What Size Pots For Growing Tomatoes

If all else goes well, the size of the container can be the deciding factor for your tomato harvest’s fate. If you give them plenty of sunlight, water and nutrients (in short, everything they like), and still receive a harvest that’s less than satisfactory, chances are you aren’t using a correctly sized container. Rootbound tomato plants will produce a smaller yield, and that too with wrinkled, unappetizing tomatoes. 

So, then what size pots for growing tomatoes should you pick? Don’t let a wrong decision ruin your harvest quality after you spend all this time nurturing your dear plants. Continue reading and you’ll learn the size of pots that work perfectly for your tomato garden.  

The Bigger The Better

The pro gardeners like to choose larger containers for tomatoes. Tomatoes have an extensive root system. They will yield better if they have room to develop their roots freely. Smaller containers may result in rootbound plants. If you don’t want to compromise the harvest at the hands of a small pot, it’s best to choose a spacious container. Even the smaller varieties, that won’t take a lot of growing space, will perform better in a larger pot.  

In short, when in doubt, go for a bigger pot rather than smaller. 

What’s The Perfect Size?

You’ll find many dwarf varieties that can grow in small 8-inch, or 1-gallon, pots. However, growing them in 2-gallon pots will give them a little more room to spread their roots. Most of the larger, indeterminate tomatoes grow best in 5-gallon containers. It’s the perfect size for the roots to grow without obstruction and for the soil to hold moisture for a couple of days, especially during summers. 

Do keep in mind that the sizes mentioned above will support a single tomato plant. Don’t grow more than one plant in a 5-gallon pot or they’ll end up competing for water and nutrients. If you plan on growing multiple tomato plants in the same container, choose a larger size.

5-gallon pots are the perfect size for a single tomato plant. 

Don’t Forget Drainage Holes

When speaking of containers, drainage holes can’t be overlooked. Get a container with large drainage holes at the bottom. Holes offer a path for excess water to drain out which would otherwise collect in the soil and rot the roots. 

If your pot doesn’t already have them, drill multiple drainage holes at the bottom before setting up the plants. Place it over a tray before setting the pot in your balcony, patio, or porch. The tray will catch all the excess water without creating a mess on the floor. 

Rootbound Tomato Plants – What’s The Fix?

If you’re growing your tomato plants in a small container, they’ll end up being rootbound. Most nursery plants are also rootbound. Is there a fix? Let’s find out.

What Are Root bound Plants? 

A plant becomes rootbound when its roots fill the container. When you take the plant out of the container, you’ll see the roots winding along the boundaries in search of nutrients and water. 

Symptoms Of Root bound Tomato Plants

Other than stunted growth and wrinkled leaves, the appearance of roots above the soil surface is a clear cut sign of severely rootbound tomato plants. If you see roots above the surface, it simply means that the roots have covered the entire space of the pot and are now growing out of the soil. Quick action will be needed. 

Transplant To A Larger Pot

You already know what size pots for growing tomatoes are ideal. If your tomatoes were growing in a smaller pot and are rootbound, it’s time to transplant them to a 5-gallon pot.

  • Prepare the new pot with fresh soil before removing the plant from its original container. 
  • Gently remove the plant from its original container.
  • Gently work the roots to loosen the ball. You may have to use a little more effort to open up the particularly tough roots. It’s okay if some of them break in the process.
  • Place it in the new pot and backfill with fresh soil.
  • Water thoroughly after transplanting. 

Conclusion

You see how a correctly sized pot can make all the difference when it comes to a successful tomato harvest. What size pots for growing tomatoes have you been using? If you’ve been using small pots, it’s time to switch to 5-gallon containers this season; you won’t regret it!

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