How to Grow Tomato Plants Indoors

Overview

Even if you live in an apartment or home that lacks outdoor gardening space, you can grow tomato plants indoors if you have a sunny window. Growing tomatoes indoors can be challenging, but the sweet rewards are well worth the efforts. The key is ensuring the plants have enough of all the vital elements they would need outdoors: light, water, nutrients, and space.

Step 1

Purchase a determinate tomato variety that only reaches 3-4 feet, rather than indeterminate which continue growing through the season and can reach up to 10 feet tall. Select a hybrid variety that produces smaller fruits, such as cherry or plum tomatoes.

Step 2

Get a container that is a minimum of 14 to 16 inches deep, and 14 to 16 inches wide. If you have room, use a larger pot. Cramped roots will reduce yields. Be sure your pot has a drip tray.

Step 3

Transplant your seedlings into your pots using potting soil enriched with compost. Mix a lightweight medium to make your planters easy to move with one part potting soil, one part compost, one part peat moss and one part perlite.

Step 4

Place a tomato cage into the pot at the time of transplanting to give the plant support as it grows. Add mulch around the base of the plant to help retain moisture.

Step 5

Set your plants in a window that gets at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight, or more if possible. Ideally the window should face south or southwest.

Step 6

Rotate your tomato plant 1/4 turn every day so that each side gets an even amount of light.

Step 7

Supplement with fluorescent lights a few hours each day if your plant is not getting at least eight hours of direct sunlight.

Step 8

Water your tomato plant deeply at least twice per week, or whenever necessary. Don't allow the soil to dry out. It should be damp, but not soggy.

Step 9

Avoid watering the foliage, which can make the plant more susceptible to diseases. Keep the leaves and fruits dry, and just water the soil.

Step 10

Tap the stems and branches when plants bloom to aid pollination. The vibration will help pollination. Indoor tomatoes require help with pollination because they lack the outdoor agents such as wind and bees.

Step 11

Fertilize more frequently when growing tomatoes in pots indoors. Use an all purpose water soluble fertilizer or tea made from compost every three weeks.

Step 12

Harvest tomatoes when they reach the size of maturity, but are still green. Place fruits on a windowsill to finish ripening.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never stake or insert a tomato cage into a potted tomato plant after transplanting as you can damage the roots. Avoid smoking around your tomato plants, and always wash your hands thoroughly after touching cigarettes. This will help prevent the spread of tobacco mosaic virus.

Things You'll Need

  • Tomato seedlings
  • Container
  • Potting soil
  • Compost
  • Peat moss
  • Perlite
  • Tomato cage
  • Mulch
  • Water
  • Fertilizer

References

  • The Container Expert; Dr. D. G. Hessayon; 1995
  • Grow Your Own Tomatoes Indoors This Winter
Keywords: how to grow tomato plants indoors, growing indoor tomtoes, container vegetable gardening

About this Author

Mackenzie Wright has been freelancing since 2002 in the realms of writing, painting, photography, crafts and teaching the arts. Her writing has been featured in publications such as the "Saint Petersburg Times," "South Florida Parenting Magazine" and "Home Education Magazine." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and education.