Tomatoes are one of the most rewarding things to grow, because they taste so delicious when freshly picked, you'll never want to eat a supermarket tomato here is our guide to growing tomatoes in containers.

What are the advantages of growing tomatoes in containers?

Using patio planters makes growing your own tomatoes easier than ever. There is almost no weeding to be done when using tomato planters and using them does not require heavy gardening tools at all, just light, water, and fertiliser.

Planters are easy to move around; If they are not getting enough sunlight or the weather is getting too cold, you can always bring them indoors or outdoors according to the weather. Using a planter enables you to make sure you can always move your tomatoes to a sunny position.

Tomato plants are often one of the first plants you try as a child.  But despite a lifetime of growing them its easy to make some of these tomato growing mistakes. Not to worry, there are a few simple changes you can make to ensure you get a big crop from your tomato plants. 

What are common mistakes people make when planting tomatoes? 

1) Planting Tomato seeds too early

Tomato plants like it warm and they grow large.  So if you plant tomato seeds in January your tomato plants will be huge by the time the last frost has passed and they are ready to plant out in May. 

2) Not planting tomato seedlings deep enough

Do not start your tomatoes in the container you intend to grow them in.  Start in a seed tray or small pots and then transplant them when big enough.  Plant a little deeper in the container than it was in the pot for added stability - find out more here.

3) Not supporting tomato plants well enough 

Tomato plants are heavy so larger branches can break, especially when laden with heavy tomatoes.  This not only plonks your crop on the floor in reach of slugs but can allow disease like mould to take hold.

4) Planting tomatoes in the same place every year

Tomato diseases like blight can live in the soil so moving your tomato plants around is essential.  This is not such an issue in planters but ensure that any pot or planter is thoroughly washed and fresh compost is used.

5) Inconsistent watering

Watering your tomato plants regularly is the key to tomato success. Too little water could cause blossom end rot, when not enough calcium gets to the fruit and the tomatoes turn black on the bottoms. Inconsistent watering can also cause split tomatoes, and stressed plants.

For further details on each of these tomato growing mistakes check out the blog here

What type of planter should I grow my tomatoes in?

This depends on the size and variety of the tomatoes you would like to use. You can choose between the Climbing Tomato Patio Planter, which has a three sided

metal climbing frame, or the Bush and Trailing Tomato Patio Planter, designed for tomatoes that are happy growing without a climbing frame.

It is also possible to use Vegetable Patio Planters deep enough for climbers. If you're using a planter without a frame to grow climbing tomatoes, you'll need to provide support, and 2 or three ordinary garden canes should be adequate.

Use some of our Soft-tie to gently tie the plants to the canes as they grow (it's a good idea to leave space for the stems to grow when you tie around them).

How should I plant tomatoes in a planter?

If you plan to grow from seed we recommend Rootrainers for the best start, or you can buy some small plants from your local garden centre who will be able to help you choose the right sort of tomato. 

Step 1: Two tomato plants should be sufficient to fill a Tomato Planter. The planters have drainage holes in the bottom, but we recommend adding a thin layer of gravel/stones at the bottom to assist with drainage.

Step 2: Fill with a good-quality multi-purpose compost to about 4cm from the top of the planter. Water the plants and allow to drain before planting them.

Step 3: Water after planting but be careful not to soak the compost.

Step 4: Do not place tomatoes outside until after the last frosts.

Growing tomatoes in planters and aftercare

As the plant grows, side-shoots must be removed. Side-shoots grow from the joint between the main stem and the leaf branches This should be done with sterilised secateurs to ensure if any disease is present, it isn’t spread to another plant. If side-shoots aren’t removed then you'll end up with lots of foliage, and not much fruit!

Lower leaves should be removed if they start yellowing, to reduce the chance of infection. Frequent watering is vital but don’t over-water either. Under-watering can also lead to splitting tomatoes.

Aphids can be a problem when growing tomatoes either just rub off with your fingers, or spray them off with water.

And the final step in our Guide to Growing tomatoes is to feed.  You will have a better crop if you feed your planter regularly from mid-summer onwards. Feed with a good liquid feed. you will find many are available in your garden centre.

As soon as the fruit is ripe, pick and eat! If you need a few tips on how to ripen your tomatoes read our 5 Ways to Ripen Green Tomatoes blog. (If you are growing tomatoes in the UK then click through and bookmark this tomato growing blog - you are sure to need it!)



Nicola Wallis