How to Grow Tomatoes in a Pot

What You'll Need
Large pot or 5 gallon container
Stones, packing peanuts or broken Styrofoam pieces
Potting soil or soil-less mix
Flat rocks, bricks or 2x4 lumber scraps

Tomatoes are enjoyed by many people around the world. However, it can be difficult to get really good tomatoes from the grocery store without paying a lot for them. If you enjoy gardening, you can combine your love of tomatoes with your green thumb and grow your own tomatoes in a pot.

Step 1 - Choose your Container

The nice thing about growing tomatoes in a pot is that you don’t need a big back yard. You can grow tomatoes on your apartment patio or condo balcony. You just need a large pot, some drainage, soil or soil-less mix and of course the most important thing, a nice healthy tomato plant.

Your pot can be almost anything that’s large enough. You can simply buy a pot. It should be about 20 inches to allow your tomatoes room to grow. You can also use one of those wooden half wine barrels or if you’re looking to grow your tomatoes on the cheap, try using 5 gallon buckets. You can buy these at your local home improvement center or even get them for free from some restaurants. You can paint them with one of the newer paints made for painting plastics. Try a dark green or black to help retain heat.  

Step 2 - Add Drainage

If your container doesn’t already have drainage holes, you’ll need to drill several holes in the bottom so your tomato’s roots won’t be sitting in water. You could put some stones in the bottom of the container for drainage but if you have to move it, it’s going to be pretty heavy. Try using packing peanuts or broken up pieces of Styrofoam packing material. Use a soil-less potting mix and you’ll have a lightweight potted tomato that you can move around to follow the sun if necessary.

Step 3 - Setting Up the Pots

Make sure your pots are raised off the patio or deck to aid drainage and prevent doing damage to the flooring surface. Set the containers on flat stones, bricks or short pieces of 2x4 lumber scraps. Use trays if you need added protection, particularly if you have neighbors living below you.

Step 4 - Plant your Tomatoes

Tomatoes are one of those plants that benefit from being buried deeply so when you plant your tomatoes, bury about 2/3 of the stem, leaving just the top 1/3 exposed. Many plants would rot if you did this but tomatoes will put out roots all along the buried portion of the stem, making for a nice sturdy plant.

Step 5 - General Tomato Care

Make certain you buy healthy starter plants. Try varieties that don’t grow too large or even cherry or grape tomatoes. Remember that tomatoes require a lot of water. Use a water soluble fertilizer every couple of weeks. Your tomato plants will need at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. With just a little work and some TLC you’ll be enjoying your own vine ripened tomatoes in no time!