How to Grow Tomatoes in a Container


How to Grow Tomatoes in a Container Transcript

Hi, I’m Barb Pierson at White Flower Farm. Nothing says fresh and delicious like a ripe tomato from your home garden. At White Flower Farm, we have everything you’ll need to grow tomatoes, and over a hundred varieties to choose from. Today we will review the basics of tomato growing, and show you some of the supplies you’ll need to get started.

When you‘ve chosen the varieties you want to grow, there are a few things to keep in mind when you’re planting your tomato. The first most important thing is to make sure you plant your tomatoes in full sun. They need at least 6-8 hours of sun per day, whether they’re in your garden or on your patio. The next important thing you need is high quality potting mix. If you’re planting in your garden, you want to add compost to your soil and make sure that you have aeration; turn over your garden, make sure your soil is not too compacted. If you’re planting in a container, the important thing to keep in mind is that you purchase a high quality potting soil, such as the Fafard Complete Container Mix that we sell.

Place your potting soil in your fiber pot container. If you‘d like to add organic matter, such as compost, you’re going to use ⅔ potting soil to ⅓ compost in a ratio. We have the shrimp and seaweed compost here, that’s a wonderful compost to add to your potting mix if you want to water less frequently and use less fertilizer. We’re just going to use our potting mix here, and we’re going to make sure there’s no lumps in it, make sure you’ve got air pockets, you don’t want to compact your soil too much because the roots of the plant cannot breathe. We have our little tomato seedling, this is Principe Borghese. We’re going to take it out of the pot and remember that you really don’t want to break up the root ball on a tomato. Be careful when you’re taking it out of your plastic pot. Squeeze gently, turn it upside down, pull slowly, and you can see we have a nice root system on this plant.

One thing about tomatoes to keep in mind is that you can plant them deep. They will form roots along the stem, so if you remove your leaves, roots will come out of the places where you’ve removed the leaves. Four to five inches of plant can be above the soil line. So we’re going to take this plant, we’re going to put it in the container mix, and tamp it in, but not too tightly. You want it to stay upright, but you want to make sure you still have air pockets in your soil. When you plant your tomato, it’s the time to put your stake in as well. You don’t want to wait until the plant is large to try to put a stake in and tie it. So what you do is plant your tomato in your container, or in the garden, and take your support, I’m going to use a tomato spiral, because that’s one of my favorite supports, put it in close to the plant, but remember, you don’t want to damage the roots of the young seedling. So you want to do maybe 4-5” away from the plant and go all of the way to the bottom of your container, because this will help keep your plant upright and the plants get big very quickly.

After you‘ve planted your tomato and put your stake in, it’s time to water. You want to water your plant in well, whether it’s in the garden or in a container, water it after planting, and then as the season goes along, you really want to be sure to check your tomato for water. If your tomato’s in a container, you need to check it more often.

We grow tomatoes in full sun, so on a hot, sunny patio, they’ll dry out quickly. Feel free to touch the soil with your hands to see whether it’s dry. Take your finger, stick it down about an inch because there will be a dry crust on the surface of the soil and it will look like it needs water, but if you don’t actually feel it, you might not be sure if it needs water or not. So feel free to stick your hand in and check for water. In the summertime, you’re going to want to water as the plant is growing up, but once it sets fruit and there’s fruit on the plant, do not overwater your tomato; your fruit will crack and the flavor will be diluted from having too much water.

In our next segment, we’ll talk about tying, pruning, and picking your fruit.

For more information on growing tomatoes and all of the great tomato varieties we have at White Flower Farm, go to our website at and visit the Gardening Help section.