Tips for Growing Tomatoes in Containers

Here are a few tips for growing tomatoes in containers which includes grow bags too!

How To Establish Tomato Plants In Containers

Newly transplanted tomato plants should have their roots established by only one initial watering.

As soil dries and air is absorbed back between the soil particles, then roots grow in search of water.

If you water every day after transplanting ….

  • Roots won’t grow to their full potential.
  • Soil may become saturated – without enough oxygen, slowing growth.
  • Over watering of young plants can cause root disease, especially in spring when night temperatures drop.

Tall Varieties for Large Pots or Grow Bags

Tall, indeterminate varieties can do very well in a 10 or 12 litre pot if the tomatoes are a cherry size. Usually cherry varieties grow a smaller root system and need less sun to produce a good crop, so they are a good choice in a poor summer – something that happens all too often in the UK!

Sungold, Gardener’s Delight and Black Cherry are excellent in this category.

Dwarf Bush Variety for Small Containers

The best varieties to choose are those with smaller root systems and won’t mind a smaller area in which to grow.

These include dwarf varieties like Balconi Red and Yellow, Tiny Tim, Tom Thumb, Vilma and Sweet and Neat to name just a few. These are upright bush plants that are happy in a smaller pot (under 9 inch) or trough shaped planter, but like most tomato varieties, they will perform better given a little more root space.

Tomato Red Robin
Red Robin on the windowsill

Trailing Varieties Do Well In Hanging Baskets

The sight of hundreds of tomatoes cascading over the side of a hanging basket or from topsy turvy planter is a wonderful sight to behold. Again a cherry variety is a good choice not just because of the size of the root system but also the weight.

Tumbler F1, Tumbling Tom Red and Yellow and Hundreds and Thousands make a great choice.

Medium and Beefsteak Varieties in Containers

Growing tomatoes of a larger size is more demanding. Generally the plants will need more space for their roots and more light to produce the larger size fruit – that means a good long summer!

A suitable size pot for growing medium and large tomato varieties would hold around 15 litres of soil. A smaller container can be used if  feeding and watering is optimized.

If you live in a region where summers are often less than ideal, you can still get a crop of beefsteak tomatoes from a large pot but it is better to grow under cover in a greenhouse or polytunnel.

Growing Systems for tomatoes

Growing systems for growing tomatoes in containers that really enhance growth quality and quantity, include the Auto Pot System and the Quadgrow Planter.

tomatoes in quadgrow planter

See: Quadgrow Planter Review of Features and Benefits

Both these systems have water and nutrients on access 24/7 so tomato plants can choose what they want, when they want. This helps avoid stress and makes for more consistent growth.

Increase the Water Holding Properties

Soil alone dries out very quickly, so enhancing the water holding capacity of the soil in a container is a good idea. Perlite, vermiculite and water retaining gel or crystals will help stop soil in containers from drying out.

It’s also worth remembering that if you overcrowd a hanging basket, the competition for water will be even greater and the soil will dry out more quickly.

High Performance Pots

Air pots with holes in the side and pots made of fabric are becoming very popular. Two of their benefits include:

  • They allow more air into the roots – roots need oxygen
  • They help stop root circling and prevents pots becoming root bound
Tips for Growing Tomatoes in Containers

Grow Bag Pots

These are, as their name suggests, designed for grow bags and provide an inner and outer ring for feeding and watering separately. Separate rings prevent feed around the roots being washed away every time water without feed is applied.

More about container growing:

Growing Tall Varieties

Grow Bag Pots and Ring Culture

Growing Tomatoes On The Patio