The Best Tomatoes to Grow In Pots – The ultimate guide for container gardeners

There is nothing better than a fresh tomato, right off the vine. Many people want to grow their own tomatoes, but don’t have the space for a garden. 

Container gardening is a great solution for people who want to want to be able to enjoy homegrown tomatoes but are short on space…and believe it or not, growing tomatoes in pots is not that hard.

There are many different types of tomatoes that can be grown in containers, but some are better suited than others. In general, smaller varieties of tomatoes do better in containers, but there are also a few large-fruited varieties that can be successfully grown this way. So let’s take a look at the best tomatoes to grow in pots.

Cherry tomatoes on a patio as an example of one of the best tomatoes to grow in pots

Why should I use containers?

Containers are a great option for renters, apartment dwellers, and those who simply don’t have the space to garden in the ground.

Growing your home garden in pots means fewer weeds and also the ability to control your soil, which is important if you suspect your soil to be contaminated – a problem that is more common in urban areas.

Containers are also very useful for growing plants vertically up stakes or teepees, to reduce the amount of space needed for their roots.

Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables to grow in pots and can be successfully grown in most types of containers. They are heavy feeders and will need lots of nutrients to produce a healthy crop. By growing your tomatoes in pots, you ensure that all of the nutrients you add go directly to the roots of the plant, giving you a healthy and plentiful harvest.

Choosing the Perfect Tomato to Grow in Containers

When it comes to selecting the best tomato variety for your patio garden, you need to keep a few things in mind. First, keep in mind how you plan to use your tomatoes. If you are looking for tomatoes to top your salads, a small-fruited, cherry-type tomato is probably your best bet. If you plan on making lots of tomato sauce or salsa, then a slightly larger-fruited Roma variety may be the perfect choice for you.

Second, smaller varieties are easier to grow in containers. Smaller-fruited varieties like cherry and Roma tomatoes do very well in a container environment. With their smaller root systems, they require less room for growth and are much more forgiving when it comes to the effects of over-watering or under-watering.

If you want to grow larger fruited tomatoes like beefsteak, they will need plenty of space for their roots, so be sure to use a large pot that is at least 16 inches across, but be aware that indeterminate (vining or climbing) varieties typically won’t do as well in containers.

Determinate Vs Indeterminate Tomato – What’s The Difference?

If you’ve been looking into growing tomatoes, you have probably heard the words determinate and indeterminate floating around.

Determinate tomatoes have been bred to grow into a short, bushy tree that is also known as a compact indeterminate. These plants will stop growing once they reach a certain height and produce all of their fruit at one time, rather than continuing to flower and bear fruit throughout the season.

Indeterminate varieties are taller, vining plants. They will continue to grow and produce fruit until they are killed by frost. Indeterminate tomatoes don’t typically do as well in containers but if you decide to go with this variety, be sure to use a large pot and you will need some type of support, like a teepee or stakes, to keep the branches off the ground where they can be injured or broken by traffic or pets.

Things to Consider When Growing Tomatoes in Pots

Container Selection

Choosing the right container can make or break your tomato harvest, and with so many choices out there, it can get confusing.

While most tomatoes can be grown in almost any type of container, it is important to consider the size and shape of your pot.

Tall, narrow pots will provide adequate drainage but not enough room for the roots to expand. When choosing a container for your tomato plants, look for one that has at least 10-12 inches of depth to it.

You also want to avoid using containers that have very large drainage holes in the bottom because this can be disastrous for your plants. Tomatoes are heavy feeders and you need all of the nutrients to make it through the growing season. If water is constantly draining out of your pots, you’ll never get the full benefit of them.

You also need to keep in mind the material the container is made from. Most people assume that you need to use plastic containers. While this may be true for some types of plants, it is not necessarily the case when growing tomatoes in pots. Grow bags are an excellent option and they are easy to store when not in use

Plastic containers are only good for two or three years before they start to break down and leach chemicals into the soil that will harm your plants. If you are using a plastic container, make sure it is labeled as safe for use with food crops.

There are some beautiful ceramic containers that work well for growing tomatoes in pots too. Just be sure to choose one with good drainage holes if you will be keeping the plant outdoors that has been glazed on the inside for easy cleaning between plantings.

Hands holding potting soil while planting one of the best tomatoes to grow in pots

Growing Medium

One of the most essential elements of a great tomato harvest is soil composition. Tomatoes are heavy feeders and need a rich, nutrient-dense medium to grow in.

If you are growing tomatoes in containers, the best soil for tomatoes in pots is specifically formulated for container plantings. Something like Miracle-Gro® Indoor Potting Mix will work perfectly and is readily available at almost any grocery or home improvement store that carries gardening supplies.

When planting your tomato plants, you need to bury the seedlings deeply. Make sure the stems are buried so that the first set of leaves are just below the surface of the soil with the stem touching it. The stem will put out additional roots and give the plant a better support system.

A Good Support System

Tomatoes also need a good support system in order to prevent them from tipping over with the weight of the fruit. Most people will use a teepee or stakes with tomato plants but there are also special cages that work really well for this purpose.

For most varieties, you’ll want to install your support system three weeks after you first transplant your seedlings. You can also install it right before the first blooms on your plant appear, but this is usually too late for most tomato varieties to really get fortified by support.

Plenty of Sun

In addition to a good support system, tomatoes also need plenty of sun. This is especially true if you are growing them in pots because there will be less room for the roots to soak up the sun during the active growing season.

It’s important to choose a location that gets at least 6 hours of good sunshine each day, but tomatoes can get burns if left out in the sun too long. Choose a spot that gets morning sunshine so they are shaded from the harsh afternoon sun.


Tomatoes grown in pots will need more water than traditional garden varieties because the soil will dry out more quickly. You should water your plants deeply at least once a week to keep them hydrated for the best production.

You also want to water your plants in the morning so that the leaves can dry off before nightfall. If you water them too late in the day, they run the risk of being burned by the sun but if you wait until the evening, the wet leaves will be more susceptible to disease and fungus.


It’s also important to make sure you are applying an all-purpose 10-10-10 fertilizer when you first plant your tomatoes and then again every 4 weeks after that. This will help keep them healthy and productive.

Container tomatoes need to be fertilized more frequently than regular garden tomatoes, so be sure to keep up with this schedule.


Mulch is not the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to container gardening. Mulch is often associated with keeping weeds at bay but it has a number of other benefits as well.

Mulch will help to insulate your soil from the harsh rays of the sun and also helps to keep in moisture so your tomatoes don’t dry out as quickly.  

Be careful though, because adding too much mulch can actually lead to fungus problems because there is not enough air circulation. The best type of mulch for container tomatoes is a nice straw with 3-5 inches of thickness.

What tomatoes grow well in containers?

There are hundreds of different types of tomatoes that can be grown in containers, but some are better suited than others. In general, smaller varieties of tomatoes do better in containers because they have less foliage and require less water to stay hydrated throughout the season.

However, there are a few large-fruited varieties that can be successfully grown this way too, so let’s explore each type of tomato.

Short Season Tomato Varieties for Container Gardening

Short-season tomatoes are perfect for container gardening because they will produce fruit throughout the entire growing season without taking up too much space. These types of tomatoes are also perfect if you only have a small patio or balcony to work with as well.

Some good short season tomato varieties for container gardening include:

Sungold cherry tomatoes - one of the best tomato varieties to grow in pots

Sungold Cherry Tomatoes

Sungolds are small, golden tomatoes that are perfectly sweet and make a great snack all by themselves. They can be planted in containers or directly into the ground and will not grow taller than 18 inches, making them perfect for small spaces.

Sungold tomatoes produce fruit all season long and require very little care to do so.

Micro Tom Tomato

Micro Toms are one of our favorite patio tomato varieties to grow. These short and compact plants are easy to care for, produce fruit consistently all season long, and stay under 12 inches in height so there is no need for a support system.

Micro Tom tomatoes are a good source of Vitamin C and A as well, so they’re perfect if you just want to grow your own snacks right on your patio.

As an added bonus, they are an attractive plant that mixes in well with flowers and other decorative plants.

Marglobe Tomatoes

Marglobes are another great short-season tomato that only grows as tall as 18-24 inches making them an ideal choice for containers. Unlike the micro toms, these tomatoes will need a support system to prevent them from falling over.

These tomatoes taste great all by themselves and are a good source of Vitamin C as well. Marglobe tomatoes also make a great addition to salads and sandwiches because they don’t have many seeds inside them, unlike larger varieties of tomatoes.

Bush Early Girl Hybrid

The Early Girl bush tomato is an excellent choice for container gardens because it only reaches a height of 36 inches. The fruits are uniform in size, have deep green foliage, and are not susceptible to most diseases so they require less care which means you can enjoy the fruits of your labor with less effort on your part.

The Early Girl is also popular among customers because they retain their flavor for up to four days after they are picked, which means you can pick your tomatoes fresh every day instead of having to harvest all at once.

Keep in mind at 36 inches, they will need a support system to keep them healthy and prevent them from falling over.

Long Season Tomato Varieties for Container Gardening

If you’re looking to plant something that will produce fruit throughout the entire growing season and into the fall months, then we recommend checking out the following long-season varieties.

photo of brandywine tomatoes piled on a wooden bench

Brandywine Tomato

The Brandywine tomato is one of the best heirloom tomatoes for containers. This popular heirloom was originally cultivated in the mid-1800s by a man named David Bradly.

Brandywine tomatoes are hardy and will produce fruit throughout the entire growing season, making them great for small container gardens. They also have deep green foliage that is resistant to many diseases and pest problems so they require very little maintenance.

Big Beef Tomato

The Big Beef tomato is a mid-season variety of tomato which means it will produce fruit well into the fall months, even after a frost or two. These tomatoes are also good for container gardens because they only grow as tall as 36 inches.

One giant-tomato benefit of the Big Beef variety is that they are one of the best-tasting tomatoes you will ever try, but they can also weigh up to a pound or more which makes them great for sandwiches and salads alike, but they will definitely need a strong support system.

All-Around Favorite Tomato Varieties for Container Gardening

Sweet 100 Tomato

Sweet 100 tomatoes are one of the most popular cherry tomato varieties, and one of the best tomatoes to grow in pots. They are extremely tasty, productive throughout the entire growing season, and they typically yield over 400 fruits per plant.

This vining type of tomato is great for growing in hanging baskets or a single large container.

vining type cherry tomatoes

Tumbling Tom Tomato

Tumbling toms are another favorite patio tomato variety of ours. These plants are robust with a high yield of delicious fruits, which makes them great for year-round growing in containers.

They also have a vining growth habit, so they’re perfect for hanging baskets or container gardens that have an oblong or curved shape.

Cherry tomatoes like the Tumbling Tom are especially popular with home gardeners because you can grow a lot of cherry tomatoes in a small space.

Bush Steak

If you are looking for a way of growing beefsteak tomatoes in pots or for an early tomato, then you should check out the Bush Steak variety.

These plants are well suited for growing in containers because they only reach a height of 24-30 inches.

With dark green leaves and heavy yields of large red tomatoes, these plants do best when staked or caged for support.

Sun Sugar Tomato

Sun Sugar tomatoes are another great cherry variety.

These plants have a sweet taste and a tropical flavor so they are an excellent choice for salads and fresh eating. They also produce fruit throughout the growing season, making them another great choice for container gardeners.

You can use Sun Sugar tomatoes when cooking things like salsa because their flesh easily breaks apart into small pieces when you add heat to it.

photo of tomatoes growing  in pots sitting on a patio

Troubleshooting Container Tomatoes

Problem: Leggy Tomato Plants

Leggy is a term that describes tomatoes that have a lot of space between the leaves and the stems. This typically happens when you move plants to bigger pots before they’re ready to be transplanted.

When transplanting your tomatoes, be sure to bury the stem deep into the soil. The stem will send out additional roots to support the plant. Also, only go up one extra pot size at a time because this will give them enough room to produce fruit without stretching out.

Problem: White Patches on Tomato Leaves

If you notice white patches on the leaves of your plants, then it’s probably a fungus called early blight. You can treat this by removing all affected foliage as soon as you see it and spraying it with fungicide.

Problem: Wilting Plants

Wilting plants are a sign of root damage or disease. You should check the roots of your plants to make sure they aren’t rotted, and if they are then you can rejuvenate them by burying them deeper into the soil by removing some of the top layer.

Problem: Yellowed Leaves and Stunted Growth

Yellow leaves can be a sign of too much fertilizer, but they could also be a sign of infection.

Check the leaves to make sure there are no spots or patches, and if you find any then it could be a fungus called septoria leaf spot. Treat this by removing all affected leaves as soon as you see them and spraying with fungicide. You should also space out your tomatoes so that they have more room to grow because overcrowding can lead to disease.

Problem: Slow Growth

If your plants are growing slowly then you should check to see if they’re getting enough sunlight, especially during the winter months. You can also give them a boost of fertilizer because it could be that they just need more nutrients. If the problem persists, then it might be time to transplant your tomato plants into a larger pot so they will have enough room to grow.

Problem: Fruit Cracks

Cracks in your tomatoes is usually a result of fluctuation in water.

To avoid this, be sure to water your plants evenly so they have a constant supply of moisture. It’s also important to make sure you’re watering them deeply instead of just watering the topsoil around them because tomatoes need their roots to stay moist for an extended period of time.

Problem: Blossom End Rot

Blossom end rot is when the bottom of the tomato (the blossom end) begins to turn brown and is a common problem for tomatoes. It’s usually caused by irregular watering or a lack of calcium in the soil. When you notice the symptoms, the best method to treat them is by removing all affected tomatoes and treating the plant with a calcium spray.

Final Thoughts

With these options, you can find the best tomatoes to grow in pots in your patio garden. The key is to get creative with what’s available in order to have a successful harvest of fresh tomatoes. As long as you give your plants proper care and attention, they will reward you with a bountiful harvest that can supply several meals for your family or group of friends!