Grow tomatoes in containers in Texas to overcome the hot dry summer, cool winter, poor soil conditions or lack of garden space. Timing is essential for a successful crop--plant seedlings in early spring or fall to avoid the heat of the summer. Select dwarf or determinate varieties for container gardening, as the roots have a defined space within which to grow and spread. With a little planning, you can grow container tomatoes all year round in Texas and reap the benefits of a fresh and healthy produce.
Clean a large 5-gallon container or planter thoroughly with soapy water and allow it to air dry. Drill several 1/2-inch drainage holes in the base. Place the container in a sheltered spot, away from intense Texas summer heat or cool winters, but where it gets at least six hours of sunlight everyday.
Spread a 1-inch layer of gravel or broken crockery pieces over the base to assist in drainage. Tomatoes are sensitive plants and prefer well-drained soils to avoid developing root rot.
Fill the large container with a good quality, commercial potting mix. Read label directions for the amount of fertilizers it contains and how long before you should add more. Most commercial mixes contain fertilizers for up to three months. Add a slow-release tomato fertilizer to the mix if it lacks it. Follow label directions for dosage.
Remove the transplant from the nursery container and remove foliage from the bottom 2 inches. Plant the transplant 2 inches deeper in the ground than it was in its original container, burying the root ball and 2-inch stem length. Cover with potting soil and tamp it down.
Water the transplant immediately at soil level using a watering can. Keep the soil moist at all times, specially during the hot dry summers of Texas. Spread a 2-inch layer of mulch over the soil to retain moisture.
Stake the young plants to encourage them to grow upward. Insert a stake behind each plant and gently tie limbs with cotton twine.
Things You Will Need
- 5-gallon container
- Soapy water
- Drill with 1/2-inch bit
- Commercial potting mix
- Slow-release tomato fertilizer
- Watering can
- Cotton twine
- Container gardening provides the advantage of growing vegetables almost any time of the year.
- Varieties of tomatoes that grow well in containers in Texas include Toy Boy, Tumbling Tom, Pixie, Patio, Spring Giant, Small Fry and Saladette.
- Plant one to two tomato plants per 5-gallon container. Tomatoes have large roots that need space to grow.
- Feed the tomatoes a water-soluble fertilizer every week when tiny fruits appear.
- Place a shade cloth over the container if it gets too hot, and bring the container indoors during the cold, or protect with a frost cover when nighttime temperatures drop below 50 degrees F.
- Tomatoes usually take between 90 to 120 days to harvest from seeding, so plant accordingly so your crop is ready when you want it.