Guide: Best Tomatoes for Containers and Small Spaces
With the sunny, warm days of spring just around the corner, it’s hard not to let our thoughts wander to being outdoors, sitting on the patio, enjoying the sights and smells – and picking a ripe, luscious tomato off the vine. We don’t all have the time or space to maintain lush veggie gardens. Luckily, when it comes to tomatoes, it’s easy to find success with containers grown on a balcony or patio. Whether you prefer bite-size cherries or a meaty, juicy slicer for sandwiches, your options for at-your-fingertips, container-grown tomatoes are plentiful.
While any tomato plant can be grown in a container, many of the long-vine, or indeterminate, types need solid support and/or regular pruning to be manageable. But there are an increasing number of plants being specifically developed for container-growing culture – that aren’t quite so tall or sprawling – that range more from modest to low maintenance. And you still get a tasty reward for your labor. While these are tried and true container varieties, with proper planting and care any variety can flourish in a container on the patio. Most plants will yield best in 12-14” pots, especially if kept caged or staked and well-pruned; with regular watering and fertilization, you can enjoy a harvest from mid-summer until fall frost.
Any cherry tomato works great in a hanging basket. The bigger the pot, the more tomatoes will cascade down for your enjoyment. But if you don’t have space for a hanging basket, there are a couple of varieties that are more manageable in an upright form with small cages – Sweetheart of the Patio, and Tidy Treats – both plants fared well grown in a 10” pot, staying small but productive. Move them up a size or two and they are even happier and more productive. They are great in a large mixed pot with herbs or some flowers.
Several grape tomato varieties work great in hanging baskets or tall pots they can trail from, similar to cherry tomatoes. One of my favorites is Mighty Sweet – it can be staked and pruned; but if it isn’t, the vines can grow 6+ feet long before you know it. You’ll have enough tomatoes to share with all your neighbors as well as the neighborhood squirrels. And no one will complain about the incredibly fine, sweet flavor.
Salsa and Paste Tomatoes
A fun little compact Roma or paste tomato for a pot is called Little Napoli. It stays at or under 2’ tall but produces a good supply of tasty little tomatoes, excellent for some fresh salsa or chopped into salads.
Slicer and Sandwich Tomatoes
For a more traditional red slicer, there are a few great options for easy container growing. Celebrity is an old bush standby that grows 3-4’ and produces reliably all season. It has a traditional tomato flavor and clusters of medium to large fruits. Another similar-sized, high-yielding red slicer to try is called Grand Slam. This variety stays compact but produces fruits all summer; a newer variety to give a try. For an early, smaller fruit that has a rich heirloom taste and deep red color, try Moskvich. Though it does get a bit taller than a traditional bush variety, it’s easily managed with some early pruning and staking, even in a pot.
For a larger beefsteak type that stays compact but produces meaty fruits until frost, try SuperSteak. These can get big (to 2 lb) if you give the roots room to grow and take good care. For a little bigger sandwich slicing tomato, a more recent, open-pollinated introduction is the Pink Berkeley Tie Die. This metallic-striped fruit is a beautiful and delicious addition to your container garden. The dwarf plant is early to mid-season with good production – a flavor favorite.
For the first time ever, we are offering a preorder for our tomato varieties. Find the varieties mentioned above, along with several others. Order now, pick up in the spring. Many of these varieties are highly sought after and sell out quickly. This preorder guarantees you have the varieties
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