Who doesn’t love the easy and convenient access to fresh, ripe, juicy, and wholly organic tomatoes? Having your little kitchen garden allows you to do just that but not everyone has space for it. That is where container gardening comes in handy.
It allows you an opportunity for growing tomatoes in containers or pots which is a lot more convenient. And what would you know, container gardening is safer and healthier for your tomatoes in some ways. It helps you keep the critters away more easily and you can place these pots anywhere with good and consistent sunlight.
To yield fresh, juicy, and tasty tomatoes, you also need to pick the best tomato fertilizer for container tomatoes so that they can grow healthy with abandon. It is also important to also be in the know-how of all the pertinent details and tips you will need to grow the best tomatoes.
Facts You Need To Know
Plants of Container gardening requires the same constant care and vigilance that any other garden plants. Growing tomatoes in containers, though, can be a little tricky as tomatoes are one of the hardest plants to grow. With proper care and consistent regulation, you can turn this around. One of the most important parts would be the placement of your container tomatoes.
You must put your tomatoes in space or at a pot where you can get direct sunlight for 8 to 10 hours. 6 hours a day is the minimal sunlight your container tomatoes would need so where you put your pot will have a great significance.
Your container gardening tomatoes need extra nutrients. The soil you use for the potting medium alone cannot sustain your tomatoes for long, which is why tomato fertilizers play such an important role. The best tomato fertilizer for containers of your tomatoes would be one that has the essential macro-nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, or commercially known as NPK. Other important nutrients for container plants that the fertilizer can include are zinc, magnesium, calcium, and boron.
There are over 10,000 varieties of tomatoes out there that come in different colors including orange, white, yellow, purple, and even black.
When growing tomatoes in containers, it is best to choose the larger one you can find. The roots need space to grow around and the smaller pots may not be ideal for good root growth.
Caring for Growing Tomatoes in Containers
Tomatoes, even in containers aren’t plants that you could get away with caring for once in a while. They need regular watering and proper fertilizers and support. Here are a few caring tips to grow the best container tomatoes.
- Give them regular and plenty of direct sunlight. About 8 to 10 hours is ideal but it should not get any lesser than 6 hours. Select a good spot to place your pot depending on the sunlight exposure the area receives. Keep an eye on the spot because the amount of sunlight an area receives can change over seasons, in which case you would need to relocate the container tomatoes accordingly.
- Choose a big pot. The tomato stem will need to be buried at least 6 or so inches into the potting soil. A small pot can cause your container tomatoes to have stunted growth. Different varieties have different space requirements so keep your pot space and size in mind when choosing the tomato variety for your container tomatoes
- Water regularly, but not too much. The soil in your tomato containers needs to be damp constantly but not too wet. That is why it is handy to use pots that have drainage holes that allow you to drain excess water by draining them out from the bottom of the pot.
- Don’t water too little. While you must do it regularly, you also need to make sure that the water reaches the bottom of your pot. One good way to confirm that would be to water the plant until it starts to drain from the bottom drainage holes. Another tip to check the moisture level is by simply checking the soil by dipping your finger into it or picking the pot up to see if the weight is unusually light or not.
- You also need to check for any fungal diseases or blights regularly.
- Be sure to prune away dead leaves and any sucker stems that sprout from your growing tomatoes, otherwise, they will take the nutrients away from your main plants which will decrease the quality and productivity of your tomatoes and increase chances of disease.
- Since tomato plants love warmth and sunlight, it is better to plant them in summers. Planting them near frost dates can result in their stunted growth or it can even kill your plant altogether.
- One of the important tips is to avoid overcrowding your pot, if you see more plants growing out of your tomato plants or suckers trying to compete for space, then cut them out. Otherwise, the quality of your tomatoes will be compromised.
How To Plant Tomatoes In A Container
Growing tomatoes in containers can be fun but the key to getting healthy fruits is planting them right from the beginning. The first thing you need to decide on before planting your tomato in the container is the kind of pot or container you’re going with.
Choose bigger ones, at least 18 to 24 inches or 3-4 gallon ones. Tomatoes in containers tend to grow at least 6-8 feet tall on average so your pot needs to have plenty of space to accommodate the growing stems. Gardener plants don’t have the restriction of space, so a big pot is essential. The material of your pot is also important. Plastic pots tend to do better during winters and innovative fabric pots are also an ideal choice.
Next, choose a good quality potting mixes and not just any regular gardener soil you’d find. Stay away from them as they tend to have a lot more debris and other unnecessary elements that could get in the way of healthier tomatoes. A good potting soil mix provides the plants with a rich, fluffy, and light environment to grow in as compared to a denser and heavier compacted gardener and raised bed soil.
You can also mix in amounts of organic materials for healthier growth like compost, manure, and peat moss.
Then select one from the tomato varieties available and whether decide you intend to grow them out from seeds or a transplant. If you’re going with a healthy transplant, then bury it deep in the potting mix to provide the roots with plenty of space.
Also, choose structural support for your container tomato plants. Indeterminate tomato plants are vines and will need living support like tomato cages which can easily be provided by plant cages with wire trellises or stakes. Another thing to keep in mind is to space out your tomato plants if you’re growing more than one. Placing them too near can create a very humid environment that propagates fungal diseases in tomato plants.
Determinate tomato plants tend to do better in pots and are easier to manage than indeterminate ones and generally do not grow as tall as the indeterminate ones. If you have less space then choose a determinate tomato plant and as they’re bushes, they won’t need as much of a support as the indeterminate ones.
Bury your tomato plant at least two-thirds of its height and leave some on top. Ensure that your plant is properly placed so that the roots and stems have enough space to grow.
Once you’re done planting, see to it that the soil stays at least one to two inches below the rim of the pot. The extra space on top is for a layer of mulch to cover the top of the soil. This layer helps in keeping the soil hydrated and moist along with slowing down the evaporation. You can choose conventional mulch materials like straws, chopped leaves, dry bark, grass clippings, or arborist wood chips. Avoid using hay as it contains seeds.
Once you have your tomato plant successfully planted with a good potting mix, add your tomato fertilizer and be ready to fertilize your tomato plant diligently throughout the season with lots of care.
Watering Container Tomatoes
How you water your container tomatoes will largely determine how well they turn out. Since tomatoes are juicy fruits, they require a lot of regular watering, but too much watering and too little of it can be detrimental to their growth.
The key is to keep your soil moist and damp, not saturated and too wet. Watering container tomatoes can cause them to blacken at the bottom ends of the tomatoes, which is a symptom of blossom end rot.
It is also important to use plant drainage holes to avoid excessively watering the tomato plants, otherwise, the consistent humidity and saturated soil can cause fungal diseases.
your watering will also depend on the quality of the potting soil and the weather. Avoid wetting the foliage of the plant, keep the water strictly to the root zones otherwise, that can too promote fungus growth.
Feed Your Tomato Plant
While a good, airy, and light soil medium with good mulch will go a long way, you need to ensure that your tomato plant is fed lots of nutrients, too. Most of it will come from a balanced and organic slow-release fertilizer with lots of macro-nutrients. Slow-release fertilizers ensure that the nutrients are released continuously over time. For best results, follow the package instructions of the fertilizer you choose for feeding your tomato plant.
Some fertilizers also provide protection against rot as they are rich in calcium aside from feeding nutrients. You can feed your container tomatoes release fertilizers every two weeks, depending on your soil.
Along with fertilized feeding, materials like fish and bone meal, crushed eggshells, green-sand, kelp meal promote balanced growth.
The most important nutrients for tomatoes growing in containers are Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium (NPK). All three of these are the nutrients that tomatoes use in the highest quantity. Ensure that the tomato plants are receiving them in the right dosage always.
All these three nutrients serve a variety of purposes for the tomato plant’s nutrition. However, for photosynthesis, all three of these nutrients are required by the tomato plant. Apart from the commonly known combination of N, P, and K, there are some more very important nutrients required.
Sulfur, Magnesium, and Calcium are also very important for feeding and growing tomatoes in containers. The proper cell structure is promoted by Calcium, while Magnesium is important for photosynthesis as it is an important part of chlorophyll.
Sulfur helps the tomato plant develop proteins, helps it to grow, and improves the tomato plant’s ability to survive in cooler temperatures. Copper, Manganese, Iron, Zinc, Boron, and Molybdenum are some of the micro-nutrients that help tomatoes grow.
The number of nutrients that the tomato plant uses will fluctuate during the various stages of its growing and fruiting processes. The initial intake of Nitrogen and Potassium is slow, but once the tomato plants have begun to flower and bear fruit, they need more.
Calcium, Potassium, and Manganese are required by the plant in regular quantities throughout its life cycle. It is important to know how to notice when the tomato plant is not receiving the right quantities of its required nutrients. There will be symptoms of the plant you must be able to recognize.
Tomatoes are heavy feeders. Their nutrient intake requires constant attention. Making sure that you are keeping track of them is important, otherwise, it could lead to disease in the plant.
Deficiency in the proper nutrients can lead to blossom end rot, cracks in the fruit, and the shoulders turning yellow. The leaves may also begin to turn a brownish-yellow color. Tomatoes require the right amount of nutrition at all times to stay healthy.
When To Fertilize Tomato Plants
Tomato plants depend on release fertilizer to grow in a healthy way. If they aren’t fertilized, they will not reach their full potential and you will be left with a lackluster tomato plant. Be sure that they are given fertilizer at the right times, in the right quantities.
Tomatoes need to be fertilized for the first time as soon as you plant them in the containers. Then, once they start to bear fruit, they need to be fertilized once again. It is recommended that when the first fruits reach approximately golf ball size, fertilize them once again.
This will help the tomato plant to increase the production of fruits. After this dose of tomato fertilizer, add it every couple of weeks until the fruiting process ends. The requirement of the tomato plants in containers with respect to fertilizer varies with its growing process. At different stages of its growth, it requires different dosages.
When the tomato plant is growing roots, it requires phosphorous as a fertilizer. Once the starting seeds come in, it is self-dependent. All the nutrients required to come from the seeds themselves. Once it grows to the seedling stage, nitrogen promotes healthy foliage and potassium helps the plant to grow.
Once the tomato plant is fully grown, you must learn to understand the fertilizer requirements of the plant by watching its growth. Phosphorus helps the production of fruit. Nitrogen helps it to grow healthy leaves, but too much of it can reduce fruiting in the plant.
It is advisable to keep a chart or calendar to remind yourself about fertilizing the tomato plant. Keeping notes of when you’ve fertilized it and how the plant has reacted after that will help you get a better understanding of how and when to do it. In a while, it’ll become easy to spot.
In a nutshell, tomato plants in containers will require fertilizer throughout the growing season. The quantity and type of fertilizer may vary.
How To Fertilize Tomato Plants
When you decide to learn to grow tomatoes, you must know how to fertilize them in the right way. As mentioned before, tomatoes are heavy feeders, so they must be given adequate quantities of fertilizer and nutrition to grow.
When you are fertilizing the tomatoes as you plant them in the container, Be sure to mix some fertilizer with the soil at the bottom. Put a layer of soil that is unfertilized on top of this. Place the tomato plant in the unfertilized soil. Tomato plant fertilizer can damage the roots of the plant.
To fertilize tomato plants in their growing stage, make sure to add it in a gradual process, in low quantities. They have to be able to adjust to the soil and the fertilizers being added to it. Adding too much or adding too quickly can have adverse long-term effects on the tomato plant in containers.
During the fertilization of the tomato plants after the first fruiting process, make sure that the plant has an adequate amount of moisture. If the tomato plant hasn’t got the right amount of water, it will take up a large quantity of fertilizer instead. This can burn the plant.
Once the tomato plant has been watered, apply fertilizer in the container around 6 inches away from the plant’s base. If the fertilizer is applied too close to the plant, it may run on to the stem. This too can burn the plant.
Once the tomato plant has been through the larger portion of its fruiting process, it’s time to stop fertilization. Too much fertilizer late in the fruiting process can lead to a reduction in the number of fruits, as the plant is forced to focus only on its foliage.
How Often To Fertilize Tomato Plants
Tomatoes require the right kind of soil conditions, adequate water, and nutrition. However, they aren’t very difficult to grow, provided you know when to fertilize them and when not o fertilize them. It’s important to know this, as a lack or excess of fertilizer is harmful to the plant.
If tomato plants are not fertilized, you don’t receive an abundant harvest of tomatoes. If they are over-fertilized, it can lead to the plant losing fruit. It’s important to make sure that you are able to draw the line between the two.
Tomato plants must be fertilized when they are being planted in containers at the start. Next, once they have borne their first fruit, they must be fertilized again. Light quantities can be added to the plant containers until the end of the fruiting process. After this, the tomato plants must not be fertilized anymore until the next cycle.
What Kind Of Fertilizer To Use
The fertilizers that you choose for the tomato plants must contain a balanced ratio of the three essential nutrients: Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium. They may be in varying quantities based on the needs of the plant, but fertilizers with all three are better for the plant.
Try to choose all-natural, organic products. These are better for your tomato plant in the long run. Grass clippings, bone meal, fish emulsion, and peat moss are excellent options. These are organic substances that provide your tomato plants with all the nourishment they need.
Here are some of the best fertilizers you can use for your tomato plant:
1. JimZ Tomato Fertilizer
NPK Ratio: 2:1:1
Made with a high-quality combination of natural ingredients, Dr. JimZ Tomato Fertilizer will help grow the tomatoes to the very best of their ability. You can expect better-tasting tomatoes that are free of pests and live for a long time.
It is one of the best tomato fertilizer for containers. Your vegetable garden will blossom once you begin to use Dr. jimZ Tomato Fertilizer.
You can find this product here.
2. Earth Organic 5 Tomato, Vegetable, and Herb Fertilizer
NPK Ratio: 4:6:3
Dr. Earth Organic Tomato, Vegetable, and Herb Fertilizer are made from only the highest quality ingredients. Packed with nutrients, minerals, proteins, and everything your tomatoes need to grow, Dr. Earth can help you grow beautiful tomatoes.
This fertilizer is ideal, not just for your tomatoes, but for all your gardening needs. You can grow. Beautiful healthy vegetables with Dr. Earth Organic 5 Tomato, Vegetable, and Herb Fertilizer.
You can find this product here.
3. Jobe’s Organics Vegetable and Tomato Fertilizer Spikes
NPK Ratio: 2:7:6
Jobe’s Organics Tomato Fertilizer Spikes are measured beforehand to nourish plants from the root to the tip. This fertilizer comes with Jobe’s proprietary Biozome. It helps to break down substances quickly to provide better nourishment, while also enriching the surrounding soil.
You need the very best organic fertilizer to grow beautiful tomatoes in containers. Get the best tomato fertilizer with Jobe’s Organics Vegetable and Tomato Fertilizer Spikes.
You can find this product here.
4. Espoma Tomato-tone Organic Fertilizer
NPK Ratio: 4:3:4
Espoma Tomato-tone fertilizer is made from all-natural and organic ingredients. It is supplemented by loving microbes that aid fertilization while helping the soil. It helps to put an end to blossom end rot and is perfect for all kinds of tomatoes.
Help your container tomatoes grow beautifully with this all-natural fertilizer. The number of fruits you get with Espoma Tomato-tone fertilizer will be a pleasant surprise.
You can find this product here.
It is far more manageable and easier to grow tomatoes in containers as the container-grown tomatoes will provide you the ease of relocation, pretty up your patios and roofs, and give you fresh tomatoes as well. In gardening, there is the issue of space.
You can plant both determinate tomatoes and indeterminate tomatoes depending on your choice. For best results, keep a healthy potting mix with soul, fertilizers, and mulch.
Avoid garden soil and search for good quality soil to ensure healthier growth. The fertilizer you choose also determines if you will have more leaves or fruits so make sure to search up on the fertilizer you go with.
Growing plant in a container garden sure makes gardening easier and more fun for anyone. So, go ahead and get yourself a good plant from the abundant tomato varieties out there get your garden a fresh and juicy addition.
James Fields is the founder of Gardener to Farmer. His passion for gardening goes back to his childhood days when he would visit his grandfather during the holidays and help him with the plants in the backyard. This has now translated to creating a dependable resource for gardening.