Choosing the right pot for your crop

Home-grown vegetables and herbs are essential for the food lover and amateur cook and, luckily, they are easy to grow in pots.

Potted food gardens are portable, versatile and perfect for backyards, balconies and windowsills. And best of all, they can be easily located close to the kitchen, making harvest even easier.

Here’s everything you need to know to get started, including:

  • Choosing the right pot
  • Growing in pots
  • A simple step by step to potting up

light-bulb-icon@2x.png Choosing the right pot

Growing plants in pots, troughs and containers is easy and fun. And with these simple tips, you’ll be harvesting delicious herbs and vegies in no time.

Pot composition


When buying pots, it’s important to consider what they are made from.

  • Plastic pots are available in some great colours and can look as good as glazed pots. Their main benefit is that they are durable and retain moisture in the potting mix better than clay pots
  • Terracotta (clay) pots look great but dry out quickly. They need watering more often than plastic pots, but you can reduce watering frequency by sealing the inside of them with a pot sealant (available from most good hardwares and garden centres).
  • Glazed or ceramic pots look beautiful, hold moisture better than untreated terracotta pots and are stylish additions to the garden. Unfortunately, they can be very heavy and difficult to move around when fully planted
  • Planter bags can be great for crops like potatoes or strawberries. Remember, they are still containers and will need more frequent watering than garden-grown plants.

Pot size

  • For a single plant: Choose a pot only a couple of centimetres larger than the existing pot. Potting up, or increasing the pot size progressively, keeps the potting mix fresh and avoids wasting money and resources on a pot too big for your plant
  • For larger pots or troughs: Group plants that like similar conditions together in one large container. For example rosemary with oregano or coriander with basil

Pot shape


Plants often need repotting, whether it’s increasing pot size or planting a new crop. Look for pots with straight or tapered sides, avoiding pots that curve inward at the top.
While curvaceous pots look great, their shape makes it difficult to remove plants for repotting or harvesting.
Sometimes, it's necessary to break the pot to get the plant out when the top is narrower than the rest of it.

Special features


Planters with special features are commonly used for vegetables and herbs, such as self-watering pots. These do not dry out quickly and are ideal for thirsty plants or busy people. But don’t let these attributes fool you - you still need to care for your plants and check water and fertiliser levels, especially during hot weather.

Also look for strawberry pots, specifically designed for lots of plants in a small space.

light-bulb-icon@2x.png Growing vegies and herbs in pots


Choosing the right pot is just the start. Also consider:

  • Potting mix – always choose the best potting mix you can afford, preferably suited to the plants you wish to grow, like Scotts Pure Organic Potting & Planting Mix. It saves you time and money in the long run.
    Find out more about choosing the best potting mix
  • Position – Even in pots, most vegetables and herbs still need around 6 hours of sunlight a day. Choose a position out of the wind and close enough to the kitchen to make harvesting easy
  • Water – Pots need watering more frequently than garden-grown plants. Check how moist the potting mix is daily
  • Fertiliser – Good quality potting mix will contain fertilisers, wetting agents and water storing granules. However, frequent applications of soluble fertiliser and seaweed plant food will help to keep plants healthy.
  • Plants suitable for growing in pots – while most plants can be grown in pots, there are a couple of vegies and herbs that will always do better in the garden. If in doubt, ask your local nursery for advice.

Step by step potting up


When potting up your plants, follow these 6 simple steps:

  1. Water plants before potting or planting.
  2. Check the drainage hole. If there isn’t one, make a few small holes in the base of the pot. If the holes are larger than a 5c piece, cover the base with shade cloth or add a handful of large pebbles to stop the potting mix pouring out the base. Be careful not to block the holes.
  3. Fill the new pot with good quality vegetable and herb potting mix.
  4. Remove your plant from its current pot by carefully squeezing the sides of the pot. Then gently tip upside down into your hand, being careful to support the top growth.
  5. Plant in the hole and firm the potting mix around the plant to hold it in place. Backfill if necessary, making sure it is still at the same level as it was in the previous pot.
  6. Water and enjoy!

Tips, tricks & advice

Caring for potted vegies and herbs

Growing crops in pots has never been easier with these simple tips, including

Read more

Potting Mix 101

You are what you eat, so what potting mix will you choose? The differences are:

Read more

Other products you might need

Scotts Pure Organic Premium Potting & Planting Mix


A premium certified organic mix that is perfect for your pots, planters, hanging baskets and raised gardens. Outstanding results with no fuss while taking care of the environment.

Scotts Osmocote® Plus Organics Vegetable & Herb Mix


A premium mix developed specially for vegetables and herbs that nurtures plant growth and health above and below the soil. It is perfect for pots and raised garden beds

Scotts Osmocote® Plus Organics Vegetable, Tomato & Herb Plant Food & Soil Improver


Designed for all vegetables and herbs, this plant food combines the best of both worlds, creating a healthier growing environment and sturdier plants

Scotts Pure Organic Premium Seaweed Plant Food


A nutrient-rich, pure organic smart liquid that gently releases fertiliser over 4-6 weeks. Your garden will flourish with this premium seaweed product that comes in a handy Hose-on as well as a Concentrate

Scotts Osmocote® Professional Vegetable, Tomato & Herb Mix


A specially formulated potting and planting mix for vegetables, tomatoes and herbs in pots, gardens and in raised beds and planter boxes.