Growing Tomatoes in Containers

Growing Tomatoes in Containers
Container gardening is a great way to grow vegetables if you have limited space. Tomatoes are a good choice for this style of gardening. There are a few easy steps you can take to have a successful gardening experience. This is a page about growing tomatoes in containers.

22 Solutions

Share on ThriftyFunThis page contains the following solutions. Have something to add? Please share your solution!

February 15, 2007

Photo of tomatoes.Ideas for growing tomatoes in container gardens from the ThriftyFun community.

Tips For Containers

I have used container pots for many years for tomatoes and peppers, even lima beans and string beans. They are so easy and there are less bugs, less weeding and can be moved if you want more sun. I learned a couple of things about tomatoes which may help. First, there are plants called patio tomatoes, which are smaller sized plants (but give nice sized tomatoes) designed for container gardening.
Also, I had noticed black spots on the bottoms of a few tomatoes. This is called blossom end rot, not to worry, just add lime to the soil and work it in and it clears it right up. I have planted cherry tomatos, plum and beefsteaks and have had excellent results.

By Roseanna

Merced, Roma, Heatwave, and Southern Star

I plant varieties such as Merced, Roma, Heatwave, and Southern Star (bhn 444) in 18 gallon (2.5 cu ft) containers with holes drilled for drainage I fill it with Miracle Grow potting mix, 1 cup of Osmocote slow release 13-13-13, 1/4 cup of lime, fed every 12 days with a high phosphorous fertilizer. They do awesome, just watch the high winds as taller plants may blow over if not supported.

By Atascosa, TX

"Window Box" Romas

There is a variety of Roma tomatoes called "Window Box" that would do well in a container, and another variety of cherry tomatoes that I believe is called "Tiny Tom" or "Tiny Tim."

A great fertilizer for tomatoes is fish emulsion because it has a high nitrogen content. The down side of using it is that it stinks so much. I imagine that yellow pear tomatoes would do well in a container; they are incredibly hardy.


The main thing to remember about tomatoes is that they are very temperature sensitive, so they won't do well in cool weather. Even if you plan to put them in a pot, I would leave them outside during the day to harden them off before letting them stay outside for good.

By Susan K. Beal

5 Gallon Buckets

We have used 5 gallon buckets. Fill the bottom with rocks, then newspaper, then add your potting soil and other potting material. You have to be sure you keep them watered. You need to have drain holes because after a heavy rainfall, your plants will drown, hence the reason for constant watering. If your plants are sheltered from the outdoors, you will not need to worry about the drain holes. I prefer this method, as it is easier to weed, and they can be brought in when the weather begins to change, and here in New England, we have a short lived gardening season.

By Laura

My daughter planted one of the patio tomatoes in a 5 gallon bucket last year. She put some corn cobs in the bottom and all soil was from our compost pile. The plant grew to about 8 feet tall, and so many tomatoes they out lasted the growning season. It was a cherry tomato plant, must have gotten thousands from one plant. A lot were still trying when the first frost came! Needless to say, we lost the rest.

By Rosa

I have planted some in 5 gallon paint bucket and flower pots, they turn out great. Tomatoes and mint were my very best plants.

By Elva

Containers On The Deck

I have planted patio tomatoes also. I have about a 4x5 foot square deck. Not much fits on it but I have good success with the tomatoes. Peppers and lettuce were another story.

By Sandy

Upside Down Tomatoes

Last year we did the hanging upside down bucket tomato plants. It worked well, we used 5 gallon buckets with lids. Plant your tomato plants in the buckets, cut a hole in the lid about 4 or 5 inches in diameter and put lid on after you planted tomato plants. Puncture holes, several on the bottom of buckets, so you can water the plants. Attach a rope or wire from handles or sides of bucket, hang from nails in shady area. This worked well for us! All you have to do is go out and water, and when ready, pull from vine, so easy!

By Vicky Hunt

Black Plastic Bags

All 60 of my tomatoes are in containers, big black plastic bags. I feed them home made worm tea, we have done this for years.

By marlene

Tiny Tims In Balcony Planters

I have been planting Tiny Tim cherry tomatoes in my patio planters for the last few years with much success. They are so delicious. I live in a short summer season area. If they grow well here, they will grow well anywhere. I plant them in balcony planters available at any department store.

By Marlene

When To Water

To know how often to water container tomato plants, stick your finger in the dirt. If the soil is dry on the top, but you can feel moisture further down, you probably don't need to water them yet. If it feels dry all the way through, just water them. I always water them until the water leaks out. That way, you can be sure that you are watering all of the soil in the container.

By Susan K. Beal

Book Resource

"Square Foot Gardening" by Bartholemew is a very good resource.

By Denise

Manure Water For Container Gardening Tomatoes

For container tomatoes or in ground, this will make your tomatoes grow huge! Go to your local stables and get 1/2 bucket (5 gallon) of manure, fresh or old, doesn't matter. This is the gross part, take it outside where people aren't going to see it, and add water right near the top. Leave in a shaded area and cover to keep flies from being attracted. Each day or so, take one cup of the liquid from the top and pour it into your tomato roots. Replace the water as you need into the manure bucket. Tomatoes love it and you don't get any weeds from mixing manure into your soil. Discard after the season.

By Ann

Half Barrels

I have been growing tomatoes in half whiskey barrels. I water daily and feed weekly with a Miracle Grow formula. In addition, I add a tablespoon of Magnesium Sulfate (epsom salts) and a teaspoon of calcium chloride, all to prevent blossom end rot. The plants are now 7 feet tall with many blossoms and lots of set fruit. They need 6 hours of direct sun.

By Sammy

Past Successes

I grew indeterminate Better Boy and Beefsteak tomatoes varieties in 10 inch self-watering planters in 2005 with super success. I caged, staked and raised them about 24 inches off ground to keep away the bunnies. I have 2.5 and 5 gallon buckets I'd like to use this year. I'm glad I stopped by this site.

By Bernie

Window Box

I planted my tomato garden in a 3 ft. window box because I didn't have enough room and I have 6 green tomatoes ready to turn red.

By Jen

Comment Pin it! Was this helpful? 3
Read More Comments

June 3, 2016

Plant from sibling as early as possible in large flower pot. When the temperature is nice set the plant outside. Bring it in before evening. A week after blossoms appear, sprinkle with a little fertilizer (do not sprinkle close to the stem) and give a lot of water.

Planting Tomatoes

Comment Pin it! Was this helpful? 4

June 25, 2009

The new tomato plants were out today, and I couldn't resist, thinking surely, I had some large planters at my apartment. You guessed it, no planters, but I do have a cat.

Comment Was this helpful? 3

August 19, 2016

Take an empty clear plastic water bottle, cut off the bottom, drill a hole or bang a nail hole thru the plastic cap, and screw the cap back on to the neck of the bottle.

plant with bottle sunk into the soil next to it

Comment Pin it! Was this helpful? 1


Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

June 22, 2022

How do I stake up my tomato plants in this little kiddy pool?

Tomatoes being grown in a kiddie pool.


Silver Answer Medal for All Time! 320 Answers
June 22, 20220 found this helpful
Best Answer

If you don't have access to tomato cages, you can try making a teepee frame out of three yardsticks and twine. This works best for small plants such as determinate tomatoes. The trick is to make sure you have 8 inches depth for the sticks and a second pair of hands to help. Water the soil first, to make it firmer. Put in the sticks at 3 intervals along the edge. Bring them together at the top and have someone hold them. Now tie a tight knot in the twine and tie it tight to the top of one stick (or staple it), then wind the twine around each stick twice as you make 5 circles toward the bottom. Once there, cut off and tie the twine to a stick to secure it.

Gently place the stems along the twine in a fashion to best support the main stem.

I hope I'm not making it sound harder than it is! :-) Good luck.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

Gold Feedback Medal for All Time! 949 Feedbacks
June 22, 20220 found this helpful
Best Answer

How deep is your pool?
Did you put several drain holes in the bottom before you filled with soil?
It looks like your tomato plants are already too large for tomato cages, but you could still try.
If your pool is only 12 inches tall it will be difficult to make a cage sturdy enough to hold up a heavy tomato plant.

I'm not sure if you can make any kind of stake sturdy enough to hold large size tomato plants in a shallow kiddie pool as usually only small cherry tomato plants are recommended.

It is usually recommended that stakes/cages be driven into the ground at least 16" but preferably 24".
You can try using 4-5 foot wooden stakes or PVC and try placing the stakes close to the tomato stalk - maybe one on each side of the stalk and use twine to tie the stalk to the stakes at several intervals.
This will be tricky as there is just not enough soil to stabilize the plants and keep them upright.

A teepee might work, but I believe your plants may be too large and your pool too small to make this a successful project at this point. You may have to settle for vine tomatoes this year.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
Answer this Question

December 17, 2016

What will wick vertically 16", enough for a tomato grown in a 5 gal. pot in 100 degrees, and last 5+ years?

Read More Answers

April 18, 2011

I am planning on planting in five gallon containers. Before planting my tomato plants in plastic containers should I cut holes in bottom for drainage?

Hardiness Zone: 6b

By elena sipkins from White Plains


April 18, 20111 found this helpful

Yes, you don't want the plants to sit in water, so you will want holes in the sides at the bottoms of the buckets. They don't need to be big holes; if they seem to clog, you can poke a wire (from a clotheshanger) in to open it back up. I use a power drill, but if you don't have one, you can heat a nail over a flame (you will need to hold it with pliers) and poke it through.

Reply Was this helpful? 1
April 18, 20110 found this helpful

I read that to avoid your soil from escaping from your containers to place a Coffee Filter across the drainage holes. Just something I read so whether or not it works has to be experimental.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
April 18, 20110 found this helpful

I made 'self watering' containers out of 5 gallon buckets. For me this has avoided 'rot'. I add a 'calcium tablet' and a few paper match heads to the hole where the tomatoes will go, cover them with an inch or so of soil and then insert the tomato plant. One plant per bucket. I have the best luck with cherry tomatoes for some reason. I also grow bell peppers, hot peppers, all in SWCs.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
April 19, 20110 found this helpful

Elena, Hello! Yes you will have to drill or poke some holes in a plastic container, but may I offer something else to consider? We live in a number 7 (seven) hardiness zone and our experience with the plastic containers was that they got too hot in late summer, and eventually burned the roots of our plants. (Tomatoes and peppers, mostly.)

Over the years, we have found that five to ten gallon styrofoam containers (picnic coolers or bait containers if you are searching for them at a Wal Mart style store) actually caused less heat damage to the roots of the plants and increased the yield of each plant. We poked holes through the bottom of these containers, too, and added a very shallow layer of river rock or gravel before filling the bin with the appropriate soil/manure mix.

The only drawback with this approach was if an unsuspected virus or bacteria took hold in one of our porous, styrofoam containers we had to trash such, but truth be told, that's only happened a very few times (in single containers) in over ten years of using this method.

Hoping you find something that works well for you and yours, just wanted to alert you to the possible down side of using hard, plastic containers in the garden. Good luck and happy eats with the garden fresh foods!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
April 25, 20110 found this helpful

The foal ice chests are a wonderful idea. You can also mix in styrofoam "peanuts" to make the weight less...

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
Read More Answers

May 24, 2014

This is my first experience in growing tomato plants in a 5 gallon plastic container. Do I punch holes in the bottom for drainage? I need guidance on this project.

By betes51

Read More Answers

February 11, 2012

What size container and how much soil will I need?

By Wendy M.

Read More Answers

August 19, 2005
Q: How many hours of full sunshine should container tomato plants have? Mine have all day sun and they're producing but getting spindly. I can't fertilize in this heat if that is the problem?


A: Poopsey,

Tomatoes grown in containers need the same amount of sunshine as those cultivated in the ground-at least 6-8 hours per day. They also need even amounts of water, so make sure to check the container's moisture levels daily, especially in hot weather. As for your plant getting spindly, all tomato plants benefit from regular pruning. Snap off the suckers (shoots that appear between the main stem of the plant and the petioles (stems of the leaves). Proper pruning will help channel the plants energy into producing fruit rather than leaves and improve the air circulation around the fruits. Fertilizing with too much nitrogen can also result in spindly plants.


By Barbara (Guest Post)
August 8, 20050 found this helpful

Sounds like you need more nitrogen in the soil. Tomatoes are heavy feeders and expect supplementary fertilizer during the growing season. Be sure to provide lots of water in hot weather. Tomatoes use a lot of moisture.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
July 29, 20090 found this helpful

Containers dry out quickly. Keep well watered and much top of container. Also fertilize often because if you are watering correctly (by watering till water is coming out of the bottom or side drain holes ). The fertilizer gets washed out. Also if you are growing a determinate variety (growth is pre determined ) you do not need to prune suckers or any other pruning other than removing dead leaves.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
Answer this Question

May 18, 2011

How often do you have to change the potting soil used to grow tomatoes in large pots on a patio?


By Bob

Read More Answers

April 28, 2012

Why are the tips of my plant leaves turning brown? I have my plants inside placed by a window. I have just noticed that all the leaves tips are turning brown? I do have a fan blowing on them to strengthen the stems. Could this be why the tips are turning brown or?

By Chantel

Answer this Question
Load More
In This Page
Home and Garden Gardening ContainerOctober 20, 2011
Back to School Ideas!
Halloween Ideas!
Ask a Question
Share a Post
Better LivingBudget & FinanceBusiness and LegalComputersConsumer AdviceCoronavirusCraftsEducationEntertainmentFood and RecipesHealth & BeautyHolidays and PartiesHome and GardenMake Your OwnOrganizingParentingPetsPhotosTravel and RecreationWeddings
Published by ThriftyFun.
Desktop Page | View Mobile
Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Contact Us
Generated 2023-09-13 11:24:16 in 1 secs. ⛅️️
© 1997-2023 by Cumuli, Inc. All Rights Reserved.