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Can You Grow Tomatoes In A 3 Gallon Bucket

Tomatoes are one of the most commonly grown crops in several parts of the world. Many believe that tomatoes are meant to be produced in the ground in a proper garden, but more adventurous gardeners have discovered the truth. Containers provide a great alternative to growing in the ground. Let’s ask a more specific question. Can you grow tomatoes in a 3-gallon bucket?

You can grow tomatoes in a 3-gallon bucket. Like many fruits and vegetables, tomatoes grow in many shapes and sizes. As long as your tomato plant is suited to the size of the 3-gallon bucket, it will grow. Also, the bucket must have holes drilled in the bottom for drainage. Lastly, just because your tomatoes are in a container doesn’t mean they can be deprived of their sun, water, and nutrient requirements. 

Tomatoes can be grown in a 3-gallon bucket, but they can be grown in various containers of many sizes. Continue reading to learn all about planting tomatoes in containers.

Do Tomatoes Grow Well in Containers?

Tomatoes grow well in containers as long as you pick the correct variety and size of the plant that corresponds to the size of your container. Below is a table of ideas for tomatoes you could plant in specific container sizes. The table also specifies how much soil your container size will require. 

Container SizeTomato varieties best suited to sizeExamples of tomato varietiesSoil amount needed (at least an 8-12 inch depth)
1-3 gallonsMicro-dwarfMicro Toms, Micro Tina, Micro Gemma10-13 quarts
4-5 gallonsDwarf (Cherry tomatoes)Dwarf Mary Cherry, Minibel, Red Robin14-15 quarts
6-8 gallonslarge/indeterminateEarly Girl, Better Boy, Big Red16-18 quarts

Tomatoes planted in containers are an ideal solution to not having enough garden space or land. Containers can be placed on porches, patios, and even in a window box form. It’s a convenient way of gardening that uses the space you have. Like any tomato plant, make sure your container tomatoes are still getting 6-8 hours of sunlight per day. So, place your containers accordingly. There also need to be drainage holes in whatever container you choose. Without the holes, your roots and plants could rot. 

Is It Better to Grow Tomatoes In A Container Or In The Ground?

Many will argue that growing tomatoes in the ground in a proper garden is always the right decision. However, there are many benefits to growing tomatoes in containers. For instance, one of the significant risks of growing in the ground is exposure to animals and pests. Unless your garden is fenced and gated, deer, mice, insects, and other critters can quickly eat your tomato plants. There is less exposure to outside threats when your tomatoes are in containers, possibly on a porch or a more enclosed area. Also, growing in containers gives you more control over your plants. It’s easier to monitor watering and know when your plants are dry and need more water. Also, you can’t move in-ground tomato plants as easily. Tomatoes need at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight a day, but going over that time can increase your plants’ chances of drying out and possibly dying. If your plants have exceeded their time in the sun for the day, you can move them to a more shaded location. 

How to Grow Tomatoes In Containers

  1. Choose your container- Remember, you want your container to have holes drilled into the bottom to allow for drainage. Most pots come with pre-drilled holes, but you will need to drill them yourself if not. 
  2. Pick a location- Choose a spot in your yard or on your porch/patio that gets at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight a day. Without adequate sunlight, your tomatoes will not thrive. 
  3. Pick out your tomatoes- Refer to the table above for ideas that will best fit your container size. Tomatoes vary widely in size; you do not want to plant a large variety in too small of a container. Your plants will outgrow the container, and the roots will run out of room to grow. Slowly they will strangle each other and kill your plant. 
  4. Fill your container with potting soil- Make sure to fill your container with enough soil that your plants will have at least 10-12 inches of depth to grow roots. The table above also provides that information for you in quart measurements. Also, your soil must have a pH level of 6.0-6.8 to provide your tomato plants with the nutrients they need. You can even mix fertilizer into the potting soil before planting if your soil lacks nutrients. 
  5. Plant your tomatoes- Either sew your seeds or transplant your starts to their containers. Ensure that all the roots are buried in the potting soil and only allow the stem to be exposed. 
  6. Water and fertilize as necessary- Tomatoes are heavy feeders, meaning they absorb a large amount of water and nutrients to grow. You should feel the moisture in the soil when sticking your finger 1-2 inches into it. If not, you need to water your plants more. When it comes to fertilizer, most recommend fertilizing at least three times for the entire duration of your plant’s life.
  7. Stake or cage when necessary- Most tomato plants need a stake on which to grow. As your tomato plants grow taller, make sure they are supported the best possible. If not, they will topple over and lay on the soil, which can cause them to rot. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, growing tomatoes in a 3-gallon bucket or other various-sized containers is entirely possible. It’s also convenient and easy to maintain. As long as your tomato plant sizes are well suited to the size of the container they are planted in, then they should grow successfully. Of course, your plants need enough sunlight, water, and nutrients to grow.

There can be many benefits to growing tomatoes in containers, especially for individuals with limited garden space and land. Many tomatoes can be successfully grown out of the garden and in an individual receptacle. You also have more control over your plants when they are grown out of the ground since you can move them according to their needs. Don’t be afraid to try this for yourself. It can be a fun way to use space efficiently.