If your vegetable garden is overflowing, but you’ve been dreaming of a few juicy red fruits, consider growing tomatoes in pots! It’s incredibly easy, and any home gardener can do it, whether you’ve got a small balcony space or an entire backyard to play with.
In this guide, you’ll find the step-by-step directions and all the best tips and tricks for growing tomatoes in containers. From planting techniques to a watering schedule, you’ll know everything about getting these plants to thrive so you can make the most of your crops.
Tools You’ll Need
Ready to plant your tomatoes in containers? First, you’ll need to gather a few tools. Find all the essentials down below.
- Tomato plant seedlings or seeds
- Pot with drainage
- High-quality, well-draining potting mix
- Hand trowel
- Gardening gloves
- Tomato cage
- Watering can or hose
How to Grow Tomatoes in Pots
Step 1: Choose Your Tomato(es)
If you want to grow tomatoes in containers, choose a variety suitable for the pot and your space. Determinate (bushy) varieties are the more common choice over indeterminate (vining).
It is because determinate plants usually grow to about three to five feet, meaning they’re easy to grow in pots, while indeterminate can grow to 10 to 12 feet. With that in mind, any variety can be grown in a pot.
Step 2: Pick Your Pot
The size of pot you choose will depend on the variety of tomato plants. As a good rule of thumb, the bigger the container, the better. You will need a larger pot to support indeterminate varieties since they grow larger than determinate. Remember to opt for a pot with a drainage hole to avoid overwatering the plants.
Many gardeners also opt for fabric pots since they are beneficial to the extensive root systems of tomato plants. The breathable nature of fabric promotes proper drainage and improves the plant’s ability to use water and nutrients. Plastic may be the better option for cooler climates since it will provide the plants with insulation.
Step 3: Transplant
Whether you’ve purchased a seedling or germinated your seeds, you will need to transplant the tomato plants into a larger pot. Start by filling the pot one-third of the way with a high-quality, well-draining potting mix.
Since tomato plants require ample nutrients, try mixing fertilizer or compost into the soil. Place the plant in the center and continue adding soil, packing it around the stem of the plant.
Pro Tip: Give your tomatoes an extra boost by adding coffee grinds to the soil but be sure not to overdo it. Tomato plants like acidic soil but if you add too much coffee grinds, it can actually hurt your plant.
Step 4: Add a Supporting Structure
If you chose an indeterminate variety, a supporting structure may be necessary. You can add a tomato cage by simply inserting it into the soil. Tie the vines going upwards to encourage growth.
This will support the weight of the heavy fruits so that they don’t fall off the vines and the plant won’t topple over. This can also help the plant to yield larger, healthier fruits and avoid bruising.
Step 5: Tomato Plant Care
Once you have transplanted the seedling, it will require the proper care to grow and thrive. The first and most important thing is water. Since container plants tend to dry out more quickly, you will likely need to water more frequently. Consider how fast-draining the soil is, and use your finger to test how dry it is every day. If the soil is dry about an inch down, chances are the plant needs a drink.
Like many vegetable plants, tomatoes require plenty of nutrients. Thankfully, fertilizers are a great way to provide everything the plants need. You can DIY your own or opt for a store-bought version. You can apply the fertilizer every other week during the growing period to ensure the plant stays happy and healthy.
Proper pruning is also essential if you want your plants to grow. By removing dead foliage, excess vines, and smaller fruits, the plant will focus on producing bigger, better, and more juicy tomatoes. Plus, the process is just as easy as planting, and you’ll get the hang of it in no time.
If you’re following all these tips and the plant still doesn’t seem to be doing well, consider evaluating it for one of the seven common tomato plant diseases.
No matter where you live or what kind of yard space you have, growing tomatoes in containers is a convenient and hassle-free option. The planting and care processes are incredibly easy, and the tools you’ll need to get the job done are basic and minimal.
Remember to use a large pot, high quality well-draining potting mix, and proper planting techniques. Once you’ve got things started, the proper care is the best way to ensure your plants thrive. The plants require water, fertilizer, and pruning to produce plenty of high-quality and delicious fruit.
Will you be planting tomato plants in containers this year? Let us know below!