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Spring 2022

The Best Container Tomatoes for You


By David George

With the Great Tomato Plant Sale around the corner, we should review the best tomato varieties for your container garden. This year’s varieties have been lined up, photographed, and documented online for your review.

Small spaces gardening requires some specific best practices that you will find in the UC ANR article here: https://ucanr.edu/sites/Nutrition_BEST/files/191401.pdf

We’ll refresh your memory about those first, then finish with our choices for the best container-grown tomatoes. Planters, pots, grow bags, and other plantable containers are quite a different environment than a standard raised veggie bed. With good planning, your containers can grow an amazing group of veggies, herbs, and ornamentals.

The overall climate near your exterior walls will warm the patio or space up to 10° F higher than surrounding air temperatures depending on the amount of direct sunshine. Containers also lose water more quickly, from extra-heated outside walls and from more porous soil mixtures inside the container. Make sure your drip irrigation system has two emitters on each plant to compensate for a clogged line.

Container plants don’t need a lot of replacement water but need it applied more frequently. Container plants have different soil mixture requirements than in-ground beds. Containers require more frequent watering and fertilizing. Here is a UCANR article with great advice for successfully Growing Edibles in Containers: https://marinmg.ucanr.edu/EDIBLES/ContainerEdibles/

Tomatoes develop deeper root systems and will need planter pots at least 14” tall for best root development. Support taller-growing varieties with an in-container small trellis, or wire tomato cage.

The best tomato varieties for your containers depends on where you live: cooler West, warmer Central, or hotter, drier East County. Read on for more advice from David George