How to Plant Tomatoes in Five Gallon Buckets


Tomatoes are popular warm-season vegetable plants that grow well in containers. Container growing allows a gardener to create a garden when ground soil is poor, growing space is limited or sunlight is scarce. People with impaired mobility can grow tomatoes in plant pots and lift them to table tops to perform maintenance. Tomatoes in containers can be moved around, out of the way of problems like strong winds.

Step 1

Wash out a five-gallon bucket with soapy water. Rinse the bucket with a mixture of one part bleach and nine parts water. This sterilizes the bucket and gets rid of debris and any hiding insect pests.

Step 2

Turn the bucket upside down, and drill six to eight holes in the bottom. This provides drainage for your container. Turn the bucket over and remove any plastic debris.

Step 3

Mix together three parts potting soil, one part peat moss and one part perlite. Mix in 1/2 gallon of well-rotted manure. This gives the tomatoes good-draining soil with lots of organic materials. Mix 3 tbsp. of 10-10-10 slow-release fertilizer into your soil.

Step 4

Place a piece of screen mesh in the bottom of the bucket to hold the soil in place. Fill the bucket halfway with soil mixture. Dig a hole in the middle of the soil with a hand trowel.

Step 5

Remove the tomato plant from its container, and place it in the hole. Fill the bucket with soil so that just the top third of the tomato plant is above the ground. Roots will form all along the underground portion of the tomato plant. Pour water into the top of the bucket until it runs out the bottom. Place a tomato cage around tomato seedling.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not use garden soil when growing tomatoes in a container. Garden soil contains too much clay and is too dense to make good soil for a plant pot. Using garden soil just transfers your drainage problems from the garden into your container.

Things You'll Need

  • Five-gallon bucket
  • Soap
  • Bleach
  • Drill
  • Potting soil
  • Peat moss
  • Perlite
  • Manure
  • Fertilizer
  • Screen mesh
  • Hand trowel
  • Tomato plant
  • Tomato cage


  • Ohio State University Fact Sheet: Container Vegetable Gardening
  • University of Illinois Extension---Watch Your Garden Grow: Tomato
Keywords: tomato containers, planting bucket tomatoes, container gardening

About this Author

Karen Carter has spent the last three years working as a technology specialist in the public school system. This position included hardware/software installation, customer support, and writing training manuals. She also spent four years as a newspaper editor/reporter at the Willapa Harbor Herald.