25 Best Plants for Raised Garden Beds

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Best Plants for Raised Garden Beds

Raised bed gardening is the solution for a number of common gardening woes. Raised beds allow for easier access when it comes to watering and weeding (goodbye back-ache!), and enable you to tailor the soil to suit whatever you are growing.

There’s a huge range of plants which can be grown in raised garden beds, and in fact many of these plants do a lot better in raised beds than traditional in-ground beds. Fruits, vegetables and colourful perennials can all thrive in this style of garden, while it’s easy to adapt the soil to suit their precise needs. 

Let’s take a look at the 25 best plants for raised garden beds. 

Vegetables

1. Carrots

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Carrots are a great addition to any raised vegetable garden, as they grow better in containers than they do in open soil. You can plant a large number of carrots in a smaller space, although they do need a depth of around 18″.

Planting carrots in raised beds is very easy. Draw a line in the soil with a plant marker to form a groove around 2 cm deep. Lightly sow the seeds into this groove, then cover with surrounding soil. 

Add some more colour to your mealtimes by planting purple, yellow and white varieties!

2. Kale

 

 
 
 
 
 
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High in fibre and packed full of vitamins, kale is a feel-good vegetable to add to your meals. Compact varieties of kale are perfect for raised beds, producing plenty of greens without taking up too much space. Larger varieties need a fair amount of space and are best started in pots. 

Kale seeds can be sown indoors between late spring and early summer. Around a week before planting, move the plants outside for short periods so they can acclimatise

3. Tomatoes

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Tomatoes appreciate warm soil temperatures so are perfect for raised beds. Higher yields are usually a result of lots of sunshine and good soil!

Different varieties of tomatoes suit different growing methods. Vine tomato plants will require a trellis or support, while tumbling tomatoes can be planted at the edges of the raised bed and allowed to cascade over the sides.

The beauty of a raised bed is that you have complete control over the soil conditions. Tomatoes prefer a well-drained, nitrogen-rich soil with a pH of 6.5. 

Remember that tomatoes need plenty of room. Aim for a depth of between 24″ and 36″ for the plant roots. 

4. Cucumbers

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Perfect for summer salads or a light snack, cucumbers are a popular choice for raised vegetable gardens. They can be planted in late April or earlier if you have a heated greenhouse. 

Cucumbers do very well in raised beds thanks to the improved drainage and slightly higher soil temperature. If your raised bed is against a fence, opt for vining cucumbers to save space. A sturdy trellis will give your cucumber plants support as they grow. 

Soil quality and depth is important. Cucumbers need at least 18″ of rich, slightly acidic, fertile soil.

5. Lettuce

 

 
 
 
 
 
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This salad staple loves the open soil structure that raised beds can offer, but it’s important to opt for the right variety. 

Little gem and Lobjoits green grow fairly compactly, so are a great option for gardeners with a smaller space. Lettuce can be grown in raised beds in a couple of ways. Either transplant lettuces that have been grown in pots, or sow the seeds directly into the bed. 

Sow lettuce seeds from late March onwards once the soil has begun to warm, adding seeds each week so you’ll have a fresh supply of leaves all summer. 

6. Radishes

 

 
 
 
 
 
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One of the best vegetables for a raised bed garden, radishes are easy for beginner gardeners  to grow. They enjoy the good drainage that raised beds provide. They can be planted close to other plants and grow well in semi-shade, so suit those with limited space. 

Keep in mind that radishes planted in the summer should be placed next to taller plants, as these can help protect them from very hot temperatures. 

7. Spinach

 

 
 
 
 
 
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One of the nation’s favourite leafy greens, spinach is perfect for home vegetable gardens. It’s also one of the easiest vegetables to grow, which makes it a great choice for novice gardeners. Spinach plants are very hardy, and require little maintenance once established. 

Sow the seeds of spinach 8 weeks before the last chance of a frost. After sowing, water immediately and keep the soil moist but not damp.

Spinach prefers a nitrogen-rich soil and can be fertilised throughout the growing season. Other than that, spinach is very low maintenance. 

You’ll be able to harvest spinach just 6-8 weeks after sowing.

8. Peas

Peas are an annual vegetable that produce a yield throughout the summer. They are usually planted in raised beds early in the spring. 

If you’re growing your peas in rows, ensure they have at least 12” between them. While dwarf varieties won’t need supporting, tall and vining varieties of pea will need a trellis or structure. If you don’t use trellises, peas can start climbing the other plants surrounding them! 

9. Celery

Considered one of the most challenging plants to grow from seed, celery isn’t for the faint-hearted! This vegetable has a long growing season and poor tolerance to both heat and cold. 

Celery plants have shallow root systems which makes them a good choice for raised beds. You should plant them outside once temperatures are consistently above 10 degrees, in a spot where the plant will receive at least 8 hours of sun. In the height of summer, celery will need some shade. 

As if that doesn’t sound tricky enough, celery needs a lot of water and can’t tolerate a drought of any kind! 

Fruits

10. Strawberries

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A symbol of the Great British summer, strawberries are one of the easiest fruits for gardeners to grow. They are perfect for those with smaller raised beds, as they don’t require a huge amount of room. They don’t have deep roots, so they shouldn’t need more than 12” of space beneath them.

Strawberries need good drainage, which raised beds are able to provide. They do best in a 50/50 mixture of topsoil and organic matter such as compost.  

One thing to keep in mind is that strawberries can be fussy when it comes to companion plants. You should avoid planting your strawberries next to potatoes, melons, peppers, tomatoes and mint. 

11. Raspberries

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Raspberries are perfect for raised beds, as the clear boundaries can help keep the plants a little more contained! Setting up a trellis system makes them easier to care for, and they do well with other plants like garlic, chives and onions. 

Raspberries prefer well-drained, loamy soil and compost. They need a fair amount of space between them; around 18-24”, as well as around 8 hours of sunlight a day. Weekly watering once established and slightly acidic soil should lead to a bountiful harvest!

12. Watermelon

If you’ve got a larger raised bed, you might consider growing watermelons. Smaller watermelon varieties can be grown on a trellis, which means you can grow something else underneath. 

The other option is watermelons that sprawl across the bed. These do, however, take up a lot of space and should only be planted if you’re willing to sacrifice a few feet of space for your watermelon plants! 

Watermelons require a spot in full sun and, once planted, need around 2” of water a week. They need a soil depth of at least 24”. 

Perennials

13. Salvias

Salvia or ornamental sage makes a gorgeous summer statement. This plant grows in a range of colours which attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators. 

One of the best things about salvias is that they flower for months on end, often until the first frost. While the rest of your flowers are wilting, salvias will bring colour and vibrancy to your beds. 

These perennials grow very well in pots or raised beds. They prefer full sun and well-drained soil. Ensure your bed has a thick lining to help them stay warm in the winter. 

14. Lavender

Lavender is a wonderful addition to any raised bed, and the scent we all know and love can actually help to deter pests! 

This herb can be a challenge to grow if you live in a wet area, which is why it’s often planted in raised beds and containers. Fill your bed with a well-drained soil mix.

In the ground, lavender is fairly drought tolerant, but it will need watering during the summer in raised beds. English lavender is the hardiest type and can survive the winter frosts.

15. Hellebores

Producing pretty blooms in the winter and early spring, Hellebores will give your garden some year-round colour. 

These plants are hardy, compact and very low maintenance. They are happiest in partial shade, so a good choice for those with north facing gardens or lots of shaded areas. 

The non-hardy Hellebore varieties do best in containers or raised beds, as these can be protected from frost in the colder months. They require a free-draining compost and will thrive when planted alongside snowdrops, crocuses or daffodils. 

16. Mint

Known for its aromatic leaves and range of health benefits, mint is a great choice for raised bed herb gardens. Keep an eye on your mint plants though, as without control they can rapidly take over your entire garden!

Once established, mint is drought-tolerant and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. Mint can be planted in either the spring or autumn, and it can usually be harvested until the first frost. It’s very easy to grow from root cuttings or young plants. 

17. Yarrow

A medicinal powerhouse, yarrow is believed to be able to cure a number of ailments. Yarrow tea is thought to cure a fever, while a yarrow poultice can reduce inflammation. Use yarrow flowers on bug bites, bee stings, cuts and burns to reduce soreness. 

Medicinal properties aside, it produces cheerful white flowers that can actually enhance the production of other plants. Yarrow attracts a range of insects and pollinators, while its odour can repel unwanted pests. 

A great choice for either raised beds or containers, yarrow grows very happily in a range of conditions. Planting is best done in early spring, and you should ensure your beds receive at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. You’ll also need good drainage and lean, loose soil.

18. Geraniums

One of the UK’s favourite perennials, geraniums produce bold flowers and a sweet scent. They grow very well in raised beds or containers as they love loose, well-drained soil and consistent watering. As long as your raised beds have good drainage and are placed in a sunny spot, you should find your geraniums to be very little trouble. 

Geraniums are often confused with pelargoniums, which are less-hardy annuals in the same family. Proper geraniums can be grown outside year-round.

19. Black-eyed Susans

Producing a pop of yellow against their rich green foliage, Blackeyed Susans are a sunny addition to any garden. They can grow up to 3ft tall, with the flowers reaching up to 3” in diameter. Those looking to attract more pollinators to their garden should consider Blackeyed Susans – as the nectar appeals to butterflies, bees and other insects. 

These plants tend to do best in raised beds as, without control, they can multiply too readily! While they prefer full sun and fertile soil, they are very forgiving and can bounce back after neglect. 

20. Clematis

Providing they’ve got enough space to spread their large roots, clematis grow very well in raised beds. They are best planted in spring or early autumn when the soil is warm and moist. 

Ideally, clematis need a container at least 15” wide and 18” deep. While smaller varieties can survive with less room, they will be more prone to disease.

Clematis prefer full sun and regular watering throughout the growing season. They aren’t particularly forgiving, so don’t allow them to dry out.

21. Siberian Iris

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Characterised by their violet-blue flowers which bloom in early summer, Siberian irises are the best flowers for those searching for early-blooming perennials that’ll add the first pop of colour to their raised beds. 

Even after flowering, the sword-like foliage of Siberian irises keeps your raised beds looking beautiful all through the summer. They can grow up to 1.2 m tall so are perfect if you’re looking to screen a certain area of your garden.

A fairly low maintenance perennial, Siberian irises simply require full sun and an average soil that’s kept moist but not soggy. In early spring, feed them with a balanced 10-10-10 fertiliser. 

22. Nippon Daisies

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Nippon daisies are shrubby perennial plants which can grow up to 3ft tall. Originating in Japan, these plants produce white daisy flowers and shiny green leaves. 

These perennials prefer beds in full sun, and they grow very happily in well-drained soil. They are very low maintenance during the growing season, but should be trimmed in the early spring so fresh buds can develop.

23. Coneflowers

A coneflower or Echineacea is one of the most versatile wildflowers, attracting bees, butterflies and birds. They are native to the eastern and central United States, available in either purple or white varieties. They are characterised by their cone-shaped flowering heads. 

Coneflowers are often planted alongside vegetables in a raised bed vegetable garden, as they won’t spread or take over the bed. 

Some gardeners use the purple flower petals to add colour and flavour to salads, while the roots and seed heads are thought to have healing properties. 

The best time to sow coneflower seeds is in August, as this’ll give you a colourful display the following July. They prefer full sun and well-draining soil, but they are highly adaptable so perfect for gardeners with little experience. In fact, they can tolerate shallow, rocky soils as well as heavy clay.

24. Daylilies

 

 
 
 
 
 
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With the botanical name translating to ‘beauty for a day’, an individual daylily is a fairly short term addition to your garden. Most daylily flowers open in the morning and die by the evening – so you should make the most of them when they flower!

Daylilies grow very well in raised beds as they prefer well-drained soil and full sun. While they may sound high maintenance, they actually require very little by way of fertilisation or feeding. When planted in the right location, daylilies can flower for years. Simply add extra compost to the soil once a year. 

25. Rosemary

Perennial herbs such as rosemary are very easy to grow, and you can grow a range of herbs in one bed.  Rosemary has a gorgeous scent and will add flavour to a variety of culinary creations, from Sunday roasts to desserts and even cocktails!

To grow rosemary in a raised bed, you’ll need a good quality potting mix and a fair amount of room. Proper watering is key, but rosemary should never be allowed to stand in water. 

Rosemary can be tricky to grow from seed, so the easiest way to start it is by purchasing a bedding plant from a garden centre or supermarket.

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