Container gardening is the perfect outlet for apartment dwellers, assisted care residents, busy suburban families, and even those with lots of space.
It pretty much applies to anyone who doesn’t want to dig up the lawn in the name of growing tomatoes.
If you want easy access to these tips for containers, pots, and tomato plant(s), print them and laminate them. Keep them near your gardening supplies so you have them for next year.
When you grow tomatoes in pots, one worry is always how to manage the sprawling vines or bushes, right? Not to worry, tomatoes grow quite well in just about any kind of pots you put them in.
They only need a support structure, such as cages or stakes, for you to tuck your tomato branches in.
You need to understand the type of plant you are growing. This ensures your tomato plants yield the best results. Choose determinate tomato varieties that stay compact.
Here are a few tips and tricks for growing awesome tomatoes in containers.
Your Pot Size Matters
Before you transplant you ought to consider the size. The growing season may vary from one tomato variety to the next.
Choose determinate tomato varieties that stay compact.
Bigger fruiting tomato varieties for containers include Patio Hybrid, Husky Red Hybrid, and Husky Gold Hybrid.
Container cherry tomatoes include Tiny Tim, Cherry Gold, Red Robin, Yellow Canary, and Pixie Hybrid.
Some normal-sized garden tomatoes that grow well in containers are Celebrity, Mountain Delight, and Mountain Pride.
Want more examples?
|Husky Red Hybrid||Cherry Gold||Celebrity|
|Husky Gold Hybrid||Tiny Tim||Mountain Pride|
|Patio Hybrid||Red Robin||Mountain delight|
|Summer Set||Yellow Canary||Rutgers|
|Bush Goliath||Pixie Hybrid||Biltmore|
Your pot size is important if you want to ensure success when you plant tomatoes. When growing tomatoes in pots, a 5-gallon container is perfect.
It has enough space for the tomato root systems to grow and is also easy to move if need be.
Note: Clay pots tend to dry out quickly unless they are glazed or painted.
Follow these steps:
- Drill multiple 1/4 inch holes in the bottom of the tomato container. Don’t try to get by with just one drainage hole.
- Place 2-3 inches of gravel at the bottom of the container for drainage.
- Make sure to fill the container about ¾ full with bagged potting soil to start. It should be well-draining soil.
- Your seedlings need to be planted deeply in the soil. This will strengthen the root system and lead to healthier plants. Leave some leaves sticking out above the soil.
- As the plants grow bigger, add fresh soil to the top to support the growing stem.
- If you want to boost your growing tomatoes, you can add organic materials such as rotten shavings. This could be a mix of peat moss, compost, and potting soil perlite.
- Don’t add manure to containers—it may be too strong and burn your plants.
- You can plant three or four marigolds with each tomato to help keep bugs away. The fewer the better because you do not want them to compete with your tomato plants for water.
- Tomatoes in containers should receive full sun (about eight hours a day).
Water Your Tomato Plants in Pots Consistently
A big part of your tomato plant’s success lies in maintaining moist soil. It is also one of the biggest challenges you will face. (But not with these tips!)
- During hot summers or hot, windy days, you should water your plants twice a day. Your tomatoes in pots will need water all summer long. If your plants don’t get adequate water they become weak. In this state, they could easily get blossom end rot.
- You need to know the kind of soil in your pots. If it is fast draining, good water retaining additives or self-watering containers can be used. If not, you can stick to checking the moisture in your soil every day.
- You should watch out for big rainstorms and check that your container tomatoes are not waterlogged. Topwater (all over the foliage) in the late morning so your tomatoes have a chance to dry off before nightfall.
- Place your containers on small blocks up off the ground or deck. Drainage is improved and slugs won’t find a place to hide. Always water your growing tomatoes in pots until you see water coming out of the drainage holes, then stop.
Take note: the soil in a container can be warmed up by the ambient heat surrounding it. This leaves your plants with little water as it will get absorbed or dry up quickly. Check on your tomato plant often to keep them well watered.
Feed Your Tomatoes Carefully
Your plants require primary nutrients – potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus. These are all essentials when growing any vegetables or plants in containers.
To ensure your plants have the proper nutrients:
- Make sure you do not over-fertilize your tomatoes in containers. In the garden, fertilizer has enough room to leach out. The same cannot be said for pots.
- Check the soil bag to confirm whether your potting soil carries any nutrients. It is beneficial to get a potting mix that has these three nutrients.
If it doesn’t, you can give your plant a tomato-specific fertilizer. An all-purpose slow-release fertilizer will work too!
- Give them a shot of nutrition every two weeks. This should be sufficient. You should also stop feeding your plants fertilizer when the tomatoes stop blooming.
- Be sure to use a good bagged potting mix for tomato plants. It seems much easier to dig dirt out of the yard, doesn’t it? Keep in mind that it may be contaminated with bacteria or fungi. Or lack certain nutrients.
Mix a handful of bone meal and several handfuls of good compost in with the bagged container soil. This will boost growth and increase your harvest.
As you grow tomatoes, don’t reuse the soil in your pots from year to year. Always start fresh. You can throw away the soil in the fall. This saves you from having to deal with a frozen, crumbly lump in the spring.
Let Your Plants Soak Up the Sun
Before you bring your tomato plants outside, your seedlings need to be hardened off. They cannot handle too much sun in their early days. Small plants should not be exposed to too much sun or wind or they will weaken.
Regardless of where you want to grow your tomatoes, garden, or balcony, you need to find a place where they will get access to enough sun.
Six hours of full sun will be beneficial to their growth. If you are aiming for the best possible outcome, then eight hours is better. You can use a sun calculator or frequently check on your tomato plant during the day.
Take note of areas that allow enough sunlight for your tomatoes. These areas can also become shady spots as the sun moves across the sky during the day.
It’s okay to move your plants around, they are in pots after all.
Cold is another no-no. Tomatoes like heat.
Also note: If your plants are in temperatures of over 90 degrees, over time (or all summer long) they are less likely to produce flowers. It could also affect the maturity of the fruits.
5. Pruning and Harvesting Your Tomatoes
Here are additional catch-all container tips for your tomatoes:
- Most planter tomatoes do not benefit from pruning.
You only need to be mindful and pinch off suckers (branches growing at a 45-degree angle from the top of another branch).
- Branches that are heavy with fruit should be tied or staked so that they don’t break.
Harvest your tomato plants frequently to relieve the branches of weight. Harvest frequently and the tomato plants may bloom again and set more fruit.
- Just before the first frost in your area, pull the tomato plants out, shake off the soil, and hang them upside down in a garage or shed where they can stay above freezing temperatures and ripen any leftover tomatoes.
Cue in information on planters for tomatoes.
Today there are various innovations meant to make gardening easier for limited spaces. Have you ever considered getting an upside-down tomato planter?
It takes away the need to stake tomato plants by hanging the plant upside down. This causes the vines to grow downwards naturally. Gravity plays a role in helping the plant distribute nutrients and water.
The aesthetic appeal is not lost in the process as you can hang these tomato planters on your balcony or deck.
Why not try to make one yourself? Here’s how.
When your harvest is complete, it’s time to clean up.
Wash all containers, plastic pots, and tools with a mild bleach solution (10 percent bleach, 90 percent water) in the fall before storage.
You should always clean your pots or containers to ensure there are no pests hiding that can become a nuisance later on.
Want to Learn More About Tomatoes?
If you want to grow tomatoes there is a lot more about these plants that you need to know. From the growing season, preservation methods, or pests and diseases to look out for.
You’re in luck!
Gardening Channel has a vast library of articles on plants you can read and put to good use in your own garden. From fruits and vegetables to flowers, you’ll find it all here.
For more information on growing other garden favorites in containers, read on: