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Vegetable Plant Spacing in a Container

Lettuce in garden

Lettuce in gardenGiving a vegetable plant the space it needs to mature is essential. Proper spacing insures that roots do not compete for moisture and nutrients and that above ground growth is not crowded and has needed exposure to light and good air circulation (essential for preventing disease).

Leafy and root crops can be started in containers by spreading seed but once plants have grown to an inch or two tall (2.5-5 cm) they should be thinned. Fruiting crops—such as tomatoes and peppers—are best started in small 3 or 4 inch (7-10 cm) pots and later transplanted to larger containers.

Suggested minimum space between plants growing to maturity in container:

  • Artichokes: Plant singly; 10 gallons (38L) soil per plant
  • Beans: 3-9 inches (7.5-23 cm) apart
  • Beets: 2-3 inches (5-23 cm) apart
  • Broccoli: 10 inches (25 cm) apart; 5 gallons (19L) soil per plant
  • Brussels sprouts: 10 inches (25 cm) apart; 5 gallons (19L) soil per plant
  • Cabbage: 10 inches (25 cm) apart; 5 gallons (19L) soil per plant
  • Carrots: 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) apart; container 6 to 8 inches (15-20 cm) deep
  • Cauliflower: 12 inches (30 cm) apart; 5 gallons (19L) soil per plant
  • Eggplant: 15 inches (38 cm) apart; 5 gallons (19L) soil per plant
  • Kale: Thin to 16 inches (41 cm) apart
  • Lettuce: 4-10 (10-25 cm) inches apart
  • Melons: 15 inches apart; 5 gallon (19L) soil per plant
  • Mustard greens: Thin to 4 inches (10 cm) apart
  • Okra: 20 inches apart; 5-10 gallon (19-38L) soil per plant
  • Onions: 2-3 inches (5-7.6 cm) apart
  • Peas: 2 inches (5 cm) apart
  • Peppers: 8 inches (20 cm) apart; 2½ gallon (9.4L) soil per plant
  • Potatoes: 6 inches (15 cm) apart
  • Radishes: 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart
  • Rhubarb: 12 inches (30 cm) apart; 5 gallon (19L) soil per plant
  • Rutabagas: 2 inches (5 cm) apart
  • Spinach: Thin to 5 inches (13 cm) apart
  • Squash: 12-20 inches apart; 5 gallon (19L) soil per plant
  • Swiss chard: Thin to 8 inches (20 cm) apart
  • Tomatoes: ½-5 gallon (2-19L)soil per plant depending on variety
  • Turnips: 6 inches (15 cm) apart



Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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