How to Grow Tomatoes in a Hanging Basket

Tomatoes grown in hanging baskets are prolific and full of flavour. Here is some advice on how to choose varieties, plant and position tomatoes in a hanging basket.

Kathleen Duffy
on Mar 15, 2010
Grow Tomatoes in Hanging Baskets - Wikimedia Commons (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/22/Gc5_tomatoes.jpg)
Grow Tomatoes in Hanging Baskets - Wikimedia Commons

The beauty of growing tomatoes in a hanging basket is that they take up very little space. Grown on a balcony, patio or outside the kitchen door, they will provide a convenient and prolific crop throughout the summer months.

Best Tomatoes for Hanging Baskets

The following is a list of tomato varieties that do well in hanging baskets.

Hundreds and Thousands – This popular tomato is vigorous and easy to grow, with plants cascading in abundance.

Tumbling Tom – Orange and red fruit, with excellent flavour. Try planting this variety with Tumbling Tom Yellow.

Tumbling Tom Yellow – Sweet, yellow, bite-sized fruit which goes well with Tumbling Tom.

Chiquita – A bush variety with medium-sized fruit. Can look a bit straggly.

Garden Pearl – Trailing variety which has large fruit. It is quite fleshy, so very good for cooking.

Maskotka – Small fruit with sweet flesh. Well-liked because it is resistant to skin-splitting.

Sowing the Tomato Seeds

Whichever variety is chosen, seeds can be sown March to April in 10cm pots. Plant three or four seeds to a pot and place on a windowsill or in a propagator.

On germination prick out plants into individual pots to grow on. Keep in a light place, free from frost.

If growing tomato plants from seed doesn’t appeal, it is possible to forego all the trouble and buy plants from a garden centre or catalogue. It is more expensive this way, of course, but a good option for those with little time or space for growing tomatoes from seed.

Prepare the Hanging Baskets

Once the tomato plants have reached a decent size, about 6” high (15 cm), it is safe to transfer them to a hanging basket.

  • Use a 40cm diameter flat-bottomed hanging basket. Place it on a support such as a bucket to keep it steady whilst filling.
  • Place a 40cm natural coir or moss basket liner in the hanging basket, covering base and sides.
  • Fill the basket with a peat-free, multi-purpose compost. Adding water-retaining crystals to the compost helps prevent the basket from drying out too quickly.
  • Plant three trailing tomato plants in the basket. Position them so that they will grow over the basket edge.
  • Don’t hang the basket outside until all danger of frost is over. Keep the basket in a greenhouse or conservatory, or a cool, light, indoor area. Eventually you can place your tomato hanging basket in a sunny spot and wait for the stunning results.

Bear in mind that hanging baskets must be reachable for people who may have difficulties in stretching or climbing a stepladder. Consider hanging baskets on plant stands which are placed on the ground and have hooks for displaying a single basket or more. An upside-down tomato grower is a fairly recent innovation and an alternative to the traditional hanging basket.

Alternately hang the basket from a wall bracket, or create a pulley system for lowering the basket. Such adaptations ensure tomatoes (or any basket plant) are easily accessible for gardeners with mobility problems or other disabilities.

Care for Hanging Basket of Tomatoes

Here are some tips to ensure an abundant crop from tomatoes grown in a hanging basket.

  • Keep the compost moist. Water well in the morning.
  • Once the fruit begins to form, give tomatoes a liquid feed every two weeks.
  • Remove yellowing leaves to prevent disease.
  • Turn the basket once every week to ensure plants get their fair share of sunlight.
  • Picking the fruit in the afternoon is thought to improve the flavour.

It really is amazing what a huge crop can be harvested all through the summer from tomatoes grown in hanging baskets. And there’s no need to wait for the tomatoes to turn red. Those little green gems make marvellous pickles.

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Copyright Kathleen Duffy