Having many tomato plants can be such a fun summer activity, and you can grow so many tomatoes to save and eat all fall and winter! However, growing so many tomato plants can take up a lot of space since they like and need so much space to thrive. Having a few plants in the same bed is quite common, but how do multiple plants do in the same pot?
Although it is possible to grow multiple tomato plants in the same pot, it is not recommended. Tomatoes need a lot of air and space to grow and to allow sunlight to reach all parts of the plant. Having many plants together gets clustered, and they are more prone to disease and bugs.
Continue reading to learn more about why tomatoes should go in separate pots and what you can do instead.
Why Shouldn’t Multiple Tomatoes Be Grown in One Pot?
It may seem like the easier option, and why shouldn’t you be able to grow the same type of tomato in one pot? Well, here is why.
- Tomatoes thrive off of sunlight. They love the hot, dry sun. When tomatoes are so crowded together in one pot, the leaves and tomatoes closer to the bottom get covered by the top leaves and tomatoes.
- Disease may happen wherever you grow your plants. However, having many plants in one area becomes a breeding ground for diseases to grow and spread–especially fungal diseases. Fungus occurs when there isn’t enough sunlight to dry out the roots, and if there is too much going on up top, then the dirt won’t dry out properly. Therefore, you get fungal diseases. Bugs are more likely to inhabit plants clustered together as they are protected amongst the many leaves and have a bountiful amount to live off of.
- Tomatoes can get very big if they are in the right area. They need space to spread their roots to grow big and tall, leading to a better harvest. Plants that are smooshed together in one pot only have so much room for the roots to grow, and they won’t spread out as they would typically be able to.
- Much like with the sunlight problem, tomatoes need a lot of air to thrive. Having plants clustered together blocks a good airflow from going through the plants.
- Each tomato plant needs 1-2 inches of water a week. It is easy to underwater or overwater plants when they are all in one pot. If you decide to have multiple plants in one pot, you must water all sides of the pot so each plant’s roots are soaking up the water. Overwatering can lead to problems like cracked fruits and root rot. Root Rot will especially happen since the soil wouldn’t be able to dry out properly. Underwatering can lead to a poor yield and small, flavorless tomatoes.
- Soil is a big thing to keep in mind when putting your plants in pots. Tomatoes love their nutrients. They need lots of nitrogen, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and so much else to grow correctly. Many potting soils don’t include many nutrients in them, so making sure you have the correct fertilization or feeding your plants once a week will make a big difference.
- Trellising or caging tomatoes is a big part of growing them. It also is one of the more annoying parts. It can be challenging to put up a trellis that holds up the whole plant without breaking branches or knocking off the fruit. It is even more complex when there are a lot of branches clustered together (in a pot), and you try to put support around them.
What is the Best Place to Grow Multiple Plants?
Tomatoes need about 18-24 inches apart to grow to their full potential properly. With that in mind, when thinking about the best place to grow lots of tomato plants together, anywhere that has that sort of space would be fine. You can plant either directly into the ground (in a plot) or a raised garden bed.
Having a large raised garden bed has many benefits. Even if it is a smaller shape, the bottom is open so the roots can still go into the ground, thus having much more space to grow than a pot. It is a lot easier to manage, and with all that room to grow, you should get an excellent yield from your tomatoes.
The best place to grow many tomato plants is to put them directly in the ground in a plot. However, not many have the luxury of doing so. When you can, it is great for the roots to have all the space they need to grow and room for the plants to breathe and thrive.
What If I Do Decide to Plant Multiple Tomatoes in One Pot?
If you decide to plant multiple plants in one pot, or maybe you don’t have the space to do otherwise, don’t worry; it is doable! Just pay close attention and keep these things in mind.
- As discussed, tomatoes need to be spaced at least 18-24 inches apart. I know it may be tough to achieve that with a pot, so you will be fine if you can manage at least 12 inches. Keep in mind that your tomatoes may not grow as big as you expected in this situation.
- Size of the pot
- Correlating with the spacing, the size of the pot is important. Of course, if you have a small pot, say a 2 gallon, you can only fit one plant in there no matter what. You may be able to manage having two plants in a 5-gallon pot. Just remember, the bigger the pot, the better.
- Variety of tomato
- You wouldn’t want to grow big beefsteak tomatoes in a pot since they need a lot of trellises and the plant itself likes to get rather large. Cherry tomatoes are best grown in pots because they are much easier to manage. Micro Tom tomatoes also do wonderfully in pots since the plant itself is, well, micro.
- Watering is essential to a tomato. They need a strict watering schedule and a good 1-2 inches per week. That goes for every tomato plant. So, as I mentioned earlier, making sure you walk around the pot and water each and every plant is critical. Don’t overwater either! Time yourself so that you water the pot for, say, 7 minutes a day. Ensure you water each plant within that 7 minutes.
- Trellis early
- Since trellising can be so cumbersome, it is best to put a cage around the pot early in the plant’s life. You can even direct the plant to grow around the cage, making it much easier to control.
After going through all the details of growing your tomatoes in pots, I hope you are better prepared for the risk and know how to make it a little easier on yourself if you choose to stick with it. If you only have access to pots, don’t let that stop you from growing beautiful tomato plants! Just know the proper preparative steps to take. Happy gardening!
Hi there, my name is Allie and welcome to my blog; GareningWithAllie!
Much of what you see written here is just our personal experiences with gardening. Along with the content I write here, there is also a unique collection of gardening topics covered by some of our close friends. I hope you find everything you read here to be helpful, informative, and something that can make your gardening journey the most lovely experience ever! With that said, Happy Gardening!