Did you know that growing tomatoes in hanging baskets is a great option if you’re short on space (or just looking to try something different)? If you choose the right tomato variety and follow a few simple guidelines, you can grow heaps of them without taking up any floor space on your balcony or deck.
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Why Grow Tomatoes In Hanging Baskets?
We’re all about growing your own produce here at Farm to Jar, even if you don’t have a full-sized garden to make use of. It’s perfectly possible to grow tomatoes on a small deck or balcony, and using a hanging planter is actually the perfect way to do so without using up lots of space.
Other advantages of growing tomatoes in hanging baskets include:
- No need to bend down to pick or water the tomatoes, as they’re right at eye level.
- Hanging baskets can be moved around if need be.
- Good air circulation.
- More difficult for disease, fungus and bugs to spread.
- A mature, cascading tomato plant in a hanging basket looks fantastic!
Best Tomato Hanging Baskets
There are a bunch of different hanging planter types out there marketed for growing tomatoes. The “upside-down” planter has become particularly popular in recent years, but we’re not necessarily huge fans. The plant’s vines can bend upwards in search of light and then later snap when they become laden with fruit!
Most gardeners prefer to opt for a sturdy (important!) metal basket with a strong chain and hook that can bear the weight of a mature dwarf tomato laden with fruit.
Here are some things you should look for in a hanging basket meant for tomato growing:
- At least 5 gallons, more is better.
- At least 12″ deep.
- Has at least one drainage hole.
- Can support a good bit of weight.
- Lined with landscaping fabric or coco coir so the soil doesn’t fall out.
Some folks swear by using hanging strawberry grow bags, so you could give that a try as well.
Best Tomato Varieties for Hanging Baskets
As you can probably imagine, not all tomato varieties are suitable for a hanging planter. We love heirloom slicer tomatoes, for example, but both the plants and the fruits get absolutely humongous! It’s better to go for something a little smaller unless you have a very heavy-duty basket at your disposal.
The ideal choice would be determinate tumbling cherry varieties. They produce their entire crop of small fruits in one go and have a cascading growth pattern that makes them perfect for being grown higher up.
Nice small varieties that should work for growing tomatoes in hanging baskets include:
- Tiny Tim: usually doesn’t grow past 18″. Determinate.
- Whippersnapper: a prolific vining cherry. Determinate.
- Tumbling Tom: beautiful cascading vines, perfect for a hanging planter. Determinate.
- Garden Pearl (Gartenperle): created especially for hanging baskets. Determinate.
- Hundreds and Thousands: another cascading tomato. Determinate.
Tips For Growing Tomatoes In Hanging Baskets
Once you’ve selected the type of basket and tomato you’d like to go for, it’s time to get this show on the road. You can opt to start your own seeds, but it’s also possible to purchase seedlings at your local nursery if you’d like a little head start.
If you’re going to try your hand at starting from scratch, be sure to check out the category on indoor seed starting. It contains all the info you need to produce healthy baby tomato plants.
It’s important to choose the right location for your hanging tomato basket. It should be relatively sheltered, as harsh winds can really wreak havoc on a fruit-bearing tomato plant dangling from a chain. On the other hand, it shouldn’t be so sheltered as to be shaded, because these plants adore plenty of sun.
Pick a spot that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily for the best results.
If you’ve grown tomato plants in containers before, you’ll know how quickly they can dry out during a hot summer. It’s important to keep a very close eye on your plant, because they do like plenty of moisture!
You’ll probably have to water daily, maybe even twice a day in some cases. For this reason, some gardeners prefer to set up an automatic irrigation system.
Yep, being such vigorous growers, your tomatoes definitely require a bit of fertilizer. Mix some compost into the soil when you first plant the seedling in the basket, and be sure to regularly apply some liquid tomato food for the best results.