Growing Tomatoes In Containers:
The following information is all about growing tomatoes in containers.
Introduction To Tomatoes
The tomato is an edible vegetable commonly name as a tomato plant. Tomatoes are widely grown in temperate climates across the world. Tomatoes are native to South America; the tomato is grown worldwide for its edible fruits. There are around 7,500 tomato varieties grown, you have to select the best varieties for the containers. The tomato can be grown in containers, pots, grow bags on terrace, balconies, kitchen, backyard, and indoors.
- Scientific Name: Solanum Lycopersicum.
- Common Name: Tomatoes.
- Family: The tomato belongs to the nightshade family, Solanaceae.
Tomatoes in Indian Languages
- English: Tomato.
- Tamil: Takkali.
- Telugu: Tomato/Ramamulaga.
- Kannada: Tomaato Hannu.
- Hindi: Tameta.
- Bengali: Toamaatar.
- Gujarati: Tameta.
- Konakani: Tomato.
- Marathi: Tamoto.
- Oriya: Bilati Baigana.
- Punjabi: Tamatar.
- Kashmiri: Ruwangum.
Types Suitable For Growing Tomatoes In Containers
There are many varieties of tomatoes, different colors, shapes and sizes. Tomato color ranges from orange, yellow, green, purple and chocolate.
Tomatoes are two varieties based on their tree growth (Bushy or Vines)
Determinate Tomatoes: These are bush types trees that grows 2 to 3 feet height. These determinate trees, flowers all at once, set and ripen fruit and dies.
Intermediate Tomatoes: these are vining variety tomato trees; these plants need support of stakes. These plants produce the fruits till frost.
There two type tomatoes based on their Genetic type:
Hybrid Tomatoes: Hybrid varieties have high yields; Hybrid tomato plants are a combination of different varieties of tomato plant. These plants good resistance power and produces high quality fruits.
Heirloom varieties: These non-hybrid variety, these plants have a short life and low resistance power.
The best varieties for Growing Tomatoes in Containers
- Big Boy Bush Tomatoes: These tomatoes have a medium size, harvesting period is 72-80 days. These varieties grow well in containers, give high yields, have good resistance power and these tomatoes have good taste.
- Bush Champion: These tomato plants grow up to 2 feet, harvesting period is 65-70 days. These plants grow well in containers and more diseases resistant and gives high yields.
- Bush Goliath Tomato: These are plants grow to 3 feet and produces sweet largest fruits. These tomatoes are less resistant to diseases. Harvesting period is 70days.
- Celebrity Tomatoes: These are also called semi-determinant tomatoes as they grow more height than other bushy variety plants. This variety of tomato is huge in size with a great taste. This variety tomatoes need a large container to grow. Harvesting Period is 60-65days.
- Early Girl Bush Tomatoes: These are hybrid tomatoes, have quick harvesting period. These plants need a medium sized container to grow well. These produce larges fruits and high yield. Harvesting period is 50 days.
- Patio F Tomato: This is a bushy determinate variety, perfect for container gardening. These plants grow well in small containers. They produce cherry size tomatoes in green and red colors. These cherry tomatoes have average taste, and yields are less compared to others. Harvesting period is 65-70days.
- Window Box Roma Tomato: These are hybrid tomatoes are pear shapes in dark red color with an amazing flavor. These tomato plants produce high yields and very suitable for growing in containers. Harvesting period 60-65 days.
- Tumbling Tom: These are sweet cherry tomatoes in red and yellow colors. This is a good choice for hanging and small containers. These plants grow quickly and produce high yields. Harvesting period: 55-60days.
Hybrid Indeterminate Varieties for Growing Tomatoes in Containers
- Sun Sugar: These are cherry tomatoes, give quick yields and famous for its sweetness. These plants are diseases resistant and need large containers to grow. Harvesting period: 65-70days.
- Sunrise Bumble Bee: These are orange colored cherry tomatoes with red streaks through the flesh. These grow well in large containers and gives good yields. Harvesting period 70 days.
- Camellia: These are hybrid tomatoes, and in large size with juicy sweet and tangy flavor. This variety grows well in containers. Harvesting period-70-80days.
- Sweet 100 Tomato: These are hybrid cherry tomatoes, have a long harvesting period. It grows well in large containers. These plants need support of stakes to grow and are suitable to grow in all the climates. Harvesting Period is 68-70days.
- Sweet Baby Girl Tomato: These tomatoes are bite-sized have rich sweet flavor. These plants have a long harvesting period and have high yields. Harvesting period-65days.
- Sun Gold: These are cherry tomato, that grows in large containers. They have very yields and harvesting period is 55-65 days. And they need support of stake to grow.
- Clusters: These are hybrid tomatoes, harvesting period is 65-75 days. These tomatoes have sweet and tangy flavor, grows in medium to large containers.
Heirloom Determinate Varieties for Growing Tomatoes in Containers
- Principe Borghese: These are Italian Heirloom variety, produce egg shaped tomatoes with amazing taste. They grow in large container and heat resistant. Harvesting period 67-72days.
- Manitoba: These are quick grown variety and produce tomatoes with tangy flavor. These best for short term crop. Harvesting period 63days.
- New Yorker: These cool season tomatoes, they produce scarlet-red tomatoes with average taste. These are diseases resistant and are suitable for short growing season. Harvesting period 65 days.
- Sprite Tomato: These are grape size tomatoes, perfect for container gardening. These tomatoes have crispy skins with sweet flavor. These tomatoes grow in small containers and produce average yields. Harvesting period-67days.
- Sophie Choice: These are dwarf heirloom tomato, harvesting period is 55 to 60 days. These tomatoes have large size with sweet and tangy flavor.
Heirloom Indeterminate Varieties for Growing Tomatoes In Containers:
- Green Zebra: These tomatoes are chef favorite, they have a different look and unique which suits for salad decorations. These tomatoes grow in large, wide containers, produces average yields. Harvesting period 70-75d
- Japanese Black Trifele: These tomatoes are in attractive light brown color with good taste. These tomatoes have a smoky flavor, gives a wonderful taste to salads and sauces. These tomatoes grown in medium sized containers.
- Paul Robeson: It is the most popular variety grown in containers. These tomatoes have dark purple color with sweet fruit flavor. These tomatoes are easy to grow and produce average yields. Harvesting period: 80-90days.
- Brandywine: These tomatoes have huge size with sweet flavor. It has a long harvesting period (80-100 days).
- Indian Stripe: These tomatoes have purple color, with great taste. These tomatoes grow well in medium and large containers and are heat resistant. Harvesting period-75-80days.
- Black Cheery: These are open pollinated tomatoes, take 70 days to harvest. These tomatoes have deep purplish-red fruits with sweet and tangy taste.
- Black Zebra: These are open pollinated tomatoes; these tomatoes have dark purple color flesh with red streaks. Harvesting period is 75 to 80 days.
- Mortgage Lifter: These are open pollinate, harvesting period is 85 days. These tomatoes have huge size, in light red color.
- Black Krim: These are large sized tomatoes in reddish purple color, with sweet taste. Harvesting period is 75-80days.
- Stops: These tomatoes have a deep red color, grown in large container. Harvesting period is 60-65 days. These tomatoes grow well in summer season.
- Valencia: These are orange colored tomatoes, with sweet flavor. These tomatoes are less juicy, also have very less seeds. Harvesting period is 76 days.
Steps for Growing Tomatoes In Containers
All the types of tomatoes are grown in containers, Choosing a best variety of tomato, suitable, containers, proper care and climate conditions gives you fruitful results.
Suitable Container for Growing Tomatoes In Containers
- Tomatoes are well-rooted plants, so they need enough deep place to grow.
- The minimum size of the container should 27cm, the container should hold minimum 5 gallons of potting soil.
- The size of the container also depends on the Variety of tomato you are planning to grow.
- Some varieties grow well in small containers with minimum size, some need medium or large containers.
- If you are planning to grow Bush Determinate Tomatoes- They grow well in small containers. The minimum size for growing Bush Determinate Tomatoes is: 27cm container.
- If you are planning to grow Vine Indeterminate Tomatoes the container size should be 35cm that should hold 7 gallons of potting soil.
- Some varieties of tomatoes Indeterminate 45-50cm container to grow.
- Tomatoes grow well in containers made of terra-cotta containers, glazed ceramic containers, wooden boxes. The material of container maintains the temperature of the soil.
- Your container should be colored with only light colors, as light colors reflect the light and dark color absorb the light. Choose the container with light color or you can color with light color in summer to protect soil from drying.
- The container should have 2 to 3 drainage holes.
- Clean the container with mild soap and dry it out.
- Cover the bottom container with fine net to avoid dripping of soil.
- Place tray or saucer filled with small rocks, to allow water to drain out properly.
Potting Soil for Growing Tomatoes In Containers
- Using gardening soil is not recommended as it can contain bacteria or insects that can harm the plants.
- So, use some premium quality potting mix for a healthy plant and yields more.
- Potting mix should be well drained, light that can provide good circulation of air and moisture to the roots of the plant.
- Before sowing the seeds, mix a balanced organic fertilizer (Soymeal, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium).
Best Temperature for Growing Tomatoes In Containers
- Tomatoes grow well when the temperature is between 18 °C to 30 degrees.
- Tomatoes stop growing when the temperature is more than 40 °C.
- The tomatoes won’t ripen if night temperature above 35 °C.
- Take necessary precaution depending on the type of tomatoes, heat resistant and non-heat resistant.
Sowing Seeds for Growing Tomatoes In Containers
- Get some good quality organic tomato seeds from the nurseries or garden centers.
- Seed packets have complete information about the variety of tomato plant, and its harvesting period.
- Growing in Seed Trays: Take small pots (2 to 3 inches) or seed trays with draining holes are enough to grow seedlings and transplant them. Or you can directly sow them desired containers. Make soil wet with water and fill container with soil, leaving ½ inch space from the top.
- Dig small holes using pencil and sow 2 to 3 seeds. And cover the seeds with potting soil loosely.
- Sprinkle water on the seeds, keep soil moist. And place the container in warm place.
- Tomato seeds take 5 to 10 days to sprout.
- Once seedling get true leaves, you should start feeding them. Feed the seedling with mild liquid fertilizer. And keep the seedling sunlight for at least 6 to 7 hours and with constant watering.
- When they reach 2 to 3inches height, transplant them to the desired containers.
- Arrange stakes for support if growing vine type plants.
- And place them in outdoor and give them proper feed and water.
- You can even directly sow the tomato seeds directly in the desired containers.
- Choose a desired container based on your tomato variety, minimum size is 24cm.
- Fill the container with wet potting soil mixed with organic compost.
- Dig 3 inches hole in middle of the containers and plant the seeds.
- Cover them with soil loose and water if needed.
- Now place them in a warm location where the temperature should between 21 to 27°C till the seeds germinate.
- Seedling take 8 to 12 days to sprout. Once they get 2 to 3 pair of leave start feeding the with fertilizers.
- Place the containers in outdoor, they should get enough air and sunlight.
- You can get desired, tomato plants from the nurseries and transplant them to the desired containers.
- While transplanting, mix the potting soil with organic fertilizers before planting.
Watering For Growing Tomatoes In Containers
- Watering the tomato plants regularly is the key success for growing tomatoes in containers.
- Maintain moisture in the soil constantly don’t dry it out or make it wet.
- Water the plants by checking moisture levels by dipping the figure.
- In summer plants should be watered twice a day.
- Water the plants only at the base, avoid overhead watering.
Sunlight For Growing Tomatoes in Containers
- Tomato plants need more sunlight to grow, they need max 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day.
- During March and April months give them more sunlight.
Staking / Training and Cages for Growing Tomatoes In Containers
- You need insert some support to your tomato plants when they are 2 to 3 inches tall
- For determinate tomato varieties use Tomato cage or stakes.
- For indeterminate types use string trellis, tall stake or sturdy cage.
- Wrapping a nylon net over the plants can protect the plants from insects and pests.
Best Place for Growing Tomatoes In Containers
- Place your container where it gets good sunlight and constant water supply.
- Place your container in balconies, terrace gardens or window shelves where there will be good air and light.
- If you are maintaining a small container garden, don’t place a group of containers together. It spread diseases or insects from one plant to plant and can have light and air problem for the roots when containers are very close.
- Maintain the distance between the containers.
Summer Care for Growing Tomatoes In Containers
- Some varieties of tomato plant sun and heat resistant and some heat sensitive.
- To protect the heat sensitive plants from midsummer.
- Excessive sun and heat can cause the container to heat up, drying out the soil in the process.
- You can provide a cage to plants and pin a wrap it with shade cloth to the lower part and upper part of the cage.
- Water the plants as often as necessary, keeping the soil moist.
- Summer season water the plant both in morning before sunrise and after in the evening after sunset.
- Covering soil with mulch also protect soil and root from heat. Cover the soil with1-inch layer mulch around the plants. Mulch also protects plants from weeds.
Fertilizers for Growing Tomatoes In Containers
- Feed your plants once in week with water soluble fertilizers from 6th.
- Organic fertilizers promote the growth of the plants with juicy, tasty fruits, and it also protects plants from blossom end rot. Apply fertilizer as per label instruction on the packets.
- Some natural remedies for tasty tomatoes:
Baking Soda- sprinkling a small amount baking soda at base of plants, baking soda dissolves in the soil and lower acidity level soil that leads to tasty sweet tomatoes.
Egg Shells-Egg shells are a major source of calcium, putting the eggshells in the soil before planting or after increases calcium levels of soil and promotes good growth of plants.
Pruning in Growing Tomatoes In Containers
- When the branches are growing too close, blocking the sun and air to the roots. In that case prune the branches.
- If you see any sucker up to 6-8 inches under each plant, prune them off immediately.
- Pruning promotes the growth of the plants with good yields
Pests and Diseases in Growing Tomatoes In Containers
- Pests that affect the tomato plants are caterpillars, aphids and flies.
- Cages covered with wraps protects the plants from many insects.
- You can use neem-oil or horticultural soap for these pests.
- Fungal diseases in tomatoes are caused due to temperature fluctuations, heavy fruits- which cause stress to tomatoes leads to diseases like Fusarium wilt, Verticillium wilt and blights. To control these diseases by giving good feed and water. Pick and crush the leaves affected by these diseases.
Harvesting For Growing Tomatoes In Containers
- Harvesting period depends on the variety of tomato you grow.
- The best time harvest, when they are easy to pluck.
- Gently pluck the vine without cutting the vines.
- Once you complete the harvesting pluck the plants and clean up the container for the next crop.
Storing After Growing Tomatoes In Containers
- After harvesting store or cook tomatoes after giving them a good wash with clean water.
- Tomatoes stay fresh at room temperature for a couple of weeks.
- When stored in the refrigerator, they stay fresh for long periods.