In recent years growing tomatoes in a pot or even a hanging basket on the patio has become very popular. When fruiting, the dwarf bush varieties promoted for patio tomatoes are attractive plants anyway.
To get a good crop from patio tomatoes isn’t difficult but this guide should help you get a decent crop of fresh tomatoes from your patio every year.
How to Grow Patio Tomatoes
Start as with any other tomato, under heat and move up to a 3” pot. If the weather is against you, still cold, you may need to move it up a pot size before planting out. See the article on Sowing and Starting off Tomatoes
If you have a greenhouse or a coldframe then you can plant up in your container and keep it sheltered and warm until the weather is right to move it outside. Remember it isn’t just frost to avoid but cold nights. See Ideal Temperature for Tomato Growing
Initially bring out in the day and return to cover at night for week to harden the plant off a little and avoid shocking it. If the weather turns cold after they’ve gone out, horticultural fleece blankets can often save the day.
Don’t forget that it is often warmer nearer the walls of a house or in an area sheltered from the wind. Just a degree or two can make all the difference.
The biggest problem with growing tomatoes in relatively small containers is the compost drying out and causing problems like blossom end rot and split skins. Always use a good quality compost that will help hold water and add water retaining crystals to the compost. These are generally available and just swell up when they meet water to release as things dry. They help ensure there is always moisture available in the compost.
With hanging baskets, line the interior with an old plastic bag with a few small holes punched through to help hold the water and rehydrate dried compost.
Feeding Patio Tomatoes
My preference is to use my own comfrey liquid but it is rather strong smelling. The deal with my wife is that I use a commercially available tomato feed at home such as Tomorite or Chempak. I don’t recommend using cheap tomato feeds – the NPK balance is often wrong and you may pay a premium for a decent product but at least it will do the job effectively.
Quality feeds often contain additional magnesium which prevents magnesium deficiency, a particular problem of tomatoes caused by the high potash feed – see magnesium deficiency in tomatoes
Inter-cropping Patio Tomatoes
Although they can be attractive in their own right, there is nothing to stop you planting some flowers in the same pot. We’ve used lobelia to good effect but marigolds, which repel whitefly, would be a good choice.
Towards the end of the season, watch out for cold nights and cover with fleece or move undercover to extend the cropping period.
Otherwise – just enjoy picking and eating the freshest tomatoes on a sunny day!
Best Varieties for Patio Growing
My personal favourite is Gartenpearle (Thompson & Morgan) but tastes vary. Hundreds and thousands is a prolific producer even in a basket. Cherry Falls and Peardrops from Suttons Seeds are well spoken of. Losetto is a patio variety that is also blight resistant, which can be a major problem with tomatoes as well as potatoes.
Further Information: Tomato Growing Guides
- Types of Tomatoes – An Introduction to Tomato Growing Part 1
- Sowing and Starting off Tomatoes – Introduction to Tomato Growing Part 2
- Growing Tomatoes in a Tomato Grow-house (Mini-Greenhouse)
- Growing Tomatoes in a Greenhouse
- Growing Tomatoes in the Greenhouse Border
- Growing Tomatoes in Pots or Grow Bags in the Greenhouse
- Growing Tomatoes by Ring Culture
- Growing Tomatoes in Straw Bales
- Growing Tomatoes Outdoors
- Planting & Growing Tomatoes Outdoors
- Growing Patio Tomatoes – Dwarf Bush Variety Patio Tomatoes
- Water Requirements for Tomatoes
- Ideal Temperatures for Growing Tomatoes
- Removing Tomato Side Shoots (Suckers) & Stopping Tomatoes
- Best Tomato Varieties – My Top Tasty Tomato Picks
- Heirloom Tomatoes (Heritage Tomatoes)
- Best Tomatoes for Greenhouse Growing
- Tomato Troubles & Diseases | Causes & Cures of Tomato Problems
- Raising Tomato Plants from Seed