Growing Tomatoes in Pots – 9 Expert Tips for a Big Harvest

Growing tomatoes in pots

Growing tomatoes in pots is a good way to enjoy fresh, homegrown tomatoes if you don’t have a garden. With a sunny balcony, deck, or patio, you can easily grow the tomato variety of your choice, from Tiny Tim, Patio Princess to Bush Early Girl. 

Unlike tomatoes planted on the ground, potted tomatoes require extra care, such as ensuring they have enough nutrients and water. Besides, they are worth all the effort, considering the amount of sweet and juicy fruits you will get in return. 

Here are tips to help you successfully grow tomato plants in pots and get a bountiful harvest from them!

9 Tips for Growing Tomatoes in Pots

Follow and apply these tips to grow healthy and tasty tomatoes in pots in the small space you have either on your balcony, patio, rooftop, driveway, or deck.  

1. Select the Best Tomato Variety for Pot Gardening

Not all tomato varieties are ideal for container or pot gardening. Determinate (compact or bush) varieties are the best for pot gardening because they grow to a certain size between 3-4 feet – hence are easily manageable. 

Some of the best determinate varieties to grow in a pot include Patio Princess, Tiny Tim, and Bush Early Girl. However, it’s still possible to grow the indeterminate variety (Vining tomatoes) in pots if you have enough space. 

Indeterminate varieties that might be suited for container gardening include Sungold, Brandywine, or Black Krim. 

2. Choose the Right Pot

The next step in growing tomatoes in pots is selecting the right pot. Tomatoes develop deep roots, so a bigger container is better. For determinate varieties, choose a 10-gallon size, while for indeterminate varieties, choose a 20-gallon so there is enough space to spread their roots.

When selecting the pot, choose the one with fabric material—these are good for growing tomatoes. Plus, they have good air circulation and drainage. 

3. Start With a Healthy Tomato Transplant

tomato seedlings

When growing tomatoes in pots, I prefer to start mine from seeds. This way, I’m assured of healthy seedlings. 

However, if you’re buying seedlings from your local nursery, confirm if they are hardened well to prevent transplant shock when they go outside. 

Additionally, select transplants that have thick and sturdy stems with green and healthy foliage. 

RELATED: How to Grow Tomato Plants from Seeds – A Quick Guide

4. Use High-quality Potting Mix

I don’t recommend using garden soil when planting tomatoes in pots. Garden soil is too heavy for potted plants and might contain soil-borne diseases. Use a lightweight, well-draining potting mix that is rich in organic matter. 

Remember, tomato plants are heavy feeders – add compost or slow-release fertilizer when planting to add more nutrients to the potting soil. 

5. Plant Your Tomatoes Well

Dig a deep hole in your pot and bury the stem up to the first two sets of leaves—this will encourage strong root growth. After planting, water the soil thoroughly to help settle the roots.

6. Give Your Potted Tomatoes Plenty of Sunlight

Tomatoes do well in direct sunlight, so place your pots in a place where they will receive at least 8 hours of direct sun each day. Plenty of sun is essential for their health and fruiting. If you’re growing them on the balcony or driveway, place them on the west or south side. 

7. Add a Support Structure

When tomato plants start to fruit, they become heavy at the top, and this might break the stems. So, to keep them upright and prevent them from breaking, support them with tomato cages or stakes. Add the support before the plants grow too large to avoid damaging the roots. 

8. Water Your Potted Tomatoes Regularly

tomato seedling in a pot

Before watering, insert your finger a few inches deep into the potting mix – water if the soil is completely dry, and skip watering if it feels wet. Water at the base of your tomato plants until the soil is moist. 

Avoid wetting the leaves to prevent diseases like powdery mildew and leaf spot. The worst time to water your tomatoes is at night; water them early in the morning, so if you wet them, they have enough time to dry out. 

Depending on your local weather, you probably won’t water every day—maybe after 2 or 3 days if it’s not too hot. Keep in mind that potted plants dry out quickly, unlike garden plants, so don’t let the soil dry or waterlog the soil.

9. Give Your Tomatoes More Nutrients

While you added compost or slow-release fertilizer to the potting soil of your tomato plants when planting, you need to add more nutrients regularly and throughout their growing season for the best results. 

Tomatoes are heavy feeders, so they will deplete the nutrients 4 or 6 weeks after planting. Feed them with a balanced organic fertilizer. I prefer using a liquid fertilizer because it is quickly absorbed by the roots. 

In Summary

Growing tomatoes in pots can be more fun compared to growing them on the ground or on raised beds. You can grow them anywhere in pots as long as the spot has access to direct sun. Don’t deny yourself the joy of growing fresh and homegrown tomatoes because you have limited space – they will grow well anywhere in pots.


Author Profile

🌿 Hello! I'm Mary, the nature-loving soul behind Serene Eden. Gardener, plant whisperer, compost connoisseur, sun-soaked plant enthusiast, and avid bee-watcher. Let's cultivate beauty, one bloom at a time. 🌱🌼