How to Grow Beets in Containers

Are you searching for a quick and easy to grow spring or autumn crop? Well then, consider beets to be your best friend! These unique ground crops not only produce tasty roots, but also a plethora of nutritious greens. The best part about beets though, is their ability to be grown densely in small spaces! This makes them highly attractive for container gardeners looking to make the most out of their season. Thriving in the cool weather of spring, beets will be harvested in time to replant your containers with summer crops! Increase the efficiency of your patio garden by learning how to grow beets in containers.


Growing Beets in Containers - The Basics

Belonging to the Amaranthaceae family, Beta vulgaris (beetroot) is a quick growing root crop that does exceptionally well in the cool weather of spring and autumn. 

Bull's Blood Beet Greens.
  • Full Sun - Beets will thrive in areas where they receive at least six hours of direct sunlight on a daily basis. During the early part of the season (while the weather is still cool), allow beets to bask in as much sunlight as possible. As spring progressively turns to summer, the sun's heat will become more intense during the afternoons. At this point, situate your beets in an area that will receive strong morning sunlight, but will be partly shaded during the afternoon hours. 
  • High Quality Potting Soil - An organic potting soil with plenty of compost and perlite should be used when growing beets. These qualities will meet the nutritional requirements and also provide proper soil drainage. 
  • Feed with Compost Tea - Boron is an essential trace element needed for proper growth in almost all garden crops, but it is especially needed when cultivating beets. To supply this much needed nutrient, feed beet plants with a seaweed amended compost tea. When brewing your compost tea, add two sheets of ground nori for every gallon brewed. This addition will supply ample amounts of boron as well as many other beneficial nutrients. Use once weekly as a soil drench and foliage spray when the plants have reached an age of three weeks old.
Beet & Carrot Planter.
  • Deep Container - Beets can be grown in a variety of containers as long as they have a depth of 8-12 inches. At these depths, the long beet roots will have plenty of room to develop without the chance of becoming root bound. Deep containers will also lessen the chances of your soil drying out too quickly during the hotter parts of the season. 

Planting Beets - 

Container gardeners really have the upper hand when it comes to early planting. Due to the fact that most containers can be started indoors, patio gardeners will be able to plant their beets at least a couple weeks before those planting outdoors are able to. For gardeners on a tight schedule, this will allow them to free up containers quicker for planting summer crops. 
Bull's Blood Beet
    • Four to five weeks before the average last frost in your area, begin planting your beet seeds. Germinate and care for the early seedlings indoors. Beets do not like to be transplanted, so if you can't keep their final container indoors, start beet seeds outdoors 2-3 weeks before the average last frost. 
    • In your container's soil, space one inch deep holes at least four inches from each other in all directions. Keep the planting holes at least one and a half inches from the rim of the container. In a standard 12 inch flower pot, you'll be able to fit five beet plants. 
    • Add one beet seed per hole, cover up, and water the seeds in well. Keep the soil moist and the container in a warm area while you wait for the seeds to germinate. 
    • After 7-10 days, the beet seeds should begin to sprout. Once germinated, immediately move the seedlings to an area where they'll receive full sunlight. A south facing windowsill or artificial lighting will suffice. Continue to keep the soil moist, but never soggy during this time.
    Growing Beets.
    • Over the next couple of weeks, you'll notice that several beet seedlings may sprout from the same hole. This is perfectly normal, as beet seeds are actually several seeds fused together. Although many may sprout, only one plant is needed per hole. At two weeks of growth, trim back the weakest seedlings. Use scissors to cut back unwanted sprouts at the soil line. 
    • Around 2-3 weeks before the average last frost, begin acclimating the beet seedlings to the outdoor climate. Start by taking the beets outdoors for a few hours each day, and then gradually increase the time. By the end of a week acclimating, the beets should be able to stay outdoors permanently. Bring inside only if the nighttime temperatures will be expected to drop well below freezing. 
    For an autumn crop, follow the same basic guidelines above, but skip the step of starting your seeds indoors. Instead, plant beet seeds outdoors, approximately two months before the average first frost in fall. 

    Watering & Fertilizing -

    Once your beet plants have been thinned and acclimated to the outdoors, the rest is a downhill journey! Water your beets every other day, or once the top inch of soil has become dry. If beet plants require more frequent watering, they'll let you know by drooping of the foliage. At about three weeks to one month from the date first sprouting, fertilize the beet plants with compost tea. Use both a soil drench and foliage spray to apply the tea on a weekly basis. This will be completed until the beets are ready to harvest. 


    Harvesting Beets -

    Bull's Blood Beets
    harvested at a "baby beet"
    stage. Another week or so,
    and the beets would be full
    Depending on the variety grown, beets will be ready for harvest on an average of 45-70 days after first germinating. To check the size of your beet roots, gently uncover the soil around the base of each plant. For beets that are ready to harvest, you should see a root about the size of a golf ball. If they are a little smaller than this, cover them back up and let them grow for a while longer. If you are satisfied with the size of the beets, gently pull them from the soil. This can be done by grasping the base of each plant and then pulling up. The beets should break free rather easily. After harvesting, immediately wash and separate the leaves from the roots. Store leaves in the refrigerator for up to a week, and roots for up to a couple months.  


    Growing quickly and with relative ease, you'll be pleasantly surprised with the diversity beets bring to your container garden! Spruce up your spring and autumn planting by growing some beets this season. Thanks for reading this guide on how to grow beets in containers. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions!

    1 comment:

    1. I enjoy your posts a great deal. Your ideas are well organized, are an easy read and full of super info. Thank you!! for sharing; am learning a lot.