How to Grow Tomatoes in Pots
I grow tomatoes in pots indoors and finally transplanted them for the first time. The plants have already developed plenty of little green tomatoes. Now, I'm just waiting for the sunshine!
I just love watching my little tomato plants grow here on the window sill in Oak Hill Cottage. The wind is blowing outside and spring is still dragging its feet. That doesn't really matter when you grow tomatoes in pots indoors though. They keep producing new, green little fruits all the time. I'm so excited to have them around.
The tomatoes I'm growing here are dwarf varieties, which works very well for pots of course. You can read more about growing them in the link below.
The plants are so large now that I think it's time to transplant them to bigger pots. This is also a great time to reply to my reader Gittan's question about growing tomatoes:
I planted tomato and cucumber seeds and moved them to larger pots. This is my first time sowing seeds and I'm having so much fun. But I can't figure out what the next step is. I watered them and now I keep the pots on the kitchen table.
I can absolutely relate to the feeling of joy when you finally see something growing in the pots. That's the feeling I'm longing for when I just stand and expectantly watch over my new little sowings.
After you move your tomatoes to new pots, then it's finally time to start spoiling the little plants. If you start early, the tomatoes need extra light if you grow them indoors. I live in zone 3 (where we don't get much light in early spring), so we need to provide our plants with artificial light until the sun becomes stronger. This is a common problem for anyone who wants to grow indoors early in the season though. The best option is just getting a grow light. There are plenty of different varieties out there, especially online.
Water and fertilizer
On top of light, the plants are going to need water and of course a little bit of fertilizer every week.
You might need to use support sticks for taller plants. Just tie the stalk to the stick with a little twine.
The tomatoes should actually stay indoors for quite some time. This is a safety precaution that I try to follow, since the plants can freeze and die quite easily if you take them outside too soon. That's why you want to keep the plants inside until you know for sure that the nighttime temperature stays above 37-39 degrees (around 3-4 degrees Celsius.) After that, you can move the pots to your greenhouse or put them outdoors in a sheltered spot. Just remember that you need to keep watering and fertilizing regularly.
What about the pots?
I plan on keeping these tomatoes in pots all season long. A lot of people ask me if they should keep the pots they started using after transplanting. But no, these pots are going to be way too small. It's not entirely easy to figure out how large the pots should be for these dwarf varieties. A regular tomato plants usually needs a 2.5-gallon pot (around 10 liters), but these small varieties don't have the same requirements.
I decided to go for clay pots that fit ca 0.6 gallons (3 liters) of soil.
The soil I'm using is a coarse type which is made especially for growing in pots outside. So, it's not as fine as regular planting soil and contains plenty of larger chunks. This is a good thing. The large chunks will absorb water and function as little reservoirs in the soil, which is especially beneficial for plants grown in pots.
I keep my tomatoes indoors in Oak Hill Cottage, right now without a grow light since I don't have any good outlets nearby. The green little tomatoes on the stalk will ripen a lot slower without light, but I think they can catch up when I put them outside.
These plants will be planted in the beds outside in the end of May. I just can't wait to start harvesting these beautiful little tomatoes in summer!
You rarely need to pollinate your plants in order to get tomatoes. Not even when you grow them inside. The tomato is actually a self-pollinating vegetable and it can take care of the process on its own. You can help the plants out by shaking them though.
I actually haven't done anything at all to help my tomatoes grow. They do the job so well on their own!
Tomatoes in pots - Tips
If you have tomato plants that you plan on taking outside later, these tips will help you get the best results possible while growing indoors:
- use a grow light
- put them in a relatively cool spot
- use diluted fertilizer once a week or so
- put the tomato plant deep into the soil while transplanting
Trying to avoid getting leggy plants can be a challenge. I hope it makes you feel a little bit better to hear that most of us struggle with this issue, since we often can't provide the plants with the amount of space they need before putting them outside. But it usually works out anyway!