Growing tomatoes in pots is almost always an adventure. It can be incredibly rewarding or completely frustrating.
Sometimes epic failure can happen for reasons beyond your control, like a locust attack or an infestation of Tuta Absolute or ridiculously wet or cold summer.
But there are some common mistakes (trust me, I’ve made them all, more than once) that if you can avoid, you will greatly increase your chances of growing tomatoes in containers successfully.
When it comes to growing potted tomatoes, bigger is better. The larger your container, the more soil it will hold.
The more land you have, the better the soil will hold water. Also, the more soil you have, the more nutrients available to your plants.
Water and nutrient availability are two of the most critical elements for your tomato plants to grow happy, and healthy and consequently have great harvests.
2/Too much water
Properly watering tomato plants is probably the main key to tomato success. Too much water will cause the roots to rot, and too little lead to the flowers withering.
Inconsistent watering will also lead to blossom end rot, cracked tomatoes, and stressed plants.
So here’s one critical thing you must do for tomato success (and more difficult if you don’t use drip irrigation): You must keep the potting soil constantly moist, but not waterlogged, just moist.
Before watering, check if the soil is already moist. To do this, bury your index finger halfway deep and add water only if the soil feels dry to the touch.
Don’t forget the drainage too. Make sure your pot has large holes in the bottom so excess water can drain.
Raising the pot from the ground is also a good idea if you have your pot on the ground or on a non-porous surface.
Add water until the bottom of your pot drains. This way you will know that all the roots, even the ones at the bottom of the pot, have been watered.
However, the best is automatic drip irrigation. In this video, I show you a very economical and very easy to install irrigation programmer
3/too little water
How much water your tomato plant needs will depend on a few things, including the weather. Wind, heat, humidity, the size of the pot, and the type of potting soil you use will affect how often you need to water.
In the middle of the season, a large tomato plant may need to be watered at least once a day, sometimes twice.
Also, when you water, make sure to really soak your plants; if you only give them a sip, the water will only moisten the top layer of soil.
When you water, try to water the soil directly, not the leaves, as wet leaves can cause fungus.
Putting a lot of plants in one pot might seem like a good idea, but it’s usually counterproductive. Unless you have a tremendous pot (more like a raised bed) only put one tomato plant per pot. To get an idea of the minimum size, consider 20-liter paint buckets
4/not enough sun
Tomatoes love the sun and need full sun, which means they need direct, unobstructed sunlight for 6-8 hours a day.
Do not cheat! Many people (me included) chronically overestimate the amount of sun an area receives.
It is important that you check this, with a watch, before planting your pots.
Also, the shade in one spot can change dramatically during the growing season, so check every week to make sure there are no obstructions blocking the sun.
5/The temperature is not enough
Along with the sun, tomatoes like warm temperatures.
While it may seem like you’re getting ahead of the season by getting your tomatoes out early, nothing really will happen until it’s warm.
If you want to get ahead of the season, you can cover your tomatoes with nylon when it’s cold or do what I usually do which is transport them in and out of my house.
Until the temperatures warm up. Also, don’t forget to acclimate your seedlings once you finally get them out in the sun.
Many people swear that they can grow tomatoes upside down. I do not. I’ve tried several ways and haven’t found any that are good. I can understand the point of growing hanging tomatoes, but not the other way around.
7/Tutoring too late
This is one of my most common mistakes. I always forget how fast tomatoes grow and we don’t stake them until they are huge and unwieldy.
It is much better to plant the stakes before the tomatoes get too big.