How to Grow Tomatoes in a Pot

Everyone enjoys tomatoes. Luckily, whatever the variety (heirloom, cherry, grape, brandywine, vine, campari), tomatoes are one of the easiest foods to grow at home. If you don't have a garden for growing tomatoes in the ground, don't worry--they are just as sweet and juicy when grown in pots. Here's one of the many ways to grow tomatoes in a pot.

Harvest seeds from your favorite ripe tomato. No need to wash, but if you prefer, you can rinse them through a sieve.

Fold a moist paper towel in two. Spread the tomato seeds on half of the paper towel. Try to spread the seeds evenly so that they don't overlap. Fold the other half of the paper towel to cover the seeds.

Put the seeded paper towel on a dish and place it somewhere in the kitchen where you can check on it regularly to ensure that the paper towel doesn't dry out. Depending on the tomato variety, the seeds will start to sprout in about a week or two.

Prepare your container pot by filling it with good quality potting soil up to about 3 inches from the lip. Ensure that the pot has good drainage because tomatoes are prone to root rot from soggy soil.

When the seeds have started growing roots, unfold the paper towel and lay it on the container pot. Place the pot in a bright location, but not under direct sunlight. Keep the paper towel moist. Let the sprouts grow to about an inch or two.

When the first sets of leaves are formed, gently add soil to cover the roots. (The paper towel will slowly decompose and become part of the soil.)

Thin the sprouts by weeding out the weakest or most scraggly-looking shoots. Depending on the size of your container, leave as many as two to three plants per 6-inch square.

Move the pot to a location where the tomatoes will receive at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. Water the plants when the soil begins to dry out. More frequent watering will be necessary as the plants grow and bear fruit.

Insert stakes into the soil to form a trellis or cage. Guide the growing stems to stay within the trellis to help support the weight of the fruits.

Add fruit-inducing fertilizer when the tiny yellow flowers start to appear.


Most important of all, keep the paper towel moist until it's time to cover the seedlings' roots with soil. If the seedlings are deprived of moisture, they will die. Don't worry about initially having too many shoots growing in the pot. The plants will compete for growth and the strongest will dominate. You can uproot the weak ones as soon as it becomes obvious. Most tomato plants grow tall, so choose a suitable container pot that will remain stable under a trellis or cage supporting a bumper crop.

Things You'll Need

  • Tomato seeds
  • Paper towel
  • Container pot
  • Potting soil
  • Stakes, trellis or cage
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About the Author

Ruby is a freelance writer by profession. She has written extensively about a wide variety of topics in print and online, but here at eHow, she shares her passion for home and garden. Whether it’s housekeeping, home organization, do-it-yourself restorations, or creative renovations, chances are she’s tried it herself. A big fan of power tools, always eager to get her hands dirty, and happy to answer questions, Ruby’s always puttering around the house or digging in the garden.