Growing Cherry Tomatoes in Pots: Tips and Recommendations

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Growing cherry tomatoes in pots can be a fun alternative to traditional gardening methods. If you lack space for garden beds but want to grow edible plants, container gardening on your patio or deck is a great option. In this post, I will provide step-by-step instructions for creating a healthy and robust container garden that yields fresh and ripe cherry tomatoes.

Small cherry tomato plant growing in a small container with a very robust harvest.

If you want to grow healthy, robust cherry tomato plants right on your patio, we have all the steps you need to ensure a wonderful harvest all summer. You may become wildly addicted to vegetable container gardening like us – so be warned!

Table of Contents

    Step 1: Start with the Right Variety of Cherry Tomato

    The best cherry tomatoes are labeled as “patio,” “bush,” or “determinate.”

    Patio or bush-type tomatoes grow to about 12 inches and will not need staking. These make an excellent option for smaller gardens or window-sill gardens. A perfect tomato for small pots and baskets is Tiny Tim. Tiny Tim is a prolific little cherry tomato plant that bursts with a surprising amount of tomatoes for such a small plant – perfect for small sunny patio gardens!

    Determinate tomatoes grow to a height of 18 inches and do not need staking, making them ideal for containers only 12 inches tall or smaller. They stop growing when the days become shorter in late summer, which is perfect because you can harvest all your cherry tomatoes at once.

    Cherry Tomato Recommendations for Pots & Containers

    When choosing cherry tomato varieties for container gardening, looking for compact and determinate types well-suited to confined spaces is essential. Here are some excellent options:

    1. Tiny Tim: This dwarf variety produces small, sweet cherry tomatoes on compact plants, making it ideal for container growing.
    2. Tumbling Tom: Available in red and yellow varieties, Tumbling Tom cherry tomatoes have a cascading growth habit, perfect for hanging baskets or containers with limited space.
    3. Patio Princess: A determinate variety specifically bred for container gardening, Patio Princess offers a prolific yield of flavorful cherry tomatoes on compact plants.
    4. Bush Early Girl: While technically not a cherry tomato, Bush Early Girl is a compact, determinate variety that produces small to medium-sized tomatoes, making it suitable for containers. The perfect tomato to plant if you are interested in canning whole tomatoes.
    5. Balcony: As the name suggests, Balcony cherry tomatoes are well-suited for balcony or patio gardening, producing clusters of sweet fruits on compact plants.
    6. Maskotka: Another dwarf variety, Maskotka cherry tomatoes, mature early and produce abundant clusters of flavorful fruits on compact plants, perfect for container growing.
    7. Sweet ‘n’ Neat Cherry Red: This variety offers a compact growth habit and prolific yield of sweet cherry tomatoes, making it an excellent choice for container gardens and small spaces.
    8. Cherry Gold: A golden-yellow cherry tomato variety with a compact growth habit, Cherry Gold is well-suited for container gardening and offers a sweet flavor profile.

    Growing cherry tomatoes in containers against a rustic wooden background.

    Step 2: Choose the Right Size Pot With Good Drainage

    Different varieties of cherry tomatoes will require different size pots.

    You can use a pot as small as 8 inches in diameter for the smaller patio type of plants. However, for the large “bush” and “determinate” kind of plant, you will need a pot at least 10-12 inches wide and deep.

    Terra cotta pots are excellent for growing tomatoes and can be found in garden centers in many styles, shapes, and colors. Terra cotta pots can dry out faster, but you can also use them year after year.

    Any right-sized container with adequate drainage will do the trick.

    You can container grow everything from kale, to carrots, onions, pumpkins, blueberries, lettuce, and strawberries, (and so many more!) so long as you have the correct size containers in the right spot!


    Container grown cherry tomatoes in small pots with flowers in the background.

    Step 3: Use Well Draining Soil With Lots of Organic Matter

    When growing cherry tomatoes in pots, you can use garden soil, but you must mix in some compost or aged manure to ensure enough nutrients are provided over the long growing season.

    You may also opt for potting soil with fertilizer already mixed in.

    We use Promix for all our growing needs. For our container-grown tomatoes, we like to use Pro-Mix For Vegetables.


    Step 4: Plant Seedlings Deep Enough to Cover the Exposed Stem

    Snip off the leaves with a clean set of gardening sheers to plant a tomato seedling. Remove all but the top 3-4 leaves. You can leave 5-6 leaves on top if your seedling is large.

    Dig a deep hole in your soil and place the seedlings in the container deep enough to cover the exposed stem. The top leaves should be close to the soil level, about an inch between the bottom leaf and the soil.

    Cover and be sure to water the plant very well.

    A beautifully healthy cherry tomato grown in a container against a bright white background.

    Step 5: Water your Cherry Tomatoes Daily

    You will need to water your container-grown cherry tomatoes daily at the height of summer but more often when it’s hot and dry.

    One of the disadvantages of growing cherry tomatoes in containers is that the containers tend to dry out faster. Therefore, you must closely monitor your soil to ensure it doesn’t constantly dry out.

    The chronic cycle of bone-dry soil and a giant water drench can lead to blossom-end rot. So try to keep the water moisture level constant.

    Learn More: Are your tomatoes suffering from blossom end rot? Check out our article on how to manage tomato blossom end rot.

    Growing cherry tomatoes in pots will require a lot of water. Plan to give them about an inch of water per week and more during hot weather or when plants are actively fruiting or flowering. During this time, they need about one gallon of water per day.

    But be careful – Over-watering and under-watering are both causes of cracking and splitting in tomatoes, but there are other reasons. If you are having issues with split tomatoes, check out our troubleshooting guide to help you prevent tomato splitting in the future.

    Step 6: Provide At Least 6 hours of Sunlight

    Cherry tomatoes require full sun. They can handle a bit of afternoon shade but will perform best under full sun conditions. They will need between 6-8 hours of sunlight a day.

    Step 7: Fertilize Every 2-3 Weeks

    Fertilize your plants with a water-soluble fertilizer, such as Pro-Mix Tomato Growing Formula, or nutrients designed for container gardening. Fertilizer should be applied every two to three weeks during the growing season.

    We also like to use a few handfuls of worm castings around the plants several times a season. In our practice, it seems to be the best fertilizer for tomatoes you can buy.


    Cherry tomato seedlings with roots exposed on a white wooden table top with cherry tomatoes and garden soil scattered.

    Step 8: Add Structural Supports

    To prevent sprawling and damage to the cherry tomato plants as they grow, it’s crucial to provide adequate structural support. Stakes or cages can help keep the vines upright, ensuring better access to sunlight and air circulation, which is essential for healthy fruit development.

    Step 9: Prune Excess Foliage

    Regular pruning of excess foliage is vital for cherry tomato plants grown in pots to maintain airflow and prevent overcrowding. Trimming away unnecessary branches and leaves encourages better ventilation and directs the plant’s energy toward fruit production, resulting in a higher yield of delicious tomatoes.

    Step 10: Inspect for Pests & Diseases:

    Regular inspection for pests and diseases is essential to keep cherry tomato plants thriving in pots. Early detection allows for prompt intervention, whether using natural pest remedies for pests like aphids or applying appropriate disease treatments, safeguarding the plants from potential damage and ensuring a successful harvest.

    Step 11: Incorporate a Few Companion Plants

    Introducing companion plants like basil or marigold flowers can benefit cherry tomato plants by naturally repelling pests and attracting beneficial insects. Additionally, certain companion plants may enhance soil health and nutrient availability, creating a more favorable growing environment for the tomatoes.

    Step 12: Be sure to Harvest Ripe Tomatoes Promptly.

    Harvesting ripe tomatoes promptly ensures peak flavor and freshness and encourages continuous fruit production. Regularly picking ripe fruits prevents them from overripening on the vine, which can redirect the plant’s energy away from further fruiting, ultimately prolonging the harvest season for your cherry tomatoes.

    Expert Tips

    • Opt for a spacious container, ensuring it’s at least 12 inches deep with drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.
    • Prioritize high-quality soil tailored for tomatoes enriched with organic matter for optimal growth.
    • Position your pot in a sunny location, granting your cherry tomatoes at least six hours of direct sunlight daily for robust development.
    • Maintain consistent watering, avoiding fluctuations that may lead to blossom end rot or split fruit.
    • Enrich the soil’s nutrient content by fertilizing bi-weekly with a balanced tomato fertilizer, ensuring steady growth and fruit formation.
    • Provide structural support with stakes or cages early on, securing the vines as they mature to prevent sprawling and fruit damage.
    • Regularly prune excess foliage to enhance airflow and sunlight penetration, minimizing the risk of diseases like blight.
    • Inspect for pests such as aphids or hornworms and promptly address any infestations with organic pest control methods.
    • Monitor soil moisture levels closely, as inconsistent watering can lead to problems like cracking or blossom drop.
    • Harvest ripe tomatoes promptly to encourage further fruiting and prevent overripening, ensuring a continuous harvest throughout the season.
    • Consider companion planting with herbs like basil or marigolds to deter pests and enhance overall garden health naturally.

    FAQ

    How long do cherry tomatoes take to grow in pots?

    Growth time varies with the cultivar, but most cherry tomatoes can grow a few weeks after transplant. Growing in pots, so long as the plant’s needs are met, will not impact development or time to harvest.

    Do I need to stake my cherry tomato plant in my containers?

    If you plant the larger bush types, you may need to stake them. Heavier-producing plants can tip over during the growing season, so verify your plant’s height at maturity.

    Can I grow cherry tomatoes indoors in containers?

    Yes, cherry tomatoes can be grown indoors in containers. Make sure they receive sufficient sunlight from a sunny window or with the help of grow lights.

    Instruction Card: How to Grow Cherry Tomatoes in Pots

    Instruction Card: How to Grow Cherry Tomatoes in Pots

    Our step-by-step instructions for growing cherry tomatoes in containers and reaping a robust harvest all summer long.

    Materials

    • Cherry tomato seedlings
    • 12 inch pot
    • Organic soil
    • Tomato fertilizer

    Tools

    • gloves
    • trowel
    • watering can

    Instructions

    1. Opt for a spacious container, ensuring it's at least 12 inches deep with drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.
    2. Prioritize high-quality soil tailored for tomatoes enriched with organic matter for optimal growth.
    3. Position your pot in a sunny location, granting your cherry tomatoes at least six hours of direct sunlight daily for robust development.
    4. Maintain consistent watering, avoiding fluctuations that may lead to blossom end rot or split fruit.
    5. Enrich the soil's nutrient content by fertilizing bi-weekly with a balanced tomato fertilizer, ensuring steady growth and fruit formation.
    6. Provide structural support with stakes or cages early on, securing the vines as they mature to prevent sprawling and fruit damage.
    7. Regularly prune excess foliage to enhance airflow and sunlight penetration, minimizing the risk of diseases like blight.
    8. Inspect for pests such as aphids or hornworms and promptly address any infestations with organic pest control methods.
    9. Monitor soil moisture levels closely, as inconsistent watering can lead to problems like cracking or blossom drop.
    10. Harvest ripe tomatoes promptly to encourage further fruiting and prevent overripening, ensuring a continuous harvest throughout the season.
    11. Consider companion planting with herbs like basil or marigolds to deter pests and enhance overall garden health naturally.

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    Final Remarks


    And there you have it – growing cherry tomatoes in pots is a rewarding and accessible way to enjoy fresh, flavorful tomatoes even in limited spaces. With careful attention to soil, sunlight, watering, and maintenance practices such as pruning and support, container gardening enthusiasts can yield bountiful harvests of these delightful fruits on balconies, patios, or even indoors.

    Author: Laura Kennedy

    Writer & Owner of Little Yellow Wheelbarrow

    Laura is a highly skilled gardener and fervent flower enthusiast. Despite her playful battle with plant spacing guidelines, Laura’s work inspires gardeners to create thriving, beautiful spaces that reflect both creativity and sustainability.

    Editors Note: This post was first published on December 30th, 2021. The post was updated on February 18th, 2024 for improved readabilty, and to include expert tips, faq, and table of contents.