How to Grow a Tomato in a Container


Growing tomatoes in a container is convenient in areas where conventional gardening is not practical because of space, weather or light problems. Container growing also allows you to extend the season, bringing the tomatoes indoors on cold nights. For container growing, smaller determinate varieties and dwarf tomato varieties are preferred.

Step 1

Select a clean 12-inch or larger container. Decorative pots are nice for patio use, but other household containers can be used. Sterilize used containers with a solution of 10 percent bleach. Drill holes in the bottom, if needed, for drainage.

Step 2

Place a piece of window screen in the bottom of the container. Cover the screen with a layer of gravel to improve drainage.

Step 3

Fill the container to within 2 inches of the top with a commercial potting mix. Mix in a time-release tomato fertilizer according to package directions.

Step 4

Dig a hole in the potting mix that is 2 inches deeper than the root ball. Bury the tomato in the hole 2 inches deeper than it originally grew. Firm the soil around the plant.

Step 5

Water the tomato immediately after planting and regularly to keep the soil moist. Water the soil until the water runs out the bottom of the pot. Avoid wetting the foliage.

Step 6

Apply a 2-inch layer of organic mulch to the soil surface.

Step 7

Give the tomato plenty of sun. Tomatoes need eight to 10 hours of sun daily. If necessary, move the container around the patio to provide plenty of sun.

Step 8

Turn the container every day or two to keep the plant from growing lopsided.

Step 9

Apply a water-soluble tomato fertilizer weekly once the fruit begins to set. Apply weekly or according to the label directions.

Things You'll Need

  • 12-inch container
  • Potting mix
  • Time-release tomato fertilizer
  • Water-soluble fertilizer
  • Organic mulch


  • Ohio State University: Growing Cucumbers, Peppers, Squash and Tomatoes in Containers
  • Texas A&M AgriLife Extension: Vegetable Gardening in Containers
  • University of Nebraska: Tomatoes in the Home Garden
  • University of Illinois: Watch Your Garden Grow, Tomatoes
Keywords: grow container tomatoes, container tomatoes, growing tomatoes

About this Author

Diane Watkins has been writing since 1984, with experience in newspaper, newsletter and web content. She writes two electronic newsletters and content around the web. Watkins has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Clemson University. She has taken graduate courses in biochemistry and education.