Plant Guide for Urban Gardeners

The following is a short list of recommended plants for your urban garden. You can also check out these excellent sites for ideas and advice: Container Gardening Tips, Garden Plant Care, Herb Gardening Tips, and Gardening Advice from Clean Air Gardening.


  • Echinacea is a terrific urban garden plant and has an appealing daisy-like bloom. It is also a medicinal plant and you can use it to make an immunity-building tincture.
  • Zinnias add easy color to your container garden.
  • Portulaca is available in many different colors and looks great spilling out of hanging baskets.
  • Trailing annuals such as Petunias work well with larger, more vertical plants placed in the background.
  • Tulip bulbs are a favorite for container gardening.
  • Begonia is a beautiful flower for hanging baskets.
  • Lily of the Nile in the dwarf size is great for small containers.
  • Daffodils are flowers grown from bulbs that will provide long-lasting color.
  • Lantana makes a colorful addition to your urban garden and will change color as the growing season progresses.
  • Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) is a beautiful daisy-like flower that can grow up to 3 feet tall. They love the sun and work well with low-lying grow covers.

Trees and Shrubs:

  • Japanese Maple is very showy, grows well in a small area, and tolerates shade.
  • If you dwarf your apple tree rootstocks, you can grow them in containers.
  • Dwarf crape myrtles planted in containers will do great during the summer on your balcony.
  • Bougainvilleas do great in containers and you can move them from the outdoors to a warm sunny spot indoors as winter approaches.
  • The South African native Afrocarpus falcate works well in narrow spaces with tall roofs.

Fruits and Vegetables:

  • Window Box Roma’ tomato works well in pots and will grow to a manageable size.
  • Radishes grow quickly and easily in container and grow at a shallow soil depth.
  • Carrots are available in miniature varieties. ‘Kinko’ and ‘Oxheart’ are excellent for small spaces.
  • Some citrus plants such as kumquats grow very well in containers and indoors.
  • ‘Tumbler’ tomatoes grow in vines and grow in hanging container gardens. Tomatoes are a staple of Italian cooking supplies.
  • Make use of your vertical space by planting climbing vegetables such as peas and beans.
  • Squash such as zucchini and sunburst do well in small spaces and can also grow up over vertical features of your urban garden.
  • Several varieties of cucumbers exist for growing in small spaces. Ask your local nursery for advice.
  • Figs grow great in containers, but make sure you use a durable container to keep the roots from breaking out.


  • Parsley is a hardy biennial that grows to a height of approximately 1 ½ feet and is a member of the Apiaceae family.
  • Basil is an annual that makes a wonderful addition to your herb window box.
  • There are many varieties of Sage, from Jim Sage to Pineapple Sage. Sage is an annual that grows from 1 ½ feet to 4 feet and is member of the Lamiaceae family.
  • Thyme is a woody, shrub-like, hardy perennial that grows to approximately 1 foot tall and is a member of the Labiatae family. Make sure you use a well-drained soil for growing thyme.
  • Rosemary is a hardy perennial that over-winters well in most climates. Rosemary grows well in full sun and can grow to a large shrub in very little time. It also gives off a wonderfully piney scent.

Climbing Plants and Vines:

  • Hardenbergia violacea works great in small urban gardens.
  • English Ivy can create a nice backdrop to your urban garden and can easily add green to a brick wall or fire escape.
  • Pyracantha rogersiana is an attractive climbing plant that has impressive fall colors.
  • Bougainvillea can be grown as an outdoor vine if you live in the right climate. It will also climb up an indoor trellis if you have a sunny spot.
  • Clematis is useful for occupying vertical spaces. Viticella varieties are especially recommended.

Cactus and Succulents:

  • Aloe is easy to plant in containers and will do very well indoors and out.
  • Sea Urchin Cactus (Astrophytum asterias) is easy to grow and flowers with five years of growth
  • Hedgehog Cacti (Echinocereus species) are small with abundant flowers and easy to grow for the novice cactus gardener.
  • Jades made excellent indoor plants and require minimal maintenance.
  • Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia Splendens) is an unusual plant with twisty branches, spines, and lots of flowers.
  • Pincushion Cacti (Mammillaria species) is a group of cacti that are low-maintenance and often have hair-like spines.

Want to learn more about  Urban Garden Plants?

Plant  has a fantastic guide to all kinds of plants. Whether you’re looking for flowers, fruits, vegetables, herbs or mushrooms, this guide gives you the in depth information you’re looking for.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac  provides a variety of links to videos and articles relating to herb and vegetable gardens. In addition, it has links to a wide variety of articles on the many aspects of gardening.  has a complete plant identification guide. You can click on any plant from their alphabetical list and find a picture and brief description, with instructions on growing conditions and propagation. It also gives you the scientific and common names of the plant.

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