How to Successfully Grow Tomatoes in a Pot


Gardeners with limited gardening space love container gardens, especially since vegetables like tomatoes produce just as prolifically when grown in a pot as when grown in the soil, according to Ohio State University. Give your tomato plant the specific care it needs to thrive in a potted environment so you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of its crimson, juicy fruit.

Step 1

Select a pot that's big enough for growing tomatoes. Tomatoes need a pot with a minimum diameter of 22 inches and a capacity of 5 gallons, according to Ohio State University. Tomatoes grown in larger pots perform better than those cramped in small containers.

Step 2

Fill the pot with potting soil. Never use garden soil, as it's too heavy and dense for container gardening.

Step 3

Push a 3 to 4-foot tall stake into the soil on the edge of the pot if you're planning on growing indeterminate (vine) tomatoes. Insert the stake until it reaches the bottom of the pot.

Step 4

Fertilize the potting soil. Ohio State University suggests using any complete and balanced fertilizer (e.g., a 10-10-10 or 13-13-13 product) stirred into the pot at a concentration of 1/2 tbsp. per gallon of dirt.

Step 5

Sow the tomato seeds. Bury two to three seeds in the pot, spaced equal distances from each other and buried 1/4 to 1/2-inch deep.

Step 6

Water the pot a couple of times daily or as required to keep the soil surface moist. The tomato seedlings will appear within two weeks.

Step 7

Spread 2 inches of mulch on the surface of the pot once the tomato seedlings are 4 to 5 inches tall. At this time, pluck out all the seedlings except the tallest and most vigorous one.

Step 8

Manage the tomatoes. Supply enough water to moisten the dirt at the bottom of the pot then avoid watering until the top 2 inches of soil are dry. Move the pot into a sunny area that receives at least 6 hours of sun daily. If the tomato is the vining variety, wrap its vine tendrils around the stake as they grow to train the vine upward.

Step 9

Rotate the pot daily so that a new side of the pot is facing the direction of the sun. Tomatoes love the sun and will grow in its direction. If you don't rotate it, the vine will lean in one direction and may appear off balance.

Step 10

Feed the tomato plant for a second time as soon as it grows its first set of blossoms. Use the same fertilizer and application rate listed in Step 4. This provides the potted plant with the nutrient boost it needs to encourage continuous foliage development and fruit growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Pot
  • Potting soil
  • Stake
  • Fertilizer
  • Tomato seeds
  • Water
  • Mulch


  • "American Tomato: The Complete Guide to Growing and Using Tomatoes"; Robert Hendrickson; 2006
  • Ohio State University: Container Vegetable Gardening
  • Ohio State University: Growing Cucumbers...And Tomatoes In Containers
Keywords: potted tomato growth, growing potted tomatoes, planting tomato pots

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.