I have a bunch of plastic containers from take away food I have ordered over a period of time. I have few container ranging from 200ml to 1 Litre capacity. I was wondering what could I plant in these containers (if possible) indoor or outdoors.

I have searched the web and all I could find was annoying websites making me click 10 times to see 10 pictures and names of plants. I would appreciate if someone can point me to a decent site to look for plants or share few plant names I can look out.

I can't plant cactus or any other thorny plant.

  • 1
    Remember, though, its the depth of the container that's particularly important - some takeaway containers are very shallow, being only an inch deep but 6 x 4 wide... and all will need to have drainage holes made.
    – Bamboo
    Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 11:26
  • All the containers are near cylindrical in shape so I do not really have to worry. Drainage holes: check
    – danish
    Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 12:13

1 Answer 1


A multitude of species can be grown for decades in pots smaller than 1 litre. Exactly what species, though, will depend upon your climate. Tropical species can be grown indoors, but (generally speaking) only if you can provide artificial light approximating sunlight. In the line of tropicals, pemphis and small leafed figs (ficus) are two species that come to mind. Jade plants (crassula) do very well in low light indoors.

In the line of temperate plants, pinus thunbergii (Japanese black pine) is the classic bonsai tree, and can even be grown in the tropics. There are a multitude of small azaleas that are relatively carefree to grow in small pots.

I am a bonsai enthusiast, living in USDA plant zone 8. I have many varieties of maples (acer palmatum, acer ginnala, acer platanoides,and acer rubrum) that I have kept in pots smaller than 1 litre for 5 or so years now. I also have Douglas firs, lodgepole pines, pinus parviflora, pinus strobus, pinus mugo, spruce (Colorado blue, picea abies, and picea abies 'nidiformis'), cedars (Atlas and libani), elms (ulmus parviflora 'Suiju' and Zelkova serrata), cotoneasters, pyracantha, forsythia, varieties of prunus, malus and pyrus, stewartia, boxwoods, junipers, escallonia, ceanothus, and a few others that I'm not recalling right now. For bonsai we look at species with short internodes and small leaves or ones that will exhibit this behavior when confined to small pots.

But, there are a number of slow growing miniature cultivars that are sold in the U.S. for 'rock gardens'. Chamaecyparis obtusa (hinoki cypress) 'chirimen' is one that comes to mind that will do just fine with little attention for about 5 years in a 1 litre container. Cedrus libani 'Kenwith' and 'Green Prince' are a couple more of this type.

The issue really isn't what plants can be grown in pots smaller than one litre (just about any species), but the materials and techniques to do it successfully. Otherwise, just look for slow growing, miniature, 'rock garden' plants at your local garden center.

  • Thanks a lot for this detailed response. Appreciate it. I live in tropical climate so will look for the ones you mentioned however, final decision will be made by Mrs. Wife. I hope the local shop keeps ones you have mentioned.
    – danish
    Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 8:45
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    Another thought is to grow some plants from seed. I have a pieris Japonica (andromeda) in about 30 milliliters of soil that was grown from a seed taken from one growing outside my house. This seedling has been in that pot, on the window sill in the kitchen for 4 years and has much smaller leaves than the mother plant - repotted and root pruned once, pinched back three or four times a year, watered every day or two. Have fun with seeds from plants found near where you live.
    – user13580
    Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 17:28
  • I have never lived in apartments before so I am very new to planting in pots. So, these might be noob questions. I have planted chillies, coriander/cilantro and lemon seeds into the pots. I can see tiny chilly and coriander shoots already (yaay). For lemon, do you think it will behave as bonsai? Or I need to do something for it?
    – danish
    Commented May 26, 2016 at 3:35
  • 1
    In terms of an artistic bonsai, lemon is not good. But it is commonly kept as an indoor potted tree. I have no experience with germinating lemon seeds, but it is primarily a matter of patience. See
    – user13580
    Commented May 26, 2016 at 4:03
  • You are welcome @danish. Have fun!
    – user13580
    Commented May 26, 2016 at 5:09

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