth News, and the National Garden Bureau. Mary Jane lives with her family in the Okanagan Valley.