How To Grow Tomatoes In Containers

In this article on how to grow tomatoes in containers I am going to try to cover every aspect of the procedure. Container tomatoes, in some cases are easier to grow then trying to grow them in the ground. Some examples of the reasons to grow in containers instead of the ground include.

  • Container growing keeps you from being bothered by diseases that may be present in your soil.
  • If you have a heated garage, you can plant a lot earlier. If they are calling for frost you can move them inside over night.
  • With well draining soil it is easier to control the desired amount of water that tomato plants require, (a lot of water).
  • You will be able to supply the best soil for container tomatoes. You can mix the ingredients the way you want it.
  • In extreme temperatures you can move them to some shade. They still need at least 8 hours of full sun though.

Best Types Of Containers For Tomatoes

It has a lot to do with the type of tomato plants that you are growing. Some of the determinate cherry type tomatoes can be planted in a 2 to 3 gallon pot. If you are going to grow the regular size determinate plants you can get by with a 5 to 6 gallon pot.

Tomato Plants In Containers
Tomato Plants Growing In Containers

If you are fortunate enough to live close to cattle country you may be able to get some mineral feeder tubs from farmers. There are a lot of them around here and that’s what most of the people that know the farmers use. I am not sure of the size of them but I would guess that they are 40 gallon tubs or maybe more.

For the large indeterminate tomato plants you would need a larger pot or tub. If you can get a hold of the mineral tubs mentioned above that would be great. If you can’t get them, a large tote or or plastic tub would work fine. I would try to stick with at least a 25 gallon tote or tub. They will weigh enough to hold the larger plants that can get 6 or 7 foot tall. You could probably fit 2 tomato plants into a tote that size too.

When in pots, the pots should have a bale of straw, a board or something to keep the sun from hitting the side of the pot. When I was in the nursery business I lost a lot of plants that were on the outside of the group. The evening sun hitting the side of the black pots would actually cook the roots.

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Best Soil For Container Tomatoes

Bag Of Perlite Soil Additive
Perlite Soil Additive For Growing Tomatoes In Containers
Osmocote Plant Food
Osmocote Plant Food

Whichever pot that you use it should have plenty of drain holes in the bottom. The water should run through the soil and out of the bottom of the pot. If the soil doesn’t drain well you will get root rot and the plants will be stunted or die.

I use a lot of perlite in any type of soil that I use. Bonnie’s potting soil is probably the best soil for container tomatoes but it is not cheap. Even with Bonnie’s I use perlite mixed with it to make it drain better.

Tomatoes like a sandy soil so this is what I do. You may not have access to the same ingredients as I do but big box stores will probably have most of it. This is what I use in how to grow tomatoes in containers, a mix of 25% composted cow manure, 25% sand and 50% peat-moss.


Then I add 1 gallon of perlite to every 20 gallons of mix. This mixture will hold enough water but will also let the excess drain. I have noticed that using straight peat-moss based potting mix seems to make the fruit taste bland. I use Osmocote to help with the micro nutrients that plants need. Also I use Spray-n-Grow on the larger plants. I usually pour a little in the pot too when I plant.

If you don’t know what perlite is, your big box or home improvement store can probably help you. Also if you have a local farm store they should have it too. I can get a big 4 cubic foot bag for around $12 at the feed store. Perlite is actually popped lava and is white and very light in weight.

How To Grow Tomatoes In Containers – Staking Or Caging

Honestly, I prefer caging my tomato plants. You don’t have to prune the indeterminate plants as hard that way. Indeterminate plants are mainly what I grow anymore. I have had too many blown over with the wind when staking. If I put them in a cage I drive a 7 foot piece of rebar on two sides of the cage and it doesn’t go anywhere when I tie the wire to the stakes. You can read my article on how to grow tomato plants.

Determinate plants are mainly a single stem and staking is fine with them. Also very little trimming is needed with the determinate types and they usually only get 2 to 4 foot tall. The very bottom shoots are usually trimmed off to help with air circulation to help fight disease.

Tomato Plant Pests

I am going to go over the main tomato plant pests that I have to deal with. Aphids suck the juice out of the plants. Sometimes they are hard to see because they blend in so good with the plant. They are the easiest to get rid of for me. A good spraying with water will wash them off of the plants. I don’t like them but they seem to be the least damaging to me.

Tomato Stink Bug
Tomato Stink Bug

Stink bugs

Stink bugs give me a lot of trouble. They suck the juice out of the fruit and leave white spots it. There are quite a few ways to get rid of stink bugs in your garden. I don’t remember the exact mixtures but water mixed with dish detergent will help get rid of them. If you know a smoker, collect their cigarette butts and soak them in water for awhile. Spray your garden with the nicotine water. Water mixed with vegetable oil will get rid of them but you have to really keep it shook up or the water and oil will separate.

Adult Blister Beetle
Adult Blister Beetle
Organic Garden Insect Spray.
Organic Insect Spray

After the stink bug invasion I end up with blister bugs. Blister Beetles come by the hundreds to thousands and can strip a tomato plant over night. Blister bugs or blister beetles as they are sometimes also called are grey or black striped insects. The most common way to get rid of them in a garden is to hand pick them and drown them in a bucket of water. Be sure to use gloves as they will cause blisters on your skin. Therefore the only other way I have found is to use an organic pesticide Monterey Garden Insect Spray.

In Conclusion Of How To Grow Tomatoes In Containers

Out of 500 people there are probably 500 different ways that they grow their tomatoes. Therefore it all comes down to the way that you want to try. You can grow them in the ground, in containers, hanging upside down and even in hanging baskets. I have an idea on how to grow tomatoes in containers that I am going to try this summer and if it works you can be watching for a post on it later.

There are lots and lots of left over nursery pots out here. I am going to make a stand eight foot tall that is long enough to hold 4 or 5 of the 3 gallon pots. The span of the stand will have a slit down the middle and a cover over it. I am going to plant the tomato plant in the center drain hole in the bottom of the pot. The tomato plant will hang down through the slit in the stand. A water pipe will go up and across the stand with a drip nozzle on each pot for ease of watering. The cover will keep the direct sun off of the pot but will give me room to feed the plants and work on the water if needed. We’ll see what happens and I will let you know.

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