How to Grow Potted Tomato Plants
If your garden area is limited, consider growing potted tomato plants. This is a perfect option if you live in an apartment or don't have time for a full sized garden. Luckily, most varieties of tomatoes are suited for container growing. With a few tips on growing potted tomato plants, you'll have ripe, red tomatoes on your kitchen table, during the summer.
1. Transplant your tomato plants into larger pots, after your garden center purchase. The roots need room to expand. The plant will grow larger and the tomatoes will be more abundant. Choose a plastic or fiberglass pot, rather than clay or wood, which will cause the soil to dry out faster. Tomato plants love heat and these pots will accommodate that need. Pick a container that's 12 inches to 16 inches deep, with drainage holes.
2. Fill the bottom of your pot with drainage material, such as stones, broken pottery or marbles. This will help the water to drain through the soil and not leave a puddle at the root ends. If the water is not allowed to drain out of the pot, the roots will rot.
3. Fill the container with commercial potting soil, which is disease, pest and weed seed free. Leave enough room in the center to accommodate the tomato plant's current soil. The tomato plant should sit down so that you can also pour soil on top of the rooted soil, over the stem and up to the lowest leaf set. The lower part of the stem will then grow new roots. This is different than most repotted plants, where you should not cover this lower stem area.
4. Remove the tomato plant from its current pot. Hold the plant by the stem, close to the top of the soil and turn the pot upside-down. If it does not come out readily, tap the sides of the pot.
5. Place the soil and roots into the new pot. Pour potting soil around the sides and over the bottom of the stem, as discussed in step 3, patting gently on top, until the plant is secure.
6. Water the pot thoroughly and set it in a sunny location, outdoors.
7. Check for moistness regularly by sticking your finger into the soil at a depth of about 2 inches. If the it feels dry, it's time to water your tomato plant.
8. Fertilize your plant about once a month, as tomatoes are heavy feeders. Use a 5-10-10 fertilizer (½ part nitrogen to 1 part phosphorus to 1 part potassium). Eventually your plant will grow tall and heavy enough with tomatoes to need support . Use a tomato cage or stake to hold the stalk of the plant upright.