Hanging baskets aren’t just for flowers. Many gardeners, especially those living in urban areas, use hanging baskets to grow all kinds of vegetables and foods. Tomatoes are, of course, a prime pick and with the right variety and care, they can be extremely productive!
Benefits of Growing Tomatoes in Hanging Baskets
Growing any plant in hanging baskets gives several advantages, including complete control over environment, soil, watering and drainage, and more. With tomatoes, these are very critical elements.
Another advantage is with disease and pests. With a hanging plant, pests are not likely to have easy access to it and most diseases will find it difficult to deal with the environmental changes that often happen as hanging plants are moved in and out of doors regularly – indoor-only plants usually are disease-free.
A hanging basket also makes harvesting easier with tomatoes, since they can be set at eye or shoulder level or taken down and set on a table or counter top. Many hanging basket gardeners take their crops directly into the kitchen for harvest – often taking them off the vine and literally onto the plate!
Container Options for Growing Tomatoes
Several options for containers are available. For tomatoes, a robust container that will not crack or break from active roots and a relatively heavy plant is important. Most heavy plastic, well-made pottery, or similar containers will do well.
The container should also be deep and wide enough for the adult size of the variety of tomato chosen. This is not usually as large as a pot needed for a large tomato plant, of course, but it should be large enough to give enough space to the plant as it grows.
There are also upside-down tomato planters available for hanging. These are popular because the plant grows down towards the ground, making harvest easy. These are usually purchased in kits and specific varieties of tomato will be recommended to go with them.
How to Grow Tomatoes in Hanging Baskets
The soil is the most important part of success with tomatoes growing in hanging baskets. Use a good soil mix – usually one for flowers will do well for tomatoes as well. If mixing your own, go heavier on the compost (6:4) if mixing with topsoil. This ensures high levels of nutrients. The soil should be changed each season to ensure high nutrition levels.
Watering will need to be lighter and more often than if the tomatoes are in the ground. Water close to the root if possible or from above onto the roots if using an upside-down planter.
Successful Tomato Varieties for Hanging Baskets
The best varieties for hanging baskets are smaller plants. Nearly all types of cherry tomatoes in the bush varieties do well in hanging baskets. Tumbling Tom types are a variety specifically bred for hanging baskets, dropping over the sides and cascading 2-3 feet down.
Many bush-style and thick-vined tomato varieties that do not grow too large (up to 4 feet) will also usually grow well in hanging baskets. If there is space, even large hybrids like Beefsteak Tomatoes can be grown in hanging planters.
Only a few varieties do well upside down, however. Any tomato plant that is bushy and has a strong connection to the fruits (tomatoes) will probably grow will upside down. Many specific varieties are available for this type of growing thanks to the rising popularity of these planters.
Above all, just remember that hanging plants should be both beautiful and productive! Tomatoes definitely fit that bill.