Longing for home-grown tomatoes, but lack space in your garden? Tomatoes are among the garden vegetables that thrive in pots. And one or two plants will provide a family of four with enough tomatoes for the summer. Place a pot on your patio or next to your kitchen door. Any warm, sunny spot will do. Read on to learn more about growing tomatoes in pots.
Choosing the Perfect Container Tomato
When choosing a tomato plant for a container, your first consideration should be size. Heirloom tomatoes are a fabulous option in a large garden, but their long, unruly vines don’t work well in a container. These types are also more prone to disease. Instead, choose compact determinate varieties. These hybrid tomatoes stay smaller and produce a reliable crop of fruit. They’re bred to slow growth after reaching a certain height, while indeterminate tomato vines continue to sprawl until the first frost.
Although you can grow big beefsteak tomatoes in a container, most gardeners prefer to grow smaller tomato varieties, including grape, cherry and Roma tomatoes. These types produce fruit earlier and require less staking and training to support heavy fruit.
Look for plants that are disease resistant. Plants in pots can get diseases almost as easily as those in your garden. Disease resistant plants are typically labeled with one or a combination of the following letters-V, F, N, which refers to the diseases they resist. Another thing to consider is how quickly the tomato bears fruit. Many compact grape and cherry types bear fruit very early in the season so you can enjoy them longer.
Think about your climate, as well. If winter comes early in your region, you’ll definitely want to grow a variety that matures in less than 70 days. On the other hand, if you live in the South or Southwest, try a tomato variety bred to tolerate heat. Regular tomato plants stop setting fruit when the temperature rises. New heat-tolerant varieties continue to bear fruit more reliably even in very hot weather. Below you’ll find a few of our favorite tomato varieties for container growth.
Short Season Tomato Varieties for Container Gardening
This determinate type tomato plant produces sweet cherry tomatoes in only 50 days. It remains compact in size.
Patio F1 Hybrid.
A determinate hybrid that produces tennis ball size fruit within 70 days.
Bush Early Girl Hybrid.
This perennial favorite is common in nurseries across the country. Very disease resistant with a compact growth form. Produces small fruits within 54 days.
Clear Pink Early.
The variety and flavor of an heirloom with compact, determinate growth. This plant produces sweet pink tomatoes within 58 days. Not disease resistant.
Bred for short-season gardeners, this determinate plant produces fruit within 58 days.
Better Bush Hybrid.
This determinate plant has a stockier stem so you can get away with little or no staking or caging. 68 days to harvest.
Compact yellow cherry tomato produces fruit within 56 days.
Heat Resistant Tomato Types for Container Gardening
Heat and disease resistant, this one’s a good choice if you live in a hot climate. 65 days to harvest.
Solar Fire Hybrid.
Also a good choice for hot regions, solar fire hybrid produces fruit within 77 days.
Specialty Tomatoes for Container Gardening
Ace 55 Hybrid.
Less acidic than most tomatoes, this one’s a good choice if tomatoes give you indigestion. Matures in 80 days.
Health Kick Hybrid.
Bred to contain more lycopene than regular tomatoes, this plant produces large, sweet tomatoes within 72 days.
Mild, sweet flavored yellow tomatoes that mature within 70 days. Compact plant.
All-Around Favorite Tomato Varieties for Container Gardening
The most popular home-grown tomato, this plant produces hundreds of sweet cherry tomatoes. Matures within 65 days.
If you’ve got your heart set on large, juicy tomatoes, try this compact plant. Bush steak only reaches 2 feet high, but produces huge fruit within 65 days.
This determinate, compact plant produces a bumper crop of fruit within 71 days. Perfect for the home canner.
This compact plant produces very sweet orange cherry tomatoes within 65 days. Indeterminate.
Hints for Growing Container Tomatoes
- Use a high-quality potting soil instead of garden soil, which is too heavy and may harbor diseases.
- Select a pot large enough for your tomato cultivar. Most plants do best in a 5 to 15 gallon pot.
- Water plants frequently because pots dry out more quickly than garden soil. Move plants to a cooler location during very hot weather.
Want to learn more about the best tomato varieties for growing in pots?
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CC Flickr photo courtesy of di_the_huntress