What Size Pot for Tomatoes? & Which Varieties to Grow in Each Size

what size pots to grow plants

Tomatoes are a versatile plant because you can really grow them anywhere that gets enough sunlight. You can grow them in pots on a deck, patio, or pretty much anywhere, but what size pot is best for tomatoes?

What Size Pot for Tomatoes?

The best size pot for tomatoes is a 15-20 gallon pot. However, if you’re growing smaller determinate varieties (patio or bush tomatoes), then you can get away with growing them in a 5-gallon pot that is at least 14 inches in diameter.

As I alluded to, you’ll want to take the variety of tomatoes into account when choosing the right pot size for your tomato plants.

  • Indeterminate varieties: 15-20 gallon pot
  • Determinate varieties: 5+ gallon pot

Indeterminate tomatoes are going to generally be your cherry tomatoes, heirlooms, and beefsteak tomatoes. While determinate tomatoes are Roma, San Marzano, and some varieties of beefsteaks.

The larger the pot you use, the less chance you’ll have of having rootbound plants, which can stunt the growth of your tomatoes. Smaller pots dry out faster, meaning you’ll have to water them more often.

When your tomato plants don’t have enough room to properly spread out, you can run into issues like blossom end rot as well.

patio tomatoes in red pot

What Size Pot for Different Tomato Varieties?

Let’s go through some of the more common types of tomatoes and the recommended pot size for each.

The larger the tomato variety, the more room you’ll need in the pot for their roots, as well as space for a stake or tomato cage to fit into the soil.

Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes are usually indeterminate plants, so they can grow 6-8 feet tall and produce fruit throughout the growing season. Because they get so tall, their root system is larger as well, meaning they need a bigger pot.

Grow cherry tomato plants in larger pots to avoid these issues.

Recommended Pot Size: 17-20 inches in diameter; 15-20 gallon pot

Patio Tomatoes

Patio, or bush tomatoes, are determinate varieties. These are ones like Roma tomatoes or some beefsteak varieties like the Cal Ace and Celebrity tomatoes.

Recommended Pot Size: 14+ inches in diameter; 5-10 gallon pot

beefsteak indeterminate tomatoes

Beefsteak Tomatoes

Recommended Pot Size: 17-20 inches in diameter; 15-20 gallon pot

Heirloom Tomatoes

Recommended Pot Size: 17-20 inches in diameter; 15-20 gallon pot

Roma Tomatoes

Roma tomatoes are often determinate varieties, or bush tomatoes. These types don’t need as much space for the roots, and you often don’t need to stake them either, so you don’t need to account for as much space.

Recommended Pot Size: 14+ inches in diameter; 5-10 gallon pot

Common Pot Sizes, Diameter, and Volume

Growing tomatoes in pots can be easy if you have the right size planter. Here are some of the common sizes, along with their volume and diameters.

These are estimations, as not every pot is created equal.

DiameterVolume
(Liters)
Soil Needed to FillBest For
3 gallon10 inches11 liters0.45 cubic ftHerbs and smaller plants
5 gallon12 inches19 liters.69 cubic ftBush and patio tomatoes
7 gallon14 inches26 liters0.99 cubic ftBush and patio tomatoes
10 gallon16 inches37 liters1.4 cubic ftBush and patio tomatoes
15 gallon18 inches57 liters1.9 cubic ftLarger indeterminate tomatoes
20 gallon21 inches78 liters2.7 cubic ftLarger indeterminate tomatoes
25 gallon24 inches98 liters3.3 cubic ftLarger indeterminate tomatoes
30 gallon30 inches113 liters4.6 cubic ftAnything, really!

What Type of Pot or Planter Should I Use?

There is a wide variety of planter materials you can choose from as well, making this whole thing even more complicated.

Here are some of the more common materials for growing tomatoes:

  • Terracotta pots: more breathable for plants, dries out faster
  • Plastic pots: great moisture retention, but don’t let oxygen in
  • Fabric pots or grow bags: can be breathable for plants, do dry out faster

While you can use any material you want, you want to keep in mind their pros and cons so you know how frequently to water them and what to keep an eye out for.

What Color Should the Pot Be?

While you can really grow in any color pot, there are some that can cause you more problems than they help.

Black is not a great color for a planter to grow tomatoes in. These can get really hot and you might overheat the soil, causing plant damage.

“Summer sunlight absorbed by black pots can lead to slower root growth or even root damage, so consider locations where black or dark pots can be shaded during the hottest part of summer.”University of Tennessee Extension

While a warmer soil temperature can be useful for cold spells or chilly days, during the height of the summer it can cause some issues.

Darker colors can increase the soil temperature as well, while lighter colors won’t have much of an impact on the soil.

tomato seedling pot sizes

What Size Pot for Tomato Seedlings?

When you’re starting plants indoors or growing tomatoes from seed, your pots can be a smaller size. Depending on when you plan to transplant your tomatoes, you can grow them in smaller 72-cell trays.

I like to start my tomato seedlings in 2-inch pots so I don’t have to up-pot them into the next size as they grow. This size usually works well for me until I need to transplant my tomato seedling into the ground or raised beds.

What Size Gallon Pot for Tomatoes?

For smaller tomato varieties, like bush or patio tomatoes, you can get away with using a 14-inch diameter pot, which usually holds around 5 gallons or more.

If you grow indeterminate tomatoes or vining types, you’ll want a larger pot, something that holds around 15-20 gallons and is 17-20 inches in diameter.

Frequently Asked Questions About What Size Pots for Tomatoes

Growing tomatoes isn’t hard once you get the right-sized pot, but let’s walk through some frequently asked questions about growing container tomatoes.

grow bag sizes fabric pots

What Size Fabric Pot for Tomatoes?

Fabric pots and grow bags are generally around the same volume and size as a regular pot, so you can use the chart above for measurements.

If you’re using Smart Pots for your fabric pot, they recommend a 10-gallon pot for patio tomatoes and a 20-gallon pot for a larger tomato plant.

Can You Grow Tomatoes in a 3-Gallon Pot?

While you can grow tomatoes in a 3-gallon pot, you will see some stunted growth and reduced yields in terms of how many tomatoes you’ll get during the growing season.

Aim for a pot that is at least 5 gallons in size to give the plant’s roots enough space to adequately spread out.

Can You Grow Tomatoes in a 5-Gallon Pot?

Yes! You can grow tomatoes in a 5-gallon pot. While not all varieties will grow well in a pot this size, plenty of bush tomatoes or determinate tomatoes do well in this sized pot.

Growing tomatoes in a 5-gallon pot is extremely common these days. The pots are large enough to give the plants roots some space to grow, but small enough to fit on a patio or in a small urban garden.

How Often to Water Tomatoes in Pots?

How often to water tomatoes comes down to the size of the plant, the weather, and how large your pot is. Smaller pots dry out faster, so you’ll have to water them more frequently.

Planting tomatoes in the right size pots is going to help when it comes to plants drying out and avoiding some issues tomatoes can encounter like blossom end rot. For larger tomatoes, use a pot that is at least 17 inches in diameter. For smaller varieties, you can plant tomatoes in a 14-inch pot.

What Size Net Pot for Tomatoes?

If you’re growing tomatoes hydroponically, you’ll want to get a 2 to a 4-inch net pot for tomatoes. Smaller tomatoes will do well in 2-inch pots, while the larger varieties require a little more space for their root system and need the 4-inch diameter pots.

How to Successfully Grow Tomatoes in Pots

Growing tomatoes in containers is quite easy, but did you know that you might need to add additional fertilizer and change up their watering frequency?

Now that you have the right-sized pot, let’s learn how to grow tomatoes in pots and containers.

Latest Posts

Photo of author

AUTHOR

Hi - I'm Chenell! I'm on a mission to learn how to grow my own food, and help other people do the same.

I lived in the city for almost a decade, but after moving to the suburbs, I started making my Iowa blood proud and growing all kinds of food 🌽 I started this website to help keep track of the journey while teaching others the mistakes and things I'm learning along the way. You can follow along with the journey and learn more here.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.