Do you dream of growing your own vegetable garden but live in an apartment or small home with not much of a yard? We’re here to let you know that you don’t need a garden plot to grow tomato plants. Growing tomatoes in pots is a lot easier than you think, and it’s possible to grow them in almost any type of container.
If you’ve ever seen a full-grown tomato plant, you probably know that they get quite large. It seems impossible that these plants grow in anything but a garden bed.
However, tomatoes are very happy growing in containers, whether they are hanging baskets or a fabric pot, as long as it’s the right pot size. They even grow in a raised bed, if it’s deep enough.
The key to container gardening is to choose the right tomato varieties for the job. While all types grow perfectly fine in a pot, some are better suited than others.
Once you pick the right tomato, all that’s left to do is give it some love and wait for the end of the growing season to harvest your rewards.
Container Gardening with Tomatoes
Tomato plants aren’t too picky about where you plant their feet, as long as you provide them with the right amount of sunshine and care.
Here are a few ways to grow potted tomatoes on your patio or porch and how to care for your tomato plants for the best harvest.
What to Know before Growing Tomatoes in Pots
There are many things to think about when preparing to plant tomatoes. Which type of tomatoes should you grow? Which containers are ideal for growing vegetables? Here are some helpful tips for planting tomatoes in pots.
There are two main tomato types, determinate and indeterminate varieties. Determinate tomatoes grow until they reach a certain height, and then they stop. Indeterminate tomatoes continue growing along the main stem throughout the season.
Heirloom tomatoes are open-pollinated, and the seeds are passed down through the generations.
The best tomatoes for growing in containers are determinate varieties because their size is more manageable, and hybrids are ideal if you desire disease-resistant tomatoes.
Pot size is important when it comes to growing tomatoes. These plants grow quite tall and bushy, and a small pot inhibits the root system.
A gallon container with drainage holes in the bottom of the pot is an ideal choice for tomato plants. Choose a potting soil that contains perlite or peat moss that is rich in potassium and phosphorus.
Place the container in the sunniest area of your porch, where it receives at least six hours of full sun each day, and position a cage or trellis in the pot for staking the plant.
How to Grow Tomatoes in a Pot from Seed
If you decide to start your tomato plants from seeds, it’s important to grow them indoors first, particularly if you live in a colder climate. Here is how to grow tomatoes in a pot by starting them from seeds indoors.
About seven weeks before the last frost, pour seed starting soil into a tray until it’s almost full, and then spray the dirt lightly with water. Use a pencil end to poke holes into the dirt a quarter-inch deep and a half-inch apart.
Drop two seeds in each hole and cover them with dirt. Pat the soil down lightly and place the tray in a warm window where the temperature is between 75 and 80°F.
Keep the dirt damp but not soggy, and watch as the plants germinate in about a week. In a month, the true leaves emerge. Once this happens, weed out the seedlings so there is one healthy plant in each section.
How to Plant Tomatoes in a Pot Outdoors
If you start your plants indoors from seed, the passing of the last frost signifies that the time is right to grow tomatoes in bucket or container outdoors. Here is how to plant tomatoes in a pot as seedlings or young plants from the garden center.
Fill a large pot or container with dirt and make a hole in the middle that is slightly larger than the young plant’s base. Carefully remove the seedling or plant from the other container and set its roots deeply into the hole almost up to the top leaves.
Fill dirt in around the plant, pat it in place with your hands, and give it enough water to help it settle. The first step in transplanting tomato seedlings is to acclimate them by moving the newly potted plant outside for a couple of hours a day for a week.
This step is not necessary if you purchase young plants from the nursery. Position your new plant on the porch where it gets at least six hours of sun and put the tomato cage in place.
Giving Potted Tomatoes Tender Loving Care
Now that you understand how to plant tomatoes in a pot, it’s time to move on to the next step, maintenance. While tomato plant care in pots is not much different from garden bed care, there are a few things that are unique to container gardening.
Fertilizing is essential when growing beefstake tomatoes and all tomato types, so if your soil lacks these nutrients, add a well-balanced fertilizer or fish emulsion right after planting, after the plant begins fruiting, and then every four to six weeks after that.
If your soil lacks calcium, sprinkle crushed eggshells or bone meal over the dirt to prevent blossom end rot. Potted plants dry out quicker than those in the garden so watering your tomatoes regularly is a must.
Water them at the base when the soil’s top inch is dry and avoid getting the foliage wet. Finally, spread mulch over the dirt to help retain moisture.
Problems to Watch for While Growing Container Tomatoes
Knowing how to grow tomatoes in a pot is only the first step. Several difficulties may arise during the growing process, and these include garden pests and disease. Here are some problem signs and ways to remedy the issue.
Many insects are tomato pests, and one of the most common is the tomato hornworm. These are large green caterpillars that cannot resist munching away on your plant’s leaves until they are all gone.
Remove them with your hand as soon as you notice them. Use a natural insecticide or an organic spray for tomato plants right away if you spot any other insects hanging out in your container garden.
Another issue tomatoes deal with is a fungal or bacterial disease. If leaves curling on tomato plants or they begin to yellow, brown, or wilt, and there is no sign of insect activity, it may be due to one of these conditions.
Remove and discard dead or dying plant material right away and disinfect all of your garden tools.
How Long Do Potted Tomatoes Take to Grow?
Planting tomatoes in a pot is an excellent way to garden with limited outdoor space. You plant the tiny seed or small plant in the dirt and wait with anticipation as it grows. So, how long do you have to wait for your tomatoes to grow?
Tomato Growth Rate
The best way to grow cherry tomatoes or other tomatoes takes a few months from start to finish. They take about a week to germinate and a month or so to grow their true leaves. By about eight weeks, they are ready for transplanting, and then the waiting game begins.
Once they are in the garden, tomatoes take about 60 to 80 days before they are ready to begin harvesting. Many tomato varieties, such as cherry tomatoes, continue to produce fruit until the first frost.
Ways to Store Tomatoes after a Good Harvest
Not only do you deserve a pat on the back for growing your own tomatoes in containers, but now you get to benefit from harvesting an abundance of fresh tomatoes at the end of the growing season.
Here are a few ways to store your veggies to keep them from spoiling as long as possible.
Your countertop is the best location to store your fresh tomatoes. If you have green tomatoes that you wish to ripen, place them in a paper bag with a banana and set them in a dark area of your kitchen.
Tomatoes tend to lose their flavor when you store them in the refrigerator. However, the fridge is an acceptable place to keep them if they are ripe and you cannot eat them right away.
There is nothing more enjoyable than growing your own veggies, and gardening is not reserved solely for those with a spacious backyard.
It is possible to produce everything from lettuce and herbs to peppers and tomatoes in a container garden, as long as you give your plants what they need.
Growing tomatoes in pots is the perfect solution when you have little to no yard, so why not share our tomato container garden guide and tips with the gardeners in your life on Facebook and Pinterest?