How To Fertilize Tomatoes In Containers?

Container tomatoes have only limited space to spread their roots. They rely on what you give them as nutrition. Fertilizing container tomatoes is not the same as fertilizing garden tomatoes. Feeding potted tomatoes can pose many challenges. Container tomatoes: how to fertilize them?

You can apply slow-release granular organic fertilizers and liquid or water-soluble fertilizers. Also, mulch can provide nitrogen and keep the potting soil moist. Tomato growth needs different types of nutrients at different stages.

Container-grown tomatoes need frequent watering to stay healthy. But watering can cause nutrients to leach out of containers. The watering process makes regular fertilizing an essential part of container tomato gardening.

Slow-release granular organic fertilizer provides long-term nutrition for tomato plants. It consists of animal or poultry manure, compost, and mineral-based ingredients. The N-P-K ratio and content may differ from brand to brand. 

Add some granular fertilizer to your potting mix to supply nutrients for longer. While the nutrient release is slow, some nutrients may drain out due to regular watering.

Liquid Fertilizer For Potted Tomatoes

Slow-release fertilizers alone won’t help container tomatoes thrive. You will need to feed them some water-soluble fertilizer. 

Apply liquid fertilizer to potted tomatoes two weeks after planting them in pots. After that, repeat it every one to two weeks based on the plant’s growth. 

Before using the fertilizer, check the package for the NPK ratio. It is easier and faster for tomato plants to absorb water-soluble fertilizer.

What Are The Three Growing Stages?

Proper fertilization planning needs an understanding of the three different growth stages. You need to apply fertilizer in different proportions at each stage.

Stage 1: Before Flowering

Tomato plants spend a lot of energy developing their roots, stems, and foliage. Use a balanced fertilizer with a 10-10-10 ratio to help develop the plant. 

Use grass clippings to mulch your container tomatoes during this growing stage. It can provide initial plant growth with nitrogen. Also, mulch keeps your potting soil moist for longer.

Stage 2: During Flowering

A 5-10-10 fertilizer ratio will provide the plants with more phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). They are essential to produce flowers. 

Give your container tomato plants some micronutrients such as magnesium, sulfur, and calcium. It will fill other nutrient deficiencies and help develop disease resistance. 

Stage 3: During Fruiting

Fertilizers with a 5-10-15 ratio will be most effective during the fruiting stage. Keeping phosphorus and potassium levels high without overdoing nitrogen is the goal here. Phosphorus and potassium contribute to the development of flowers, fruits, and roots. 

Fill other nutrient deficiencies with magnesium, sulfur, and calcium. Combining fish emulsion, kelp meal, greensand, and bone meal can achieve similar results. Learn more about fertilizing container tomatoes in this video.

Should You Fertilize Potted Tomatoes?

Frequent watering of containers causes nutrients to leach out faster. Most potting mixes contain fertilizer that lasts only for two weeks. Tomatoes need plenty of nutrients to thrive and produce a rich flavor. Plants in containers need supplemental feeding as a result. 

Related article: What are The Native Plant Fertilisers? Important Facts!

How Often Should You Fertilize Tomatoes In Containers?

As heavy feeders, tomato plants need lots of nutrients throughout the growing season. Tomatoes grown in containers need feeding about every two weeks. They prefer regular, small feedings of fertilizer to infrequent, large feedings.

At the beginning of planting, use potting soil enriched with primary nutrients. When planting, add a time-release, pellet fertilizer if the potting soil lacks fertilizer. Two weeks after planting, start using soluble fertilizers once a week. 

To promote flowering and fruiting, choose a fertilizer with high phosphorus levels. Once flowering occurs, switch to a high-potassium fertilizer for the best results. Increase feeding as the plants grow. Apply more time-release fertilizer after 10 to 12 weeks

Mix about one tablespoon of fertilizer per gallon in the watering can. Apply every 1-2 weeks throughout the season. Add a handful of bone meal to the planting hole to increase calcium in the soil. It will help prevent blossom-end rot. 

When Should I Apply Fertilizer To My Tomatoes?

Tomato seedlings need fertilizer as they grow indoors. Feed the seedlings after transplanting them outdoors as well. Fertilize again once the flowers begin to develop. Do the same as the fruits start to develop. 

Apply light fertilizer once every two weeks when fruits form on the plant. Until the growing season is over, continue this process. 

How Do I Get My Potted Tomato Plant To Produce More Fruits?

To prevent plants from competing for nutrients, grow one plant per pot. Choose determinate tomato varieties to grow in containers. Their compact, bushy nature makes them ideal for small spaces. Determinate tomatoes can produce fruits in a shorter period.

Tomatoes are sun-loving plants that need lots of light and warmth to thrive. They need full sun for at least 6 to 8 hours per day. Place your planted containers in an area that receives a lot of sunlight throughout the day. 

Protect plants from the cold if the temperature drops below 50 0F. Provide more shade for tomato plants if the temperature exceeds 90 0F. Watch this video to learn how to grow lots of tomatoes in containers.

Proper watering is essential for container-grown tomatoes to flourish. Tomato plants need plenty of water as they grow and develop fruit. The soil in containers dries out faster than the soil in the ground. 

Water your plants once the top two inches of potting soil are dry. It is better to water them twice a day during the summer or when it is hot and windy. Apply water until it starts draining from the bottom of the container. 

Avoid overwatering as it encourages root rot. Ensure that the potting mix remains moist but not soggy. Inconsistent watering can result in fruit cracking or blossom end rot. Keep the foliage dry to prevent blight and fungus. Nurture the deep root system with slow, thorough watering.

Use a soilless potting mix composed of coir, peat moss, or perlite. These potting mixes are porous, fertile, and drain well. Ensure that your plants receive the primary nutrients they need.

Support tomato plants with trellises, stakes, or wire cages. Prune indeterminate tomato varieties all season long. As the season progresses, continue pinching suckers. Avoid doing this for determinate varieties as they bear fruit at the ends of their branches. 

Remove any bottom leaves that are not flowering or bearing fruit. Use an electric toothbrush to hand-pollinate tomatoes. Give plants a gentle shake every day or encourage pollinators such as bees. 

Similar Posts