Cherry Tomatoes for Hanging Baskets

With their small fruits and trailing growth habit, cherry tomatoes are ideal candidates for growing in hanging baskets. This makes them a good choice for gardeners with limited space. Here are a couple of great new varieties to look for this season, as well as some tips for growing tomatoes in hanging baskets.


The Advantages of Growing Cherry Tomatoes

There are many advantages to growing cherry tomatoes. Because their fruits are small and lightweight, cherry tomatoes tend to have a greater tolerance for wind, drought, and temperature fluctuations. They are also less prone to the cracking and blossom end rot that frequently affects some of the larger varieties.

Another advantage is that cherry tomato plants are very productive - often producing hundreds of fruits per plant. Crops mature and ripen early in the season and continue to bear fruits until the first frosts of fall. In the kitchen, cherry tomatoes rival full-size tomatoes in taste, and make a great addition to salads, soups, stir-fries, bruschetta, kebabs, and pasta dishes. They can also be canned and used as a base for sauces and dips.


Two New Varieties for Hanging Baskets

The following two cherry tomato varieties are new to the market in 2011. Look for them this season at nurseries and garden retailers nationwide. Both varieties were bred by Pro-Veg Seeds Ltd., and both are All-America Selections winners. That means that after numerous national trials, both varieties have proven to be among the best performers in test gardens across the United States. Because they are semi-determinant, they will produce a main crop that ripens together, as well as continue to produce fruits up until the first frost. Grow them in hanging baskets, in containers, or in the vegetable gardens (requires staking).

Tomato "Lizzano" F1 AAS Vegetables Award Winner

"Lizzano" is a vigorous tomato variety with a low growing, trailing habit that makes it excellent for growing in patio containers or hanging baskets. Despite its compact growth habit, plants will need staking if grown in garden beds. The plants grow 16 to 20 inches tall with a spread of only 20 inches. They produce abundant yields of high-quality, bright red, baby-size cherry tomatoes that are approximately 1-inch in size and weigh about 0.4 ounces. "Lizzano" is the first Late


Blight tolerant semi-determinate variety of cherry tomatoes on the market. This is advantage, because disease resistant plants will last later into the growing season. Harvest begins 105 days from sowing seed or 63 days from transplant.

    "Lizzano" (Solanum Lycopersicum):

    Fruit size: 0.4 ounces
    Fruit color: Red
    Plant height: 16 to 20 inches
    Plant width: 20 inches
    Location: Full sun
    Spacing: 20 inches apart
    Disease tolerances: Late Blight tolerant
    Length of time to harvest: 63 days from transplant
    Closest comparisons on market: "Tumbler" and "Tumbling Tom Red"

Tomato "Terenzo" F1 AAS Vegetable Award Winner

"Terenzo" is a high yielding cherry tomato variety that produces a red fruit approximately 1 1/4 inches in size, and weighing an average 0.7 ounces. This is a sweet tasting tomato with a brix sugar content of 6.0%. (Brix is used in the food industry for measuring the approximate amount of sugars in fruits, vegetables, juices, wine, etc.) With a plant height of 16 to 20 inches, and a spread of 20 inches, this easy-to-grow compact variety is very well suited to hanging baskets and containers, and requires very little maintenance. Like "Lizzano', "Terenzo" produces a generous harvest of flavorful, easy-to-pick fruit throughout the summer.


    "Terenzo" (Solanum lycopersicum)

    Fruit size: 0.7 ounces (slightly larger in size than "Lizzano")
    Fruit color: Red
    Plant height: 16 to 20 inches
    Plant width: 20 inches
    Location: Full sun
    Spacing: 20 inches apart
    Length of time to harvest: 56 days form transplant
    Closes comparisons on market: "Tumbler" and "Tumbling Tom Red'

How to Plant Tomatoes in Hanging Baskets:

  • Choose a 14 inch or larger hanging basket and with a coir liner.

  • Fill the basket with a good multi-purpose potting soil, leaving a 2 inch lip at the top to help collect water. To help the soil retain moisture, use a potting soil containing moisture retention crystals or cut up some old kitchen sponges. These are cheap, reusable, and work great for holding moisture.

  • Cherry tomato plants tend to be incredibly productive, so plan to add no more than one to two plants per basket. Position them in the basket so that new growth will spill over the sides. Water in well and add a thin layer of straw or compost over the exposed soil to help retain moisture.

  • After danger of all frost has passed, hang the basket outside in an area sheltered from wind where it will receive at least 6 hours of sun each day. Rotate the basket once each week to make sure plants grow evenly.

  • Tomatoes like consistent watering and those planted in containers and hanging baskets need watering more often. Check moisture levels daily. Water well in the morning and check them again in the early evening.

  • Another way to keep plants moist is to use the ice cube trick. This isn't a substitute for regular watering, but if you're going to be out for the entire day, just pop a few cubes in the basket at night or first thing in the morning and the water will soak into the compost as it melts.

  • Tomatoes are heavy feeders. Once the fruit begins to form, give tomatoes a liquid feed every week, or feed them a slow release organic fertilizer formulated for tomatoes (like Tomato Tone) according to package directions.

About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services.


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