Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables people grow in their home gardens.
Tomato plants can be grown not only in a traditional type of backyard garden, but they can also be grown in containers.
Growing tomatoes in containers is actually pretty easy to do successfully. And they make a great contribution to any container garden.
In this post we will go over some tips for growing tomatoes in containers.
Tips for Growing Tomatoes in Containers
Pick The Best Spot for Your Tomatoes
You want to make sure that your tomato plants get at least six hours of sunlight per day. So it’s best to watch how the sun goes across any areas you are considering for your tomato plants. A patio that only see’s the sun for an hour a day would not be a good location.
Another important aspect of where you should put your tomatoes is to consider how you are going to get water to them. So make sure they are in a spot where you can easily water them.
Pick the Right Kind of Tomato for Growing in Containers
There are some types of tomatoes that are better for growing in containers than other types.
Determinate tomatoes generally do better for growing tomatoes in containers than indeterminate tomatoes. This means the types of tomatoes that do the best are the type where the plant grows to a certain height and then stops. These are tomato plants like beefsteak or roma tomatoes. It is best to use tomato cages on determinate tomatoes.
The other type of tomato, that doesn’t do as well in containers are indeterminate tomatoes. These types of tomatoes continue to grow almost like a vine. They will produce tomatoes all the plant stems and will need extra supports that are very tall.
Plant Your Tomato Plants Deep in the Containers
Unlike most seedlings that you plant for your garden shallowly tomatoes do best when planted deeply.
When you plant your tomato in a pot it is best to plant your plant deep enough so that most of the tomato seedling is under the soil, but do make sure the plants leaves are still sticking out at the top.
When you look at a tomato plant you will see all these little furry like things on the stem. These are just waiting to get into soil and start making roots. And the better the root system, the healthier the tomato plant.
If you have just a couple lower branches sticking out and a bunch at the top, go ahead and remove the lower ones and when you plant the seedling in a container put that part of the stem underneath the soil line.
Pick the Right Kind of Pot for Your Tomato Plants
A full grown tomato plant needs plenty of space due to the size of their root system in order to be a healthy plant.
The best pot size for growing tomatoes in containers is at least 18 inches for determinate tomatoes. If you choose to grow indeterminate tomatoes in a container then you want to make sure that you have at least a 24 in pot for them to grow in.
It is also important to make sure that your container has good drainage. You don’t want your tomato plants to end up with root rot because the soil was too soggy due to improper drainage.
If the container you have doesn’t have drainage already you can always drill a few holes in the bottom to make sure that it will drain well.
Make Sure to Add Supports Early
When it comes to tomato plants, usually it’s best to provide support as mentioned above.
It is best to add tomato cages early on so you can keep from damaging both the plant itself and the tomato plant’s root system.
Choose the Right Soil
When growing tomatoes in containers you don’t want to just use soil from the ground, it can be too heavy to use for a container. You don’t want your soil to over compact or contain diseases or organisms that can cause harm to your tomato plants.
It is best to get a high quality organic potting mix. This kind of potting mix will not be as dense and will be light enough for container gardening. And it will make sure that your tomato plant has the right nutrients when you first plant it in the pot.
Even when you are growing tomatoes in containers you want to use mulch on top of the soil in the pot.
By using mulch you help keep the soil in the container moist. Having your tomato plants go dry is a bad thing.
Make Sure You Water The Tomato Plants Right
You need to have an effective watering schedule for your tomato plants. Making sure you have the watering schedule right is a big part of successfully growing tomatoes in containers.
When the tomato plants are still small and aren’t forming fruit you want to make sure the soil isn’t dry, but don’t over water the plant. Over watering the tomato plant can cause the base of the stem to rot and this will kill the plant.
Once the tomato plant starts to have fruit you will need to make sure that the soil doesn’t dry out, if it dries out and then gets watered to the point of saturation your tomatoes can become prone to cracking or splitting open.
During hot and dry spells you might need to water your tomato plants a few times a day instead of just once.
One option for watering tomatoes is to use a drip irrigation system. This way you can just turn it on and save time if you have a good amount of pots growing tomatoes in your container garden.
One other trick you can use when watering your tomato plants is to water them in the morning, the plants will use the water more efficiently when they are watered at this time.
Feed Your Tomato Plants
Initially your potting mix will provide the nutrients your tomatoes need, but eventually they will need to be fed.
Worm casting are the digestive wastes from worms, basically it’s like you have what plants get in soil when worms are present.
In a regular garden plants would get this naturally because the worms are present in the soil, but in containers you don’t have the worms.
If you really want to get into the fun part of supplying worm castings for yourself you can always get a worm farm that will have worms working away to make yummy plant food from your composting material.