How to Grow Heirloom Tomatoes in Containers


Heirloom tomatoes are often big plants, growing 5 or 6 feet tall or higher. You can grow any heirloom of the hundreds available by matching a small heirloom type to a 5-gallon bucket or a big heirloom to a large tub.

Growing Seeds

Step 1

Start your heirlooms from seed six to eight weeks before the last frost in your area. Pick a type in line with your available container size.

Step 2

Place seeds in cell flats supported by trays filled with seed-starting mix. Cover the seeds with ¼ inch of the seed-starter mix.

Step 3

Keep the soil moist, but not wet. Place a heating mat under the cell flat and a clear plastic cover over it. After the seeds germinate, keep them under a fluorescent grow light adjusted to hover 2 to 4 inches above their leaves. Move the young plants outdoors during daytime to harden them before transplanting.

Transplanting Seedlings

Step 1

Place your container in the sunniest possible spot outside, ideally with some protection from the wind. Tomatoes grow best with eight to 10 hours of sun daily and need at least five to six hours. Add soil-less potting mix and water-retaining crystals to the container.

Step 2

Place landscape cloth or black plastic mulch cut to the shape of container on its surface. Cut an X-shaped slit for the seedling. Transplant the young plant into the container through the slit. Firm the soil around the stem to its first set of true leaves. Bend a reinforcing wire into a circle to create a cage to support the tomato plant.

Step 3

Fertilize every two weeks with liquid organic fertilizer or every three to four weeks if using a granular fertilizer formulated for tomatoes.

Step 4

Water every morning or even twice daily in hot weather. Water the soil without splashing the plant's lower leaves to avoid fungus diseases.

Things You'll Need

  • Cell flats
  • Trays
  • Heating mat
  • Plastic cover
  • Fluorescent grow-light
  • Bucket
  • Tub
  • Landscape cloth
  • Black plastic mulch
  • Concrete reinforcing wire
  • Organic fertilizer
  • Granular fertilizer


  • Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet: Growing Cucumbers, Peppers, Squash And Tomatoes In Containers
  • Heirloom Tomatoes of Texas: Tomatoes for Containers
  • Heirloom Tomatoes: Seed Starting Tips
  • How to grow heirloom tomatoes in containers

Who Can Help

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Keywords: heirloom tomatoes containers, container tomato gardening, heirloom tomatoes buckets, heirloom tomatoes tubs

About this Author

Rogue Parrish has written two travel books and edited at the "The Baltimore Sun," "The Washington Post" and the Alaska Newspapers company. She began writing professionally in 1975. Parrish holds a summa cum laude Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.