Beautiful Edibles for Small Spaces Seven Stunning Food Plants for Containers

Beautiful Edibles for Small Spaces
  • Posted April 9, 2014

Rather than relegating food plants to utilitarian quarters, bring them into your life and watch them unfurl their magic in window boxes and patio planters. All edibles are full of intrigue, but here are a few blue-ribbon choices to beautify your container garden.

Rainbow Chard
rainbow chard This is not a single variety of chard, but a mix of cultivars commonly available in a single seed packet. Stems vary from beet red to pink lemonade in hue, though the tops are all forest green and ruffled. Reaching up to 18 inches in height, the erect stems make a bold backdrop for the soft foliage of lettuces.

Speckled Lettuce

speckled lettuce

Several varieties of lettuce come with crimson freckles on the foliage, which always include the word speckled in their name. One of the most succulent examples—“Speckled Trout,” a type of romaine lettuce—has oblong foliage that combines well with taller vase-shaped vegetables like chard and kale.

Purple Kale
purple kale

Kale can reach up to 2 feet tall and makes a canopy of cool color tones over smaller species sharing the same container. “Red Russian,” “Winter Red” and “Redbor” are deceptively named—their foliage comes in shades of soothing purple-green, though they combine well with deep red tones.

Feathery Fennel


Fennel is a light and airy companion for the bold colors of kale and chard. Its head of fine-textured foliage and narrow, vertical form is a pleasing punctuation mark in a mix of broad-leaf vegetables. As they grow skyward, the lime-green stalks erupt in chartreuse flower caps, a landing pad for bees and butterflies.

Tri-Color Beans
purple snap beans

‘Snap’ beans come in more than the standard green color. Varieties like “Purple Peacock” and “Yellow Wax” are included in tri-color seed packets for greater visual variety. Grow them up a light-colored wall or let them dangle in the air from a hanging planter as a simple summer display.

Peppers on Fire


Hot peppers turn fire engine red when fully mature, but some varieties make a firework display along the way. Peppers in orange, yellow and red stages of maturity are present simultaneously on most plants, though cultivars like “Firecracker,” “Demon Red” and “Rainbow” were developed to accentuate the effect.

Spiraling Broccoli

spiral broccoli

“Romanesco” broccoli is one of the great wonders of the vegetable kingdom. Instead of the typical green dome-shaped heads, this mutant variety is reminiscent of a crystal formation with spires of chartreuse florets spiraled together in a fractal pattern.

Related Pages

Gourmet on Display

Gourmet on Display

Growing edibles in containers has benefits whether your garden space is limited to a balcony or you have the luxury of a huge yard. Care and harvesting are simplified when plants are close at hand and in a contained environment. It only takes a moment to pop out the back door and…

View Page »

Gardening Everywhere Except the Ground

Gardening Everywhere Except the Ground

Plant life and architecture are becoming increasingly intertwined. From green roofs to living walls, the spaces we inhabit are more alive than ever.

View Page »

Brian Barth
About the Author

After 15 years as a professional landscape designer and horticulturalist, Brian Barth embarked on a second career to share his passion—and the knowledge he's accrued—through writing. His love of plants is all-encompassing, but he has a particular soft spot for culinary crops.

Post A Comment

Beautiful Edibles for Small Spaces

Shopping List

Containers with drainage holes

Lightweight potting mix

Watering can or hose with adjustable nozzle

Liquid or slow release plant food for vegetables

Vegetable seeds or plants