Grow Tomatoes In Pots Easily For The Tastiest, Freshest Tomatoes Ever - Tomato plant in container pot with mosaic watering globe
DIY,  Food,  Garden

How To Grow Tomatoes In Pots Easily Without A Garden For The Tastiest, Freshest Tomatoes Ever

Kitchen Garden Series: Easy Tomato Container Gardening For The Best Fresh Tomatoes At Home

If you only grow one crop in your garden, make it a tomato.  A sun-ripened fruit straight from the dirt of a home garden is truly the only tomato worth eating.  I never even liked tomatoes until I had one picked straight from a home garden.  It was simply the best tomato I had ever eaten and tasted nothing like the store-bought ones I was used to.  “But, don’t you need a lot of land and space to grow your own tomatoes..?” you ask…  Not at all!  Not if you plant your tomatoes in a “kitchen” container garden which puts fresh vegetables within reach no matter how much or little land you have — no yard or garden required.

Plus, it also requires very little effort or money, but will save you quite a bit long-term.  And no, a “kitchen” container garden doesn’t mean it’s in your kitchen… it is just easily accessible to it.  A “kitchen” container garden is any garden where your pots of fresh vegetables and herbs are within easy reach of your kitchen, so any patio, porch, deck, or even fire escape will do!  Just make sure it’s a location that receives plenty of sun.

**Save even more money & expand your kitchen garden by growing your own potatoes in a plastic trash bag with hardly any space & watch as 3 potatoes turn into 30!

Read on to learn how easy it is to grow your own tomatoes in pots, with hardly any space, for the tastiest tomatoes on hand whenever you need them.  But, first, a few more reasons why you should.

Why Grow Tomatoes In Pots?

Grow Tomatoes In Pots For Access To True, Fresh-Picked Flavors

In addition to the convenience and benefits of being able to garden in small spaces afforded by pots, consider the taste advantages.  If you have ever been lucky enough to pick a tomato fresh off the vine, when they are at their peak ripeness and sweetness, still warm from the sun, you will know exactly what I am talking about.  Commercially-grown tomatoes are usually picked before their peak, which typically diminishes their flavor.  No bland, store bought, supermarket tomato could ever compare to the full-bodied taste of a picked-at-it’s-prime, vine and sun-ripened fruit.

TIP! Tomatoes contain high levels of lycopene, an antioxidant known to protect the heart.

Grow Tomatoes In Pots Easily For The Tastiest, Freshest Tomatoes Ever_ Use your harvest to make a homemade Caprese dinner
Grow Tomatoes In Pots Easily For The Tastiest, Freshest Tomatoes Ever… Use your harvest to make a homemade Caprese antipasto.

Grow Tomatoes In Pots To Begin Your Garden Even When It’s Still Cold Outside

Sowing your tomato seeds in containers also allows you to start your kitchen garden indoors even when the weather is cold.  This gives you a head start on the growing season when it finally does warm up.  So, feel free to start planting your seeds in pots on a sunny window sill as early as February, even while frost is still on the ground.  See the instructions down below titled, How To Grow Your Tomato Garden Indoors From Seeds?”

Grow Tomatoes In Pots To Save Time, Space & Money

There is nothing like having a readily available crop of tomatoes right outside your door.  Tomatoes grown in containers are great for tight spaces, but no matter how much space you have, container gardens make eating fresh healthy, vitamin-rich produce much easier when you don’t have to take a trip to the store or even out into the yard.  Container planting lets you turn any balcony, patio, deck, or fire escape into your own “produce aisle” with vegetables and herbs at your disposal.

In addition to the convenience, a tomato container garden will also save you money.  And we all can appreciate any cost savings these days when food prices are going up, but most family budgets remain the same.

The Scent Of A Tomato (Plant)

I had to include this because the scent of a tomato plant is one of my personal favorite scents.  If tomatoes remind you of summer, it may not just be their taste, but their incredible fragrance.  While hard to describe, the uniquely slightly peppery, slightly sweet aromatic scent of a tomato plant is one “you-know-when-you-smell-it.”  It can also only be described as capturing the very essence, scent-wise, of (late) summer.  Be sure to remember to inhale and practice some aromatherapy every time you are near your tomato container garden, and be transported to summer’s gone by…. 

Read on for everything you need to know to start a simple and easy tomato container kitchen garden.  First, some info on the types of tomatoes you may consider growing in your pots, and how to start your tomato container garden inexpensively with seeds…

Should You Grow Your Tomatoes From Seedlings Or Seeds? To Experiment With Unusual Heirloom Varieties, Choose Seeds

While it is easier and quicker to grow seedlings rather than sow seeds, seedlings are usually not available for purchase until spring.  With seeds you can not only start your garden sooner on your window sill, but you also have a wider variety of tomato options to chose from.  This is especially true when it comes to rare and coveted heirloom tomato varieties which are sometimes only available in seed form, and harder to find as seedlings for purchase at your local garden center.

Now, of the two classes of tomatoes available, most heirloom varieties are considered indeterminate, while most modern-hybrids are bushy determinates.  Let’s see how the two classes of tomatoes compare, and how their individual characteristics influence their ability to be successfully grown in containers…

Determinate Vs. Indeterminate Tomatoes: What Is The Difference?

Tomatoes fall into two categories: bush, also known as determinate types, which grow to a certain size and then stop growing; and indeterminate vining types which continue to grow and fruit until killed by frost, and frankly, can take up a lot of space.  As stated above, most heirloom tomatoes are of the indeterminate variety, while most modern-hybrids are bushy determinates.

Given Their Size, Can You Grow Indeterminate Tomatoes In Containers?

Not surprisingly, in general, the smaller, determinate types tend to do very well in pots, but it is possible to grow indeterminate heirloom tomatoes in containers as well, as long as you provide enough soil, space and support.  So, if you would like to try growing that exciting heirloom variety you have had your eye on, be sure to have a large sized (at least 24 inches deep and 20 inches in diameter) container with plenty of soil and support stakes or cages to provide the support indeterminate tomatoes will surely need.

Grow Tomatoes In Pots Easily For The Tastiest, Freshest Tomatoes Ever_ Make sure your tomato container garden is positioned to get between 6 to 8 hours of sun a day
How to grow tomatoes in containers? Make sure your tomato container garden is positioned to get between 6 to 8 hours of sun a day.

Delicious Heirloom Tomatoes To Consider Growing Include:


Brandywine, regarded by tomato connoisseur Ben Quisenberry to be “as fine a tasting tomato as was ever raised,”  boasts large, slightly rough fruits in a purplish-wine red color with a superbly rich and sweet flavor.

Caspian Pink

This truly amazing pink heirloom tomato originated near the Black Sea in Russia a few years ago, and is unbelievably delicious — very juicy and super sweet.  The fruits are large with a flatter shape and reach about 11 ounces on indeterminate vines.


This favorite golden orange fruit really does resemble a ripe persimmon, but its fantastic flavor is even more of a stand-out.  Low in acidity and fruity in taste, this tomato has fewer seed cavities and more flesh than many other tomato varieties.

Cherry Tomatoes For Your Tomato Container Garden: 

They may be small in size but they are certainly big in flavor…

Black Cherry (Indeterminate)

This dusky purple-reddish fruit is sweet, rich in flavor and easy to grow.

Sun Gold (Indeterminate)

Producing long clusters of up to 15 fruits, the Sun Gold hybrid variety is known for being among the sweetest tomatoes, in addition to being ultra-productive and super easy to cultivate.


When Can You Grow Tomatoes In Pots? Starting Your Container Garden Indoors Let’s You Start Seeds As Early As Late Winter

You can start a tomato container garden indoors as early as February, even with snow still on the ground outside.  You can plant the seeds of your choice in small pots in a “window sill garden”  as long as they are in a location that gets plenty of hours of sunlight.

Starting your tomato seeds about 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost ensures your seeds will be healthy, young seedlings or plants by the time the weather is warm enough to move them to a larger container and move your containers outside.

When Is It Safe To Move Your Containers Outside?

As a rule of thumb, do not move your containers outside until after your area’s last frost date has passed.  Find out when you can expect the last frost where you live here.

TIP! Young, healthy plants are likely to produce a better yield than large plants with premature blossoms.

How To Grow Your Tomato Garden Indoors From Seeds? Seed To Seedling Step-By-Step Instructions

Purchase Your Seeds & Small Pots

If you plan to start with seeds, in late winter, about 6 to 8 weeks before you intend to transplant them, sow your tomato seeds in small amounts of potting soil in small pots or even clear plastic cups with a small drainage hole poked in the bottom.  For a slightly more expensive option, you can always purchase a few biodegradable pots in which to sow your seeds.

Plant Your Seeds

Fill your container with moist potting soil to within an inch of the top of the pot.  Plant 1 to 3 seeds a quarter to a half inch deep in the soil in the center of the pot.

Position Your Tomato Seed Pots Near A Bright Window

Water the seed and keep the pots near a warm, bright window without drafts where they are sheltered from cold and wind; or, in a greenhouse if you are lucky enough to have one.

Ensure Proper Temperatures For Your Tomato Seed Pots

The ideal temperatures for seedling growth are between 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.  Nighttime temperatures should hover between 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.  Even outdoors, tomato seeds will germinate best when soil temperatures reach 75 to 85 degrees.

Ensure Your Tomato Seed/Seedlings Are Kept Moist & Sunny

Keep the soil moist, but never soggy, until the seeds have germinated and the seedlings are ready to transplant.  With the proper soil temperature, the seeds should start to germinate in about one week.  You can prevent drying out by creating humidity by occasionally placing the pots in a loose plastic bag.  After germination, if more than one seed has germinated, you can thin the seedlings by separating them so you have one per pot.

Keep the new seedlings in full sun by a bright window to ensure they get as many hours of sun as possible.  This will prevent them from getting thin and spindly.

Transplant Your Tomato Seedlings To Larger Pots / Containers & Move Them Outdoors

In about eight to ten weeks, the seedlings should be ready to transplant in larger containers and move outdoors just in time for the warm spring temperatures.

How Do You Know When Your Tomato Seedlings / Plants Are Ready To Be Transplanted To Bigger Pots & Move Outdoors?

In addition to the warm weather conditions mentioned below, you will know your seedlings are ready to be transplanted outdoors when they are at least 3 to 4 inches tall and have at least 4 to 6 leaves.

**TIP! While it may seem trivial, when you start your tomato seed garden indoors, consider the psychologically uplifting benefits of watching new life develop from a small seed.  The process of watching your tomato plants grow from a seed or seedling fosters a sense of accomplishment and creation, not to mention the knowledge that the warm, spring gardening days are just around the corner.

How Warm Should The Temperature Be Before You Can Move (Or Plant) Tomatoes Outside?

Tomatoes should only be grown outside once the risk of frost has passed and when nighttime temperatures are consistently above 50 degrees F (10° C).  When planting, the soil temperature should ideally be at least 59 degrees F (15° C). 

Grow Tomatoes In Pots Easily For The Tastiest, Freshest Tomatoes Ever - Tomato plant in container pot with mosaic watering globe
Once it is warm outside, your plant should start to really take off like this “Black Cherry” tomato plant starting to bear fruit in a pot with a mosaic watering globe…


Growing Tomato Seedlings / Plants In Pots Outside: What Size Container Should You Use For Tomato Seedlings? The Bigger, The Better

While your seedlings are relatively small now, expect your future full-grown tomato plant to take up a lot of space due to its extensive root system.  While you could plant your seedlings in individual pots that are 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter and depth, that size is best for smaller patio or bush tomato varieties.  For maximum fruit production, choose at least an 18 inch diameter pot for determinate tomatoes.  For larger, indeterminate varieties such as heirlooms, select a 20 to 24 inch diameter pot that is at least 24 inches deep.

**TIP! Be advised that tomatoes growing in smaller pots tend to require greater amounts of water and feeding, so again, opt for the slightly larger pot.

Drainage In Your Tomato Pots

Tomatoes need good drainage so make sure to drill a drainage hole in any pot that doesn’t already have one.  Well-drained soil is essential for healthy plants and to avoid fungal issues and blight.

What Type Of Soil Should You Use To Grow Tomatoes In Pots?

While potting soil is fine for establishing your seeds, when planting seedlings in pots, use a nutrient-dense multi-purpose compost or a premium potting mix enriched with compost.  Tomatoes need well-drained, fertile soil that has plenty of organic matter in the form of compost and, yes, animal manures.  Be sure the mix is not too compact so there is plenty of room for air and moisture to move freely throughout the soil.

Tomatoes are also highly susceptible to diseases and pests that reside in soil, and garden soil from planting beds often contains both disease and pests.  This is yet another advantage of growing tomatoes in pots as you can better reduce or prevent outbreaks and infestation by changing out the soil.

**TIP! Do not plant tomatoes in soil where eggplants, chilis or any other member of the nightshade family have been planted in the last two or three years.  Nightshade plants are susceptible to blight which can build up in the soil and get worse each year.

Plant Your Tomato Container Garden Step-By-Step Instructions

Once the risk of frost has passed, dig a hole deep enough in the soil to cover your tomato’s stem, thereby encouraging root growth.  Keep the soil at least one inch from the pot rim in case you want to add a layer of mulch for extra moisture. Water your newly planted seedling and voila!  You are now on your way to a future filled with tomatoes!  Now, to properly care for your new plant…

**TIP! Set your tomato plants fairly deeply when transplanting.  Any part of the stem that is covered with soil will tend to form roots, leading to more vigorous plants.

Position Your Tomatoes In Pots For The Best Growing Conditions

Maximize Your Tomato Container Garden’s Growing Season

Once your tomato plant is planted, it will need to be in the best location to maximize its growing potential.  Tomatoes need a growing season of at least three (3) months.  If you position your tomato container garden right, your plant should be able to bear fruit from summer to as late as early winter.

How Many Hours Of Sun Do Tomatoes In Pots Need? Provide Your Tomato Container Garden With Full Sun

As a general rule, tomato plants require full sun, so place your pots where they will receive between six (6) to eight (8) hours of sunlight a day.  If you live in an exceptionally hot climate with intense summer heat, you may want to ensure your plant gets some shade during the hottest mid-day hours.  If this is the case and your tomato plants are on a patio or deck, you could use a curtain or a shade cloth to keep your plants from over exposure during the hottest part of the day.

**TIP! Many large tomato varieties need at least six hours of sunlight to bear good yields.  If your sunlight is limited, growing cherry tomatoes may be the best option.

In Cool, Temperate Regions, Try This To Extend Summer

In cooler climates or more northern latitudes, you may want to maximize the amount of sun your container tomato plants receive.  You can do this by placing the containers where they receive Southern sun exposure for maximum heat absorption.  You can also try placing the tomato plant pots against a wall or fence where they will get more concentrated heat.  This radiant heat will help keep your plants warm longer and ensure they get an adequate three (3) month growing season.

Tomatoes Love Moisture: Place Your Tomato Container Garden Near A Water Source

Tomatoes love water, and receiving sufficient amounts of daily water is a big secret to a successful crop.  As much as they like moisture, tomatoes never want to be in soggy or saturated soil, which is why a pot with good drainage is so important.  Use the “touch test” to monitor the moisture content of the soil, and if the top inch of soil feels dry, it’s time for a good soaking.

As your tomato plant grows larger, it will need daily watering, especially in the summer heat.  If you know you are going away for summer vacation, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to water your plants and repay them with a bushel of the fruit of your (and their) labor.

To keep your patio, porch, deck or plant stand free from puddles and catch water as it drains from your plants, always use water saucer trays underneath all your pots.

Tomatoes Need Consistent Food As Well As Water

Tomatoes are heavy feeders and do best when fed regularly throughout the growing season.  When fruit sets, you can feed your plant once a week with a balanced fertilizer.

Protect Tomato Seedlings / Plants From Excessive Winds

Make sure your tomato plants get plenty of air circulation, but do keep them in an area where they are sheltered from strong winds.

Protect Tomato Seedlings / Plants From The Cold Inexpensively

If the nights remain cold, consider covering your tender seedlings with a cloche, either plastic or glass.  You can make your own protective cloche for your delicate seedling by cutting off the bottom of a plastic soda bottle, and placing the top part over the plants you wish to protect.

Grow Tomatoes In Pots With Proper Training & Support

Most tomatoes require some form of vertical support, whether it takes the form of a garden stake, cane, a trellis, or a cylinder of wire mesh.  Some plants can reach upward of ten (10) feet or more.  All tall varieties definitely will need a stake, cane or cage to grow up or a trellis to tie them to.  You could also tie vines to a fence to keep these high producers from spreading out.  The weight of the ripening fruit makes staking even more essential as the plants grow.  Be sure to tie the growing plant to its support using soft ties.

If you want to limit the bushiness of your tomato plants, some gardeners have been known to “pinch” out the side shoots.  While this does reduce the size and spread of your plant, studies have shown it also reduces the yield of fruit.

Harvest Your Tomato Container Garden

You can start to pick your tomatoes as soon as you see them begin to turn red (or orange if they are Sun Gold), then bring them inside to fully ripen indoors.  At the end of the growing season, as the weather turns cooler, tomatoes will likely fail to fully ripen outdoors.  The beauty of container gardening is that you can move the container to a protected area to shelter it from dropping fall temperatures.  Even if the fruit is still green with only a hint of orange, you should pick all the fruit and bring it indoors.  Once indoors, the fruit should ripen in two (2) to three (3) days.

**TIP! Add some nutrient-dense herbs to your container garden starting with the underestimated parsley, which will add both flavor and antioxidants to your dishes.

Grow Tomatoes In Pots Easily For The Tastiest, Freshest Tomatoes Ever_ Use your harvest to make a homemade Caprese dinner

Conclusion: Easily Grow Tomatoes In Pots For The Tastiest Tomatoes At Your Convenience

Now you know how to grow tomatoes in pots, with hardly any space, for the tastiest tomatoes on hand whenever you need them.  By following these tips, you can turn your deck, balcony, patio, or fire escape into your own kitchen garden, able to prepare any homemade sauce, salsa or salad without leaving your house.  And, hopefully, you will never have to eat a bland, tasteless, store-bought tomato again!  Bookmark this page for future reference because a garden without tomatoes simply isn’t a garden worth having.

Do you grow your tomatoes in pots?  What are your favorite kind to grow & how do you use them?  Share in the comments.