The Best Way to Grow Tomatoes in a Pot


Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetable varieties, but most gardeners view then as a strictly warm weather, outdoor plant. It is possible to grow tomatoes in a pot indoors during the winter, or outdoors when space or poor soil makes growing in a traditional garden impossible. Certain varieties such as Patio, Pixie, Tiny Tim, Saladette, Toy Boy, Spring Giant, Tumbling Tom, Small Fry are ideal for a small, 5-gallon pot, according to the Texas A & M Extension.

Step 1

Fill a starter tray with commercial potting soil and bury a tomato seed 1/4- inch deep. Keep the starter mix moist, says the Colorado State University Extension, but do not make the soil soggy. Germination of the seed will occur between 5 and 10 days.

Step 2

Transplant the seedling once the stalk is around 3 inches in height. Use a sharp knife to work the soil around the seedling, and pull the seedling out by holding the leaves, not the stalk.

Step 3

Fill a 5-gallon pot with commercial potting soil so that it is 1 inch from the lip of the pot. Make a hole for the seedling and place the plant in the hole. Apply a small amount of fertilizer to the plant once it is in the soil for two weeks.

Step 4

Place a stake in the soil and train the tomato plant around the stake as it grows to prevent collapse of the plant, and to promote fruit growth. Not all varieties require stakes, says the University of Illinois Extension, so check your particular variety.

Step 5

Water the plant so that the soil does not dry out, usually once or twice a week depending on the weather. Fertilize using a 10-10-10 fertilizer every two to three weeks.

Step 6

Turn the plant regularly, advises the Colorado Cooperative Extension. This prevents the plant from leaning too far to one side.

Step 7

Tap the stems and leaves of the plant with your finger once it begins to flower. This pollinates the plant, producing more fruit and seed.

Things You'll Need

  • Pot
  • Potting soil
  • Tomato plant
  • Stake
  • Starter tray


  • Colorado State University: Grow Your Own Tomatoes Indoors this Winter
  • University of Illinois Extension: Watch Your Garden Grow - Tomatoes
  • Agrilife Extension Texas A & M: Vegetable Gardening in Containers
Keywords: tomatoes indoors, container tomato, planting tomato indoors

About this Author

Cleveland Van Cecil is a freelancer writer specializing in technology. He has been a freelance writer for three years and has published extensively on, writing articles on subjects as diverse as boat motors and hydroponic gardening. Van Cecil has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Baldwin-Wallace College.