Swansons Nursery :: Seattle's Favorite Garden Center - Helping Seattle gardeners since 1924
Swansons Nursery - Since 1924

'Sungold tomato' grown in a potGrowing Tomatoes
in Containers

Slice them in a salad, simmer in a sauce, or nibble them straight from the vine, tomatoes are the taste of summer...

If you love the taste of fresh tomatoes but think you don’t have enough space to grow them, you may be interested to know there are tomato varieties for just about any space. Along with traditional size tomato plants that grow anywhere 2 to 6 feet tall and above, there are many smaller varieties that grow under two feet when mature. All may be grown in containers and several varieties may even be grown in hanging baskets.

Many gardeners profess having the best success when growing tomatoes in containers. The advantages are better control of soil type, watering and drainage. It is also easier to monitor for possible disease and insect infestations.

Tips for Success:
Tomatoes love sun. Provide a location with at least 6 hours or more of direct sunlight per day.

Plastic containers or glazed pottery retain moisture best - this can be a real advantage as plants mature and temperatures rise. Use a good quality, well draining potting soil such as E.B Stone Organic Edna's Potting Soil or Gardener & Bloome Organic Potting Soil. Some gardeners add compost, but never more than 25% of the total growing medium.

Check plants daily as they mature. Soil should be evenly moist but not soggy. When watering, water thoroughly - the entire root zone. Make sure the container drains well and they do not sit in water. It is best to water in the morning, before noon so plant roots can take best advantage of the moisture and soil temperatures are not cooled by watering during the peak growing time of day.

When planting, mix an organic fertilizer into the soil, such as Tomato-tone by Espoma, or Dr Earth Tomato Vegetable & Herb fertilizer. We also recommend enhancing growth and fruit production with an organic seaweed extract such as GrowMore Seaweed Extract. Seaweed extract products such as GrowMore may be applied as a drench or a foliar spray early in the day and repeated every two weeks throughout the growing season.

Tomato Terms:
(H) Heirloom – varieties whose seed strain has been preserved intact for 85 years or more and are open pollinated.
(D) Determinate – varieties tend to produce fruits which bear most of their fruit over a 4 to 6 week time. Plants are typically smaller and usually do not require staking.
(I) Indeterminate – varieties keep growing and producing fruit over a very long season. They need to be staked or put in cages and can be grown in containers or in the ground.

Suggested Tomato Varieties for Containers:

    Cherry and Grape types – 1/2 inch to 1 1/2 inch fruits
  • ‘Black Cherry’ (I)(H) Vigorous plants produce almost plummy-tasting fruit, sweet yet rich and complex. These cherries are irresistibly delicious and a unique addition to the color spectrum of cherry tomatoes available.
  • ‘Green Grape’ (D)(H) Tasty green tomatoes are small (1 inch) with very small seeds. Good production for eating off the vine and/or pickling.
  • ‘Juliet’ (I) Heavy yields of oblong fruits, deep red flesh with rich tomato flavor for salads, great salsa, and fresh pasta sauce. Crack resistant and resistant to both Alternaria (Early) Blight and Late Blight.
  • ‘Sugar Lump’ (I)(H) A.K.A. "Gardener's Delight" - Heavy production of super sweet fruit with excellent flavor. Crack-resistant fruit is about 1 inch across and arranged in clusters of 6 to 12.
  • ‘Sungold’ (I) Orange, 1-inch fruit with a delicious ‘tropical’ or ‘fruity’ flavor, borne in long trusses. Perfect for salads or snacking.
  • ‘Sun Sugar’ (I) Golden cherries have true tomato flavor with extra sweetness. Crack-resistant and produce in profusion on very large plants.
  • ‘Sweet Baby Girl’ (I)(Short-internode) Big flavor, extra sweetness on compact, manageable plants that produce over a long season.
  • ‘Sweet Million’ (I) Tangy, sweet, 1-inch, crack-resistant fruit produced heavily on disease resistant vines. Terrific!
    • Full Size Fruit - Succulent fruits for chunking, slicing, small to very large in size
  • ‘Ananas Noir’ (I)(H) A.K.A. Black Pineapple. Large round dark-purple fruit with green shoulders with a mouthwatering richness that is worth the wait with a whollop of acidity.
  • ‘Black’ (I)(H) Complex flavor with great acid/sweet balance. Compact plants bear 40 oz. fruit.
  • ‘Carmello’ (I) This French hybrid is disease resistant, crack resistant and produces large yields of juicy, meaty tomatoes.
  • ‘Dona’ (I) Medium small fruits to 6 oz. Produced in abundance on disease resistant vines. French hybrid.
  • ‘Celebrity’ (D) An award winner with good flavor and high resistance to disease and cracking.
  • ‘Silvery Fir Tree’ (D)(H) This dwarf Russian heirloom is great for containers. 4 to 6 oz. fruits of good flavor on silvery fuzzy lacy-leaved plants that do not require staking.
    • Roma Type (Plum-Type) In general: less juice, fewer seeds, good fresh or for canning & freezing.
  • ‘Black Plum’ (I)(H) Large plants produce plum-shaped, 2-inch fruits in tones of mahogany brown. A tasty treat for slicing or chunking. Heirloom from Russia, grows to 6 feet tall.
  • ‘Italian Gold’ (D) Pear-shaped plum tomatoes are delicious in sauces and freeze well too. Italian Gold is high in pectin; the flesh is moist and golden orange.
  • ‘Orange Banana Roma’ (I) Heavy yielding, meaty and deep flavored. Good fresh, makes an excellent sauce.
  • ‘San Marzano’ (I)(H) This is THE Italian canning tomato. Large clusters of 3-inch long fruits with good storing ability. Great flavor for sauces or soups and for drying.
  • ‘Viva Italia’ (D) Classic ‘Italian sauce type’ with pear shape, low juice content and firm pulp with outstanding tomato flavor. Disease resistant and stores well. Expect large crops.
    • Basket Type – pea-sized to 1 1/4 inch fruits on very small plants for very small containers.
  • ‘Micro Tom’ (D) Full grown plants will be 6-10 inches tall and will bear fruit over a very long season. Great for windowsills and small patio pots. Fruit is pea-sized, deep red and flavorful.
  • ‘Yellow Canary’ (D) Short, sturdy plants produce delicious, crack-resistant, yellow cherry tomatoes. Good choice for containers or small gardens.
  • ‘Red Robin’ (D) Very sweet fruit on plants only 8-12 inches high. This variety is ideal for use in containers on sunny decks or patios or indoors in a sunny window.
  • ‘Tiny Tim’ (D) This miniature tomato 15 - 20 inches tall is great for small 6" pots or baskets. Round bright red fruit are about 3/4 inch in size.
  • ‘Tumbler’ (D) The best tomato for small hanging baskets. Early fruit is juicy and sweet.
  • Invite a tomato to your home. Explore the possibilities,
    experiment with the bounty of tomato flavors, colors, sizes and shapes.