Growing tomatoes indoors and in containers is relatively straightforward, but there is always the possibility of things going wrong especially if you are guilty of making a mistake. In all honesty, there are a number of mistakes that are quite common and being aware of them before you start growing your tomatoes should hopefully mean that you do not fall into the same trap as everybody else.
So, here are the 10 most common mistakes and also how to avoid them and as you will see it is going to be a lot easier than you had perhaps feared it would be.
Mistake 1: Using Containers that are Far too Small.
The first mistake is putting your tomato plant in a container that is just far too small for it because the roots end up being too cramped and they do need space to grow. Also, the bigger the container the more soil and the more water that can then be held in the soil and the same goes for the number of nutrients as well. Get this balance correct and you will have stronger plants.
You might think that you do not have a lot of space so will use a smaller container, but in all honesty you are better to reduce the number of plants you will grow rather than compromise on this part. Even a small cherry tomato should be in a reasonable sized pot to allow it to grow because the wrong conditions is going to lead to the plant being stressed and this opens up the door to all kinds of possible issues and diseases working their way into the plant.
Mistake 2: Putting too Many Plants Together.
If you are restricted when it comes to space then you may be tempted to put a number of tomato plants in the one container, but don’t. This is called overcrowding and you then have too many plants fighting for the same nutrients. Understand the space that each plant needs and stick to it.
To successfully avoid this mistake limit one plant to one pot and ideally you should be looking at a minimum pot size of 5 gallons to make sure that the plant has more than enough room to grow. This might mean you need more pots and potting mix to fill them, but thanks to there being less competition for the nutrients and more space to breathe it will ultimately result in stronger plants that can really supply you with an abundance of fruit.
Mistake 3: Too Little Light.
You have to remember that tomato plants need light in order to grow so if they have too little light then you will have a weaker plant that is incapable of producing an abundant harvest of fruit. A tomato plant is going to require at least six hours of quality light per day and it is even better if it is closer to eight hours so if you put them in a dark spot, then they are just not going to grow.
One possible option is to buy a light meter or look at the spots in your home that get the correct amount of light. Alternatively, invest in LED grow lights as they can provide the light that the tomato plants need in order to grow successfully and at least then it does not matter if the light quality outside is poorer than what is required.
Mistake 4: You Over Water.
Water is a big thing and if you over water the tomato plant then you are going to encourage all kinds of diseases that will take hold and kill off the plant. Here is a shock for most people, your plant can effectively drown if its roots are being saturated in water.
What we recommend here is to err on the side of caution when it comes to water. It is best to keep the soil moist rather than to leave it saturated as that is just going to lead to all kinds of problems for you. A little amount of water on a regular basis will work better than a deluge.
Mistake 5: You Fail to Provide Enough Water.
At the other end of the scale there is always the possibility of you not giving the tomato plant enough water to survive. This can also lead to all kinds of diseases being able to attack the plant as it is going to be stressed and unable to stay healthy. In particular you can end up with something called blossom end rot which practically spells the end for your tomato plant. Also, too little water will result in smaller tomatoes and they will also not be as succulent.
To make sure that you are providing enough water use either a time release system or add watering the plants into your daily routine. Also, check on the weather and the temperature as that has an impact on the way in which the plant will go through water as will the material that the container is made from so there may be times where you have to water them more than once a day so keeping a close eye on things is essential.
Mistake 6: Kept in the Wrong Temperature.
If your tomatoes are exposed to temperatures that are too low on a regular basis then you are going to find that they are just unable to cope and will not flourish and produce a vast amount of fruit. A tomato plant is just not going to fire up until it is feeling warm enough to do so and indeed even a plant that is put into a container later on and kept in warm conditions will surpass one that is kept in cooler temperatures and planted earlier.
Our main tip to avoid this mistake is to be aware of the temperatures where you plan on growing the tomatoes and if required use a thermometer to keep a close eye on things. Especially at the beginning be prepared to keep the plants in a warmer environment or if the temperature is dropping outside move them to somewhere that is warmer. That is the beauty of using containers as they are portable so take advantage of this.
Mistake 7: Not Feeding the Plant Enough.
A tomato plant needs its nutrients in order to grow and produce significant fruit. Indeed, they are widely known as being rather heavy feeders and you can either use a soil that already contains those nutrients or you can use an organic fertilizer yourself and add it at various times. However, this does then require you to understand how and when to apply it so as you do not overfeed them as this can also be a major issue.
For this, we recommend that you either purchase a potting mix with a slow release fertilizer or purchase a specific tomato fertilizer that uses organic material. You will notice that it will come with is own instructions on how to use it and make a note of when to do this. Do not guess at amounts or the frequency or you will really run the risk of making a mess of things.
Mistake 8: Selecting the Wrong Variety to Grow.
Here is a mistake that is all too easy for somebody just starting out to make, choosing the wrong variety of tomato to then grow indoors and in a container. In an ideal world, you will understand things such as the space you have available (a small space is better with cherry tomatoes) or even which variety you prefer according to its taste. Do you really want to go ahead and grow tomatoes that have next to no flavor and waste all of your time?
To make sure that you are not guilty of this mistake we recommend doing your research first and be absolutely sure about the variety that you are going to grow before you purchase seeds or seedlings. Take the time to learn about the variety and how to care for it and you will then know from the outset that it is going to be perfect for your needs.
Mistake 9: Growing your Tomatoes the Wrong Way Around.
This might sound bizarre, but a number of people have been trying to grow tomatoes with them hanging upside down as they believe that it is going to result in better fruit and a stronger plant. Now, while some people may have very well managed to achieve this it does not work for everybody and it is just often a bizarre sight. Please note that we do not mean that people are planting them with the roots sticking up as that would just be completely impossible to get wrong.
To avoid this mistake, our advice is to just stick with the tried and tested method of growing tomatoes and do not even attempt to do anything too fancy until you have a significant amount of experience of growing them. This should be a pleasure and something that is easy to do so avoid growing them upside down as that will include some complications that you just do not need.
Mistake 10: Staking your Tomatoes After Problems Have Started.
It is all too easy to be caught out by the speed at which tomatoes can grow and if you do not keep a close eye on them then you can easily discover that they have grown too fast and you are just a bit late in staking them to provide the support that they need. What you are advised to do is to go ahead and stake them as soon as you have planted the seedling rather than waiting until they have become more established. Doing it this way will certainly make your life so much easier and you are going to be able to effectively train the plant so it grows the way you want rather than attempting to fit a cage around the plant after it has become somewhat unruly.
Our tip to avoid this mistake is to simply plan ahead and stake the tomato as soon as possible. Hanging around is not the way to do this and you will then only have yourself to blame.
Those are the ten most common mistakes when it comes to growing tomatoes in containers and as you can see there are also a number of wonderfully simple tips that will help you to avoid running into these problems during the life time of the plant. Now, we are not saying that this is going to make it impossible for you to make errors as that is not the case, but anything that can potentially help make life easier should certainly be welcomed with open arms.