5 Simple Steps to Growing Tomatoes in Containers
You can enjoy homegrown tomatoes even without a yard. Containers come to the rescue and offer great alternatives for gardening in small spaces. Even if you have space for a garden plot, having this culinary staple nearby is worth adding a container or two near your kitchen door. Tomato container gardening is easy, particularly when you follow a few basic tips.
How to Grow Tomatoes in Containers
Select the Right Container
Tomatoes can grow quite large. Unless you're growing a dwarf variety, you should use a 5-gallon or larger container. Consider plastic pots—they are lightweight and easier to move than ceramic.
Make sure the container has drainage holes in the bottom. If it doesn't, drill three to five holes in the bottom of the container before planting.
Select the Right Soil and Fertilizer
Look for a good quality potting mix for your container; never use garden soil. Good potting mix that drains well while holding some moisture is one of the keys to successful tomato container gardening. Before adding your tomato plant, add a slow-release fertilizer into the potting mix. Fertilize with a liquid fertilizer every two weeks.
How to Plant Your Tomato Container
Bury the roots and a few inches of the stem of a young tomato plant in the potting mix. Unless you are planting dwarf or patio varieties, add a plant stake or tomato cage for support. Push a 4-foot-tall plant stake into the pot, about 4 inches from the plant. As the plant grows, pull the stems toward the stake and loosely tie with twine. If using a tomato cage, simply place it over the plant.
Select a Sunny Spot
Tomatoes love the sun. Place the container in a spot where plants will get six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day.
Containers dry out more quickly than an in-ground garden, so it's important to check them daily. During hot, dry weather, expect to water tomatoes daily. When watering, add enough water to allow a small amount to drain out the bottom of the container. To reduce diseases, avoid spraying the foliage.