The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Plants for Your Raised Garden Bed

Raised garden beds have become increasingly popular for growing vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Their elevated design provides better drainage, allows you to control the soil quality, and makes gardening more accessible.

But with so many plant options, how do you decide what to grow? The key is choosing varieties that will thrive in the unique environment of a raised bed.

In this comprehensive guide we’ll cover

  • Benefits of raised beds
  • Factors to consider when selecting plants
  • The top recommendations for raised bed gardening
  • Useful tips for success

Why Choose Raised Beds?

Raised garden beds offer numerous advantages over traditional in-ground gardening

  • Improved drainage and aeration since beds aren’t compacted by foot traffic
  • Warmer soils in spring, extending the growing season
  • Ability to create the ideal soil composition for your plants
  • Reduced weed and pest pressure
  • More ergonomic for planting, tending and harvesting
  • Better organization for crop rotation
  • Versatile and aesthetically pleasing for landscape design

The isolated soil environment allows you to optimize nutrients and moisture levels for your plants. But to reap these benefits, it’s important to select appropriate plants suited for raised bed conditions.

Key Factors for Selecting Plants

Here are some key considerations when deciding which plants will perform best in your raised garden bed:

Sun Exposure

Assess the sunlight levels in your garden, Some vegetables like tomatoes need at least 6-8 hours of direct sun while greens can tolerate more shade,

Mature Size

Consider the mature size of each plant and space accordingly to prevent overcrowding. Compact or dwarf cultivars are ideal for small beds.

Soil Needs

Certain plants have specific soil requirements that may require amendments, such as adding lime for brassicas.

Plant Habit

Choose plants suited for the confined space of a raised bed. Vining crops like pumpkins can quickly outgrow the bed.

Growing Season

Factor in the length of each plant’s growing season in relation to your climate and first/last frost dates.

Companion Planting

Plants that grow well together are called “Three Sisters.” They are corn, beans, and squash.

Best Herbs for Raised Beds

Herbs are commonly grown in raised beds since their shallow roots thrive in the enriched soil environment. These are some top herb choices:


A warm-season annual that can be succession planted for continual harvests. Grow bushy cultivars like ‘Genovese’ or ‘Globe’.


A hardy perennial that fills out fast. Look for compact Greek oregano or ornamental varieties like ‘Aureum’ with golden foliage.


Drought-tolerant with a spreading habit, making it an excellent groundcover option between other plants.


An attractive evergreen perennial that repels certain pests. Keep soil on the dry side.


Prefers free-draining soil. Choose prostrate creeping varieties like ‘Prostratus’ in colder climates.


Easy to grow perennial that acts as a beneficial companion plant to deter pests.

Best Vegetables for Raised Beds

Vegetables are a natural fit for raised bed gardening. Here are some of the best options:

Leafy Greens

  • Spinach, kale, lettuce – Fast-growing and tolerant of shade. Use succession planting.

Root Crops

  • Beets, carrots, radishes – Thrive with the raised bed’s loose, stone-free soil.


  • Bush beans, pole beans – Nitrogen-fixing plants that enrich the soil for rotation.


  • ‘Sungold’, ‘Brandywine’, ‘Roma’ – Need full sun. Use cages or trellises for support.


  • Bell peppers, chili peppers – Prefer warm soil. Interplant with flowers or herbs.


  • Versatile perennials well-suited for raised beds of all sizes.


  • Can be trellised vertically along the edges to maximize space.

Best Flowers for Raised Garden Beds

In addition to edible plants, raised beds are great for displaying ornamental flowers:


A hardy annual that deters pests like nematodes with its roots.


Vibrant edible flowers that ward off aphids. Trailing varieties look great along edges.


An evergreen perennial herb with fragrant foliage. Prefers free-draining soil.


Easy to grow from seed and available in many colors. Deadhead to prolong blooming.


A classic raised bed plant. Choose dwarf or potted varieties for small spaces.


A heat-loving annual that blooms prolifically in sunny beds. Add vibrant color.

Best Plants for Moist Raised Bed Soil

Some plants that thrive in consistently moist soil are perfectly suited for irrigated raised beds:

  • Monkshood
  • Cardinal flower
  • Japanese iris
  • Astilbe
  • Primrose
  • Forget-me-nots
  • Lady’s mantle
  • Rodgersia
  • Ligularia
  • Watercress

If your raised bed tends to stay wet, incorporate organic material like compost to improve drainage before planting. Group these moisture lovers in the lowest, wettest spots.

Best Plants for Dry Raised Bed Soil

For raised garden beds that dry out frequently, these drought-tolerant plants are excellent choices:

  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • sedum
  • Echeveria
  • Salvia
  • Ornamental grasses
  • Succulents like aloe
  • Russian sage
  • Blanket flower
  • Blue star creeper
  • Prairie smoke

Check soil moisture levels regularly, water deeply when needed, and use mulch to help retain moisture. North facing beds often stay drier.

Tips for Success with Raised Bed Plants

Follow these tips to ensure your plants get off to the best start and thrive in your raised garden beds:

  • Enrich soil with compost before planting
  • Use drip irrigation or soaker hoses to maintain even moisture
  • Utilize vertical space with trellises and cages
  • Practice crop rotation between seasons
  • Add compost and replenish nutrients annually
  • Control weeds before they become established
  • Use row covers to extend seasons in cooler climates
  • Monitor for pests and diseases and treat organically if needed

With the right plant choices suited to the conditions, raised beds can significantly increase the productivity of small spaces. Paying attention to sunlight, soil, and spacing requirements will guarantee lush and healthy raised bed gardens.

The advantages of raised bed gardening are numerous, but the key to success lies in selecting appropriate plants that will flourish in this specialized environment. Focus on compact varieties, assess your conditions diligently, and employ sound horticultural practices for abundant harvests.

10 vegetables that grow well in raised beds


What plants are best for a raised garden bed?

Leafy greens: Vegetables like lettuce, spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are easy to grow and do well in raised beds. They prefer well-draining soil and partial shade, making them a good choice for raised beds that receive some shade during the day.

What is the best to put in a garden bed?

We recommend opting for 100% natural soil, Certified Organic soil, or a special soil mix like a booster or fertiliser-controlled soil. Never use ground soil from your existing garden. Using existing soil from your garden can cause long-term problems like water logging, weeds and poor growth.

What is the best raised garden bed?

It’s not the cheapest option, especially if you purchase some of the optional accessories that can be used with the raised garden bed. Our top overall pick for the best raised garden bed is the Vego Garden 9-in-1 Raised Garden Bed Kit because it can be configured nine different ways.

What plants grow well in raised beds?

Most herbs, vegetables, and flowering plants will do well in raised beds, but some plants, like indeterminate tomatoes, have large root systems that can grow many feet deep.

What are the different types of raised garden beds?

While some of the designations can overlap, there are four basic types of raised garden beds: raised ground beds, supported raised beds, containerized raised beds, and elevated raised beds. A raised ground bed requires no additional materials other than soil. It’s a simple form of a raised bed with flat-topped mounds, usually 6 to 8 inches high.

Are raised beds good for perennials?

Raised beds are a perfect vessel for perennial gardens. Most perennials will grow nicely in raised beds, while others may need more space to spread out. In this article, gardening expert Jill Drago will list 27 perennials that are perfect for your raised beds. Raised beds are for more than just vegetables!

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