Growing tomatoes in a self watering planter is an easy and low-maintenance way to enjoy a bounty of homegrown tomatoes. These innovative planters are perfect for small spaces, decks, and balconies and create an ideal growing environment for tomato plants. They can even be used to grow other vegetables like peppers, eggplants, and cucumbers. Keeping container-grown tomatoes watered, especially when the summer weather is hot and dry, is a challenge for gardeners and using a self watering planter is a time-saving way to ensure plants don’t dry out. In this article I’ll offer tips for success when growing tomatoes in a self watering planter.
The below information is featured on Savvy Gardening thanks to the sponsorship of Gardener’s Supply Company. Gardener’s Supply Company is an employee-owned company that designs and builds many types of planters as well as other innovative garden products.
What are the advantages of growing tomatoes in a self watering planter?
A self watering planter, like the Oasis Self-Watering Tomato Planter with Trellis shown in the photo above, is a time saver. They provide a great environment for growing tons of tomatoes with less work from the gardener. It’s a win-win! Self watering planters contain water reservoirs to ensure a constant supply of moisture, pulling water up from the reservoir as needed. This is important because water-stressed tomato plants don’t perform well and are are generally more prone to issues like blossom end rot. Using a self watering planter is a proven way to reduce water worries and make sure your plant is getting the moisture it needs. The Oasis Planter has a 36-quart soil capacity and the water reservoir holds 2 and 3/4 gallons of water.
There’s another awesome advantage for gardeners when growing tomatoes in a self watering pot like the Oasis Planter: it allows you to direct irrigation water from a hose or watering can into the easy-fill tube. This means that you don’t need to water the plant itself. Having a water reservoir equals less water splashing on the foliage of the plant. Tomatoes are prone to many plant diseases and it’s therefore important to keep the foliage as dry as possible.
Finally, a garden – even a balcony or patio garden – should be productive and beautiful! The Oasis Self-Watering Tomato Planter offers a stylish modern take on container gardening. Plus, set up is also quick and easy and you can choose from three bold and bright hues of blue, green, and yellow.
The best site for a potted tomato plant
Tomatoes are heat-loving plants that need plenty of direct sun to grow and produce well. Aim for a site that offers at least 8 hours of sun each day. The beauty of using a self watering tomato planter is that you can place it wherever you have a sunny spot. For example, they’re ideal on a deck or patio, as well as in the front or back yard. Plus, many planter kits have optional casters which makes it easy to move them around. This is helpful if you need to give the plants more light or make space for entertaining.
The best soil when growing tomatoes in a self watering planter
Give your tomato plants the best start by filling planters with a blend of a high-quality potting mix and compost. My ratio for vegetables grown in pots is two-thirds potting mix and one-third compost. I also add a slow release organic fertilizer at this time for a steady supply of essential nutrients.
How to plant a tomato in a self watering planter
At planting time, fill the planter with the growing medium and then add water to the reservoir. Next, slip the tomato seedling from its pot and loosen the rootball. I also remove any leaves on the lower portion of the plant, making sure to leave at least 4 leaves at the top of the seedling. Tomatoes can form adventitious roots all along their stems which results in a dense root system. Take advantage of this tomato trait by burying the seedling deeply in the planter. Make a planting hole deep enough to accommodate the seedling and bury it so that it’s planted up to the bottom set of remaining leaves. The first time you water the pot, water it from the top. After that, all you need to do is refill the reservoir when the water level is low.
A self watering tomato planter with trellis
You may be wondering about the best way to stake or support a tomato grown in a self watering pot. Good question! If you DIY a self watering container you’ll have to use a heavy duty tomato cage or pot trellising system. For that reason, a good quality self watering tomato kit includes a trellis system to support the vigorous plants. This keeps them up and off the ground or deck, promotes good air flow, and helps speed up ripening by permitting light to reach to all parts of the plant. The open design of a trellis is ideal for tomatoes because it allows easy and constant access for tending plants and harvesting.
How to care for tomatoes in a self watering planter
Promote healthy growth from your tomato plants with these helpful tips:
- Watering – Firstly, a self watering planter like the Oasis planter has a convenient water-level indicator to let you know when it’s time to fill the water reservoir. How often you need to fill it depends on the weather, temperature, and the growth stage of the tomato plant. A small seedling doesn’t use as much water as a full-grown tomato plant. Therefore, keep an eye on the water-level indicator and refill the reservoir when it indicates the water level is low.
- Fertilizing – Tomato plants are heavy feeders. Because of this, applying a liquid organic tomato fertilizer every 2 to 3 weeks is a foolproof way to promote healthy growth and large harvests. Be sure to follow the application directions listed on the fertilizer packaging.
To learn more about growing tomatoes in a self watering planter watch this video:
Helpful features when growing tomatoes in a self watering planter
- Casters – Casters, or roller balls, are a handy feature for potted tomatoes. They allow you to effortlessly move the plant around a deck, balcony, or patio which is convenient if the plant needs more light, or if you need more outdoor living space for a family gathering or party.
- Cage extensions – Determinate tomatoes are typically grown in pots and planters. They produce plants that grow to a pre-determined height with most growing up to four feet. For indeterminate tomato varieties, which can reach heights of 6 to 7 feet, many kits offer trellis cage extensions to add height to the trellis. This extra support ensures the entire plant is trellised.
4 of the best types of tomatoes to grow in pots
- Tasmanian Chocolate – If you love the flavors of heirloom tomatoes but want a plant with compact and manageable growth, grow Tasmanian Chocolate. The stocky plants are 3 to 3 1/2 feet tall and yield a generous crop of 8 to 12 ounce mahogany colored fruits.
- Celebrity – This popular determinate variety produces medium-sized beefsteak tomatoes that are delicious in sandwiches and salads. The plants grow 3 to 3 1/2 feet tall and set fruit about 70 days from transplanting.
- Roma VF – Roma VF is a fantastic variety for gardeners who want to make their own pasta sauce or can the harvest. The determinate plants grow 3 feet tall and the clusters of 3 inch long fruits ripening in mid to late summer. The oblong tomatoes have a meaty texture and produce few seeds making for high quality tomato sauce.
- Sungold – When it comes to cherry tomatoes, it’s hard to top the sweet flavor of Sungold. This vigorous indeterminate tomato grows 6 feet tall and must be well supported. Therefore, if using an Oasis Self-Watering Tomato Planter you‘ll want the optional Trellis Extension Kit. Expect an early and abundant crop of super sweet juicy tomatoes.
Finally, a few other awesome options include Galahad, Defiant PhR, Mountain Merit, and Sunrise Sauce.
Big thanks to the fantastic folks at Gardener’s Supply Company for sponsoring this article. For more information on growing a bounty of homegrown tomatoes, be sure to check out these detailed articles:
- Learn about the many types of tomatoes
- How to ID and control tomato plant diseases
- 9 Tomato pruning mistakes