Given a large enough pot, nearly all varieties of tomatoes are suitable for container gardening; however, some will yield better results than others.
What Size Tomato is Best for Container Gardening?
The large beefsteak tomatoes like Mortgage Lifter, Brandywine and Celebrity may not yield the super-sized fruits when confined to a container, although properly watered and fertilized, the flavor can be every bit as good as the 1-2 pound fruits the plants might produce planted in the ground.
Cherry and grape varieties suffer least from the dwarfing effects of container gardening tomatoes. The smaller fruits are naturally more adapted to the limited water and nutrient environment of a container.Tomatoes bred include Tumbler, Window Box Roma, Florida Basket, Tiny Tim and Patio for container gardening. The largest of these produce 2- to 3-ounce tomatoes. Tumbling Tom, a newer tomato hybridized for container gardening, grows only 6 inches wide, making it a perfect focal point plant in a container herb garden.
Between the two size extremes, mid-sized slicing tomatoes like Early Girl and paste tomatoes like Romas will often yield satisfactory results grown in containers. These naturally yield tomatoes in the range of four to eight ounces. While they may not grow quite as large confined to a container, with proper care, the difference is minimal.
Determinant or Indeterminant Tomatoes for Container Gardening
Tomatoes are classified into two main growth habits: determinant and indeterminant. Seed packets or transplant nursery tags will note this information. Each tomato has advantages in container gardening, and disadvantages.Determinant or indeterminant varieties of tomatoes is decided by desired purpose and aesthetics of the tomato container garden.
Indeterminant tomatoes keep growing throughout the summer and set clusters of tomatoes consistently throughout the growing season. Indeterminant tomatoes make better hanging baskets than patio specimens, as the vines can cascade over the sides of the basket and keep growing. A consistent supply of blossoms and fruits adds visual interest, but even with container gardening, tomato vines can grow to 6 feet or more on indeterminant cultivars, making them difficult to support without a large tomato cage, which may not be attractive while the plant is growing into it. The size also requires a large pot, with at least a five gallon capacity.
Determinant tomatoes grow to a set size and tend to set all the fruit at once, or in two to three flushes over a few weeks. The limited size makes these easier to manage in containers with stakes, smaller tomato cages or ornamental supports, and container gardening with determinant tomatoes does not require quite as large a pot as with indeterminants. However, the determinant tomatoes have a shorter period of being attractive plants for display.