If dwarf, patio, Roma or other such descriptors are part of the tomato plant name you are considering, you are on the right track to selecting the best types for pot and container gardening. Matter of fact, experts at Ohio State University's Horticulture Extension say most all tomatoes can be container-grown with ample care. Regardless of the size of container or the resulting fruit of the plant, there are readily accessible tomato varieties best suited for planting in pots.
Gardener’s Delight Cherry Tomato
This cherry tomato is an indeterminate (blooms continuously throughout the growing season) that starts to yield fruit in about 67 to 70 days. Fruits are deep red orbs--an inch in diameter. Like most cherry tomatoes, this one's taste is sweet and its texture is meaty. A favorite of tomato gardeners, Gardener's Delight also resists cracking during rapid fluctuations of precipitation. Because of its small fruit, Gardener’s Delight is perfect for pots and containers because their weight will have less downward force on stems.
Retail seed companies and growers make small tomatoes with growing habits and fruit characteristics akin to the Gardener’s Delight under different brand names. If the Delight is not available, look for identifiers such as Sweet 100, patio, or its smaller, super-sweet cousin varieties such as Jelly Bean Grape and tinier, tart currant tomatoes. The latter is more drought tolerant, which will lend itself well to pot and container gardening in hotter climate zones.
San Marzano Roma Tomato
Sometimes referred to as plum tomatoes, the San Marzano is a bright red, small to midsize type recognized for its dense flesh, favored by cooks for rendering of sauces. Romas have also been known to find their way into garden salads. While a substantial bit larger than the tiny cherry, grape and currant tomatoes, the weight of the fruit does not pose an issue with vine slouch if harvested regularly. It is recommended to fertilize just after blooming to sustain nutrients for the growing fruit and it favors a once weekly deep watering. Harvest may take 80 to 90 days.
For those who prefer starting their tomatoes with plants, if the San Marzano Roma is not available at the local retail supply, look for other types that use the terms Roma, plum, Italian or paste in their name. If no plants are available, most brand-name seed companies offer several types for the Roma via their catalog or at local retail garden departments.
Big Boy Bush Tomato
Fruits from this plant are generally standard-size slicing tomatoes. What makes these perfect for pots and container gardening is the dwarf, compact plant that yields standard-size red fruit. Depending on the source seed company and such determining factors as whether it is a hybrid, the harvest period will be from 65 days for the early varieties to 71 days for others. These are the type of tomatoes that gardeners relish for their juicy, sweet true summer tomato taste if allowed to ripen on the vine. Like the smaller varieties of pot and container growers, these plants may be started from plants or seeds found at local nurseries and commercial retail garden departments. In addition to Big Boy, look for other names containing bush, patio and Early Girl. These various full-size tomato plants and their larger kin come in either determinate or indeterminate varieties.