Cherry tomatoes are a tasty treat with a vibrant flavor. It’s easy to grow them indoors all year round under the right conditions. Take advantage of these tips for how to grow cherry tomatoes indoors to enjoy flavorful tomatoes in any season.
Even if you don’t have much gardening experience, growing cherry tomatoes indoors is an easy way to have fresh homegrown tomatoes on your menu.
Cherry tomatoes are usually an annual plant, meaning they stop producing fruit and die off when the weather turns cold. Extending your growing season is possible by transplanting your summer tomato plants into large containers and bringing them indoors.
However, it’s better to start with fresh tomato seedlings in early fall for a winter crop. Read on to learn the most useful DIY advice about how to grow cherry tomatoes in a pot and enjoy the fresh taste of homegrown tomatoes throughout the winter months.
- Best Tips for Growing Cherry Tomatoes Indoors
- How to Grow Cherry Tomatoes Indoors
Best Tips for Growing Cherry Tomatoes Indoors
What are cherry tomatoes? These small tomatoes are delicious veggies that almost anyone can grow.
There are two main classifications of tomato varieties: determinate, meaning they have a bushy growth pattern and only reach a specific size, and indeterminate, meaning they have a vining growth pattern and continue growing and producing fruit indefinitely as long as they have suitable conditions.
Determinate varieties are sometimes easier to care for indoors because they don’t grow as large and require minimal staking. They grow for a relatively short time, and all of the tomatoes ripen at once.
Indeterminate varieties require more consistent care. Most heirloom and cherry tomato varieties are indeterminate. To control their vining habits, regularly prune indeterminate cherry tomatoes grown as houseplants.
Some tomato varieties perform better than others when grown in containers in your house. Here are the best cherry tomato varieties for growing indoors.
It’s possible to grow vegetables in pots of almost every kind, whether you put them inside or out. Be sure to simulate their ideal growing conditions and you’ll have delicious veggies at harvest time.
How to Grow Cherry Tomatoes Indoors
Tomatoes are one of the easiest veggies to grow. Indoor tomatoes must have good air circulation and receive plenty of light. When daylight hours are shorter, supplement the sunlight with artificial light for optimal growth.
Tomato plants require consistently moist soil and regular fertilization. It’s essential to use a container with drainage holes at the bottom to avoid problems with fungus and root rot.
Catch the water draining from the pot in a saucer to increase the plant’s humidity during the dry winter months.
How to Choose the Best Potting Mix
Using the proper soil for container gardening is critical to grow the healthiest plants and harvest flavorful tomatoes.
The best potting soil for container-grown tomatoes is a loose, loamy mix with a neutral pH level, is well-draining but retains moisture, and is rich in phosphorus, potassium, and organic matter.
Choose a potting mix that contains perlite for drainage of excess water and coconut coir or peat moss for longer moisture retention. Maintain the soil at a consistently moist level, but never soggy.
Alternatively, try growing cherry tomatoes indoors using a hydroponic system. Cherry tomatoes are one of the most favored crops to grow hydroponically. However, since they have high nutrient demands, they require lots of maintenance.
Growing Cherry Tomatoes from Seed
For one of the ways to grow tomatoes indoors, fill a seedling tray, egg carton, or several small two-inch pots with a seed starter potting mix. Plant the tomato seeds a quarter-inch deep. Softly cover the seeds with soil and place the tray or pots in a saucer to catch excess water.
Keep the soil lightly moist and warm, ideally around 75°F, to allow the tomato seeds to germinate. The top of the refrigerator is usually adequate, or use a warming mat.
When you grow cherry tomatoes from seeds indoors, tomato seed germination typically occurs in five to ten days. If possible, cover your seedlings with a humidity dome or sheet of plastic wrap to lock in humidity.
Once the tomato seeds germinate, move the pots to a brightly lit location like a windowsill that faces south. Prevent the leaves from touching the windowpane, and ensure the window isn’t drafty.
If you don’t have a south-facing window that gets at least six hours of sunlight each day, place the tomato seedlings under a fluorescent light. Warmer air and soil temperatures promote faster growth and better flowering.
When the seedlings reach around three inches in height and have solid root balls, transplant them into larger four-inch pots.
Pinch off the lower leaves and bury about two-thirds of the stem in the potting soil. Doing so promotes a more robust root system, as the buried portion of the stem starts putting out roots.
Increase the pot size by two inches when the roots start to emerge from the drain holes until it reaches full-size. Avoid increasing the pot size by too much at once, which causes stunted growth and soggy soil that could promote fungus.
Ideal Growing Conditions for Indoor Tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes require six to eight hours of light per day to produce fruit. It’s advisable to provide supplemental light when growing cherry tomatoes in the winter to ensure that your plant is strong and healthy.
After planting tomato plants and they continue to grow, they reach toward their light source. If your potted cherry tomato is next to a south-facing window, rotate the pot a quarter-turn once per week to maintain a strong stem and upright growth pattern.
Maintaining the correct moisture level is essential for growing cherry tomatoes in containers. If the soil dries out, the plant might wilt and drop its flowers.
If the tomato plant has started fruiting, drying out causes the fruit to shrink, then expand again when the plant rehydrates, creating cracks in the skin.
Regular pruning is beneficial for indoor cherry tomato plants, especially the indeterminate varieties. When you prune your tomato plant, you help direct its nutrients toward fruiting and flowering, which leads to higher yields and more flavorful tomatoes.
With a clean, sharp pair of scissors, cut sprawling branches back at an angle roughly a quarter-inch above a joint with the main stem. Additionally, prune the lowest branches to prevent water from splashing the leaves.
Trim large leaves where they are growing too densely to maximize airflow. Remove any dead or yellowing leaves or parts of the plant that become affected by insects or fungus. Use neem oil to treat problems with fungus, mildew, or pests like aphids and mites.
While your cherry tomato plant is still young, pinch off any emerging flowers until it has grown to at least two-thirds of the desired mature size to help direct the plant’s energy toward growing larger rather than flowering and fruiting.
How to Choose the Best Location for Indoor Tomatoes
When selecting a location to grow a potted cherry tomato plant, light and temperature are the most influential factors. If possible, place your plant near a south-facing window that isn’t drafty or take care of growing tomatoes in greenhouses if you have enough room for the structures.
If you don’t have a window facing south, choose a location that gets the most sunlight throughout the day. For best results, supplement with artificial light during short winter days, using a timer to simulate regular day/night cycles.
Keep mature tomato plants between 65-75°F and away from cold drafts. Ensure that the plant gets adequate airflow to minimize the risk of fungal disease.
Tips for Fertilizing Cherry Tomato Plants
From the time that the seedlings sprout, fertilize your cherry tomato plants once every two weeks. Use liquid fertilizer higher in phosphorus and potassium (P and K) than nitrogen (N). Phosphorus supports strong roots and cell wall growth.
Potassium assists with flowering and fruiting processes. Nitrogen promotes green leafy growth. Applying overly nitrogen-rich fertilizer results in more leafy development and less fruit production.
When you grow tomatoes in a container, keep a close eye on them. If you notice yellowing leaves or that they have crispy edges, it’s usually a sign of overwatering and/or over-fertilization. Allow the first several inches of soil to dry out completely, and wait an extra week before applying more fertilizer.
If you see leaves curling, it’s an indication that light and/or heat levels may be too intense. If you’re using a grow light, place it further away from the cherry tomato plant.
Watch for insects even when you grow veggies indoors. Little black bugs on tomato plants are pests that must be dealt with immediately.
Growing Cherry Tomatoes in Containers
Almost any time is the best for when to plant cherry tomatoes if you keep them inside since you control their growing conditions. Tomato plants grown in pots tend to dry out faster than when they’re grown in the garden.
To help retain moisture, cover the soil in one to two inches of mulch. Use bark chips, coconut coir, or moss for mulching your cherry tomato pots.
When applying the mulch, be sure to leave a bit of space around the stem’s base to avoid stem rot. Before transplanting your tomato seedlings into their final “home,” set up a tomato cage in the three- to five-gallon pot.
Inserting the tomato cage later may damage the roots. Supporting the branches helps the plant grow more evenly in all directions and prevents breakage.
Avoid overcrowding your cherry tomato plants. Plant one cherry tomato per pot, unless you’re using a massive container, in which case plant them two to four feet apart.
Overcrowding causes competition for root space, nutrients, and water, leading to stunted growth and increased susceptibility to pest and disease problems.
If you notice that the leaves curl on tomato plant, it may be a watering problem or disease. Take care of it quickly.
Pollinating and Harvesting Your Cherry Tomatoes
Tomatoes are self-pollinating, which means they don’t require a second plant to produce fruit. However, they do require a bit of assistance with pollination when grown indoors.
When you plant cherry tomatoes in a bucket or container, the plants sometimes need a little extra help. To simulate a summer breeze, gently shake the flowers to assist with the spread of pollen.
Or, use a cotton swab or paintbrush to spread pollen between flowers. Another option is to place a circulation fan on the lowest setting near your cherry tomato plant.
Most tomato varieties produce fruit within 60-80 days. Harvesting cherry tomatoes is the best part of the growing process. Pick your cherry tomatoes as soon as they ripen for the best flavor and to reduce the branches’ weight. Cherry tomatoes are red, yellow, orange, or purple when they ripen.
You can keep tomatoes fresh after harvesting by sitting them on the kitchen counter for a couple of days or employ a storage method like freezing or drying to make them last even longer.
Growers everywhere look forward to the first summer harvest of homegrown tomatoes. Why not bring a burst of summer sunshine into your kitchen all year long?
Follow these tips for how to grow cherry tomatoes indoors to enjoy flavorful tomatoes anytime you like. Growing cherry tomatoes in containers is an easy and fun way to get your gardening fix in the winter, too.
By providing them with the proper growing conditions, your plants produce a plentiful harvest of fresh, homegrown tomatoes in any season.
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