Tomato plants generally prefer a lot of room for their roots to spread, but if you don’t have the space or a big pot, you should not give up because it can actually work with a small pot, too, although there are some things you should be aware of which I have learned from doing it several times. Therefore, I have written this post to share what I have learned with you.
It is possible to grow a tomato plant in a small pot, and the plant will most likely produce some fruit. However, the limited space will inhibit the plant’s growth and fruit production and the plant will quickly become root bound. It can also be challenging to water a tomato plant in a small pot properly.
I have grown tomatoes in small pots many times, and as you can see below, it is possible to get some fruit when doing it. In this post, I describe what I have learned about growing tomatoes in small pots, including the disadvantages, what pot size works, and what you should be aware of, so you can decide if you want to try it.
Will a Tomato Plant Grow in a Small Pot?
Tomatoes generally grow best in large pots or containers or even directly in the ground, but it is actually also possible to grow them in small pots. However, using small pots will impact how well the plant grows and produces fruit.
Tomato plants can grow in pots of almost any size, including small ones. However, using a small pot will prevent the plant from getting big and producing a significant yield. Additionally, growing a tomato plant in a small pot will eventually result in the plant getting root bound.
I have grown tomatoes in both small pots, large pots, and directly in the ground many times over the years, and while lots of room for the roots works best, there are situations where it makes more sense to use small pots, especially if you don’t have the space.
Growing tomatoes in large pots or directly in the ground will without a doubt result in the most prominent plants and the most fruit, but if you’re like me and also want to grow some tomatoes in a small space such as on a window sill or somewhere else where the room is limited, small pots can work.
The most significant advantage you gain from growing tomatoes in a small pot is that it will not take up so much room.
But you should know that there are several disadvantages to growing tomatoes in a small pot. I will describe the disadvantages later in this post, but first, I will explain what size pot you can use.
If you are looking for inspiration for edible plants that you can grow in small pots or other small spaces, I highly recommend that you read this post where I have listed 43 herbs, vegetables, berries, and even fruit trees that you can grow in small spaces.
What is the Smallest Pot a Tomato Plant Will Grow in?
Generally speaking, the larger the pot, the better when it comes to tomatoes. You will get the best results by using an 18-inch (45 cm) pot for determinate tomato varieties and a 24-inch (60 cm) pot for indeterminate varieties since they get larger.
But how small can the pot be when growing tomatoes?
The smallest pot you can grow tomatoes in is 4 inches (10 cm) in both width and height. With a pot of this size, the tomato plant has enough room to grow and produce some fruit, but after some time, the plant will become root bound which will slow the growth and fruit production significantly.
The smallest pot I have used for growing tomatoes successfully was, as described above, 4 inches (10 cm) in both width and height. I grew a determinate variety since they don’t get as large as indeterminate varieties. Another difference between determinate and indeterminate tomato varieties is how they produce fruit and how long you can harvest them, but you can read more about that on this link.
As you can hear, plants getting root bound is one of the disadvantages of growing tomatoes in a small pot, but there are also a few more disadvantages you should know about. I get into these below.
Disadvantages of Growing Tomatoes in a Small Pot
Growing a tomato plant in a small pot will work, and it will most likely produce some fruit, but there are several disadvantages of growing tomatoes in a small pot compared to growing them in a bigger pot or directly in the ground.
These are the disadvantages of growing tomatoes in a small pot.
The plant won’t get very big
Tomato plants can usually get extremely large and produce tremendous amounts of fruit. Especially indeterminate varieties as they keep growing all the way through the season until the first frost comes. However, this won’t happen if you grow your tomatoes in a small pot.
A requirement for tomato plants to get large is that the roots have enough room to grow and spread, so if you grow tomatoes in a small pot, the roots will run out of room to grow quite fast. When this happens, the growth of the plant will slow down significantly and eventually stop.
The plant won’t produce much fruit
As a result of the tomato plants not getting big, they also won’t produce much fruit when growing in a small pot.
As you can see in the photos in this post where I grew tomatoes in a 4-inch (10 cm) pot, they will produce some fruit, but compared to using a big pot or growing it in the ground, the yield will be very small.
It is harder to water the plant properly
Tomatoes grow best in soil that is evenly and consistently moist. The soil should not be dry and also not soaked as this can damage or even kill the plant.
It can be challenging to keep the water consistently moist in a small pot. Since there is not much room for water, the plant will obtain it faster than in bigger pots. Therefore, growing tomatoes in small pots requires more frequent watering but in smaller doses.
The plant becomes root bound
When the tomato plant is still young, this won’t be a problem, and the plant will grow just fine in a small pot, but after some time, the roots will have grown and taken up all the room in the pot, and they won’t be able to grow more. This is what root bound is.
Once a tomato plant becomes root bound, it won’t be able to obtain water and nutrients as efficiently as before. When this happens, it will grow and produce fruit much slower until it eventually stops and dies because of a lack of water and nutrition.