Tomatoes are one of those vegetable plants that tend to thrive just as much in containers as they do in the garden. But how much they thrive in a container depends largely on the care they receive and the type of pot they are situated in.
At the start of the gardening season, that tomato plant starter you have may look small, but it will be a behemoth in no time with an extensive root system. So – when selecting a container, go big! Pots that are at least 18-inch in diameter and 16 inches high (roughly 15 gallons in capacity), such as the Gardener’s Victory Self-Watering Planter, are ideal for accommodating bushier determinate tomato varieties. And a container of this size is easy to move around your deck or balcony with add-on casters, which are a great feature of this planter. Resist the temptation to put more than one plant in a pot; otherwise, your tomatoes will be crowded and under-perform.
Tomatoes in containers are more demanding than those in the garden, especially when it comes to their watering requirements. Container tomatoes in regular pots often require a good soaking (where the water runs freely through the bottom) every day in the morning hours. You may also need to quench their thirst in the afternoon as well if the soil starts to feel dry. This will require some due diligence on your part to monitor and continually maintain your plant’s hydration level. If you prefer not to plant sit your tomatoes as much, you could invest in a self-watering container, such as the Gardener’s Victory Self-Watering Planter. Keep in mind that a self-watering planter does not absolve you from watering, it simply extends the time between watering. If you fail to keep the reservoir in a self-watering planter full, then your plant will wilt and possibly perish.
Be supportive of your tomatoes. And I do mean this literally (as in a tomato cage) versus a pep talk (although that certainly doesn’t hurt). Cage your container tomatoes early in the season or else you will have difficulty coaxing the cage over your tomato later on without your plant being rough-housed and broken as the cage is shimmied on. I prefer the unique support system on the Gardener’s Victory Self-Watering Planter. It features integrated steel pole supports with easily adjustable wire rings which slide into clips on the poles. This affords you much more flexibility over traditional tomato cages where you resituate wayward branches in and around the immovable rings of the cage, snapping stems in the process. Now you can move the rings to accommodate the plant.
Use a good quality soilless mix, along with a slow-release fertilizer, in your tomato container. Soilless mixes allow for better drainage in a container versus garden soil, and fertilizer keeps the tomatoes well fed with the nutrients they need for optimum plant growth and fruit development. With the Gardener’s Victory Self-Watering Planter, you are supplied with both an organic tomato fertilizer and a specially formulated organic lightweight potting mix that wicks moisture to roots so that the plants stay better hydrated and healthy.
And don’t forget the sun – we can’t forget that big yellow orb in the sky. Six to eight hours of full sun is highly recommended for your container tomato. If your tomatoes have already soaked up the requisite hours of sun for the day, feel free to move them into some afternoon shade – this will also help cut down on watering.
If you follow the above tips, you are well on your way to achieving victory with a tomato container planting!