When it comes to you successfully being able to grow tomatoes indoors, then clearly you have to deal with a number of issues that are going to come your way. Now, we could go into the various difficulties surrounding temperature, water, and even the light conditions that will ultimately lead to you having a rather healthy crop of tomatoes to pick but rather than that, we are going to focus on another important area, choosing the correct container.
If you thought that it was just a case of picking up any container, throwing in some potting mix, and then sowing your tomato seeds, then think again. Instead, the container or pot that you choose is going to have a profound impact on the way in which your tomato plants will then grow and you do certainly have to put some more thought into the selection than most people are currently aware.
So, what do you do?
The Benefits and Difficulties Faced by Growing Tomatoes in Containers.
However, prior to going into details regarding the actual containers, we need to spend some time looking at the absolute benefits of growing tomatoes in pots indoors mixed in with a quick discussion of some of the difficulties that you are going to face. At this point, it is important to remember that these difficulties are going to be things that you will be capable of overcoming and, in actual fact, by choosing the correct container from the outset you will make your own life a lot easier.
First, the benefits of growing tomatoes in this manner.
1. It makes growing tomatoes far more versatile.
The first benefit we need to mention is that it does open up the possibility of anybody being able to grow tomatoes no matter your living situation. For example, if you are living at the top of an apartment block then there is still no reason why you cannot set aside some space in your apartment and get growing.
Growing tomatoes in pots means you can have them anywhere so even just look around your home right now and think about where they can go. Remember that there are miniature tomato plants as well and even with that variety you can place them next to a sunny window as they just require a smaller pot. Even better still, if you do live in that apartment and you have a balcony then that can be the perfect spot for growing your own tomatoes no matter how high off the ground you may be.
2. It makes them portable.
This is another major benefit in that growing anything in pots instantly means that it is now far more portable so you can move your tomato plants around as they grow or as the light moves around your home. Also, if you did have them out on your patio or balcony and the weather takes a turn for the worse then you can easily move them back indoors rather than sitting wondering if they will survive the battering that they are receiving from mother nature.
Portability and being able to move them continuously to a better spot that will result in improved growth is certainly a huge benefit and one that cannot, and should not, be overlooked.
3. They can just sit in a corner somewhere.
A number of people believe that you need a lot of space to grow tomatoes and even though that does depend on the variety it is not always the case. Instead, by growing them in pots you can easily just put them in a corner that is not even being used for anything else and as long as you provide them with the correct amount of heat, water, and light then they can thrive.
4. Their convenience is unparalleled.
Finally, growing tomatoes in pots is very convenient for people especially those that find themselves in what would otherwise be rather challenging locations. It takes a matter of minutes to plant your tomatoes and you can then sit back and watch them grow and it just does not matter if your summer has been horrible just as long as you can provide them with light, preferably via LED grow lights, so the plants can grow and become stronger before bearing fruit.
As you can see, there are various benefits, but we did also say that there were a number of challenges.
1. Dealing with watering.
The first difficulty is going to be dealing with the watering of the plants because the actual material that the pot is made from is going to make a difference with how you then have to water the plants. Also, people tend to get into the habit of just adding some more water as they walk past or there is no communication as to who is dealing with the tomato plants leading to overwatering and various issues can then develop.
2. Choosing the pot.
This is the final main difficulty of growing tomato plants in pots or container and that is how to choose the pot in the first place. Well, that is what we are going to start to dissect now.
Thinking About the Shape and Size.
To begin with, we are going to discuss the shape and size of the pot that you need in order to successfully grow tomatoes. Now, a lot of people will feel that they need to go for the largest pot possible but that is really not the case and it is actually a lot easier to follow.
The thing you have to remember is that tomato plants do throw out a lot of roots and if you place them in a pot that is too small then they are going to suffer from stunted growth and you will just not get the crop that you were hoping for.
The absolute minimum size of pot that you should have for a tomato plant is a 27cm pot and even that is just for bush tomato plants and if you are looking at growing one of the vine varieties, then a 35cm pot should be the smallest one that you should even be contemplating using. However, you should consider using a 45cm to 50cm pot if you are serious about growing tomato plants that are going to thrive.
A key point to keep in mind when choosing the size of the pot is that the volume of soil that is able to be held by the container will have an impact on the maintenance and the chances of you growing healthy plants. Tomato plants do need to be watered on a regular basis and if you try to grow them in a pot that is too small then the soil will dry out too much or you could easily add too much water on a regular basis. This will then lead to the plant becoming stressed either way and it is all too easy for them to then die.
But we also have to mention the shape as well as the size because this can also make a difference even though most people would not be aware of this fact.
For the shape, you need to look at the height at which your tomato plant is going to grow because a tall plant in a thin shaped pot is not going to be that stable and the plant can become rather top heavy as it does not get the support at the base. You should also remember that a small, dwarf plant is going to look rather crazy if it is in a voluminous pot that is larger and wider than the plant itself.
You do need to make sure that the shape of the pot is deep enough for the roots to really be able to stretch out as tomato plants do love to do this so look at the profile of the pot rather than whether it is circular, square, or rectangular as that is the key part in all of this.
Thinking About How Porous the Container is and the Drainage.
It used to be the case that the only pot you were able to purchase was made of clay, but those days are now long gone. Instead, there are various materials that can be used as well as a variety of finishes but we will look into the pattern next.
There are several important points to think about when it comes to the material that is used for the pot as it has an impact not only on how long the pot is going to survive but also the way in which the moisture is held within the soil and even how often you will then need to go and water your tomato plants. However, we are going to look at one thing that is key and that is how porous the material of the pot is and how it has an impact on the plant itself.
For example, if you decide to go for a terra cotta pot (and a lot of people do thanks to them being rather attractive) then keep in mind that the unglazed variety tends to be very porous indeed. As a result, it allows more air to circulate in the soil and more moisture to evaporate faster.
To the untrained person this may sound like a problem, but that is not actually the case. Because air is allowed to circulate it does mean that it allows the soil to cool and because oxygen is getting into the soil through the container it allows the roots to really breathe. Remember, plants need oxygen to help with the growing and living process just as we do so if you are restricting the amount of oxygen that can get to the roots, then clearly you could be making things more difficult.
The same can be said for wood containers as well, but you should really treat them first or else the moisture is going to gradually rot the wood and their life span is certainly going to be less than it should be.
However, if you are looking at using a material that is non-porous such as plastic, metal, or glazed terra cotta then clearly the ability for water to evaporate and escape is going to be restricted as is the amount of air that can access the roots. This does mean that the soil in this instance is going to hold onto the water for longer so the plants will require less watering. However, you do need to be careful with over-watering the plants because of this very reason and if you have poor drainage on top of using a non-porous material then you could very well have a problem on your hands.
Next, the drainage because the one thing that you need to make sure of when it comes to choosing the container is that it has more than adequate drainage. Now, if you choose a large pot then you can place some stones, broken up pieces of clay pots, or even polystyrene at the bottom as this will not only save you some soil but it will also help with drainage.
You must remember that tomato plants hate to have their feet absolutely saturated all of the time as it leads to them rotting and your plant is then going to develop a whole host of problems. Because of this, you need to make sure that there are drainage holes in the base (or one large drainage hole as is the norm with clay pots) so that the excess water can move through the soil and exit rather than soaking the potting mix.
But you are not just restricted to purchasing a container that already has a hole in it because if you have your eye on a wooden container or metal pot that you are attracted to and it does not have a hole (which is the case in some containers) then you can easily make your own. Simply drill a number of holes in the base at least four would be preferable as this is going to allow the water to escape.
In other words, drainage is probably the most important thing when it comes to selecting a pot for growing tomatoes indoors because without drainage you are just not going to have a plant that is going to ever produce any tomatoes.
The Color and Pattern.
If you thought that the color and pattern had no impact on the way in which the tomato plant grows, then you are going to be wrong. Instead, it has been shown that this does indeed have a huge impact on the success of the plants as lighter colors are going to reflect the heat and keep the soil and the roots cooler as a result. If you use a container that is a darker color then it will absorb the heat and the plants are going to dry out faster than those in lighter colored pots.
Also, it has been shown that solid colored plain pots are also going to be more beneficial than those pots with patterns on them. There will be more than enough variation in the shapes of the leaves and plants without adding it to the container.
Thinking About How the Container is Made.
It is worth us also spending a short period of time thinking about the different container materials that can be used in order to produce the pot in the first place. As we said earlier, it used to be the case that you were really restricted to just clay but that is so different now thanks to various other materials being used.
However, each material has its own advantages.
First, there is Terra cotta and there is no doubt that they are the most popular type of pots for tomato plants and they have been used for decades. However, they do suffer from the problem of the soil drying out faster so you need to keep that in mind should you decide to go ahead and use them.
You may also decide to use plastic pots especially if you are on a budget. They are not going to allow as much air to hit the roots although they are lighter and easier to move around. They will also not have a problem with the weather and temperature although as you are growing them indoors then this is less of an issue.
If you are thinking about using wood, then you should look out for redwood, cedar, or cypress as they are not only the most common types of wood used for this but they are also the most resistant to rotting. However, do not get pressure treated wood because they have used chemicals to do that and you do not want it mixing with the soil.
Furthermore, you can use concrete pots, metal, iron, pressed paper, and even wire and there are different variations available within those materials that may be of interest to you. It is just a case of thinking about what goes best in your home as well as thinking about how likely you are to keep a close eye on the watering issue since that does change the material that you are best to consider using.
Improvising for a Container.
Finally, here is something to think about. A container does not have to be the normal kind of pot because, in theory, anything that is capable of holding soil and have drainage holes put into the base can actually be a pot for tomato plants. The only restriction that you have is your imagination and your ability to improvise.
If you have an old metal bucket, then drill some holes in the bottom and use that as your container. If you have an old wheelbarrow then you can use the bucket part as a container as that is still going to be deep enough to hold the roots of the plant without crushing them. The only other thing that you need to remember is the size and volume of soil that can be held inside the container and you need to keep those measurements from above firmly in your mind if you want to avoid causing problems for yourself and your plants.
Look at your junk or even go to second hand stores and reclamation yards and see what is lying around. Look at the potential container for what it could be rather than what it is at this moment in time but just make sure that you know how to put a good number of drainage holes in the base or you are just going to be wasting your time. To be honest, as long as the tomato plant can stretch out its roots it is really not that concerned as to what you use as its home just as long as it can grow and have the correct amount of moisture in the soil.
So, as you can see there are various things to keep in mind when it comes to selecting the correct pots or containers for growing tomatoes indoors. The good news is that there are just so many options out there that it should be very easy indeed for you to be able to locate the perfect pot not only for the variety you will be growing but also for the spot in your house where it is going to be sitting. Do yourself a favor and take on board all of the points that we have discussed here and look carefully at the container and not just the plant because the benefits of doing so are going to make it all worth your while.