Gardening Growing Tomatoes

14 Tips for Growing Cherry Tomatoes in Pots: Bush or Vine

Growing cherry tomato in pots is the best solution for home gardeners if you have space limitations. Besides, you can grow both bush and vine type cherry tomatoes in pots indoors and outdoors.

However, growing tomatoes in pots is a little bit different from conventional gardening. So, you should get the following tips to start growing your cherry tomatoes in containers as a beginner.

Growing Cherry Tomatoes in Pots

1: Right Size of Containers for Right Tomatoes

Tomato plants develop a strong root system to grow and produce fruits. So, container size plays a big role to bring you the expected harvest. Bigger containers perform better than smaller ones. However, it also depends on the space and the tomato variety you choose for your garden.

Usually, you can use a minimum of 1 to 10-gallon or bigger container for growing cherry tomatoes.

There are different sizes and shapes of pots available in the gardening stores. You may pick the following sizes of pots based on the height of your particular cherry tomatoes.

Average Plants HeightDimension of Pot
Diameter × Height
Minimum Pot Size
6-15″ tall tomato plants7-8″ × 6-7″1- Gallon Pot
12-24″ tall tomato plants8-9″ × 7-8″2- Gallon Pot or bigger
18-36″ tall tomato plants10-11″ × 8-9″3-Gallon Pot or bigger
36-48″ tall tomato plants12-14″ × 10-11″5-Gallon Pot or bigger
48-60″ tall tomato plants14-15″ × 10-12″7-Gallon Pot or bigger
60-72″ tall tomato plants15-18″ × 12-15″10-Gallon Pot or bigger
72-84″ tall or higher tomatoes19-21″ × 14-16″15-Gallon Pot or bigger

The above table shows an average container size based on the tomato plants height. But in the practical field, the real container size may be a little bit smaller or bigger depends on the manufacturers.  

Besides, confirm the expected plants’ height of your cherry tomatoes before planting them in pots. Your tomato seed packets or plant tags will give you this basic information.

Learn More: What Size Pot for Tomatoes & How Much Potting Soil Do I Need

2: Tomato Varieties

Tomato varieties are very important when you thinking of growing them in pots. Determinate or bush type cherry tomatoes need small spaces and best suits for small to medium size containers.

On the other side, indeterminate or vine type cherry tomatoes best suits for the garden, but you can also grow them in large containers with caging them.

Right tomato varieties in the right pot will give you the best result. So, pick the following tomato varieties for the right containers.

Dwarf Cherry Tomatoes: 

Dwarf tomatoes grow 6-18” tall. Besides they ripen earlier than other tomato varieties. There are some popular tomatoes are Terenzo F1, Tumbler, Micro-Tom, Tidy Treats, Heartbreaker, Elfin, Red Robin, Tiny Tim, Totem, Yellow Pygmy, Dwarf Recessive, Whippersnapper, Hahms Gelbe Topftomate, Ditmarsher, Lime Green Salad.

Determinate Cherry Tomatoes:

The average height of determinate cherry tomatoes is 2-4 feet. Tidy Treats, Baxter’s Early Bush Cherry, Lyana, Patio F, Gold Nugget are some common determinate varieties.

Indeterminate Cherry Tomatoes:

Indeterminate tomatoes grow 5-7 feet tall or more. Sungold, Bing Cherry, Bartelly F1, Peacevine Cherry, Black Cherry, Bumblebee, Gardener’s Delight are some popular tomatoes.

3: Purpose of Uses

Usually, 1 or 2 indeterminate cherry tomato plants are enough for each person of your family. It can fulfill the demand for salad and fresh eating tomatoes throughout the season. If you intend to preserve your tomatoes besides salad you need to plant 3 to 5 tomato plants for each person.

As well, you can also find a few determinate cherry tomato varieties which produce a bunch of fruits all at once and finish harvest. However, determinate tomatoes produce fewer fruits than indeterminate tomatoes.

4: Place

Your growing area is another important factor to grow potting tomatoes. If you don’t have enough space, then you should grow bush type cherry tomatoes in pots.

On the other hand, if you have enough growing space then you can grow both determinate and indeterminate tomato varieties.

In both cases, you need to ensure at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight and proper air circulation for healthy tomato plants.

5: Prepare Your Pots

After selecting the right pot you should create some hole one or two inches above from the lower part of a container. This can preserve some water at the bottom of the pot and your plants can drink it further. Besides, this will ensure proper drainage of your tomato pots.

6: Prepare the Potting Soil

Never use garden soil for growing container tomatoes. This is not suitable for the container. So, you should use good quality potting mix for your container cherry tomatoes.

There are different commercial potting mixes available in the gardening store. Usually, the commercial potting mix contains a perfect combination of peat moss, coco coir, perlite, vermiculite, sand, limestone, compost, and fertilizers.

If you intend to purchase your potting mix from the gardening store, make sure the above additives are present in that potting mix. In that case, you need to buy some renowned branded potting mix that is comparatively a little bit expensive. 

On the other side, if you want to cut your expenses then make your potting mix at home. For the homemade potting mix, you can use composted wood chips, homemade compost, leaf mold, grain hulls, rotted sawdust, garden loam, and sterilized sand.

By mixing up the above ingredients you can make your homemade potting mix. However, it takes enough time, space, ingredients, and patience to make your homemade potting mix.

Learn More: How to make a homemade organic potting mix for tomatoes

7: Fertilize Your Potting Soil

Potting tomato plants need more frequent feeding than garden tomatoes. Potting soil has a good drainage system and so the nutrients inside the potting mix can’t last long. Frequent watering can reduce the nutrients from the soil.

In that case, you need to add fertilizer little and often to balance the soil nutrients. You should make a schedule for fertilizing your tomatoes. Don’t add too much fertilizer at a time rather make it regularly with a little.

Adding excessive fertilizer produces more foliage than fruits. On the flip side, adding less fertilizer turn your plant leaves to yellow.

8: Chemical Vs Organic Fertilizer

Using chemical fertilizer for potting mix works quickly but it doesn’t last long. Besides, it feeds the plant directly and doesn’t develop the soil condition. Therefore, it has no long term benefits rather harm your plants.  

So, I recommend you use some slow-release organic fertilizer for your potting cherry tomatoes. This includes compost, manure, fish meal, bone meal, kelp, crab waste, worm castings, and other organic fertilizer works better for your potting tomatoes.

Besides, there are a number of branded organic fertilizers available in the gardening store or online stores.

9: Apply Liquid Fertilizer

Tomato plants are heavy feeders. They need a different volume of nutrients in different stages of plant growth. Moreover, potting tomato plants can’t reach the ground and spread their roots to search nutrients as they required. So, they need regular nutrients supply to develop their growth and producing fruits.

In that case, liquid tomato fertilizer works better than other conventional fertilizers for potting tomatoes. This does both fertilize plus water the tomatoes at the same time. The potting soil soaks the liquid fertilizer quickly and the plant roots can easily absorb the nutrients they need. 

  • Start fertilizing your potted cherry tomatoes after 14 days from the planting date.
  • After that apply fertilizer every one or two weeks later based on tomato variety, plant height, container size, weather condition, and the quality of the potting mix.
  • Apply NPK 20-20-20 water-soluble fertilizer to your cherry tomatoes until they set flowering.
  • Add half of a teaspoon of fertilizer with a gallon of water and apply the solution straight onto the potting soil.
  • Then again apply 15-30-15 water-soluble fertilizer once your tomato plants start flowering. Mix ½ teaspoon of fertilizer per 1-gallon of water and continue to apply this solution every week up to the end of the season.

There are different types of liquid fertilizers available in the gardening store like fish emulsion, compost tea, Epsom salt, and others. You can also make them at home and save your money.

Apply these liquid tomato fertilizers regularly based on your plants’ growth and container size.

Learn More: How to make liquid tomato fertilizer at home.

10: Watering

Potting soil doesn’t hold water for a long time. So, watering them regularly is very important to ensure a healthy harvest. Morning is the best time to water tomatoes. As well as water directly onto to potting mix and avoid watering on the leaves.

More importantly, watering your potted cherry tomatoes when the top 2-3 inches of your potting soil becomes dry. However, you may need to water your potting tomatoes in different parts of the day except evening during hot days.

There are several factors to consider how many times you should water your potting tomatoes. Such as:

  • Weather condition: Potting tomatoes need more water in hot and dry weather conditions.
  • Plants growth: Larger tomato plants need more water than smaller tomato plants.
  • Tomato variety: Dwarf tomato varieties need less water than other varieties.
  • Containers size: Smaller container holds less water and needs to water more often.

Besides you can also apply some liquid fertilizer when watering your tomato plants.

11: Add Staking or Caging

Staking or caging helps your plants upright off the ground. This ensures proper air circulation and saves your plants from some soil-borne diseases. So, you should stake or cage your tomato plants while they are small.

For potting cherry tomatoes, what type of plant support needed depends on the plants’ height and the volume of fruits they hold on plants.

Usually, dwarf cherry tomatoes grow 6-15” tall and they don’t need any plant support.

Determinate tomatoes that can grow 2-4 feet tall. The plant stems are sturdy enough but simple staking helps them to keep straight when producing fruits.

Indeterminate or vine type cherry tomatoes can grow 5-7 feet tall or more. They must need 3-5 feet high caging from the surface of the pot to stand the plants.

12: Pruning

Determinate cherry tomatoes are bushy types and produce limited fruits for a certain period then die. So, pruning them may reduce the production of your fruits. But mild pruning like lower yellowing leaves, dry leaves, or disease leaves can be picked out.

Indeterminate cherry tomatoes need regular pruning the suckers and over density of leaves. But never prune the dwarf tomatoes.

Learn More: How to prune tomato plants.

13: Mulching

Apply 2-3 inches’ layer of mulch for your potting tomatoes with leaf mold, bark, straw or grass clipping to retain the soil moisture longer.

14: Harvesting

Once the cherry tomatoes turn bright red and slight firm, they are ready to harvest. Hold the tomatoes firmly and slightly turn off the vine. If the fruits easily turn off the vine that’s perfect. But if the fruits don’t turn off after mildly twisting let them ripe on the vine few more days.

There may still have some green cherry tomatoes on the vine during the season end for the frost. In that case, cut the whole branch of fruits attached to the vine. Then keep the whole branch of fruits at room temperature to ripen them indoors.

You can also pull up the whole tomato plants including roots and hang them upside down to ripen them indoors.

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John Michael
John Michael is a self-help writer and a hobby gardener. He has a bachelor's degree in Library Science. Michael’s passion in writing is to inspire the beginner gardeners to not just “hang in there” or “make it through” but to thrive. He does this through blogging at ofags.com. He began writing in 2017.

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