The best tomatoes to grow in pots will thrive in your climate and provide you with an abundant tomato harvest during your growing season. You don’t need to have a large garden to grow tomatoes, because the right variety of tomato plant will flourish growing in pots and containers. In addition, growing tomatoes in pots mean tomatoes can be grown on patios, balconies or anywhere space is limited. And this article provides you with everything you need to know about selecting the best tomatoes to grow in pots.
Determinate Vs Indeterminate Tomato – What’s The Difference?
When deciding the best tomatoes to grow in pots, you might come across the terms determinate and indeterminate tomatoes. So what do they mean?
Determinate tomato plants reach their ‘determined’ height, fruit and then ripen all at once (over the course of a couple of weeks). Because of this, they are a popular choice to grow for preserving tomatoes. They are also a smaller plant – growing 4-5 feet (1.2-1.5 meters) in height.
Indeterminate tomato plants continue growing and setting fruit throughout the growing season, only stopping when the cold weather sets in. Growing indeterminate tomatoes means harvesting fresh tomatoes for salads throughout the growing season.
Indeterminate tomato plants can grow very large at 6-8 feet (1.8-2.4 meter) tall. Pruning can help manage their height but they do require strong support, for example, in the form of staking.
You can read more in our article Determinate and indeterminate Tomatoes: What Are They?
Because determinate tomato plants are generally a smaller plant, they do very well in pots.
The Best Tomato Plants For Growing In Pots
The good news is most tomato plants can be grown in pots. But the really important tip here is – the tomato plant variety must be matched to the correct pot size to produce optimum growth. So first the best tomato plants for growing in pots and then we’ll look at pot size.
Best Hybrid Tomato To Grow In Pots
Bush Early Girl Tomato – A great hybrid tomato to grow in pots is Bush Early Girl Tomato. This variety is a prolific producing determinate tomato bush ideal for pots and containers. Bush Early Girl Tomato grows to 3 feet (90 cm).
Bush Beefsteak – For those gardeners keen to grow the classic beefsteak tomato, Bush Beefsteak produces large fruit on a bush tomato plant. A determinate tomato that grows 2-3 feet (60-90 cm) high. Suggest staking to support the heavy fruit.
Celebrity – This variety is known to be robust and productive, making it a popular choice for growing in pots. Celebrity Tomato is known as a semi-determinate because it can grow to 4 feet (1.2 meters) and will require staking.
Best Heirloom Tomato To Grow In Pots
Growing Heirloom Tomatoes in pots means you can save the seed for the next season. Heirloom varieties mean they are open-pollinated and their seed will grow true to type. Popular heirloom tomatoes to grow in pots include the following:
Brandywine – a large indeterminate tomato producing beefsteak type slicing tomatoes. Prized for its delicioius flavor, Brandywine is a popular choice for growing in pots. Grows 4-6 feet tall (1.2-1.8 meters) and will require strong staking.
Cherokee Purple – like Brandywine, Cherokee purple is also a large indeterminate tomato plant. The delicious dark, rich coloring is hard to pass up and the favor is delicious. Grows 4-6 feet (1.2-1.8 meters) and requires staking.
San Marzano – this is a semi-determinate tomato plant and favored for canning and preserving. San Marzano tomato plants are a large plant growing 4-6 feet (1.2-1.8 meters) tall and will require staking.
Roma – like the San Marzano, Roma tomatoes are a determinate variety and a popular choice to grow for preserving. Once cooked into a sauce, the flavor internsifiers. Grows to 4-6 feet (1.2-1.8) and requires staking.
The Dwarf Tomato Project
There are some relatively new varieties of tomato plants that are a cross between a dwarf tomato and heirloom tomato. They produce the best of both a compact-sized tomato plant with a full-sized, full-flavored tomato. This breed of tomato plant is the initiative of the Dwarf Tomato Project.
These tomato plants come in both determinate and indeterminate varieties. And they are perfect for growing tomatoes in pot and containers due to their smaller size.
Being a dwarf variety of tomato, the plant requires less staking – they average 2-4.5 feet (60-140cm) in height.
In most cases, they also don’t need any pruning which also makes them a low maintenance tomato plant to grow.
This year I’m excited to grow the following variety of tomatoes from the Dwarf Tomato Project:
For information on where you can purchase seed you can check out the Dwarf Tomato Project.
Best Cherry Tomato To Grow In Pots
Tiny Tim – As for the best small tomato to grow in pots, a very popular variety perfect for pots is Tiny Tim. This determinate bush or dwarf cherry tomato and can be grown in a small 5 gallon pot (19 liters) or around 5 x 5 inches (12.5 x 12.5 cm).
What Size Pot To Grow Tomatoes?
Selecting the right pot size to grow tomatoes will be determined by the variety of tomato you grow.
Some bush varieties can grow in as little as a one gallon pot because they only grow 1-2 feet tall while other tomato plant varieties can grow very large and do best in an extra large pot.
A 5 gallon container will allow a small bush variety tomato plant enough soil, and access to the nutrients in the soil, to grow well. If space permits, a 7-10 gallon (27-38 litre) pot is even better.
Large full sized plants benefit from a large pot. Some varieties reach heights of 2.4 meters. Provide a minimum 15-20 gallon pot (56-75 liter), the larger the better.
Tomatoes have a large root system and require an adequate pot size in order to produce healthy growth and an abundant harvest.
Larger pots will also not dry out as quickly as smaller pots and they help retain soil moisture.
Can You Grow Two Tomato Plants In One Pot?
Yes, you can grow two tomato plants in one pot by select the right tomato variety and providing the right sized pot or container to accommodate both plants.
Keep in mind, large indeterminate tomato plants require at least 2-3 feet (60-90cm) between plants when grown in the ground. So as a good rule of thumb, one large tomato plant needs a pot size with at least 18 inches (45 cm) diameter growing space.
Either select a smaller variety of tomato, such as bush and dwarf tomatoes or supply an extra large pot for adequate growing space.
The more room you can give the tomato plants to grow in pots, the less they will be competing for soil nutrients. Overcrowding can lead to reduced air circulation and poor growth.
While large varieties of tomatoes grow well in pots, they do take more care. This includes providing extra-large pots, strong staking and pruning. So if you prefer a low maintenance tomato plant, go for a bush determinate type or try one of the Dwarf Tomato Project varieties. Plant nurseries and seed companies also label tomato plants as appropriate for growing in pots and containers. Also called ‘patio tomatoes’.
When you have selected the right tomato plant variety for you, along with your pot or container, you might like to read our article on How To Grow Tomatoes In Pots.
This list of the best tomatoes to grow in pots is by no means an exhaustive list because there are literally hundreds of tomato plant varieties and most can be grown successfully in pots and containers. By selecting the right tomato plant variety and matching it with the right pot size, you will ensure a healthy plant and a bountiful harvest of delicious tomatoes you can grow at home.
Fabric Organza Bags – to naturally protect growing tomato fruit from pests.