Growing Tumbler Tomatoes and Trailing Varieties
It wasn’t that long ago that the idea of growing tomatoes in a hanging basket or upside down planter seemed a bit unusual.
Now it is fast becoming one of the most popular ways to grow tomatoes and the new varieties available for this type of growing show that this is the case.
What is a Trailing Variety?
A trailing variety is a bush tomato plant that will grow in a confined space (small root area) with a sprawling growing habit. In other words, its branches grow long enough to hang down over the sides of a container producing a cascading or fountain like effect.
The first very popular variety of this type was called Tumbler F1 and is still an excellent variety with a great taste and good yield.
Then along came Tumbling Tom in both red and yellow strains. This variety is one of the most popular trailing tomato varieties today, partly because it looks so good, its produces a good crop with a very good taste. It also has a good shelf life and doesn’t split easily.
The only disadvantages of Tumbling Tom is that it takes slightly longer to mature than Tumbler F1 and the fruit tends to be slightly smaller.
Popular Trailing Varieties
These varieties include: 100s and 1000s which is a smaller cherry size (cocktail size really) but does produce an amazing crop, Maskotka, Gartenperle or Garden Pearl, Rambling Gold Stripe – very compact, Cherry Fountain, Ildi which is yellow and an established favourite, Tumbling Tom Junior, Bajaja and Cherry Cascade.
Non Trailing Habit
Some bush plants that produce cherry tomatoes aren’t suitable for hanging baskets because they have a non trailing habit and require some support or need more room for their roots than a hanging basket can give.
These include, Red Alert and many of the small upright bush plants such as Balconi Red and Yellow which are great in window boxes and containers along with Venus, Vilma, Totem F1 and Sweet ‘n’ Neat to name but a few.
Losetto F1, which is said to be blight tolerant, and other hybrid bush plants are probably best grown in large containers on the patio (more room for their roots) in order to take full advantage of their vigour and get the best possible yield.
Containers for Trailing Varieties
It goes without saying that if you wish to grow trailing varieties you need a high sided container or hanging basket so that the tomatoes can hang over the sides without touching the ground. Slugs and snails love tomatoes!
Hanging baskets are great – especially as a visual feature but their disadvantage is that there is a limited amount of room for plant roots and the small amount of soil will hold less water than a large deep pot.
A large pot or container with high sides will be more suitable in that tomato plants will produce a better crop, given more room.
Optimising Soil In Hanging Baskets and Pots
Adding perlite, vermiculite and water retaining gel crystals will help the soil absorb more water.
This will mean that these containers won’t dry out on a hot day and your plants will be a lot happier!
Tomato plants are prone to stress when moisture levels are up and down like a yoyo, and stress leads to a poorer crop of tomatoes.
Try Lizzano F1 in the 2018 season – it is UK bred and ideal for baskets and containers – seeds from Suttons.
The great benefit of growing tumbler cherry tomatoes is that most varieties are very sweet and usually mature earlier than medium and large tomato varieties!