How to Plant Tomatoes in Containers


Container gardens work well for tomatoes, allowing you to enjoy fresh vegetables no matter how much space is available in your backyard. Even apartment dwellers often maintain container gardens for tomatoes if they have patios or decks with direct sunlight. Tomatoes grow well in containers, which makes them a popular option for home gardens. The homegrown tomatoes also taste much better compared to the store-purchased tomatoes.

Step 1

Choose the pot for the tomatoes. Choose a pot that is at least 12 inches in diameter for the best results. Make sure there are adequate drainage holes in the bottom of the pot so the roots don't rot.

Step 2

Decide if you want to grow the tomatoes from seeds or from starter plants. Seeds are generally less expensive but take more work. You'll need to start the seeds inside in March or April. Starter plants can be purchased and planted in May.

Step 3

Choose the variety of tomatoes you want to plant. You can plant almost any variety of tomato in containers, but there are varieties that are better for container gardening. Some names of dwarf or container tomatoes include Tiny Tim, Patio Hybrid, Small Fry and Husky Hybrid. Read the label if you're not sure.

Step 4

Purchase the potting soil for the tomatoes. Choose a soil mix that is loose with good drainage. Adding organic matter such as compost is also a good idea for container tomatoes.

Step 5

Place the potting soil in the container, filling it almost to the top. Place the plant in the soil, filling in more soil around the plant. Water the tomato plant as soon as it is in the soil.

Step 6

Place the pot in a spot that gets at least eight hours of sun each day. Move the pot as necessary to get the required direct sunlight. Also consider a location that is blocked from the wind so the tomato plant isn't damaged.

Step 7

Check the moisture level of the tomato plants daily. Stick your finger in the soil to test the moisture. If the soil is dry 2 inches below the surface it needs more water.

Step 8

Add fertilizer of your choice to the soil at least once a month. This replaces nutrients that are washed out of the soil from watering.

Things You'll Need

  • Container
  • Potting soil
  • Tomato plants


  • University of Illinois Extension: Tomatoes
  • Ohio State University Extension: Growing Tomatoes in Containers
Keywords: container garden, container tomatoes, home grown tomatoes

About this Author

Shelley Frost is an Iowa-based writer specializing in parenting and education topics. She started writing for online publications over two years ago. Her work can be found on websites such as and Frost holds a B.A. in elementary education with a minor in reading.