Share on ThriftyFunThis guide contains the following solutions. Have something to add? Please share your solution!
By LI Roe
By Atascosa, TX
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.
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 RosaI have planted some in 5 gallon paint bucket and flower pots, they turn out great. Tomatoes and mint were my very best plants.
By Vicky Hunt
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.
"Square Foot Gardening" by Bartholemew is a very good resource.
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. Check plants in early morning for insects and bad leaves, pinch them off. Always cut in the morning, plants can easily get diseases, early morning dew heals the cut.
The picture was taken 3 weeks ago. I have these two growing on my balcony, it's just enough for the family.
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. He's particular about the cat sand he uses, and fortunately for me, I had several of the "plastic" bags in the recycle bins. They're wide and fairly tall. When filled with soil and a plant is about the same size and a large planter. It looks kinda funky, but hey, the cat wasn't going to use them, and they was free.
By debit4857 from Vancouver, WA
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.
This is a guide about growing tomatoes in hanging planters. We have seen the upside down planters for growing tomatoes, but you can also grow them in normal hanging planters.
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.
What will wick vertically 16", enough for a tomato grown in a 5 gal. pot in 100 degrees, and last 5+ years?
I'm not sure I understand what you are trying to accomplish. Do you plan to wick the water from another container into the 5 gallon bucket? If so, the exposed wick would have to be encased in tubing. I have done this. You might get 5 years out of #8 cotton window sash cord. In 100 degree weather, you might have to use three.
If you want something that will last 20 years, you could plait together strips of nylon landscape fabric. I don't think it would wick as well as the cotton cord, so again, you might have to use three. I'm still digging up nylon landscape fabric I used in beds 30 years ago. Its as strong as new.
Sorry I can't be more help. Wish I knew more about how you plan to use this wicking.
Cotton pyjama cord?
Just so you know, a tomato grown in plastic is not a good idea. The pot leaches all nutrients that the tomato needs away from the plant, and the tomato ends up dying from the lack.
I have grown 9½ ft tomato plants in 5 gallon plastic buckets and have the pictures here on ThriftyFun to prove it. They certainly didn't lack for anything. Also, the healthiest and most prolific tomato plants I have ever grown were grown in 5 gallon plastic buckets. I would like to see credible citations of your claim.
If you use wicking and grow in plastic, please make sure they are food grade (PBA free) so not to leach chemicals into the food.
Now this is sound advice. Thank you.
Kinda sounds like you are conducting an experiment??
I have generally always used untreated cotton clothes line for wicking in my hot house but I never expected it to last 5 years.
It seems that stores selling wicking for plants recommend all varieties of material - polyester, cotton or all natural.
This would lead me to believe that whatever you use is just maybe your "preference".
Of course, in a hurry to get something done, I have used large shoe laces, string cord out of pants, cut strips of cloth and most of the time they all worked (for a few months anyway).
As for safe 5 gallon buckets - I get all of mine from a large restaurant that saves me all of their 5 gallon oil containers. I clean these well, my son drills holes in the bottom and sides and I have never had a problem using them.
Hopefully you will come back and explain just what you are trying to do and I am sure you will receive some good answers.
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 from White Plains
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.
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.
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.
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!
The foal ice chests are a wonderful idea. You can also mix in styrofoam "peanuts" to make the weight less...
First make sure you know that tomatoes have fairly large root systems and about the size of a 5 gallon bucket is the smallest size to use. Yes the coffee filter, single piece of newspaper, or a thin piece of material over the holes keeps the soil from pouring out with the water. Which brings us to size holes, make them at least l/2 inch and at least 4 if you need more you can do so later (come up about 1 inch at least on the container to drill the holes (this makes you a water reservoir) and you will have to add liquid fertilizer regularly at the rate of 1/4 tsp. to a gallon of water.
If your container seems to get too hot then wrap it in newspaper & tie it with a string.
I am going to try the lady's idea with the match and so forth next spring has anyone else tried this I wonder I live in zone 8 deep south and this summer was murder for plants in containers.
When I go to the blood doctor or dentist I ask them for the styrofoam coolers they get their drugs in and sometimes I even get the icepacks with them and the bigger ones work great for the tomatoes and I root fresh tomatoes all summer in the little ones, just cut the suckers off and stick them in potting soil or water and root new ones all summer. Cut at least 1 one inch hole near the bottom for drainage. keeps plants roots warm in winter and cool in summer.
What size container and how much soil will I need?
By Wendy M.
I have planted tomatos in five gallon buckets with holes punched in the bottom for drainage. I fill them to within about six inches from the top with soil. I use regular black dirt in the bottom half and potting soil in the top half. The reason I use black dirt in the bottom is that is heavier and therefore the buckets aren't as apt to be blown over in a storm or knocked over by some of the overly zealous wild critters around here or by unsupervised little kids, that don't know enough to stay off my patio.
I have tried several times to grow Tomatoes in 5 gallon buckets with garden soil in the bottom and Potting soil on top, Miracle Grow brand with watering, but they do not do well for me. I find that if I plant them in the ground it works better.
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.
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.
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.
How often do you have to change the potting soil used to grow tomatoes in large pots on a patio?
I would do it every year. I have always been told that when you plant a garden you shouldn't plant the different veggies in the same spot every year.
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.
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?
Share on ThriftyFunCheck out these photos. Click at right to share your own photo in this guide.
My grandsons (David Lane 3, Kolby 2, Rex almost 2) and I planted a small garden with tomatoes, cucumbers,and flowers. The pics are David Lane's first red tomato and Rex the Plant Whisperer.
I used an old bench that no one could sit on and sat my potted tomato plants on and around the bench. As they grow, I can tie them to the bench for support. I have red, yellow and black cherry plants, so I am hoping for a little color also.
By Wanda from Climax, NC
ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.
These tomatoes are now almost 3-4 foot high with green tomatoes and blossoms are over the place.
I have Big Boy tomato plants that I am growing in smart pots on my deck. I went through some bottom end rot, and added tomato-tone feedings. I lost about 15 tomatoes. Now I have some curling leaves on the bottom of the plants which I believe is over watering so I will wait and see how that goes.
But my question is that so much growth has gone into leaves and stalks (over 4 feet tall) that the fruit is in a forest of leaves and stalks and I don't know how to get sunlight to them to have them turn red? I have cages around the plants to keep them from falling over. Any ideas?
Hardiness Zone: 5a
By Vickie from Chicago, IL
I have the same species of tomatoes in five gallon buckets on my patio, my plants are really tall too, I do have some tomatoes on them. I have three tomatoes that have been on the plants for about two months and they aren't anywhere near the size that they should be. If they ever ripen they won't be anywhere near the 1-2 pounds the stake that was in the plants said the tomatoes would be. I used to have really good luck with this species when I had an actual garden. I think my problem might be that they don't get near enough sunlight, and besides that we have had a horrible amount of rain this summer. (08/05/2010)
My tomato plant, grown in a clear plastic storage bin with plenty of sunlight, is about 6' tall, staked everywhere I can put a stake. I stopped by our local cooperative extension office and they told me too much watering will cause excessive growth and leaf wilt. My tomatoes also have catface, a condition where the blossom petals on the tomato top attracts excess water. The tomatoes themselves are edible below the catface and very watery.
I was told too much watering as this leads to excess branch growth and a smaller crop of tomatoes, but in containers, tomatoes need to be watered daily. It is too late to do anything about mine, but I have learned a good lesson for next year. I shall reduce the amount of watering next year, and as advised, quit feeding after the middle of July.
In the meantime, we will enjoy the tomatoes we have, and next year we will implement the right way of growing tomatoes. (08/07/2010)
Firstly it looks like your tomatoes have what's called blossom end rot. This is caused by inconsistent watering. Once the vine has fruited you must water and feed at regular intervals, re: too much greenery. Once the fruit has set it is recommended that all non fruiting side shoots be removed. This is so that the sun can get to the fruit to ripen them. Hope this helps. Good luck.
Jan UK (08/07/2010)
Your plants cannot absorb from the soil below so you need to add some iron to their mix. You can get this at any Menards, Lowe's, etc. Also, you need to add Epsom salts, directions on package, but it is 2 tsp per foot of plant, every 2 weeks. Mix in water is best, or make sure to water good. In your case of container planting, mix ahead of time and schedule.
I used to do container gardening and found my stuff was much better with big beds off the ground. The planters were 4x8 by 15 inches. They can be anywhere in the yard. Mix with sterile soil, mulch, sand, peat. I have a mini tiller for flowerbeds and so mix with that. Before planting, add Epsom salts (directions for bulk mixing on the bag) and Miracle Gro. Then till under. Then plant. Tomatoes/peppers, etc also need bone meal or blood meal in their planting systems to avoid the blossom end rot.
These are so tried and true from master gardeners, green house owners and then tried by me over the last years. Wow. My Romas are baseball sized already. I water daily here in MN.
Consistent watering is a must Another thing, keep the plant trimmed 10 inches from the bottom of the plant for air to move and also set the limit of how tall you will let it grow, then trim it back to that length. Makes for a bigger and better, healthier crop of tomatoes, peppers, etc. (08/07/2010)
By T&T Grandma
Is it okay to plant a Roma tomato plant with a dwarf citrus tree in a wine barrel? Do tomatoes have to be planted all by themselves? I live in San Luis Obispo where everything seems to grow great.
Hardiness Zone: 9a
By Kerrie from San Luis Obispo, CA
Citrus have numerous fibrous roots close to the surface and resent competition from other plants. The tomato would grow OK, but at the expense of the citrus. (05/25/2010)
I just bought a tomato plant in a 3 gallon container, it is about 2 1/2 ft tall. Should I transfer it to a larger container? It's almost ready to spring tomatoes.
Hardiness Zone: 8a
By Michelle from Atlanta, GA
I know some people will say that you should transfer it and tomatoes need a lot of soil, but personally I have grown big tomato plants in regular flower pots (around 1 gallon each) and have gotten some great harvests from them in those small pots! Just water and fertilize often. I think your pot is just fine. (03/30/2010)
I agree with haushinka. Also if you transplant you could disturb the roots and end of killing the tomato plant. (03/30/2010)
How do I grow tomatoes in containers?
We needed a different place to grow our tomatoes where they would get more sun and be accessible to water.
What size container does a tomato plant need to produce tomatoes? I have very little room outside to put 3 containers with a tomato plant in each one.
I am growing tomatoes in planters. The containers are 2 1/2 to 3 gallons. I just transplanted the plants. They are about 8-10 inches tall.