How to Plant a Tomato Plant in a Pot


Even the apartment dweller with only a balcony can grow fresh vegetables such as tomatoes with some containers and sunlight. Container gardening tomatoes, regardless of your reasoning, makes sense in many ways-- you can tailor-make the potting soil to the exact nutrient needs of tomatoes, soil-based problems such as nematodes or disease are curtailed, and containers are movable structures. Just about any tomato variety is suitable for container growing.

Step 1

Check container for proper drainage holes. Add holes, if applicable.

Step 2

Fill container 3/4 full of quality potting soil. Amendments to soil should be made before planting instead of heavily fertilizing after planting. Tomatoes need a balanced soil, high in phosphorus to help with strong stem growth and lower in nitrogen than many other plants. Too much nitrogen will cause lush greenery and little to no fruit production.

Step 3

Place stake if growing a variety that suggests staking for support. By placing the stake first before planting, you eliminate the risk of damaging roots.

Step 4

Remove seedling from the package and place in the center of the pot, close to the stake.

Step 5

Fill in with potting soil to just below the top of the pot, burying some of the stem.

Step 6

Water at the soil level, keeping the soil moist but not soggy.

Tips and Warnings

  • Start tomato seeds in seed-starting kits indoors six weeks before the final frost instead of planting directly into large containers.

Things You'll Need

  • Container, at least 12 inches in diameter
  • Potting soil
  • Tomato seedling
  • Stake or tomato cage, depending on variety requirements for support
  • Water


  • Ohio State University Extension: Growing Cucumbers, Squash and Tomatoes in Containers
  • University of Maryland Extension: Container Vegetable Gardening
  • Cornell University Extension: Growing Vegetables, Herbs and Annual Flowers in Containers

Who Can Help

  • Texas A&M Extension: Vegetable Gardening in Containers
Keywords: container vegetable gardening, urban gardening, patio tomatoes

About this Author

Bobbi Keffer attended Kent State University, studying education but soon found her true love to be in the garden. She prides herself on her frugal skills, re-using, recycling, and re-inventing her whimsical style in her home and garden.