How to Grow Tomatoes in Pots: Follow These 10 Simple Steps

Written by Angie Menjivar
Updated: May 16, 2023
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They’re juicy, they’re delicious, and every time you visit the supermarket, you cringe at their prices. You look out onto your patio and there’s no place for them to grow. What now? There’s a solution. You can soon be boasting about your very own homegrown tomatoes and before you know it, others will come to you for tips (and maybe a sample). Learn how to grow tomatoes in pots! Just follow these 10 simple steps below.

10 Simple Steps to Grow Tomatoes in Pots

1. Make it a Small Tomato Plant

These are known as bush varieties. Some call them patio varieties as well and they’re the best choice for placing in pots. Even though they appear small at first, they come with lots of potential and can still produce lots of tomatoes. These can reach anywhere between one to three feet tall and once they’ve reached their maximum height, they start to produce.

2. Plan Your Pot — These Plants Are Growers!

Yes, it’s a “small” tomato plant but you’re going to need a sizable pot. The root systems of these plants are big and wide. Choose a pot with this in mind. The larger you go, the more you’re giving your tomato plant a chance to truly blossom. This doesn’t have to be a big expense, either. Even a five-gallon bucket would work (just make sure you drill some holes in the bottom — read the next step).

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3. Proper Drainage is a Must

Tomatoes are resilient and that five-gallon bucket could go a long way. They do well in almost any material, including metal and clay. However, without those drainage holes at the bottom, there’s no chance of success. Any excess water needs somewhere to go.

Dwarf tomato plant in a pot with ripe and unripe tomatoes, variety Red Robin

Tomato plants can grow one to three feet tall.


4. Mix it Up… With a Little Potting Mix

Although you might be thinking of using regular soil or taking a scoop from your neighbor’s flowering garden, that’s not a good idea. You do need to do a little spending here and pick up some potting mix. The problem with regular soil in a pot with tomato plants is that it doesn’t allow for quick enough draining. A potting mix is lighter, which is perfect for letting the water drain and keeping your tomato plant happy.

5. Fuel Your Tomato Plant With Plenty of Nutrients

If you tend to get impatient and want to see the fruit of your labor sooner than later, you’re going to have to provide your tomato plant with plenty of nutrients. This isn’t a complex process, so don’t get dissuaded if you’re a beginner at this. Just pick up a slow-release fertilizer (but check the labels since you want to make sure it’s formulated specifically for tomatoes and veggies). Since you’re working with potting mix and excess water is moving quickly, taking some nutrients along with it, the slow-release fertilizer helps restore what’s lost. Wait at least four weeks after you’ve planted your tomato plant to add this into the top two inches of the potting mix.

6. Set Your Newly Planted Tomato Plant in the Sun

When growing tomatoes in pots, pick a spot where there’s sunlight for at least eight hours every day. Your tomato plant is bound to flourish with all the right components and sunlight is one of them. If you’re not sure where that is, think of the south or west sides of your home and take your tomato plant over there. Keep an eye on it and make adjustments as necessary to ensure your tomato plant is getting sun as if it were on vacation on the beach.

7. Water, Water, Water!

You know how you feel when you’re parched and you down a glass of water. Tomato plants have that same thirst, and you need to quench it. Especially as they grow, they’re like insatiable teenagers, needing their nutrients and proper hydration to keep thriving. Make watering your plant a part of your morning routine — this is the best time for these plants to receive water.

Hand picked homegrown organic cherry tomatoes, tomatoes in pots, grow bag, grow your own vegetables in a pot at home, greenhouse

Tomato plants need eight hours of sunlight daily to thrive.


8. Mind the Leaves

When you water, focus on the soil. While some plants love a bit of misting, for tomato plants, you want to keep the leaves dry. Tomato leaf diseases are real, and they develop when the leaves are littered with soil and water. Protect your plant by keeping the leaves dry!

9. Don’t Cramp their Vibe

Your tomatoes need space. Let the air circulate around them (that helps with keeping the leaves dry). They should have space to be without coming into contact with furniture, walls, or other plants.

10. Take a Stake to ‘Em!

No, not like they’re vampires. As they grow, they need a bit of support to stay erect. A stake or trellis can help provide them with that support, so they don’t start to bend or break.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © nicepix/

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About the Author

Angie Menjivar is a writer at A-Z-Animals primarily covering pets, wildlife, and the human spirit. She has 14 years of experience, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and continues her studies into human behavior, working as a copywriter in the mental health space. She resides in North Carolina, where she's fallen in love with thunderstorms and uses them as an excuse to get extra cuddles from her three cats.

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