Wondering How To Grow Tomatoes in Containers?

Do you want fresh, home grown tomatoes in your home?

Living in an apartment or small home can make it seem impossible to have your own garden.

But the benefits for home grown fruits and veggies are endless. Vegetable container gardening could be your answer!

So, how do you grow container tomatoes?

Growing tomatoes indoors is different from growing them in an outdoor garden.

But growing tomatoes in containers can be a great way to have delicious home grown tomatoes, if you don’t have the space for a large garden.

If you want to learn how to grow tomatoes in containers, read on!

How to Grow Tomatoes in Pots & Container Tomato Varieties

When considering how to grow tomatoes in pots from seeds, you need to pick a tomato that's right for you.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much room do I have? 
  • Do I have enough space outside or will I need to grow my tomatoes indoors? 

Depending on your answers, there will be different types of tomatoes you can choose from.

Determinate Tomatoes

Determinate tomatoes are bushy and smaller, growing to about 3 feet tall. Bush tomatoes in containers can be easier than tomatoes that grow on a vine.

Vines can become large and need a lot of upkeep for indoor growing. 

Determinate tomatoes can be good for colder climates because they grow their fruit and are ready to harvest within a couple of weeks.

Indeterminate Tomatoes

Indeterminate tomatoes are a vine plant. They will grow and produce fruit until they are killed by harsh weather.

You will have to work a little harder for indeterminate tomatoes by using cages and stakes to support their vines.

This makes it harder to grow indoors, but not impossible, and you can potentially get more tomatoes from these plants.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Some small tomato plant varieties have small fruits, but that does not mean that the bush will be small.

So when thinking about how to grow tomatoes in pots indoors, remember to be careful about the bush size.

For example, if you choose to grow cherry tomatoes indoors, you should be prepared to have a plant that will reach 3 to 5 feet tall. This may not be a good choice if you have limited indoor space.

Check the tag on the seeds to know the size of the plant when it's fully grown. Some smaller plants will say "mini" or "dwarf" so these can be a good choice for you.

To help find the tomato that is right for you, the article, "What Kind of Tomato Should I Grow" can help you.


What You’ll Need While Growing Tomatoes in Pots

What You Need

  • Tomato seeds
  • Peat pots
  • Potting mix
  • 5 gallon container
  • Plant cage (if growing a larger tomato plant)
  • Vegetable-safe fertilizer
  • Sunlight or grow lamps
  • Water

Some things to consider when getting your things together:

  • Consider buying an indoor tomato plant kit if you want to get everything you need in one package.
  • When choosing your peat pots, you can either buy them new or recycle old containers you have around the house. You can even use old yogurt or fruit cups!
  • Be sure to choose a potting MIX, not a potting SOIL. This will ensure your tomatoes drain properly.
  • You will be growing tomatoes in buckets, so think about how heavy your container will get after filling it with potting mix. Using ceramic or clay pots can make them heavy to move around with a full-grown tomato plant. You can find plastic pots at your local nursery for free – just ask!
  • Look into a container gardening book for more container gardening ideas! Or for more colorful ideas, check out our article on how to grow cosmos flowers!

Six Steps to Growing Tomatoes Indoors

Now that you know what essentials you need to have before growing tomatoes in pots, you may now proceed with these six easy steps!

Step #1. Plant your tomato seeds

Fill your peat pots with moistened soil and bury 2 or 3 seeds, 1/4 inch under the soil.

Store in 70-80 degrees F until germination (about 7 days).

If you have a place in your home that gets direct sunlight for at least 8 hours a day, move your plants there. This is a great place if you're planning on growing tomatoes indoors on a windowsill.

If not, you can use grow lights to keep your plants warm.

Step #2. Water Your Seedlings

Water your plants every day. Mist water on the seeds whenever the top of the soil mix appears and feels dry.

Be careful to not to over-water.

If the soil becomes soggy, the seeds will rot and die before they have a chance to sprout. 

If you’re interested in an aquaponics system for watering, check out "DIY Aquaponics: 5 Quick & Easy Systems" or alternatively, if your not quite sure on whether aquaponics or hydroponics is the better system for you, find out more helpful tips here!

Step #3. Transfer Your Tomato Plants

You will need to transfer your plants to the containers when your plants are about 6 inches tall.

Put a saucer under your pot to catch the water when it drains. You can also place rocks in the saucer to help the water drain.

Start by mixing a vegetable-safe fertilizer into your soil and fill your pot about 1/3 full. Remove the plant from the peat pot, being careful not to damage the roots.

A good tip is to soak the soil before removing from the peat pot to make it easier to wiggle out.

Place your tomato plant in the middle of the container and continue to fill with soil up to the little fuzzy hairs on the stem. Make sure to pack the soil down as you go so the plant can't move around.

As your plant grows, keep filling the pot with soil, leaving 1 inch of space from the top.

Prune the leaves around the stem and fill with soil, packing again like before. This will help the roots grow stronger. 

If you need a visual to help you out, check out the video below to see how to transfer your tomato plant.

Step# 4. Water Your Tomato Plants

You might be wondering, “How often should I water my tomato plants in pots after I transfer them?”

Water as much as you need to keep the soil moist, but don't over-water your plants!

Over-watering can cause the roots to rot and kill your plant. 

Check the soil by sticking your finger into the pot. If the topsoil is dry but underneath is still wet, you don't need to water it yet.

Recycling water can help the environment! When we recycle water, we can help sensitive ecosystems by putting nutrient-rich wastewater back where it belongs. Recycled water can also help lower your utility bills!

If you want to recycle water, check out "The Five Best Rain Barrels For Smaller Homes"!

Step #5. Keeping Up With Your Tomato Plant

Two weeks after transplanting you should start to fertilize your plants. Fertilize once a week with a fertilizer that is high in phosphorus.

If you've chosen a larger tomato plant, you'll need to put a cage around the plant once the soil reaches the top. Push the legs into the soil around your plant, being careful not to damage the roots.

If you are using artificial lights, turn them on in the morning, give them about 12 hours of light and then turn them off again at night.

This will mimic daylight hours, and allow the plants to "sleep" at the end of the day.

If you see yellowing leaves on tomato plants in pots, they are most likely turning yellow because you’re not watering enough OR using enough fertilizer. This can happen when tomatoes are grown in containers. Remove any brown or yellowing lower leaves and their stems from your plant, then plant it deeper. You want the soil to be just under the lowest green leaf on the plant stem. This will give it a chance to root more strongly. Then give your plant the water, fertilizer, and love it needs!

Step #6. Harvest Your Tomatoes

Always leave your tomatoes on the vine as long as you can.

Your tomatoes will be ready for picking when they are firm and red (it's okay if they are a bit yellow), regardless of how big or small they are.

To pick your tomatoes, grab them by the stem and twist!

If a tomato or two fall off before they're ripe, don't put them on a sunny windowsill! Instead, place them in a brown paper bag in a cool dark place to ripen. This will keep them from ripening too fast.

Never refrigerate fresh tomatoes! If you do, they won't taste like homegrown garden tomatoes anymore.


You Can Now Grow Container Tomatoes!

Don't let living in a small home or apartment keep you from having delicious home grown tomatoes.

By growing tomatoes in containers, you can have the same juicy tomatoes that people with large gardens have!

We hope that after reading this, you'll be on your way to growing tomatoes in your own home. If your feeling motivated and want to keep going, why not check out How To Grow Broccoli In Containers

So what do you think? Do you think you can grow tomatoes?

Let us know in the comments.

And if you know someone who wants to learn about how to grow tomatoes in containers, please share the article with them!

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