One of the most popular plants grown in outdoor containers are tomatoes. So popular that special tomato varieties have been developed and planters designed to encourage the proper growing conditions for tomatoes. Let’s take a look at what you need to know to keep a delicious crop of tomatoes growing in planters on your patio, deck or balcony this year.
Best varieties for growing tomatoes in planters and pots
While just about all tomato varieties can be grown in pots if the pot and growing conditions are appropriate, some varieties do better than others and some varieties will also help to increase production in small spaces.
Determinate varieties, or ‘bush’ tomatoes are varieties that have been bred to grow to a compact height of approximately 3 to 4 feet. They require limited caging or staking for support. These varieties stop growing when the fruit sets on the top bud and all of the tomatoes ripen at the same time.
Indeterminate varieties of tomatoes are called ‘vining’ tomatoes which can reach up from 6 to 10 feet in height. These varieties require substantial support and a large pot, and may do well on a trellis attached securely to a wall. Indeterminate varieties will keep growing until killed by frost.
The best approach is to ask the nursery where you will purchase your seeds or plants for the varieties they recommend for containers. Here’s a list of varieties that Burpee recommends for growing in containers:
- Early Girl
- Big Boy
- Patio Princess
- Sweetheart of the Patio
- Tumbling Tom
Planters have variety too!
As with all outdoor planters used in container gardening, the fundamentals are important for growing tomatoes in pots. Adequate drainage and pot size for the plant’s final size are critical. Tomatoes can be heavy so the planter pot must be stable and provide enough area of soil for the tomato plant roots. Tomato plants grow fast and are heavy producers, so they need lots of regular watering. For example, in the heat of summer plants may need to be watered 2 – 3 times a week. Consistent watering produces stronger plants and larger fruit. Be sure to water at the soil line line and not overhead.
Terracotta planters are ideal for growing tomatoes as they are very stable, but careful attention must be paid to the moisture levels as unglazed terracotta absorbs water from the soil and may require the pots to be watered more often. Self-watering tomato planters are ideal for keeping your tomato planters adequately watered and come in many styles.
Look for these innovative products for the avid ‘patio tomato farmer’!
Tomato Success Kit
Hanging Tomato Planter
Visit the Tomato Planters page to learn more about these and new products for growing tomatoes in planters.