How to Grow Beets in a Container
Are you on the hunt for a fast-growing root crop to plant in containers, but don't necessarily care for the "spicy bite" of radishes? Well then, growing beets could be the perfect solution to your needs. You'll find that beets reach a harvestable size a bit slower than radishes, but they still grow at impeccable rates.
Matching their astonishing growth rates are their equally great sweet flavors. Since beets prefer the cooler weather of spring and autumn, you'll be able to utilize their growing containers for summer crops after these sweet treats have been harvested. Sounds pretty good right? If you said yes, you'll definitely want to continue on to learn how to grow beets in pots!
The Necessities of Growing Beets
Beets have always been prized for their ability to grow in almost any climate or soil condition, so naturally they are also well suited for container gardens. Depth is most important when choosing containers to grow beets in. In order for the roots to have enough space to properly develop, grow beets in containers with a depth of at least 10 inches.
You'll find that beets can adapt to a variety of soils, but they will do better when the right conditions are provided. Beets, like many other root crops, do best in potting soils that are free of pebbles, rocks and hard clumps. These soil obstructions can cause beet roots to become deformed. As they are heavy feeders, beets will also need an initial potting soil with high nutritional value. A premium organic and well-composted potting soil is preferred.
Beets will quickly use up available nutrients in your potting soil, so a supplemental fertilizer should be used once during their growth. An organic all-purpose fertilizer with equal NPK levels will suffice. Homemade compost teas will also be very efficient in delivering proper nutrition.
Choose a sunny spot to place growing beet plants. For beets to grow at their maximum, plan to provide them with at least eight hours of direct sunlight daily.
Best Beet Varieties for Containers
Before you start preparing your containers for growing beets in, it's important to select a variety that will thrive in the small space provided. In the table below, you'll find a short list of beet varieties that grow well in pots.
Days to Maturity
Deep red foliage with medium-sized beets. A vibrant color addition to any garden.
These super-fast maturing beets reveal a candy striped red and white interior.
Detroit Dark Red
Detroit Dark Red beets are the standard in the gardening world. Strong foliage and the classic deep red beet root!
Note: While the beet varieties above will provide excellent results for the container gardener, don't be afraid explore other varieties as well! Golden or Chiogga beets can be considered when you're wanting something a bit more exciting to harvest!
Preparing Beet Containers
Unlike many vegetable crops that may be germinated in a smaller container and transplanted later for larger growth, beets do not like to be moved around and should be planted directly into their permanent container. Since you only have one shot at properly preparing the containers, it's essential that you do it right!
- In your empty container, place a layer of small rocks or gravel at the very bottom. This rock layer should be about an inch or two deep and will serve as the perfect barrier to promote proper soil drainage. While rocks in the soil can hurt beet roots, rocks under the soil will actually help the roots by ensuring that the soil does not become waterlogged. I prefer small lava rocks, as they provide excellent aeration, moisture control and even slowly break down into usable plant minerals.
- Fill the containers with your potting soil as normal. Be sure to remember to remove all rocks and hard clumps from within the body of the soil.
Planting and Caring for Beets
Now that you've got all the supplies and preparation work checked off, it's time to plant and grow some beets! The following process will guide you from planting beet seeds all the way up to harvest time.
- Beet seeds have a tough seed coat that can lead to long germination times. To help speed the time it takes your beets to sprout, soak the beet seeds overnight in dechlorinated water. This helps soften the seed coat, making it easier for the seedling to sprout.
- Plant beet seeds a half inch deep and spaced 2–3 inches apart. In containers, you can plant the beet seeds in all directions for a full crop. Just be sure to leave at least an inch between the rim of the container and the first planting of beets.
- Cover and water the seeds well. Keep the soil moist and the beets should germinate within a couple weeks time.
- Once the majority of the beet seeds have begun to sprout, thin out the seedlings so that they stand three inches apart from each other. When thinning your seedlings, try using scissors to cut at the base of unneeded seedlings. Pulling these could cause root damage to the remaining beets.
- Now that they are thinned to proper spacing, watering will be your main task. The soil of beets should be kept moist, but not waterlogged. For most outdoor containers, watering beets every other day should do the trick. When the top inch of soil has become dry, it's time to water.
- When the beet plants have reached an age of around one month, prepare to administer your fertilizer. Follow the directions provided with your fertilizer and prepare one application. This will greatly boost beet production and ensure a bountiful harvest.
Alright, now that you've held up your end of the deal for 50–60 days of actively tending your beets, they should be just about ready to harvest! Maturing times will of course vary slightly among the different varieties of beets, but plan to pick once they've reached size of 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter. They can be grown larger, but tend to loose sweetness and become fibrous.
But wait, it's not just all about the root! Beet leaves may also be picked and consumed throughout the season. For the most tender and flavorsome leaves, pick young when less than 6 inches in length. Older leaves may be used like chard. With edible leaves in the mix on top of an already versatile and delectable root, beets can be an extremely efficient crop to grow.
Have you grown beets? If so, which variety?
With the new knowledge at hand, you'll be growing successful crops of container beets throughout the season. I wish you the best of luck and thank you for stopping by to read my article on how to grow beets in pots. If you do happen to run into problems during your beet farming experience, please feel free to leave me a comment. I'll be glad to help out.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2012 Zach