how to grow tomatoes in a pot

How to Grow Tomatoes in a Pot: 12 Tips for Successfully Growing Tomatoes in a Container

Tomatoes are incredibly productive and are used to make delicious meals and salads. You can grow them anywhere in pots, be it your balcony, driveway or rooftop, as long as it is a sunny spot. The guide below gives all the information you need to grow tomatoes in pots successfully.

All types of tomatoes can be grown in pots, as long as you provide them with the right growing conditions.

Types of tomatoes

1. Heirloom tomatoes

Heirloom tomatoes are purebred. They are popular for superior taste and texture. However, unlike hybrids, they are least resistant to diseases and have a lower shelf life. Their nutritional content is similar to that of other tomato varieties.

2. Plum tomatoes

They are also known as paste tomatoes. They have few seeds and are cylindrical. Having few seeds, they are mostly used to make tomato paste  sauces. Plum tomatoes, which are small in size, are commonly known as grapefruits.

3. Beefsteak tomatoes

Beefsteak tomatoes are large and firm. They are perfect for sandwiches and hamburgers as they hold their shapes when sliced. They are also juicy and tasty.

4. Tomatoes on the vine

The tomatoes are sold while still on their vines. This makes them have a longer shelf life. Since they are large enough, they are perfect for making salads. Their tasty and juicy tastes also make them an excellent choice for making sauces and canning.

5. Cherry tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes are small and have a distinct sweet taste. They are ideal for salads.

6. Roma tomatoes

Roma tomatoes are larger than cherry tomatoes. They are juicy and tasty, making them an excellent choice for making sauces and canning.

7. Green tomatoes

Surprisingly, some people use green tomatoes for cooking. They are usually firm and easy to slice. They are slightly sour, which makes them impart a unique flavor to different dishes.

How to Grow Tomatoes in a Container (or a Pot)

1. Select a good growing spot

The area should receive at least 6 hours of sun in a day. It should be near a source of water. If not, the area should be reachable with a hose pipe. This is because your tomatoes will need to be watered frequently. Don’t put the pots close to each other, as the plants will be in contact, which allows the spread of diseases.

2. Get the best tomato seeds

Buy the seeds from trusted dealers. Start by planting them indoors. Use potting mix to sow the seed. Place them near a sunny window.

3. Get the right planting pot

Get a big pot. Your plants will grow big and need a strong root system. Drill several drainage holes in the container, to avoid water logging. Fabric pots are the best for growing tomatoes since the roots are exposed to the air. The air exposure burns off their tips, which discourages them from getting too long and spindly. The pots are also porous, which encourages the drainage of excess water, which may damage the plants.

If you live in a cold climate, black plastic pots will be ideal for you. They will keep the roots warm as they tend to hold heat, especially in late spring to early summer, when temperature swings occur. You will need to provide shade to your plants during the summer to avoid overheating.

4. Use quality potting soil

Garden soil will not be a good option for planting is very dense, and may contain soil-borne diseases. Use a high-quality potting mix.

5. Transplant your seedlings

Plant your tomatoes deep in the soil. Deep planting will enable the stems inside the soil to develop roots, which makes the plants stronger. Simply dig a hole, place the seedling and let the leaves be above the soil.

6. Support the plans

Adding support to your plants at this stage will prevent root damage. You can use tomato ladders or square tomato cages. Both are strong and durable.

7. Water your plants regularly

Tomatoes require constant watering to grow well. However, don’t keep the soil wet. Keep it moist. Excessive water will make your plants rot. Similarly, if the tomatoes don’t get sufficient water, they will grow weak and eventually develop root rot. If you don’t apply water consistently, the fruits will start cracking.

If it is too hot or windy, apply water on your plants at least twice a day. In the case of high rainfalls, move your plants indoors or cover them. Apply water directly on the base of the plant. Applying it to the foliage will cause the development of fungus and blight. Use a watering can or a hose pipe. Plants in pots will require more water compared to those planted directly on the ground. Using a smaller pot will require you to water your plants regularly, as opposed to a larger pot.

8. Feed your tomatoes

Tomatoes are heavy feeders. Initially, the potting mix will provide nutrients to your plants. Later, apply continuous release fertilizer throughout the growing period. The fertilizer will help your plants flourish and produce juicy tomatoes. Still, it provides the plants with calcium, which helps protect the tomatoes from blossom end rot. Avoid fertilizers with high levels of nitrogen as they only make the foliage flourish, but little flowers and fruits.

9. Mulch the soil

Mulching helps the soil to retain moisture. You will not need to water your plants frequently when you mulch them. Mulch also reduces tomato foliar diseases. This is because the mulch prevents the splashing of rainwater into the leaves. Make use of organic mulch, such as grass clippings and shredded leaves.

10. Pruning the plants

Tomatoes develop suckers that shoot out from the main stem. Removing the suckers by pruning them will promote air circulation, keep diseases at bay, and allow the plant to focus on growing healthy fruits.

11. Inspect your plants frequently

Inspecting your plants will help you notice pests and diseases. If you find any, get rid of them by using the correct herbicides and pesticides.

12. Harvesting your tomatoes

The best time to harvest tomatoes is when they are ripe and firm as you can easily pluck them off.

How to take care of your tomato plants

  • Use a good potting mix and water the plants regularly. Healthy plants will resist diseases effectively.
  • Keep your pots free from weeds as they act as breeding grounds for insects
  • Sterilize your garden tools and equipment. This will avoid the transfer of diseases to your plants.
  • Get rid of unhealthy foliage. This will discourage the spread of pests and diseases.
  • Avoid overhead irrigation in your plants. Damp foliage encourages the development of diseases.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I plant my seedlings?

Usually, seedlings will be ready for planting 60 days after they were planted. At this point, they will be at least 30cm.

How do I harvest tomatoes?

Pick tomatoes when they are firm and red. Make sure the stalk remains on the will last longer.

What pests affect tomatoes?

Aphids, nematodes, and cutworms may invade your tomatoes. Always inspect your plants to see if there are any.

How many fruits does a single tomato plant produce?

On ideal conditions, a single plant will produce an average of 20 pounds of tomatoes in a single season.

What are the signs that my tomato plants are getting excess water?

If you over water your plants, they will develop yellow leaves, root rot, or blisters on the leaves.

Growing tomatoes is not hard. If you follow the guidelines above, you will enjoy fresh tomatoes right from your balcony or backyard.

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