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a picture showing a type of best tomatoes for container gardening

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Growing tomatoes is an enjoyable and rewarding experience for many gardeners. However, not everyone has access to a large garden or enough space to grow tomatoes. 

Thankfully, container gardening has made it possible for anyone to grow their own tomatoes, regardless of the size of their outdoor space.

In terms of growing tomatoes, there are 27 specific varieties that have been identified as the best tomatoes for container gardening. By selecting one of these varieties, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of fresh, delicious tomatoes, no matter your space or living situation. 

In this article, we will explore the best small tomato plants that are a good choice for limited space and how to grow them successfully.

Understanding Different Types of Tomatoes

When it comes to tomatoes, there isn’t a “one size fits all” option. The different types of tomatoes each have their own unique characteristics that set them apart from the rest. 

Cherry tomatoes are small and sweet, making them perfect for snacking or adding to salads. 

Beefsteak tomatoes on the other hand are larger in size and have a juicy, meaty texture that makes them ideal for sandwiches and burgers. 

Roma tomatoes are perfect for sauces and have a higher pulp content than other types, giving them a thicker consistency. 

Lastly, grape tomatoes are similar in size to cherry tomatoes but have a slightly firmer texture and a tangy, acidic taste that is great for roasting or adding to pasta dishes. 

27 Best Tomatoes for Container Gardening

With so many varieties to choose from, how do you know which ones are best for your container garden? 

These varieties have been based on their suitability for growing in confined spaces, as well as their flavor, productivity, and disease resistance. 

Before we get into the list, a note about the difference between some qualities that describe the best tomato varieties: indeterminate tomatoes vs determinate tomatoes. 

Determinate tomatoes, also known as “bush” tomatoes, are varieties that grow to a compact, predetermined size and produce fruit all at once. They are well suited to small spaces and produce a large harvest within a short window of time. 

Indeterminate tomatoes, on the other hand, grow continuously in a vining fashion, producing new shoots and fruit throughout the growing season until killed by frost. While indeterminate tomatoes require more space and time, they provide a steady supply of tomatoes over a longer period. 

Patio Princess Hybrid: This is a dwarf, bushy tomato plant that grows up to 24 inches tall and is perfect for small containers. It produces sweet, juicy tomatoes that are about 2 inches in diameter. Requires full sun so make sure it’s getting at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Will ripen in about 60-70 days after planting and can be harvested when they are firm and fully ripe.

Window Box Roma: This is a compact plant that grows up to 20 inches tall. It is perfect for small containers and produces small, meaty tomatoes that are perfect for making sauces, pastes, or can be canned.  They need full sun. Grow them in a container that is at least 6-8 inches deep and 14 inches wide. You will want to support the plant with tall stakes or a cage. Expect it to be ripe in about 75 days and it can be harvested when the tomato is firm and has a rich red color.

Bush Big Boy: This is a small plant that grows up to 24 inches tall, in a bush form, and produces large, juicy tomatoes up to 10 ounces each with a tangy flavor. You will need a medium-sized container for this variety, that is at least 12 inches deep and 18 inches wide. This plant will need full sun and expect it to ripen in 70-80 days after planting.

Bushsteak: This is a dwarf version of beefsteak tomatoes that grow up to 3 feet tall and produce large meaty texture tomatoes. They can be used for grilling, sauteing, or slicing into sandwiches and burgers. Make sure your container is at least 18-20 inches deep and 24-30 inches wide for this one. This tomato needs full sun. You can expect it to ripen in about 70-75 days after planting.

Tomande: This is a small tomato plant that grows up to 2 feet tall and produces small to medium sweet, meaty tomatoes with a tangy flavor that can add depth to almost any dish including salads, pasta, and sauces. They need full sun and to grow in a container that is at least 12-14 inches deep and 18-20 inches wide. You can expect these to ripen in about 60-70 days.

Micro Tom: This is a tiny tomato plant that grows up to 8 inches tall and produces sweet, red tomatoes. (Side note, what a cute name right?) They can go on salads, eaten as snacks or appetizers. Preserve them by sun drying or roasting. These can be grown in small, individual containers as well as group containers. Just make sure the container is at least 6 inches deep and 6 inches wide. They need full sun exposure.

a picture of tumbling tom tomatoes one of the best tomatoes for container gardening

Tumbling Tom: This is a trailing plant that grows downwards and produces small sweet yellow tomatoes that are about 1 inch in diameter. If you need to grow in a vertical space, these are perfect because you can plant them in hanging baskets or containers. The container needs to be 8-10 inches wide and 8-10 inches deep. Can be used in a variety of dishes.

Tumbler: This is another trailing plant that grows up to 2 feet long. It grows downwards in a trailing pattern. It produces sweet, cherry tomatoes 1 inch in diameter. Again you can hang these in baskets or small containers, 8-10 inches wide and deep.

Red Robin: This is a small compact, dwarf variety tomato plant that grows up to 10-12 inches tall and produces sweet, bite-sized tomatoes that are about 1 inch around. You can use a small container, it only needs to be about 6-8 inches wide and 6-8 inches deep. They need full sun and take about 55-75 days to mature and reach the ripening stage. Great for snacking alone or with a dip!

Tiny Tim: A compact tomato dwarf plant that grows up to 12-18 inches tall. The Tiny Tim is a popular heirloom tomato, the plant produces a sweet juicy cherry tomato that is only about half an inch to 1 in in diameter! Needs a sunny location with full sun and you can use a small container that’s about 6-8 inches deep. It’s ready in approximately 55-70 days. Great for salads and sandwiches.

Oregon Spring: This is a determinate plant that grows up to 3 feet tall and produces medium-sized, juicy tomatoes that mature early in the season. Determinate tomato plants grow to a fixed mature size and all their fruit ripens in a short period. This plant will need full sun with good air circulation. Make sure you have a medium-sized container, 12-14 inches wide and at least 14 inches deep. These are flavorful but slightly tart.

Better Bush:  Another determinate tomato variety, this is a compact plant that grows up to 2.5 feet tall and produces large, meaty tomatoes. The tomatoes will ripen quickly which is perfect if you want to preserve your crop by canning. You’ll need a larger container that is 14-16 inches in diameter and 18-24 inches deep for proper root growth. The plant needs full sun and will mature in 70 to 75 days. Their flavor is rich and sweet.

Heatmaster: A hybrid tomato variety. It is a heat-tolerant tomato plant that is perfect for hot climates. It grows up to 3 feet tall and produces large, juicy tomatoes even in the summer months. The skin on these tomatoes is thick to help the fruit from cracking in high temperatures. The tomatoes usually have a delicious flavor and an oblong shape and they are perfect for cutting up (half or quarters) and putting in salads. You need a deep pot, 24 inches at least and it should be 18-20 inches in diameter. These will be ready 65-70 days from planting.

Mountain Spring: Another determinate bush-type tomato. This is a compact plant that grows up to 2-3 feet tall and produces large, juicy tomatoes. Produces a bright red, firm flavorful tomato with a meaty texture. You will need a large container at least 24-30 inches deep and 20-24 inches wide. This plant also needs full sun and in about 70-75 days it will reach maturity and ripen. Great for canning, and cooking. 

an early girl tomato on the plant best tomatoes for container gardening

Early Girl: This is a hybrid indeterminate tomato that can grow up to 6-8 feet tall. The plant produces tomatoes that are about the size of tennis balls (4-6oz), deep red with a sweet flavor. They are known to be easy to take care of and are popular with home gardeners/container gardeners. You will need a deep container, at least 24 inches deep. While they are great for cooking, they can also be eaten fresh off the vine. Give this plant full sun and in about 50-70 days it should be ready to ripen.

Sweet 100: This is a small plant that grows up to 5 feet tall and produces sweet, cherry tomatoes. They are perfect for container gardening, as they produce a lot of fruit on relatively small plants.  Don’t be fooled by the name, as this plant can produce 100s of tomatoes throughout the season. You will need at least 10-gallon containers to hold this plant as it produces clusters of small round cherry tomatoes. You’ll start to see mature tomatoes ripen around 60-65 days after planting. They can be used as snacks or in meals and recipes.

Husky Cherry Red: This is a popular choice for tomato container gardening because the plant only grows 3-4 feet tall. The cherry tomato is small and flavorful. It produces clusters so it should be staked for support due to potentially heavy fruit loads. Needs full sun and will reach maturity in 60-65 days. Can be used in salads, stir-fry, or for fresh eating.

San Marzano: This is a small plant that grows up to 5-6 feet tall and produces elongated tomatoes that are perfect for making sauces and pastes. While they can be grown in containers, they require more attention than other varieties. They are a determinate variety of plant that produces large, cylindrical fruit with a meaty interior and sweet, rich flavor. You will need a large pot for this (10-12 gallons) and a place to put the pot with plenty of sun.

Sweet Baby Girl: This is a small hybrid plant that grows up to 6 feet tall and produces high yields of sweet, cherry tomatoes. These tomatoes are very popular among home gardeners because they have thin skin and a very sweet taste. You’ll need full sun and a pot that is at least 14 inches deep. They are easy to grow and take up less space than larger tomato varieties. 

sun gold one of the best tomatoes for container gardening

Sun Gold: These are indeterminate tomato variety that grows an abundance of bright orange tomatoes with a sweet, fruity flavor. The plant produces clusters of small cherry-sized tomatoes and grows up to 6-8 feet tall. They can do well in a container but be sure it’s at least 18-24 inches deep. They will bear fruit all season long and it will take about 65 days until it is ready to harvest. Can be used in salsas, salads, or used as a snack.

Florida 91: This is a heat-tolerant determinate tomato plant that grows up to 3 feet tall and produces large, meaty tomatoes. It is meant to withstand hot and humid climates but can do well in almost any growing zone. The tomatoes are extra large, round, and smooth. You’ll need a container that is at least 14-16 inches in diameter and 16 inches deep. Place the plant in full sun and you will see harvest in 70-85 days.

Garden Pearl: This is a small plant that grows up to 6 inches tall and produces sweet, cherry tomatoes. If you are looking for a tomato plant that you can put in a small container or hanging basket this is one for you. While the plant doesn’t take up too much space, you can still expect a plentiful harvest. The tomatoes are small, pink-red, and the flavor is sweet but a little acidic. They will mature in 65-75 days from planting. You could use them for salads, or snacking or you could even cut them up and add them to pizza.

Patio Hybrid: The name just sounds like it’s perfect for small spaces right? This is a compact plant that grows up to 2 feet tall and produces large, juicy tomatoes, up to 3-4 oz! Good for such a small plant huh? You’ll need a 12-18 inch pot and place to put this container in full sun. In about 60-70 days you will be able to harvest. These tomatoes have a sweet and tangy flavor. 

Silvery Fir Tree:  Despite the word tree in the name, this is a small determinate tomato plant that only gets up to 2 feet. It does really well in hanging baskets or small containers. They have a unique silver sheen and each tomato is about 5-6 oz. This plant will mature early, in about 55-68 days. The flavor is mild and tangy.

Yellow Pear: This is an indeterminate tomato plant that grows up to 7 feet tall and produces small, bright yellow, pear-shaped, sweet tomatoes. It can be adapted to grow in larger pots with the support of a stake or trellis. You will need a 10-gallon container at the minimum and a place where it will receive 6-8 hours of sun per day. Yellow pear tomatoes take about 70-80 days to mature and ripen. As far as cooking with them, be aware that they have fewer seeds than other cherry tomatoes and they have a high water content. You may have to cook them down longer for a sauce consistency.

Stupice: This is a small indeterminate tomato plant that grows up to 3 feet tall and produces deep red, medium-sized sweet tomatoes. This is a plant that blossoms in even cooler temperatures. You’ll need a fairly large and deep container, at least 24-48″ deep and 18-36″ in diameter. The tomatoes are ready to harvest in about 55-68 days. The stupice tomato is a great all-purpose tomato, but add them into soups or cooked dishes for the best results.

Small Fry: This is a small plant that grows up to 2-4 feet tall and produces small, sweet tomatoes. The tomatoes come in at just under 1oz. As its name alludes, it’s perfect for growing in a small space or container and doesn’t need staking. It’s a determinate plant that will reach maturity in about 65-70 days.

Growing Container Tomatoes: Tips and Tricks

Growing tomatoes in containers can be a fantastic way to enjoy fresh, home-grown tomatoes no matter where you live. It’s just one of the many benefits of container gardening.However, to achieve a successful harvest, there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind. 

To start, choose a deep container with drainage holes and fill it with nutrient-rich soil. 

Overwatering or excess water is a common mistake that can lead to root rot, so it’s essential to water your plants only when the top inch of soil is dry. 

Pests such as aphids and diseases like blight can be managed by keeping the plants healthy and applying organic pesticides when necessary. 

Pruning and support techniques can also help ensure a bountiful harvest. Staking and caging are simple methods to keep your plants upright and prevent them from bending or breaking under the weight of the fruit. 

An upright trellis or tomato cage helps the vining tomato plants grow upright, saving space and keeping the fruit off the ground. As the tomato plant grows, tie the main stem and side shoots to the trellis to support the increasing weight. 

Stakes and twine can also be used, tying the twine to the stake and then looping it around the main stem and side shoots. 

And don’t forget to regularly remove any suckers or unwanted growth to promote healthy fruit production

Tips For Selecting The Right Container Gardening For Tomatoes

Selecting the right container makes all the difference. Even though most of these tomato varieties don’t get over a few feet tall, make sure that the container you use is large enough for the tomato plant’s root system. On average, a good size for a container that you will be growing tomatoes in is at least 18 inches wide.

Another concern is the type of container. Terra cotta and ceramic pots may look aesthetically pleasing, but they can easily crack and dry out your soil. Avoid materials that can become too hot like metal.

Consider using plastic pots or resin containers with built-in drainage holes instead.

Last but not least, placement is key. Tomatoes need at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day, so place your container in a location that receives ample sunlight, while also protecting it from harsh winds and heavy rain.

Factors to Consider for Container Gardening Tomatoes

Even though we have discussed a lot of the best tomatoes for container gardening and you have a lot of choices, before you start planting, take some time to consider several factors upfront.

Just because it can be grown in a container, should you grow it?

Determine what type of climate you live in and make note of the daytime temperatures. Talk to other local gardeners, check the seed packets, visit your local garden centers, or look up what varieties are best for your region.

Sunlight is so important so make sure you select an area for the container that gets 6-8 hours of sunlight per day. If you don’t and the area gets too much shade, well you might end up with tomatoes that can have poor flavor or even less fruit.

The soil you use is also important. Since you’ll likely be using a potting mix from the store instead of garden soil, make sure it has organic materials like compost that will feed nutrients directly to the roots.

Slow release fertilizer (in the form of pellets or granules) can be added to the soil and they provide a steady supply of nutrients to the plant without needing to be applied as frequently as other fertilizers.

Tomatoes can be excellent disease-resistant choices for container gardening. As a member of the nightshade family, tomatoes have developed natural defenses against common fungal diseases and pests.

Certain hybrid tomato varieties have been bred to enhance these disease-resistant properties, making them ideal for small-space gardening where conditions can be more difficult to control.

When choosing disease-resistant tomato varieties for containers, look for descriptions like ‘early blight resistant’, ‘late blight resistant’, or ‘verticillium wilt resistant’.

a picture showing one of the best type of tomatoes for container gardending

Container gardening tomatoes offer many benefits for home gardeners, including portability, and ease of care.

With the wide range of tomato varieties available, you can grow flavorful heirlooms, high yield hybrids, colorful cherry tomatoes, and more – all from the comfort of your patio or deck. 

Whether you want to grow sweet Sun Golds, robust Beefsteaks, or tiny Sungolds, there’s a tomato for every container and palate. As you experiment with different varieties in containers, share your experiences and tips with other container gardeners to help them discover their own perfect tomato match.

FAQs about tomato container gardening

How often should I water my container-grown tomatoes?

Container-grown tomatoes require frequent watering, especially during hot, dry weather. It’s important to keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged and to water deeply to encourage healthy root growth. A good rule of thumb is to water whenever the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch.

How many tomatoes can you plant in a 5 gallon bucket?

You can typically plant one tomato plant per 5 gallon bucket for optimal growth and development. Each plant will need room for their root systems, and one plant in one bucket will ensure that the plant has enough room to thrive.

What is the best determinate tomato for containers?

The best tomato determinate types are “Bush Early Girl” and “Patio”. “Bush Early Girl” tomatoes produce medium-sized fruits and are compact enough to be grown in containers. “Patio” tomatoes are specifically bred for container gardening and are known for their abundant fruit production on compact, bushy plants. Both varieties are easy to grow and require minimal maintenance, making them excellent choices for container gardening. 

 Do tomatoes grow well in containers?

Tomatoes can grow very well in containers, as long as they have the right growing conditions. Container-grown tomatoes require a container that is large enough to support the plant’s root system, regular watering, fertilization, and support as they grow taller and produce fruit. With proper care and attention to their growing needs, tomatoes can thrive in containers.

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