Learn how to grow tomatoes in pots so no matter how little growing space you may have, you can grow tomatoes anywhere. If growing space is limited, knowing how to grow tomatoes at home in pots could be for you. After all, growing tomatoes is by far the most popular vegetable to grow for home gardeners. But there are a few tips to successfully growing tomatoes in pots. Get them right and you will be enjoying delicious homegrown tomatoes this season.
Sunshine And A Warm Climate
As a warm-season crop, tomatoes require warm weather and sunshine of 6-8 hours a day or more.
And the beauty of planting tomatoes in pots is containers can be moved around to provide the optimal sunlight.
The ideal growing temperature for tomatoes is 65-85 °F degrees (18-30 °C). If the weather becomes overly warm – above 95 °F degrees (35 °C), protection from the sun is beneficial. Above this temperature for prolonged periods and the tomato plant will stop producing flowers and setting fruit.
What Is The Best Soil For Growing Tomatoes In Pots?
Like many edible plants, tomato plants like fertile, free-draining soil. So choose a premium organic potting mix to give your tomato plant the best start. And providing the right soil means the tomato plant will have all the beneficial nutrients required to grow well and produce tasty tomatoes.
The addition of homemade compost and well-rotted manure will also help provide the right conditions for a container-grown tomato plant. Improving the soil with compost and manure not only assists the soil to retain moisture where needed but also to be free-draining so it does not become water-logged.
Fertilizer For Tomatoes Grown In Containers
Growing tomatoes in pots and containers mean they will need to be fed well with an organic fertilizer every 3-4 weeks. Container grown tomatoes don’t have access to the same nutrients as ground grown tomatoes so fertilization is important for a productive harvest.
We recommend this organic tomato fertilizer.
Homemade compost can also be used to fertilize tomatoes in pots and the addition of worm castings or fish emulsion is beneficial. So try a small amount of compost spread on top of the soil – called top dressing – on a weekly or fortnightly basis. This will provide the tomato plant with much-needed nutrients and micronutrients depleted by watering.
Watering Tomato Plants In Pots
Tomatoes require regular and consistent watering for healthy growth. Without adequate water, tomato plants will become stressed and be more susceptible to pests and diseases.
On very hot days, tomato plants may require daily watering. Otherwise, depending on your climate, 2-3 times a week may be sufficient.
The top of the soil can be allowed to dry out between watering but the soil should remain moist an inch or so below the surface. To check the soil moisture, gently scratch the surface of the soil with your finger. If the soil feels moist an inch below the surface, hold off watering but if it’s dry, give the tomato plant a drink. You can also use a soil water tester for this purpose.
It’s important the water can freely drain away because over-watering can cause tomato plant diseases such as blossom end rot. Good drainage can be achieved by providing pots with plenty of drainage holes and using quality potting mix soil with compost.
Watering tomato plants should be done around the base of the plant to avoid overhead watering which tomatoes dislike. Overhead watering can lead to a number of diseases and growing problems such as powdery mildew.
You can read our article on how to naturally control powdery mildew with our DIY milk spray recipe.
If watering by hand, it’s a good idea to water the tomato plant until you see the water start to drain out from the pot drainage holes. This ensures the tomato plant roots are well hydrated.
If space permits, an excellent way to water tomato plants in pots is to set them up on a drip irrigation system with a timer. This drip irrigation kit is a great option for up to 20 potted plants.
How To Successfully Grow Tomatoes In A Pot
It’s important to select the correct pot size for the variety of tomato plant you intend to grow. Accordingly, we have a detailed article on the Best Tomatoes To Grow In Pots to help you decide which variety will grow best for you.
Once you have your preferred tomato plant and the correct pot size, you are ready to plant your tomato.
- Firstly, start by filling the pot with potting soil, leaving 2 inches (5 cm) from the top, for the addition of mulch.
- Then make a hole in the center of the pot, deep enough to bury the tomato plant past the bottom 2-3 sets of leaves deep.
- Planting tomatoes deeply in the soil will promote a strong tomato plant. You can do this by carefully removing the bottom 2-3 leaves from the stem and burying the plant in the soil to cover the now removed bottom set of leaves. The stem will make new roots along the buried stem, helping to make a strong and healthy plant. Make sure there are no leaves touching the soil as this encourages soil-borne diseases. If there are, simply remove them.
- Next, stake or cage the tomato plant to give the plant the growing support required as the plant matures. It is best to stake at the time of planting to avoid root disturbance.
- Water the tomato plant in well to help settle the soil around the roots.
- Finally, finish by topping the soil with an organic mulch to protect the soil from drying out. Keep the mulch from directly touch the tomato plant stem and then give the mulch a gentle spray of water to stop it flying away in the next gust of wind.
Additional Tomato Growing Tip:
A natural method to protect tomato fruit from pests is by using organza bags or fruit exclusion bags. Simply pop the bag over the fruit and tie it off gently while the fruit ripens. I have found them particularly helpful against fruit fly and caterpillars.
By following these tomato growing tips, you can grow thriving tomato plants in pots for a truly tasty harvest of homegrown tomatoes. So why not give it a try? And if you have any great tips for growing tomatoes, we would love for you to share them in the comments.
Drip Irrigation Kit – for up to 20 potted plants.
Fabric Organza Bags – to naturally protect growing tomato fruit from pests.