Growing tomatoes in pots levels the home garden playing field, bringing a crop of homegrown maters within reach for almost anyone, regardless of real estate. That’s because you can grow tomatoes in pots just about anywhere you have a sunny spot, whether it’s on a deck, driveway, balcony, rooftop, fire escape, or somewhere else.
Craving garden fresh tomatoes, but don’t have space for a garden? Consider growing your tomatoes in containers!
You may have heard that getting a good crop off your container grown tomatoes can be difficult. Sometimes the plants won’t produce many tomatoes, and the ones you do get can be watery and lack flavor.
If you’ve ever experienced these problems, then you are not alone! Tomatoes can be one of the more challenging plants to grow in containers, but here are a few tips that will increase your yield and allow you to enjoy your own delicious homegrown tomatoes this year.
Before we dive in, I want to mention two very important things.
First, whether you grow tomatoes in containers or in the garden, make sure you pick a good location where they will get at least 6 hours of sun per day. Tomatoes placed in too much shade will not produce well.
Second, don’t plant your tomatoes too early. If it’s too cold when you put them out in the garden, they’ll really struggle to get going and will be slower to produce tomatoes. Get your timing right with this customized planting guide.
Okay, on to the tips!
TIP 1: GET AN APPROPRIATELY SIZED CONTAINER.
A container that is too small will cause stunted root growth and lead to fewer tomatoes. Be aware that many of the popular tomatoes sold at gardener centers are indeterminate plants.
Indeterminate tomatoes will continue to grow larger and longer until they don’t have adequate growing conditions. In an ideal location, they can be 6 to 8 or more feet tall. So this type of tomato plant needs plenty of space for root growth.
Keep your indeterminate tomatoes happy with at least a 20-gallon pot. But smaller varieties, like determinate and dwarf tomato plants, will be okay in smaller pots.
The type of tomato plant is not always listed on the plant label, so do your research about tomato varieties before you go shopping.
Pick your variety wisely with your space in mind. You’ll have more options if you grow your own tomatoes from seed, but you can grow any purchased tomato plant in containers with these tips.
TIP 2: USE GOOD QUALITY POTTING SOIL AND/OR COMPOST.
Make sure you give your tomato plants a healthy start by providing them with good soil. Both potting soil and compost are available for purchase at gardening centers and home improvement stores.
Whatever you do, don’t use soil from your yard or garden area in containers.
Garden soil is full of debris and material that you don’t want to put in your container garden. Soil from your yard will probably not have adequate drainage for use in containers. And there’s a very high risk of bringing disease pathogens, weed seeds, and even caterpillar pupae into your container.
Since the container is by definition limited in space, you don’t want your tomato to have any competition for space or nutrients. Tomatoes can be plagued by all sorts of pests and disease, so don’t make things harder on yourself by inviting them in from the get-go.