Growing 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 space to grow them, you will be delighted to know that there are tomato varieties for just about any space, with mature heights from 6 inches to 6 feet tall and above. All may be grown in containers and several varieties may even be grown in hanging baskets. Some advantages of growing tomatoes in containers 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 of direct sunlight per day.
  • Plastic containers or glazed pottery retain moisture best - this can be an advantage as plants mature and temperatures rise. Use good quality, well-draining potting soil. Some gardeners add compost, but never more than 25% of the total growing medium.
  • When planting, mix an organic vegetable fertilizer into the soil. Enhance growth and fruit production with an organic seaweed extract. Seaweed extract products may be applied as a drench or a foliar spray early in the day and repeated every two weeks throughout the growing season.
  • Check plants daily as they mature. Soil should be evenly moist but not soggy. When watering, thoroughly water 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 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.

Tomato Terms

(H) Heirloom – varieties whose seed strain has been preserved intact for 85 years
(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. Indeterminate varieties produce best in containers of at least 20” or 22” in diameter.


Cherry types – 1/2 inch to 1 1/2 inch fruits

‘CHOCOLATE CHERRY’ (I) Earthy, dark maroon color adds a new dimension to the world of cherry tomatoes.
‘SUNGOLD’ (I) Orange, 1-inch fruit with a delicious ‘tropical’ or ‘fruity’ flavor, borne in long trusses. Perfect for salads or snacking.
‘SWEET MILLION’ (I) Tangy, sweet, 1-inch, crack-resistant fruit produced heavily on disease resistant vines. Terrific! 

Full Size Fruit - Succulent fruits for chunking or slicing, small to very large size

‘BUSH BEEFSTEAK’ (D) (H) This is the perfect sandwich-sized fruit produced on a square-foot, garden- sized plant. Solid-fleshed fruits of a deep, rich red, average 8 ounces, on vigorous, bushy plants.
‘FRENCH CARMELLO’ (I) This French hybrid is disease resistant, crack resistant and produces large yields of juicy, meaty tomatoes.
‘CELEBRITY’ (D) An award winner with good flavor and high resistance to disease and cracking.
‘DONA’ (I) Medium small fruits to 6 oz. Produced in abundance on disease resistant vines. French hybrid.

Roma Type (Plum-Type) Generally 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.
Heirloom from Russia grows to 6 feet tall.
‘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, soups, and for drying.
‘VIVA ITALIA’ (D) Classic ‘Italian sauce type’, pear shape, low juice content and firm pulp with
outstanding flavor. Disease resistant and stores well.

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.
‘TUMBLER’ (D) Best tomato for small hanging baskets. Early fruit is juicy & sweet.
‘TUMBLING TIGER’ (D) 2 ounce egg shaped fruit with red and green stripes in a compact tumbling habit.