Growing cherry tomatoes in pots is the best solution for home gardeners if they have space limitations. Besides, you can grow bush and vine-type cherry tomatoes in pots indoors and outdoors.
However, growing tomatoes in pots are slightly different from conventional gardening. So, it would be best if you got the following tips to start growing your cherry tomatoes in containers as a beginner.
1: Right Size of Containers for the Right Tomatoes
Tomato plants develop a robust root system to grow and produce fruits. So, container size plays a significant 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 gardening stores. For example, you may pick the following sizes of pots based on the height of your particular cherry tomatoes.
|Average Plants Height||Dimension of Pot|
Diameter × Height
|Minimum Pot Size|
|6-15″ tall tomato plants||7-8″ × 6-7″||1- Gallon Pot|
|12-24″ tall tomato plants||8-9″ × 7-8″||2- Gallon Pot or bigger|
|18-36″ tall tomato plants||10-11″ × 8-9″||3-Gallon Pot or bigger|
|36-48″ tall tomato plants||12-14″ × 10-11″||5-Gallon Pot or bigger|
|48-60″ tall tomato plants||14-15″ × 10-12″||7-Gallon Pot or bigger|
|60-72″ tall tomato plants||15-18″ × 12-15″||10-Gallon Pot or bigger|
|72-84″ tall or higher tomatoes||19-21″ × 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 actual container size may be smaller or bigger depending 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 essential information.
Learn More: What Size Pot for Tomatoes & How Much Potting Soil Do I Need
2: Tomato Varieties
Tomato varieties are essential when you are thinking of growing them in pots. Determinate or bush-type cherry tomatoes need small spaces and are best suited for small to medium size containers.
On the other side, indeterminate or vine-type cherry tomatoes are best suited for the garden, but you can also grow them in large containers by caging them.
The suitable tomato varieties in the right pot will give you the best result. So, pick the following tomato varieties for suitable containers.
Dwarf Cherry Tomatoes:
Dwarf tomatoes grow 6-18” tall. Besides, they ripen earlier than other tomato varieties. 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, and Gold Nugget are common determinate varieties.
Indeterminate Cherry Tomatoes:
Indeterminate tomatoes grow 5-7 feet tall or more. Some popular tomatoes include Sungold, Bing Cherry, Bartelly F1, Peacevine Cherry, Black Cherry, Bumblebee, and Gardener’s Delight.
3: Purpose of Uses
Usually, 1 or 2 indeterminate cherry tomato plants are enough for each family member. It can fulfill the demand for salad and fresh eating tomatoes throughout the season. However, if preserving your tomatoes besides salad, you need to plant 3 to 5 tomato plants for each person.
You can also find a few determinate cherry tomato varieties which produce a bunch of fruits all at once and finish the harvest. However, determinate tomatoes have fewer fruits than indeterminate tomatoes.
Your growing area is another critical factor in growing potting tomatoes. If you don’t have enough space, 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 must 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 a hole one or two inches above the lower part of the 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 of 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, so the nutrients inside the potting mix can’t last long. Regular watering can reduce the nutrients in the ground.
In that case, you need to add fertilizer a 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 turns your plant leaves 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 but rather harms 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 that works better for your potting tomatoes.
Besides, there are a number of branded organic fertilizers available in gardening stores 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 for the nutrients they require. So, they need a regular nutrient supply to develop their growth and produce fruits.
In that case, liquid tomato fertilizer works better than other conventional fertilizers for potting tomatoes. This both fertilize plus waters 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 conditions, 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 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.
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, water 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 in how many times you should water your potting tomatoes. Such as:
- Weather conditions: 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.
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 is 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.
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 of the suckers and over the density of leaves. But never prune the dwarf tomatoes.
Learn More: How to prune tomato plants.
Apply a 2-3 inches layer of mulch for your potting tomatoes with leaf mold, bark, straw, or grass clipping to retain the soil moisture longer.
Once the cherry tomatoes turn bright red and slightly 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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