Whether you grow on a patio, porch, rooftop or fire escape, it’s essential to choose the right tomato varieties when growing in containers. Look for determinate or semi-determinate varieties, which have a more concentrated fruit set and a compact habit. It’s also best to look for varieties that start producing early — so you can get the most out of your containers.
Make sure your containers are big enough – 3 to 5 gallons is the minimum – and that they have drainage holes and good-quality potting soil. Also keep in mind that semi-determinate (and sometimes even determinate) varieties will probably need a cage or stake to provide support once the plants are about 24″ tall. With regular watering and monthly fertilizing, you can grow a bumper crop of tomatoes just about anywhere.
Moskvich is beloved for its impressively early yields of deep-red, 4- to 6-ounce fruits with rich, luscious flavor. This Russian heirloom tolerates cool conditions and produces high-quality, crack-resistant fruits that rival hybrids. A semi-determinate variety that will produce an early, heavy crop of fruit and continue producing all season. 60 days.
Glacier is a favorite in the north and beyond for its exceptionally early maturity and great tomato flavor. Saladette-sized fruits (2-3″) are bright orange-red and consistently win early-season taste tests. The potato-leaved plants are semi-determinate, meaning that they will produce an early, heavy flush of flowers and fruit, but will then continue to produce through the end of the season (unlike standard determinate varieties, which produce most of their fruit at once). 55 days.
Gold Nugget produces bright yellow cherry tomatoes early and abundantly on compact plants. The 1″ fruits are juicy, mild and sweet – excellent if you prefer a low-acid tomato – with marvelously thin yet crack-resistant skin. This determinate variety was developed at Oregon State University. An excellent choice for hanging baskets. 60 days.
Sunkist F1 produces perfect large orange slicing tomatoes. The slightly flattened 8- to 10-ounce fruits are firm and unblemished and just as sweet as red tomatoes. A semi-determinate variety that will produce an early, heavy crop of fruit and continue producing all season. Resistant to fusarium wilt and verticillium wilt. 78 days.
Indigo Rose offers the best of both worlds: an exotic edible fruit that grows on a beautiful ornamental plant. Clusters of six to eight 2-ounce fruits ripen to jet black with red undersides and aromatic flavor. The plants are vigorous and disease-resistant with a compact habit and purple-tinged foliage that is absolutely stunning in ornamental plantings. Indigo tomatoes are rich in the antioxidant anthocyanin. A semi-determinate variety bred by Dr. Jim Myers at Oregon State University. 75-80 days.
By Natalie Carmolli, Proven Winners® ColorChoice® shrubs
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners® ColorChoice® shrubs
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