Galvanized Plant Container Size Guide

Planning your garden is an exciting endeavor, most gardeners count down the days until they can begin for the year. Gardening offers wonderful benefits, including the ability to create a sustainable source of food for you and your family. Additionally, you gain reassurance in knowing exactly how your produce was grown and maintained. There is often concern for store-bought options that may contain harmful pesticides.

With the adoption of container gardening, there is versatility, regardless of your living space. Container gardening is a terrific way to grow vegetables when your only option is in an apartment courtyard or balcony.

Our at-a-glance plant container size chart is aimed at assisting you in selecting the right container for you. We also offer a quick guide to configure what to plant in those containers.

A few things to understand about standard plant container sizes:

  • Plant container sizes are not standardized, and various manufacturers can use vastly different 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 garden container size to be as deep as it is wide. This provides the most room for the roots.
  • Small plant containers that hold less than 2 gallons of soil are not recommended for growing most vegetables to maturity. (These metal containers can be good for kitchen herbs).

Choosing Your Plant Container Material

Planting a starter plant in a metal tub

There are various container material options on the market. Choosing the right materials is also a key aspect of the planning process. You should focus on materials that are durable, safe, and make it easy for you to create the garden you desire. The three most common materials found on the market are terracotta, plastic, and galvanized metal containers.

You can find terracotta pots in all nursery and gardening centers. These have been used for centuries to grow plants. Terracotta is a great option, though there are some drawbacks you may want to consider. First, terracotta is not the most durable material, particularly for the outdoors or moving your plants around. It doesn’t stand up well to being dropped, and changes in temperature can often cause damage that may or may not be repairable.

Another option you will easily find is plastic. One of the biggest advantages people see with plastic is low cost. If you are strictly budget-minded, this may be your choice. However, there are some big disadvantages that come with that cheap price. Firstly, plastic is not a sustainable option for our planet. Plastic is not easily recyclable and can live in landfills for thousands of years before breaking down. Additionally, plastic can leach chemicals into the plants you are growing. It can be considered counter-intuitive if you are growing your garden to provide healthy food choices for your family, and your container is releasing harmful chemicals into the plants you will eat. The more research being done on plastic, the more we see the negative impact those chemicals have over our lifetime.

People planting container gardens in galvanized steel tubs

Galvanized metal plant containers provide durability, sustainability, and does not leach harmful chemicals to your plants. Metal can stand up to the harshest weather conditions and will last many years over. Additionally, metal recycles forever, and doesn’t lose its strength when used again. Finally, metal containers add a beautiful aesthetic to any garden or home interior.

If you’d like to learn more about galvanized steel planters, our previous blog post “A Guide to Galvanized Steel” provides a more detailed analysis on galvanized steel containers. Additionally, you can learn about the safety of galvanized steel in our blog post “A Safety Guide for Galvanized Steel”.

Three Tips for Prepping When Container Growing

A common pitfall of beginner growers can be over crowding your plants in one container. We’ve all been a little overzealous in our attempt at something new, but not taking this to heart will set you up for failure. In a container, your plants are limited in the nutrients available to them. Over time, the existing plants will fight for resources and most, if not all, will die off. Follow the seed seller’s advice, usually found on the packaging, and distance each plant as recommended.

The second must have for your container garden is adequate drainage. There is no guarantee your container of choice will come with drainage holes. It isn’t a major issue if they don’t. All you will need is a drill, some bits, and adequate personal protection. Drill a few holes that will allow most, but not all, liquid to drain out. This extra step keeps your plants from being over watered, and eventually drown. This is particularly important to plants that will remain outside and exposed to various weather conditions.

Finally, ensure you have a high-quality growing medium to fill your metal container. This may seem like a no-brainer and to use soil, but soil, particularly from your yard, is not the best option. Soilless potting mixes are a reliable choice for container gardens. If you feel adventurous, you can also mix your own media, using a combination of different materials such as peat moss, composted bark, compost, perlite, or sand. You want the mixture to have a nice blend of water-absorbing materials (peat) and drainage materials (sand).

With the fundamentals covered, we can begin to look at the plant container size chart to determine the best size options of galvanized steel tubs for your garden.

Plant Container Sizing Guide

Plant container sizing chart

Selecting the Best Vegetable Varieties for Pots and Containers

  • When growing vegetables in pots and containers, it makes sense to pick smaller-growing varieties that will grow best in limited space.
  • Many dwarf varieties of vegetables, such as baby cabbages and cauliflowers, dwarf broccoli, and patio tomatoes, can be grown in smaller pots than their full-sized counterparts.

Quick Guide for Container Garden Plants

Plant Type

Minimum Container to Plant Ratio


Minimum Space Between Plants

Recommended Sunlight

Arugula 2 gallons = 2 plants 7″ – 9″    12″ – 18″ Low Sun
Beans (Bush) 2 gallons = 3 plants 8″ – 10″      6″ – 8″ Full Sun
Beans (Pole) 5 gallons = 2 plants 12″ – 16″      3″ – 4″ Full Sun
Broccoli 5 gallons = 1 plant 12″ – 18″         12″ Some Sun
Carrots 5 gallons = 12 plants 12″ – 18″      2″ – 3″ Some Sun
Collards 3 gallons = 1 plant 12″ – 18″         12″ Low Sun
Corn 15 gallons = 1 plant 12″ – 16″      4″ – 6″ Full Sun
Cucumber 5 gallon = 1 plant 12″ – 18″    12″ – 16″ Full Sun
Eggplant 5 gallons = 1 plant 12″ – 18″    18″ – 24″ Full Sun
Kale 3 gallons = 1 plant 12″ – 18″         12″ Low Sun
Lettuce 2 gallons = 1 plant 6″ – 8″          4″ Low Sun
Okra 3 gallon = 1 plant 12″ – 18″      6″ – 10″ Full Sun
Onions (Bulb) 2 gallon = 1 plant 12″ – 18″          4″ Full Sun
Onions (Bunch) 1 gallon = 12 plants 6″ – 8″      1″ – 2″ Low Sun
Peppers 3 gallons = 1 plant 12″ – 18″         12″ Full Sun
Potatoes (White/Gold) 5 gallons = 3 plants 12″ – 18″          8″ Some Sun
Potatoes (Sweet) 5 gallons = 1 plant 18″ – 24″    10″ – 12″ Some Sun
Pumpkin 10 gallons = 1 plant 20″ – 24″    16″ – 20″ Some Sun
Radishes 2 gallons = 12 plants 6″ – 8″      1″ – 2″ Some Sun
Spinach 2 gallons = 3 plants 4″ – 6″      3″ – 5″ Low Sun
Squash 5 gallons = 1 plant 18″ – 24″    24″ – 36″ Full Sun
Swiss Chard 1 gallon = 1 plant 10″ – 12″          4″ Low Sun
Tomatoes 5 gallons = 1 plant 18″ – 24″    18″ – 24″ Full Sun
Turnips 1 gallon = 1 plant 12″ – 18″      2″ – 4″ Some Sun
Watermelon 5 gallon = 1 plant 18″ – 24″    24″ – 36″ Full Sun

Additional Considerations Before Buying a Plant Container

If you are looking to grow specific varieties of plants a container and are not listed above, reach out to your local nursery. Your local nursery is a fantastic resource that can provide you with options specific to your grow zone.

Behrens galvanized steel containers are shown with their gallon capacity to help make choosing the right container easy.  We also offer a wide range of containers varying in capacity and depth. If you are ever unsure, feel free to reach out to Behrens customer service team for assistance.

To learn more about planting and maintaining your container garden, visit our blog post “How to Start A Container Garden” to get tips and tricks to ensure a successful grow season.

Save your hands this planting season and opt for Behrens *New* Comfort Grip handles and show your hands some love. Check out our video here.

At Behrens, we manufacture responsibly, preserving the earth’s natural resources, reducing energy consumption and emissions. We are a proud partner of  the non-profit global organization Metal Recycles Forever, which strives to make metal the preferred choice for consumer and industrial packaging. Behrens is one of the select few manufacturers authorized to display their logo on our products.  If you’re interested in finding out more about our beautiful and functional galvanized steel products, please check out our catalog or contact us today.

Behrens on Sustainability

Behrens wants consumers and retailers to know that steel is one of the most sustainable products on the planet. With 70% of domestic steel starting as scrap metal, it can be infinitely recycled with no loss of inherent properties, is rodent-proof, odor-proof, weather and chemical resistant with zero petroleum. All of these attributes make steel a superior material to plastic, a limited-recyclable material that is shown to harm wildlife, oceans and people.

Visit to learn more, including where to find a scrap metal recycler in your area.  An electronic media kit is available at

About Behrens

Founded in 1911, Behrens Manufacturing creates high-quality, well-crafted metalware in Winona, Minnesota. From the past century to today, Behrens is forever forged into the fabric of U.S. manufacturing and remains a tribute to American ingenuity and craftsmanship. Behrens Manufacturing is proud to be the number one steel container manufacturer in America. Visit online at to learn more.