How to Grow Tomatoes in a Box

by on September 26th, 2014
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Almost everyone grows tomatoes in the ground or in a large pot, but you can also grow tomatoes in a box. If you are short on space or maybe you don’t have any garden space at all, or perhaps you only want a few fresh tomatoes close to your door, this is a practical solution.

Which Box to Choose

Just like tomato plants, there are many different boxes to choose from, like a wooden box, or a plastic box. You can even cut an old water heater in half length wise and use that to grow your tomatoes. Whatever kind of box you choose, make sure there are drainage holes at the bottom or your tomato plants may rot.

The size of the box depends on how big your tomato plant will grow. If you choose a smaller plant like Roma, a 5-gallon box works well. But if you want to grow a larger plant like Celebrity, a 20-gallon box will work. Also, check the label of your tomato plants to find a variety that is designed for box container gardening. If you are planting the smaller variety tomatoes, you can plant more than one per box, if the box is big.

Before you fill your box with soil, find a sunny location to place it. The area should have at least six hours of full sun light, or the tomatoes won’t produce very many fruit. Make sure, if you are putting it on your deck, that the area is sturdy. A box filled with wet soil is heavy.

Find the Right Location

Once the box is in the right location, fill it up with potting soil. Allow 1 to 2 inches of space between the soil and the rim of the planter box.

Transplant the Tomatoes

Now comes the time to plant the tomato. Dig a hole in the center of the box. The hole should be deep so that when the tomato is placed inside, only the top two to three leaves are above the soil line. Tomatoes can be planted deep in the ground, because roots will form all along the stem.

Fill in the planting hole with soil and lightly firm it in place with your hands. Water the soil thoroughly. Tomato plants need a lot of water to survive, thrive and produce.

After Care

Keep the soil moist throughout the growing season. If in doubt, stick your finger up to the first knuckle into the soil. If you don’t feel moisture, give it some water. Always check the soil once a day unless the air temperature is over 85 degrees Fahrenheit and/or, there has been a lot of wind. You may have to check two to three times a day.

Tomatoes need fertilizer. Feed them every 10 to 14 days with 10-10-10 fertilizer or you can use a special fertilizer for tomatoes. As always, mix and apply according to label directions.

By following these few simple rules, you can successfully grow tomatoes in a box.


“Grow Vegetables”; Alan Buckingham and Jo Whittingham; 2008

“Container Gardening for Dummies”; Suzanne DeJohn and the Editors of the National Gardening Association; 2010

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