Don’t let limited space keep you from enjoying delicious home-grown tomatoes! No matter the size of your garden, we’ll show you how to produce a bountiful tomato crop in containers all season long.
The first thing to consider when growing tomatoes in a container is what kind of pot you’re going to use.
Tomatoes have a fairly large root system, so it’s important they have ample room to grow. When in doubt, five-gallon buckets (or a container of similar size) are a great option for tomatoes. But if you’re looking to get technical, a good rule of thumb is to aim for a container that is roughly 1,155 cubic inches (18,927 cubic centimetres) in size.
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Plastic pots, terracotta, and fabric grow bags all make fine containers for tomatoes. When choosing a pot to plant tomatoes in, the type of material it’s made out of doesn’t really matter. What does matter, however, is how well that material releases excess water.
Poor drainage is the number one killer of tomatoes grown in pots. If your tomatoes sit in standing water for too long, their roots will rot and the plants will likely wither away.
If you’re using a plastic container for growing tomatoes, it’s crucial there are 2 - 4 holes in the bottom to allow excess water to drain.
Terracotta pots, along with fabric grow bags, are a great container option for tomatoes because they are naturally porous. Most terracotta pots also come with a hole in the bottom for additional drainage.
If growing your tomatoes in grow bags, be sure to test how well they drain before planting. If water doesn’t leak through the bag quickly, you may want to add one or two holes to the bottom to keep the roots of your tomato plant healthy and happy.
Drainage also plays a key part in the type of soil you choose for tomato containers.
Traditional soil, such as the type of dirt you can dig up in your backyard, is much too dense for tomatoes planted in pots. It will trap moisture in the container to the point where it can cause fungal issues for tomatoes as well as root rot.
Instead, opt for potting soil or soil specifically designated as safe for container gardening. Avoid all others.
Hopefully by now you’ve seen that growing tomatoes in pots is pretty easy so long as you have the right container and right soil.
The key, as stated before, is drainage. You will likely notice that tomatoes grown in containers are much thirstier than tomatoes grown in a traditional garden bed. Be sure to adjust your schedule to water more frequently.
Of course, the same rules apply to container grown tomatoes that apply to tomatoes grown in a traditional garden, such as the amount of sunlight they need and when to plant them. You can find that information (and more!) in our complete guide on growing tomatoes.