It is astonishing how many vegetables, herbs, berries, and even fruit trees you can fit into a small space, whether it is a balcony, a terrasse, or something else if you just choose the right plants.
I used to have a small balcony where I grew a lot of different edible plants. My tiny balcony garden got more and more productive every year because I became better and better at choosing the best plants for the space I had.
I have written this article, where I share a list of 43 different vegetables, herbs, berries, and fruit trees that can grow remarkably well in small spaces.
To make sure I was able to provide you with the best information, I wanted to get as much input from experts as I could to hear some ideas I had not thought of. To get that, I visited 6 different garden centers and plant nurseries, where I talked to some of their experienced gardeners.
All the six gardening experts I talked to had some excellent ideas for plants that you can grow in a small space. All six of them recommended various herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary, but each of them also had some other very interesting ideas that I had not thought about.
43 plants is a lot, so I split the list into Herbs, Vegetables, Berries, and Fruit trees, to make it easier for you to find the inspiration you are looking for.
Choosing the right variety can be very important as some become much larger than others. That is why I mention some specific varieties when relevant that I have either grown myself or that were recommended by some of the six gardening experts I talked to before I wrote this article.
Choosing the right variety is just one of many things you can do to get as much out of a tiny growing space as possible. For more tricks, head over to this article, where I cover 16 tricks I have used in the past.
Let’s get into it starting with herbs. If you are more interested in vegetables, berries, or fruit trees, just scroll a bit down.
11 Herbs You Can Grow in a Small Space
All of the six gardening experts I talked to before writing this article mentioned herbs when I asked for ideas for plants to grow in a small space. Most of them even mentioned herbs as the first thing and came up with some specific suggestions. My own experience with growing herbs in small spaces is also very good. I have had a lot of success growing several types of herbs on my small balcony.
I have grown most of the herbs from this list myself, but some of them are suggestions from the experts I talked to.
Here are 11 herbs you can grow in a small space.
Lemon balm is a perfect herb to grow in a small space. You can grow lemon balm in pots or containers of almost any size but you will, of course, get more the larger your container is. Lemon balm is one of my personal favorite herbs to grow. I like to use it in teas and smoothies and even desserts. Lemon balm goes extremely well with mint, which is the next herb I want to recommend.
Mint is one of the most popular herbs to grow and also one of my favorites. It has a lot of different varieties that taste, smell, and look different. Mint can easily spread and get out of hand if you grow it in the ground, but if you keep it in a pot, you can easily keep it contained. Just make sure you pick a good pot. I have a guide for that here.
One of the gardeners I talked to before writing this article shared my excitement about growing mint, especially because you can grow it in very little space and because it is a perennial herb, which means it can grow for several years.
Chives is a perennial herb that grows well in a pot of (almost) any size, which makes it a great choice for a small space. It can grow pretty well in relatively cold weather, so you can usually plant it early in the spring for an early summer harvest.
Parsley is a popular biennial, which means that it grows for two years. The plant focuses on growth in the first year and on flowering in the second. I have grown a lot of parsley in pots next to windows where it would get some sunlight. Parsley is easy to grow and doesn’t need much space.
Dill can grow really well in small spaces if you grow it in a pot. Sprinkle some seeds around the top of the soil in your pot and cover it with a light layer of soil. Be a bit extra generous with the seeds if you want a dense plant.
Cilantro looks very similar to parsley at first glance and is also very similar to grow, but the taste is very different. Cilantro grows very well in pots and containers, so it is perfect for small spaces.
Basil is a classic. It might very well be the most popular herb to grow at home and there are many reasons for that. One of the reasons is the many varieties that taste, smell, and look different. Which variety is right for you depends, of course, on what you prefer but also on how much space you have.
I have written this article where I compare the size of 22 basil varieties so you can see which ones are options for you. I highly recommend Greek basil if you want a small and compact bush. I like Genovese basil, Lemon basil, and Lettuce leaf basil too, although they get larger than Greek basil.
Basil is one of the herbs most of the experts I talked to before writing this article recommended and I definitely agree with them on that.
Rosemary can grow quite large since it can live for many years if you take good care of it (read more), but if you keep it in a pot, you can keep it small.
You can also keep rosemary the size (and even the shape) you want by pruning it strategically. I highly recommend that you prune your rosemary if you grow it in a small place because it is actually very easy and has several benefits that you can read about on this link.
Two of the gardeners I talked to before writing this article recommended rosemary for small spaces and so do I.
Oregano was also recommended to me by some of the experts I talked to before I wrote this article. It can grow really well in a pot and it can live for many years if you take good care of it. The larger its pot is, the more likely oregano is to live for a long time.
Thyme is another perennial herb that can grow really well in small spaces since it doesn’t need much space to become well-established. There are a lot of great thyme varieties, some of which look very nice, so other than tasting really well, thyme can be used as a nice-looking ornamental plant.
I highly recommend growing thyme if you have limited space and so did one of the gardeners I talked to before I wrote this article. I’ve been very happy with the thyme I have grown.
Lemon grass is one of the larger herbs I have recommended here, but you can keep it relatively well contained if you keep it in a pot. The smaller the pot is, the smaller the plant will generally be.
17 Vegetables You Can Grow in a Small Space
Now I want to share some vegetables you can grow really well in small spaces. I have, of course, included some of the more well-known ones like spinach and radishes, but I almost guarantee that I also have some suggestions you haven’t thought of.
Some of these vegetables require more space than others, so if you are looking for some inspiration for gardening methods that work well in small spaces, I highly recommend that you read this article.
I have grown most of the vegetables on this list on my own small balcony, but some of them are suggestions from the six experts I talked to before writing the article.
Here are 17 vegetables you can grow in a small space.
Carrots can grow really well in small spaces since they don’t need much horizontal space. If you have a rectangular pot with straight sides like the ones in the photo above, you can sow a few rows of carrots in it. Remember that carrots tend to grow straight down, so if your pot doesn’t have straight sides (which many pots don’t), carrots might not be the best choice. Carrots can also grow really well in the ground.
Scallions, which are also called green onions or spring onions, don’t need that much space, so you can sow them pretty densely and get to harvest a lot without using much space. You can grow scallions almost anywhere as long as they get enough sunlight.
Garlic is a close relative to scallions. They grow very similarly and also don’t need much space, which makes them very well-suited for small spaces.
Pole beans grow best when they have a pole to climb on (as the name hints). This makes them very good to grow in small spaces since they can get very tall, but don’t take up much horizontal space. You can, of course, also use other types of trellises for pole beans, but no matter what you do, you will get the best results if you give them something to climb on. Plus, you can pick most of them off the plant without having to bend over much, which is nice.
I have not had the chance to grow pole beans yet, but one of the gardeners I talked to before writing this article highly recommended it. ‘Purple Podded Pole’, ‘Kentucky Wonder’, and ‘Blue Lake Stringless Bean’ are some examples of varieties that don’t get as large as some of the other ones.
This list would not be complete without tomatoes on it. You can grow two types of tomatoes depending on the space you have. Vining tomatoes that grow like a long vine and bush tomatoes that grow more like a compact bush.
Vining tomatoes are especially good for small spaces in my experience since you can use sticks, a pole, or some other type of trellis to make them climb. That way they get taller and taller without taking up more horizontal space.
Three of the six gardeners I talked to recommended growing vining tomatoes in small spaces, specifically because you can get a lot from them without using much horizontal space. I also grew a lot of vining tomatoes on my small balcony when I had it and absolutely loved it.
One of the gardeners highly recommended the ‘Tiny Tim’ tomato variety, even though it is a bush variety, but since it doesn’t get large (hence the name), it fits well in small spaces. He has mentioned this variety to me a few times before, so it must be good. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to try that specific one. One of the other gardeners recommended the Gemini variety, which is a vining variety.
If you want some tips on how to get the most tomatoes from one or a few plants, I recommend you read this article.
Like tomatoes, cucumbers can either grow as a vine or a bush. The bush varieties don’t get as tall but will instead get wider and denser. The vining varieties are, in my opinion, especially good for small spaces since you can use a trellis or some sticks or poles to make it grow taller and taller without taking up more horizontal space.
I have had some very good experiences with cucumbers in small spaces and two of the experts I talked to before writing this article also recommended it. Especially the vining ones. You don’t have to use sticks or a trellis for cucumbers, although it generally gives the best results. Especially if you have limited space. You can read more about that on this link.
If you want bush cucumbers, the ‘Spacemaster’ and ‘Picklebush’ varieties are some good options. I have some more recommendations for that in this article.
If vertical space is limited in the space you have, check this article where I cover 4 ways to keep cucumber plants from getting too tall.
I only tried growing peas one time on the small balcony I used to have, but it went very well. One of the experts I talked to before writing this article also recommended growing peas if you have a small space and are looking for inspiration. He also mentioned that you might need some sticks or small trellises for the peas to climb on.
If you want a small pea variety, you can look for the ‘Kelvedon Wonder’ variety. It is a compact plant that fits well in small spaces.
There are a lot of pepper varieties and some of them are better fit for small spaces than others. Some varieties you can look into if you have limited space are ‘Baby belle’ and ‘Jingle bell’.
I have sometimes grown peppers in some relatively small pots that I placed in some sunny spots next to some windows. It actually worked very well and the plants didn’t get too big since I used relatively small pots. Some pepper varieties can get very large though, so keep that in mind when you choose.
Chili grows and looks similar to peppers although they are from different families. Like I have done with peppers, I have grown some chilis in small pots in a sunny spot next to a window several times and seen good results. The pots should, of course, not be too small or the plant won’t grow well enough to produce fruit, but an 8-inch (20 cm) wide and deep pot should be enough if you don’t want huge plants.
Three of the experts I talked to before writing this article also recommended chilis and one of them recommended the “Pot black” variety for small spaces specifically since it stays small and compact.
Some cabbage varieties can take up quite some space, but there are some varieties such as the ‘Pixie baby cabbage‘ that work very well in smaller spaces. This specific variety produces compact 5-inch cabbage heads, which makes it better suited for small spaces than many other varieties.
Pak Choi is a type of leafy Chinese cabbage, You eat almost all of it (you might want to remove the outermost leaves), so it is a very space-efficient crop to grow. A full-sized pak choi plant also doesn’t take up much space in the first place, which makes it good for small spaces.
The gardener from the second garden center I visited recommended pak choi for small spaces.
Chard is a vegetable from the beet family. The most popular variety is probably the ‘Swiss chard’. It doesn’t have a huge and complex root system, so it doesn’t need that much space to grow, which makes it a good fit for small spaces.
Two of the gardening experts I talked to before I wrote this article recommended kale. Kale can grow really well in both pots and directly in the ground. One of the things that make kale an amazing plant in my opinion is that it can grow in very cold weather compared to most other vegetables. When your tomatoes, cucumbers, and other plants are starting to dry up, pull them up and plant some kale.
Eggplant can grow very well both in the ground and in a pot. If you pick a small variety such as the ‘Bambino’ variety, you can squeeze a few of them into a relatively small space.
Radishes are one of the vegetables that require the least amount of space. They only need about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of space between them so you can sow them very densely. On top of that, they are ready for harvest much faster than a lot of other vegetables. Sometimes you can harvest radishes within just a month of sowing them.
Radishes are one of my top recommendations for plants to grow in small spaces. I grow radishes every year. One of the gardeners I talked to before writing this article strongly agreed.
You can grow spinach almost anywhere, since it doesn’t need much space at all. I have a bunch of small pots and when I don’t use them for anything else, I almost always just sow some spinach (or lettuce, which is next) in them.
The only thing (more or less) you need to keep in mind when choosing a place for your spinach is that there should be enough sunlight. I have another article where I go into depth about how much sunlight spinach needs.
Spinach and lettuce (again, up next) were also among the first plants two of the experts recommended for small spaces and I couldn’t agree more.
There are many types of lettuce. Some of them get relatively large like the ‘Iceberg’ variety, but others can be very small and fit in spaces of any size. My favorite lettuce variety to grow in small spaces is ‘Lamb’s lettuce’ since it produces small and very fresh and tasty plants that grow really fast.
8 Berries You Can Grow in a Small Space
Not enough people take advantage of growing their own berries. They are usually expensive to buy but taste so good. A cool thing about berries is that you can actually grow quite a few types in a relatively small space.
Here are 8 types of berries you can grow in small spaces.
Blackcurrants are perfect berries to grow in small spaces. They can get relatively large, but if you just prune them once in a while to keep them under control, you will be fine. If you grow them in a pot, they can be easier to keep small. Blackcurrants usually get about 3-5 feet high.
Redcurrants are closely related to blackcurrants and also grow and look very similar (except for the color of the fruit). Like blackcurrants, redcurrants can reach heights of about 3-5 feet. Grow redcurrants in a pot and prune them once in a while to keep their size fit for your space.
I was surprised when the gardener from my usual go-to garden center recommended growing raspberries in small spaces. I thought they needed a decent amount of space, but he told me that you can get quite a lot of raspberries in a relatively small space. He recommended looking for some small varieties to grow in a pot. A popular example is the ‘Raspberry shortcake’ variety.
Strawberries are one of my all-time favorite types of berries and because of that, I had to see if I could grow some on the small balcony I used to have and it actually worked really well.
Strawberries spread by producing runners that set roots further and further away from the original plant, so be careful when planting them in the ground. I had great success planting them in pots which also made them fit well on my small balcony.
If you want a small, compact strawberry plant, you can try the ‘Delizzimo’ or ‘Eversweet’ varieties.
Gooseberry bushes can get relatively large, but you can prune them to keep them under control and make sure they don’t get too large for your space. You can also grow them in 12-15 inch (30-40 cm) wide and deep pots. You can read about some different varieties here. If you check the comments on that post, it sure seems like people like the ‘Hinnonmaki RED’ variety.
Like most other berry bushes, mulberries can get pretty large, but if you grow them in pots and prune them regularly, you can keep them relatively small. For one of the smaller varieties, check out the Dwarf Everbearing Mulberry Tree. You can read about it here.
Blueberries come in a lot of different varieties. Some can get pretty large, but others can stay quite small and dense. The ‘Top hat’ blueberry variety is a very popular variety to grow in small spaces since it grows like a small dense bush. You can also prune blueberries to keep them at the size you want.
Blackberries can be tricky to keep in a small space since they tend to spread through underground stems called rhizomes, which grow just under the surface of the soil. This can easily be prevented, however, by growing the blackberries in a pot or another isolated place where they can’t spread.
7 Fruit Trees You Can Grow in a Small Space
Most people associate fruit trees with large gardens or orchards and of course, most fruit trees take up a lot of space, but there are actually also quite a few that can be grown in some pretty small spaces. So if you have a small space and you are interested in growing some fruit trees in it, I highly recommend that you keep reading.
It didn’t surprise me that four of the six gardening experts I talked to before writing this article said that grapes are good to grow in small spaces. I have grapes growing in my small greenhouse, which you can see in the photo earlier in this article and they do really well in the space they have.
Grapes just need something to climb on to thrive since they grow like a vine. Some of the experts I talked to said grapes work especially well on balconies if you can have them climb on the wall since they don’t take up much horizontal space then.
Figs is the fruit tree I have had the most success with on my small balcony (that’s my fig tree in the photo above). I keep it in a pot which is a great way to keep it contained. This is especially good if you want to grow it in a small space. You can also prune a fig tree or bush relatively aggressively which is a good way to keep it small.
One of the gardening experts I talked to before writing this article said that she sometimes would utilize the space underneath her fig tree by planting something small such as spinach and lettuce there.
Apples, Peaches, Pears, plums, and cherries
I chose to group these five different fruit trees together here because the trick to fitting them into a small space is generally the same for all five types.
The best way to fit apple, peach, pear, plum, and cherry trees into a small space is to go for dwarf varieties. Dwarf fruit trees are usually created through grafting, which essentially means that you take the above-ground part of one tree and unite it with the rootstock from another tree. That way you can get the small size properties from one tree and the fruiting properties from another tree, which makes it a good option for small spaces.
You can do the grafting yourself, but you can also often find dwarf trees at garden centers where you don’t have to do anything other than planting and taking care of them.