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Growing tomatoes in pots – Tips for Tomato Container Gardening

Growing tomatoes in pots can be a space-saving way to enjoy fresh homegrown tomatoes, especially if you have a small space for gardening.

Tomato container gardening is perfect for apartment dwellers or those without access to a traditional garden. This method will let you to grow delicious tomatoes on patios, balconies, rooftops, or even windowsills.

Container grown tomatoes are very accessible to your back door. You can even grow them on a back yard deck!

Best of all, potted tomatoes are easy to maintain, aesthetically pleasing, and perfect for beginning gardeners.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about growing tomatoes in pots.

Growing tomatoes in pots in an urban setting.

Tomatoes grown in containers have many advantages. They give you the flexibility to bring tomato plants indoors during bad weather or when it turns cold.

This can extend the growing season in regions with shorter growing periods.

Potted tomatoes also require less maintenance compared to traditional garden beds. They are easier to weed, and the confined space can discourage certain pests, leading to a more manageable gardening experience.

Tomatoes grown in containers are sometimes more resistant to tomato blossom drop, caused by heat extremes, since they are often determinate tomatoes that set fruit early.

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How to grow tomatoes in pots

There are a few things to  keep in mind when growing tomatoes in containers. The right type of tomato plant, the correct size planter and the proper soil type are all important factors.

Choosing the right type of tomato plant

While any type of tomato plant can be grown in a pot, you’ll have a better experience if  you choose those best suited to containers. Because of their size, determinate tomato plants, also known as patio or bush tomatoes are a great choice.

Look for tomato varieties labeled as “patio” or “dwarf” tomatoes on the seed package. This type of tomato is designed to thrive in confined spaces and typically have a more compact growth habit.

Tomato plant in a pot with words bush tomatoes, patio tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, dwarf tomatoes - best for containers.

Best determinate tomatoes for containers

Some to look for are these:

It’s important to pick a tomato variety that has a bushy growth habit. This helps prevent the plant from becoming too unwieldy in the limited space of a container.

Choose tomatoes with a shorter time to maturity. Early maturing varieties allow you to enjoy your harvest sooner and are often well-suited for container gardening.

Pots for tomato plants

Select a large container with a minimum size of 5 gallons (18-20 liters) to provide enough space for the tomato roots. This also allows you to plant the roots deeply which will give you a stronger plant.

A 5 gallon pot is normally around 12-14 inches in diameter. When it comes to selecting pots for tomato plants, I go by the saying “bigger is better!”

Tomato container gardening on a patio.

I have often used containers up to 15 gallons for my potted tomato plants, depending on the variety I am growing.

Be sure that the container you choose has drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. You’ll be watering more often than you would with tomatoes grown in the ground, but still want excess water to drain away.

Should I pick clay or plastic pots?

You can choose either terracotta pots or plastic ones. Clay pots are heavier and less likely to topple over. They also help prevent overwatering, since they breathe.

Plastic pots are cheaper but can hold the heat more in hot climates. This means you will be watering more often.

Wheeled platforms (also called plant caddies) to place under pots can be very useful. They allow you to move the pots easily, which can be useful when the sun is too hot, or you get an unexpected cold snap.

The best soil for tomatoes grown in pots

Container gardening allows you to have better control over the composition of  your soil, since you aren’t stuck with the soil in your garden.

Choose a well-draining potting mix rich in organic matter. You can also add perlite or vermiculite to your soil to help improve drainage.

Soil, vermiculite and perlite used to grow tomatoes in pots.

No matter  how tempted you are, resist the urge to reuse your soil from last year. Soil becomes compacted, harbors diseases and even pests which can lead to a host of tomato problems.

Your tomatoes will do best with new soil each year. It’s a small price to pay for delicious, homegrown tomatoes!

Planting and caring for tomato plants in pots

Fill the container with the potting mix, leaving about 2 inches (5 cm) from the top. Each pot should get one tomato plant.

Plant the tomato seedling deep, burying a portion of the stem. This encourages the development of additional side roots and gives you a stronger plant.

Depending on your variety, tomato plants will likely need support as they grow. Place a tomato cage or stake in the pot at the time of planting to support the plant as it grows.

Tomato plant with stake.

Watering tomatoes in pots

Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Tomatoes grown in pots lose use available water quickly.

Consistency is the key in avoiding split or cracked tomatoes. I have used drip feeders with great success with my container tomatoes.

Tomato p lants with a white watering can nearby.

Avoid overhead watering. Instead water at the base of the plant. This will help to prevent fungal diseases.

Fertilizing your tomato plants

Tomatoes grown in containers will not be able to get nutrients from the soil for very long.

Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer or a slow-release granular fertilizer formulated for tomatoes. 

Follow the recommended application rates on the fertilizer package. I fertilize my potted tomato plants about every two weeks.

Sunlight needs for tomatoes in pots

Tomatoes require at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily. Place the container in a sunny location.

My deck faces south and my tomato plants do great there.

Tomato plant in a large planter on a backyard deck.

Maintaining potted tomatoes

Remove suckers (the small shoots that form in the leaf axils) to encourage better air circulation and fruit production.

Pinch off the top of the main stem once the plant reaches a desired height to encourage bushier growth.

And finally, keep an eye out for common tomato pests such as aphids, whiteflies, and hornworms. Treat infestations promptly.

Hand holding a tomato from a potted tomato plant.

A lack of space shouldn’t keep you from enjoying home grown tomatoes!

By following the steps above, you can successfully grow tomatoes in pots and enjoy a fresh harvest, even with limited gardening space.

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🍅 Ready to enjoy the fresh taste of tomatoes but don't have space for a garden? Check out our tips on growing tomatoes in pots! 🌿🏡 Head to The Gardening Cook for tips on choosing the right type, the right pot and the right soil.… Share on X

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Two tomato plants in large pots with words How to grow tomatoes in pots.

Yield: Limited space gardening

How to Grow Tomatoes in Pots

Two determinate tomato plants on a patio in white pots.

Growing tomatoes is popular with all types of gardeners but what about people with limited space?

Growing tomatoes in pots is the answer. As long as you follow a few easy tips and choose the right type of tomato, you can have great success.

Print out the growing tips below and add them to your garden journal.

Active Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Difficulty easy
Estimated Cost $20


  • Tomato plants
  • Organic matter or compost
  • Slow released granular fertilizer formulated for tomatoes


  • Hose or watering can
  • Large pots


  1. Select tomato plants suited to containers, such as determinate varieties. Look for words patio, bush, dwarf on the tag.
  2. Choose a spot that gets at least 6-8 hours of sunlight a day.
  3. Add organic matter to vegetable potting soil.
  4. Choose pots that are at least 5 gallon in size. Larger is even better.
  5. Dig a deep hole in the soil and plant your tomato plant deeply. This encourages side roots and a strong plant.
  6. Plant only 1 plant for each pot.
  7. Stake the plants well to support the weight of the fruits.
  8. Water consistently. Tomatoes in pots dry out more quickly than those in the ground.
  9. Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer every two weeks.
  10. Pinch out side shoots to keep the size manageable.


You can also use normal potting soil with perlite and vermiculite mixed in.

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