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How to Plant Tomatoes

Growing your own tomatoes is a simple and fun task that allows you to reap lots of reward. Simply choose a sunny spot and your favourite tomatoes – from small cherries to big beefsteak types – and watch as they grow into ripe and juicy fruits to feast on.  

Shopping List

  • Your choice of tomato plant(s)
  • Patio container
  • Multi-purpose compost
  • Bamboo canes

When to Plant Tomato Seeds

Growing tomatoes from seed won’t be covered in this step-by-step, but if you are planning to do so, you should start this process between February and April. 

When to Plant Tomatoes

Typically, people will choose to grow their tomatoes from plants. When to pot these, however, depends on where you’re planting them. You can plant tomatoes in an unheated greenhouse from mid-spring, but if you’re wanting to plant outside, you should do this between May and June. 

When to Harvest Tomatoes

Your tomatoes will be ready to harvest between July and October. You’ll likely know when to do this by looking at them and feeling them theyll have developed a deep colour and be easy to gently pull from the plant. 

Top tip: One thing to remember is that, depending on where you are in the country, these times will be slightly different. In areas with milder weather, the timescales may be a little earlier, and for those with harsher weather, it could be a little later.

Step by Step Guide: How to Grow Tomato Plants in a Pot or Hanging Basket

  • First, choose a container that’s at least 12 inches/30cm in diameter. It’s up to you whether it’s a patio pot or a hanging basket, but tomatoes are thirsty plants so the bigger the container, the easier it is to keep them evenly watered.

  • Pick a tomato plant to suit your container. Go for bushy, upright ones for patio pots, or trailing ones for hanging baskets . 

  • Put a layer of crocks (that is, broken pots or stones) in the bottom of the pot for drainage, then fill it with good quality multi-purpose compost.

  • Use a hand trowel to plant your tomatoes, firming into place with extra compost if needed. You can plant basil and marigolds in the same container as a natural pest deterrent.

  • Tomatoes love the sunshine so position your container in the greenhouse or outside in a sunny, sheltered spot once all risk of frost has passed.

  • As the plants grow, you can support them with a bamboo cane and tie as needed.  How many tomatoes you can get per plant will vary according to variety, but some can grow up to 100 per plant.

The Specifics

  • How far apart to plant tomatoes: Each tomato plant will need around 30cm of space around it. 

  • How deep to plant tomatoes: You can plant the tomatoes a few centimetres deeper than the top of the pot to encourage the best growth. 

How to Look After Tomato Plants

While tomato plants are super easy to plant, it’s important to look after them well if you want them to grow into plump, juicy tomatoes: 

  • How often to water your tomato plants will depend on where you live and how warm the weather is, but it is a good idea to do this every few days. 

  • You’ll know when to start feeding tomato plants when you see the flowers have started to grow. At this point, add some tomato food into the water. 

  • As your tomato plants grow, remove the side shoots on tall varieties to help them produce more fruit. You can simply leave short bushy varieties as they are.  

Top tip: For our beginner gardeners, or those looking for the easiest way to grow tomatoes, you’ll find that the bushy varieties require less maintenance.

Know Your Tomatoes

Tomato ‘Moneymaker

The Moneymaker is a traditional choice and is loved for its reliability and remarkable flavour. It’s a medium sized tomato that grows well both in a greenhouse or in the garden.

Tomato ‘Tumbling Tom Red

Ideal for hanging baskets and containers, Tumbling Tom Red is a compact bush variety that produces a non-stop supply of cherry tomatoes for the whole family.

Tomato ‘Beefmaster

This is a classic beefsteak tomato that produces huge fruits, which are perfect for salads and succulent burgers. For best results, you should grow these in a greenhouse.