Ever Wondered How to Grow Beets in Containers? Here are Simple Tips to Get You Started! - No Plant No Life

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Ever Wondered How to Grow Beets in Containers? Here are Simple Tips to Get You Started!

Admittedly, my fondness for beets (Beta vulgaris) didn't blossom overnight. 

But a pivotal moment shifted my perspective: a sandwich featuring home-pickled beets that outshone their canned counterparts in flavor and character.

The versatility of home-pickled beets extends to Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines.

The idea of a root cellar, replete with homegrown beets and other resilient root vegetables, evokes a sense of comfort and sustenance.

However, in the modern age, how many of us still possess functional root cellars? I'll admit, I'm slightly envious if you do.

In a world where weather extremes often thwart our gardening ambitions, advancements like HVAC systems and grow lights offer the ability to nurture vibrant, ruby-red beetroot within containers year-round. This article will dive into the details of this process.

Creating the Ideal Environment

Container-based beet cultivation is feasible both indoors and outdoors, each with its unique considerations.

Outdoor container growth thrives across a spectrum of USDA Hardiness Zones, accommodating the robust beetroots that can endure chilling Zone 2 lows of -50°F to the milder Zone 10 lows of 30°F.

These versatile and vibrantly colored vegetables thrive in cooler temperatures while basking in abundant sunlight.

Hailing from the Chenopodiaceae family, beets are close kin to chard, distinguished by chard's leafy focus instead of its root.

For those lucky enough to reside in USDA Hardiness Zones 7-10 and have access to a greenhouse or cold frame, outdoor container growth is possible throughout fall, winter, and spring. 

However, Zones 2-6 require overwintering indoors and maintaining temperatures within the range of 50-70°F is crucial.

Balancing temperature extremes ensures optimal growth, fostering an environment where beets flourish without being subjected to excessive heat or cold.

For reference, in the frigid Alaskan Anchorage area where temperatures plummet to -10°F, I maintain my home's thermostat at a cozy 67°F—ideal conditions for nurturing robust beets!

Choosing the Right Container

Successful beet cultivation hinges on selecting containers with ample depth to accommodate root expansion.

A container with a minimum depth of ten inches is essential, allowing roots ample room to develop and flourish.

While container width and length depend on the desired quantity of beets, it's important to sow seeds at a three-inch interval to facilitate proper maturation.

For those aiming for a substantial yield, a 15- to 20-gallon soft-sided Smart Pot from Amazon is a wise investment, though better suited for decks or porches due to its size.

Drainage holes are imperative, and adding a layer of small pebbles at the base of the container helps prevent waterlogging, ensuring the roots remain healthy.

Prepping the Soil

The soil for container-based beet cultivation can be either garden soil or an amended version, but maintaining a pH of 6.0-7.0 is crucial. It's advisable to conduct a soil test if using yard soil.

To foster healthy root expansion, well-draining and airy soil is necessary.

Crafting suitable soil involves incorporating compost or well-rotted manure for essential nutrients. 

Supplementing with bone meal for additional phosphorous may be necessary.

If opting for store-bought potting mix, consider Miracle-Gro Nature's Care Natural and Organic Potting Mix, available on Amazon, for its light and well-draining properties.

Introducing vegetable-specific fertilizer, such as Dr. Earth's organic option from Amazon, bolsters nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium content. 

Mixing one or two tablespoons per four square inches of soil before planting ensures even distribution.

Thorough blending is vital to prevent fungal issues stemming from uneven nutrient dispersion.

Sowing the Seeds

Though starting beet seeds in seedling trays is possible, transplantation can cause root damage. 

An alternative involves beginning the seeds indoors in two-inch-deep trays or biodegradable starter trays. 

Transplant the seedlings when they reach a height of around two inches.

Directly sowing seeds into containers is typically the preferred method to ensure optimal growth.

The sowing process entails soaking spiky pod-enclosed beetroot seeds in warm water to enhance germination. 

Plant seeds in holes spaced three inches apart, depositing two seeds per hole and lightly covering them with soil to facilitate sprouting.

Gentle watering is essential to avoid displacing the seeds.


In my past gardening endeavors, I've transformed my home office into a lush haven, brimming with greenery. 

Yet, my enthusiasm was often dampened by the tedious task of transporting each container to the kitchen for watering. 

A gentle stream from the kitchen faucet's rain feature used to be my go-to, but managing this chore while avoiding my curious toddler's attention was quite the challenge.

The struggle was even more pronounced with my prized beets, housed in 10-inch-deep containers. 

However, innovation came to my rescue in the form of a petite galvanized watering can from Amazon. 

This compact wonder, fitting snugly in my hand, revolutionized my watering routine, requiring just two trips to the faucet for my entire office garden.

One standout feature of this watering can is its sprinkle spout. Unlike forceful streams that can displace delicate new seeds, this can produce a gentle, even drizzle that nourishes the soil without causing disruption. 

It's a technique I've embraced wholeheartedly, particularly when watering freshly planted seeds to prevent dislodging.

When it comes to post-planting hydration, thoroughness is key. If you're nurturing seedlings in trays with humidity-retaining covers or similar features, a watering interval of two to three days usually suffices due to the preserved moisture. 

However, when dealing with pots or containers, be mindful of rapid evaporation, necessitating more frequent watering—approximately every other day.

The journey from seed to sprout typically spans five to ten days. Following germination, it's crucial to monitor the soil's moisture level. 

Water your seedlings when the top inch of soil begins to dry out. Striking the balance between moisture and avoiding waterlogging is pivotal for healthy growth.

Around a week after germination, thinning becomes a priority. Trim weaker stems at their base using sharp, clean scissors. 

This process ensures the sturdiest seedlings receive the optimal resources for growth, promoting a thriving crop.

While container-grown beets are often less prone to weeds, the occasional intruder might surface, especially if garden soil was used. 

Promptly uproot any weeds to safeguard your beets' access to vital water and nutrients.

As we delve further into the secrets of successful beet cultivation, let's uncover a not-so-secret, secret that holds the key to growing exceptional beets.

Nurturing Growth

Adequate lighting is pivotal to successful beet cultivation.

Beets thrive when exposed to six to eight hours of sunlight daily, whether in indoor or outdoor container environments.

For indoor growth, positioning containers near sunny windows ensures adequate light exposure. 

In cases of insufficient sunlight, the use of a grow light, such as the budget-friendly option available on Amazon, supports both germination and growth.

Providing a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight per day through a window is crucial for optimal growth. 

For those residing in regions with limited natural light, investing in a grow light becomes indispensable.

For individuals like me who live in areas with diminished sunlight during winters, a grow light becomes a lifesaver. 

The budget-friendly grow light I purchased from Amazon has proven remarkably effective, enabling my beet seeds to germinate in as little as six to seven days. 

Even notoriously slow-to-sprout crops like carrots have emerged within two weeks.

This particular grow light features customizable settings, including red-blue combinations for germination and chlorophyll synthesis or a yellow-bulb-only setting for full-spectrum photosynthesis. 

My preference is the third setting, which combines red, blue, and full-spectrum yellow light to facilitate optimal photosynthesis and growth.

While leafy greens can thrive even in partial sunlight, it's important to note that without adequate sunlight exposure, beets won't develop the juicy, vibrant roots they're renowned for.

A notable feature of the grow light is its timer function, which allows for three, nine, or twelve-hour light periods. 

I find setting it for nine or twelve hours a day yields excellent results, promoting robust and healthy growth.

So, when venturing into container beet cultivation, remember that providing ample light is crucial to a thriving harvest. 

Don't underestimate the importance of adequate light, especially when recreating an optimal growing environment indoors.

Tips for Successful Growth

Beyond the basic steps of container-based beet cultivation, a few pro tips can significantly enhance your success:

1. Weed Management

While container-grown beets tend to be less prone to weeds, it's essential to promptly remove any weeds that do emerge. 

Weeds can compete with your beet plants for valuable nutrients, stunting their growth. 

Regular inspection and quick removal of weeds will contribute to healthier and more robust plants.

2. Moisture Management

Achieving the right balance of soil moisture is essential for healthy beet growth. 

Container soil tends to dry out faster than garden soil, so monitor moisture levels closely. 

While beets prefer consistently moist soil, avoid overwatering, which can lead to waterlogging and root rot.

3. Adequate Spacing

Be sure to provide adequate spacing between beet seedlings to prevent overcrowding. 

Proper spacing ensures proper air circulation, reduces the risk of fungal diseases, and allows each plant to access sufficient nutrients and sunlight for optimal growth.

4. Avoid Leaf Dampness

When watering, be cautious not to wet the foliage excessively. Damp leaves can promote the development of fungal diseases. Water the soil directly, keeping the leaves as dry as possible.

5. Harvesting with Care

When it's time to harvest, do so with care. Beet greens can be harvested as needed, depending on your preference for tender young leaves or mature greens. 

To harvest the roots, gently uproot them, taking care not to damage them. 

Container-grown beets often boast well-formed roots due to the controlled growing conditions.

6. Nutrient Management

Regularly monitor the nutrient levels in your container soil. Nutrient deficiencies can impact the growth and health of your beets. 

If necessary, supplement with appropriate fertilizers to ensure your plants receive all the essential nutrients they need for robust growth.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the journey of container-based beet cultivation is not only rewarding but also filled with possibilities. 

From sowing the seeds to nurturing the plants and enjoying the harvest, each step contributes to a sense of accomplishment and a deeper connection to the food you grow.

Whether you're a seasoned gardener or a novice exploring the world of gardening, container beets offer a fascinating avenue to explore. 

By carefully following the steps outlined in this guide and incorporating the pro tips, you're well-equipped to embark on a successful journey of cultivating beets in containers. 

So, prepare yourself, gather what you need, and let the adventure start!

FAQs: Container Gardening with Beets

1. Can beets be grown in containers?

Absolutely! Beets can thrive in containers, making them an excellent choice for urban gardeners, those with limited space, or anyone looking to enjoy homegrown beets year-round.

2. What type of container is best for growing beets?

Choose a container with a depth of at least ten inches to accommodate root growth. The width and length can vary based on your preference and space availability. Containers with drainage holes are essential to prevent waterlogging.

3. Can I use regular garden soil for container-grown beets?

Yes, garden soil can be used, but amending it for better drainage and nutrient content is recommended. Beets thrive in soil with a pH of 6.0-7.0 and benefit from the addition of compost or well-rotted manure.

4. How often should I water container-grown beets?

Monitor soil moisture closely and water when the top inch of soil is dry. While beets prefer consistently moist soil, overwatering should be avoided to prevent waterlogged roots.

5. Do beets need a lot of sunlight to grow in containers?

Yes, beets require six to eight hours of sunlight daily for optimal growth. For indoor gardeners, placing containers near a sunny window or using a grow light ensures sufficient light exposure.

6. How long does it take for beet seeds to germinate?

Beet seeds usually germinate within five to ten days under optimal conditions. Factors such as temperature, humidity, and light can influence germination time.

7. Can I grow beets indoors during the winter?

Yes, you can grow beets indoors during the winter using grow lights or placing containers near sunny windows. This allows you to enjoy fresh beets even when outdoor conditions are less favorable.

8. How do I prevent pests and diseases in container-grown beets?

Container-grown beets are less susceptible to pests and diseases compared to those grown in the ground. However, monitor for common issues like aphids and beet webworms. Neem oil solutions can help manage pests.

9. When should I harvest my container-grown beets?

Beet greens can be harvested at any time for salads and stir-fries. For mature roots, harvest around six to eight weeks post-germination. Check your seed packet for specific maturity dates.

10. Are container-grown beets as flavorful as traditional garden beets?

Yes, container-grown beets can be just as flavorful and nutritious as traditional garden beets. By providing the right growing conditions, you can enjoy vibrant, tasty, and homegrown beets straight from your containers.

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