How to care for potted tomato plants

Written by david mckinney
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How to care for potted tomato plants
Tomato plants will produce beautiful fruit even in pots. (tomato plants image by Gina Smith from

After a winter of buying bland-tasting tomatoes from the grocery store, the thought of growing fresh tomatoes is on the mind of most gardening enthusiasts come spring. But not everyone is lucky enough to live in a home with a large enough backyard to plant a vegetable garden. For urban apartment and high-rise dwellers especially, growing tomatoes in containers is the next best option. Caring for potted tomato plants is easy and promises to provide a summer's worth of fresh produce at your patio door.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 5-gallon pot
  • Fertiliser
  • Tomato cage
  • Tray
  • Liquid dish detergent
  • Vegetable oil
  • Spray bottle

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  1. 1

    Identify a full-sun area for your potted tomato plant. It will need six to eight hours of light per day. Be sure to plant your tomato in a 5-gallon container to provide enough room for its roots to develop. Position the wire cage in a potted tomato plant container while the plant is still young. Place a flat tray beneath your potted tomato plant to catch water runoff. Provide spacing of 4 to 5 inches from other potted tomato plants.

  2. 2

    Water your potted tomato plant daily when it is fully mature and on warm summer days. Stop watering when you see liquid emerging from the bottom of the pot into the plastic tray beneath the pot. Mix a tablespoon of a soluble fertiliser high in nitrogen content with your potted tomato's water and apply once a week. Replace high-nitrogen fertiliser with fertiliser that is high in phosphorus and potassium once the plant begins blooming; that will encourage more prolific tomato production rather than leaf expansion as nitrogen fertiliser is prone to do. Give plants a gentle shake when blooms begin arriving to encourage pollination.

  3. 3

    Periodically position the limbs of your tomato plant over the appropriate part of the cage as your plant grows. Control pests by mixing 1 cup vegetable oil and 1 tsp liquid dish detergent. Mix with 1 cup water and pour into a spray mist bottle. Spray this mixture every 10 days to control aphids, mites, scales and other insect pests.

Tips and warnings

  • Potted tomato plants require more water than their counterparts in the garden because the roots in containers cannot spread out and tap into soil moisture as planted tomatoes in the garden do.

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