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Guide to Container Sizes: Which Size Container Should I Use?

This guide to container sizes will help you answer the following questions when growing plants in containers: Which size container should I use? How much soil does my plant need?

Guide to Container Sizes: Which Size Container Should I Use?

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Guide to Container Sizes: Which Size Container Should I Use?


Guide to Container Gardening Sizes: Which Size Container Should I Use?

Knowing which size container to use is a crucial part of gardening successfully in containers.

Different plants have different size requirements for their roots. It isn’t always easy to tell which size container you will need. Many young transplants and seeds are the same size initially, but vary greatly once they mature.


A NOTE ABOUT CONTAINER SIZES: 

  • Container sizes are not standardized and often use different types of measurements.
  • Sizes listed here are measured by the amount of soil they hold (dry-soil measurements). 
  • Choose the largest possible container for vegetables to give them access to more soil, food, and water. 
  • Generally, aim for the container to be as deep as it is wide. This provides the most room for the roots.
  • Containers that hold less than 2 gallons of soil are not recommended for growing most vegetables to maturity.

Extra Small Container

Holds up to two gallons (.3 cubic feet) of soil. 

Examples include: 8″ terra cotta or nursery pot2 gallon grow bag, and a 10″ hanging basket

Plants that grow well in extra small containers include: sage, rosemary, thyme, nasturtium, kale, green onions, basil, radishes, lettuce, chard, arugula, calendula

Guide to Container Gardening Sizes: Which Size Container Should I Use?

Small Container

Holds up to three gallons (.46 cubic feet) of soil. 

Examples include: 10″ terra cotta or nursery pots3 gallon grow bag, and a 14″ hanging basket

Plants that grow well in small containers include: kohlrabi, carrots, beets, strawberries, dill, cilantro, celery

Guide to Container Gardening Sizes: Which Size Container Should I Use?

Guide to Container Sizes: Which Size Container Should I Use? (cont.)


Medium Container​

Holds up to five gallons (.69 cubic feet) of soil.

Examples of medium containers include: five-gallon plastic bucket, 12″ terra cotta or nursery pot, and five gallon grow bag

Plants that grow well in medium containers include: beansbroccolicabbagelemongrassokrapotatoes, cucumberseggplantpeppersginger, turmeric

Guide to Container Gardening Sizes: Which Size Container Should I Use?

Large Container

Holds up to ten gallons (1.5 cubic feet) of soil.

Examples of large containers include: 16″ terra cotta or nursery pots, and a 10 gallon fabric grow bag

Plants that grow well in large containers include: sweet potatoes, tomatoes

Guide to Container Gardening Sizes: Which Size Container Should I Use?

Extra Large Container

Holds up to twenty gallons (2.73 cubic feet) or more of soil. 

Examples of extra large containers include: 18″ terra cotta pots (2.3 cubic feet of soil), 24″ terra cotta pots (3.8 cubic feet of soil), 20 gallon grow bags, and half wine barrels (4.3 cubic feet of soil)

Plants that grow well in extra large containers include: dwarf citrus trees, fig trees

Guide to Container Gardening Sizes: Which Size Container Should I Use?

If you enjoyed this guide to container sizes and are looking for more information about container gardening: Best Vegetables for Container Gardening


Container Gardening for Beginners: 10 Steps for Success


If you enjoyed this post about which size container to use, please share it:


Debra Smith

Thursday 30th of December 2021

I have a 100 gallon grow bag, should I use Ollas in them?

Angela Judd

Tuesday 4th of January 2022

Yes, Oyas are a great option for grow bags, especially large ones like that. Good idea.