How to Grow Tomatoes in Containers


Container-grown tomatoes are a favorite for patio, balcony and porch growing. Almost any type or variety of tomatoes can be grown in a container, but smaller determinate types often do the best. The dwarf varieties of container tomatoes take between 45 and 75 days to fruit and are available in both hybrid and heirloom types. Containers for tomatoes need to have a depth of at least 16 to 18 inches and a diameter of 20 to 22 inches.

Starting the Seed

Step 1

Fill the desired number of peat pots with potting soil. Water the soil until it is moist to the touch.

Step 2

Place two to three tomato seeds in each peat pot and cover with approximately 1/4 inch of soil.

Step 3

Cover the peat pots with plastic wrap and place the peat pots in a warm area. Remove the plastic wrap from the pots when the seedlings emerge from the soil.

Step 4

Thin the plants to one plant per peat pot after several weeks of growth. The plants are then ready to transplant into containers.

Transplant into Containers

Step 1

Choose large, stable containers with good drainage in the bottom of the pots.

Step 2

Place 1/2 to 1 inch of pea gravel in the bottom of the container.

Step 3

Fill the container with potting soil. Use a garden spade to dig a hole in the soil slightly larger than the peat pots.

Step 4

Bury the entire peat pot in the hole and cover completely with soil.

Step 5

Place a 4-foot wooden stake in the soil to the outside of the container. Press the stake to the bottom of the pot.

Step 6

Water the plants as needed to keep the soil moist around the plant. Container plants may need watering daily.

Step 7

Tie the main trunk of the tomato plant to the stake using plant tape to train the plant to grow upward. This will also prevent the plant from laying over on the ground as it becomes full with fruit.

Things You'll Need

  • Peat pots (if starting from seed)
  • Potting soil with fertilizer added
  • Plastic wrap
  • Large planting containers
  • Pea gravel
  • Garden spade
  • 4-foot long wooden stake
  • Plant tape


  • University of Illinois: Tomato
  • University of California, Davis: Grow Vegetables in Containers (PDF)
  • Texas A&M University: Vegetable Gardening in Containers
Keywords: grow container tomatoes, patio tomatoes, balcony grown tomatoes

About this Author

G. K. Bayne is a freelance writer, currently writing for Demand Studios where her expertise in back-to-basics, computers and electrical equipment are the basis of her body of work. Bayne began her writing career in 1975 and has written for Demand since 2007.