How to Plant Tomato Plants in a Pot


Tomatoes, with their versatility and delicious flavor, are the most popular garden vegetable grown in homes across America, according to information published by the University of Illinois Extension. They are easy to grow and will thrive equally well if planted in-ground or in a container, as long as they are given proper care. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that tomato plants can grow quite large at maturity. For that reason, dwarf cultivars such as Tiny Tim and Husky Red are recommended when choosing which type of tomato you will be growing in your pot.

Step 1

Choose a large container that has at least one drainage hole at the bottom of the pot, as well as a water-catch tray. The pot should be a minimum of 12 inches in diameter for one plant. Dwarf plants should be at least 12 inches apart, according to information published by the University of Illinois Extension, so get a larger container if you want to place more than one tomato plant in the same pot.

Step 2

Fill the pot with artificial soil. This will prevent the soil from compacting later in the season. Use at least six shovelfuls, and more if possible. The more artificial soil, the better the tomato plant will grow.

Step 3

Make a depression in the artificial soil just large enough to hold the tomato plant. Loosen the young tomato plant from its temporary pot and gently place it in the depression in the new container. It is not a problem if the young plant came with potted soil. You can still place it in the artificial soil. Pack the soil in around the plant to stabilize it, and water thoroughly.

Step 4

Set the plant in a location where it will receive full sun. Use a tomato cage for support if needed.

Step 5

Water enough so that the soil remains moist. Test the top of the soil for dryness. If it is beginning to dry out, water the plant again. This may mean watering daily, as container tomato plants tend to dry out more quickly than plants grown in the ground. Tomatoes are made up of a large percentage of water, according to information published by the University of Illinois Extension, and they need a good amount of water to grow.

Step 6

Fertilize your tomato plant with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer at least once a week from spring through summer. Follow the directions on the label for the size and number of your plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Large container with drainage holes (minimum 12-inch diameter)
  • Artificial soil (often called "soil-less" planting medium)
  • Trowel
  • Watering tool
  • Tomato cage
  • Nitrogen-rich fertilizer


  • University of Illinois Extension: Tomato: Watch Your Garden Grow
  • Simple Gifts Farm: Container Tomato Gardening
Keywords: tomatoes in pots, plant container tomatoes, growing tomatoes

About this Author

April Sanders has been a professional writer since 1998. Previously, she worked as an educator and currently writes academic research content for EBSCO publishing and elementary reading curriculum for Compass Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in social psychology from the University of Washington and a master's degree in information sciences and technology in education from Mansfield University.