Water-Wise Crops for Container Gardening

Spinach plantCrops that are relatively drought tolerant are best for containers or gardens where water is not easily accessible. Water-wise crops are a good choice for balconies, rooftops, and patios.

All crops need water to grow—especially when first planted and until they are well-established. The best course is to keep the soil just moist—not too wet and not dry whenever possible.

Water pots less than 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter from above; use a 1-quart kitchen measuring cup. Large pots can be watered with a plastic pail, watering can, or a gentle stream from a hose.

Let the soil in a pot or container dry out to 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep before watering again. Infrequent watering is better than watering too often but never let the soil in a container go completely dry.

If you have a large number of pots, a drip irrigation system that hooks up to a faucet or spigot may be the most efficient course.

Water-wise crops include:

  • Artichokes
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Chard
  • Garlic
  • Herbs—bay, lemon verbena, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme
  • Kale
  • Peas
  • Scallions
  • Spinach

Where water is scarce or not easily accessible, avoid these very thirsty crops: potatoes, strawberries, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, cucumbers, and zucchini.