How to Build Your Own Tomato Planter


Container gardening works well for small decorative plants and houseplants, but it can also be used to grow large plants, like garden vegetables. Tomatoes are a classic example of garden plants that take well to container gardening. Cherry or grape-sized tomatoes and jumbo tomatoes grow equally well. According to the Texas A&M Department of Horticulture, some of the best tomato varieties for container gardening include Patio, Tiny Tim, Toy Boy, Tumbling Tom and Spring Giant. You can make your own tomato planter using recycled materials.

Step 1

Flip your bucket over so you are working with the outside of the bottom. Working from the outer edge inward, measure roughly 3 inches in and drill or solder-melt a hole into the bucket bottom. Create holes that are at least a half-inch wide. Move a few inches to the right and repeat this step. Continue until you have drilled five or six holes around the bottom of your bucket that are roughly equally spaced. Don't worry about perfect measurements, just make sure you have holes all the way around the bucket bottom rather than all on one side.

Step 2

Drill or solder-melt a hole directly in the middle of the bottom of the bucket. Add another hole 2 inches from the center hole, and repeat on the other side so you have a line of three holes approximately 2 inches apart.

Step 3

Measure 3 inches from the outside edge of the bottom of the bucket down the side wall. Drill or solder-melt a hole here. Move a few inches to the right and create another hole. Repeat until you have created a series of five or six holes around the outside wall of the bucket. Flip your bucket over and you should have eight to nine holes in the bottom and five to six holes along the bottom edge of your bucket. The bottom holes allow for drainage and aeration and the side holes provide backup drainage and aeration in case your bottom holes become blocked or clogged.

Step 4

Flip your bucket over and fill the bottom with 3 to 4 inches of gravel, broken bits of pottery or clay marbles to assist with drainage. Adequate drainage is important because if your plants sit in water, the roots will rot.

Step 5

Place several sheets of newspaper on top of your gravel to prevent the root system from getting tangled in the gravel. Make a small slit in the newspaper in one spot for the dowel rod to go through. Plunge your dowel rod into the gravel, through the slit in the newspaper, about an inch left of center, until it touches the bottom of the container.

Step 6

Fill the bucket with moist (not wet) potting soil. Pat down the soil lightly to make sure the dowel rod is firmly supported.

Step 7

Plant your tomato in the center of the bucket, next to the dowel rod. As the tomato plant grows, stake it to the dowel rod to support the stems and keep the tomato plants off the ground. Place in a location that gets at least eight hours of sunlight per day and water daily.

Things You'll Need

  • Large paint, kitty litter or other bucket (at least 5 gallon)
  • Drill or solderer
  • 1 in Dowel rod
  • Gravel
  • Newspaper
  • Potting soil
  • Tomato plant


  • Thrifty Fun
  • Texas A&M University Extension
Keywords: build tomato planter, make tomato planter, tomato container garden

About this Author

Lillian Downey has an extensive and diverse background, including studies in English, social work, women's studies, non-profit management, political science and nursing. In addition to writing, she has worked as a sex-ed teacher, clinic manager, pregnancy options counselor and mental health professional. She served as Editor-in-Chief of Nexus Journal of Literature and Art and an Assistant Fiction Editor at the Antioch Review.