Growing tomatoes in hanging baskets
Tomatoes are a favourite for many gardeners, with so many varieties available and different ways they can be grown it is often easy to see why.
One of the best ways to grow tomatoes (even when you may have very limited space) is in hanging baskets. The most popular, and probably the best types to grow in hanging baskets are cherry tomatoes. These are typically bush tomatoes which require very little work and pruning (if any), unlike cordon types which do.
No need to remove side shoots or prune
Trailing vs bush tomatoes. Trailing wins every time
There is a lot online about growing tomatoes in hanging baskets and which varieties are the best, but one thing that I wish to point out is that for the best results you want to choose tumbling tomatoes that are also known as trailing tomatoes. By choosing trailing varieties such as ‘Tumbler’ or ‘Tumbling Tom’ they will cascade over the side of the basket and totally cover the basket all the way around and look absolutely fantastic.
Another variety that is also suitable is ‘Balconi Red’. This is a small compact cherry bush tomato that is probably best grown in a pot where it can be admired from above. These bush tomatoes can also be good in window boxes which are lower down.
To learn more about growing tomatoes in pots – click here
Growing from seed and buying plug plants
If you choose to grow your tomatoes plants from seed you will need to sow them between March to April which should give them enough time to germinate. This is usually takes around 7-14 days at a tempature of 21C (70F). They can then be grown on before being planted outside around the end of May. They can only be planted outsidw when the risk of frost has passed.
If you buy plug plants (these can be purchased from many mail order nurseries) and even off Amazon.co.uk and will save you a little time and work. You need to think about getting them around April/May, they can then be grown on in 9cm pots in quality compost mixed with 20% perlite to improve drainage.
How to grow tomatoes in hanging baskets
Tomatoes need a lot of sun to grow successfully and ripen, ideally they should get at least 5-7 hours of sunlight per day. Firstly you need to decide where you want to put the hanging basket when it is ready.
What size hanging basket to use
Ideally a 14 inch hanging basket will do the job just fine, some people may use a smaller one while others may use a larger basket.
Planting the hanging basket
Choosing the best compost
The first step is to use good quality potting compost which should have fertiliser mixed in already which will give the tomato plant a good start. Mix the compost with 20% perlite to help improve drainage and let more oxygen get to the roots which has proven to help tomato plants. Finally mix some water storing granules and fertiliser tables into the compost as instructed on the packaging and mix in well. The water granules will help retain moisture in the compost for longer.
How many tomatoes plants to use in each basket
A lot of gardeners only use one tomato plant in the hanging basket and while this works fine and usually gives a good healthy plant that will spread nicely and fill the basket, we find that by putting 2 or 3 plants (I actually use 3 in mine) in the basket, you will get the most amazing show and even more tomatoes.
Once you have grown on your tomatoes plants in 9cm pots (which is usually around May) then plant the tomato plants into the basket, evenly spaced if you have used more than one. If you have planted just one then plant it in the middle of the basket. They can be planted slightly deeper with the compost up the stem as they will root from the stem.
Hardening off the tomatoes before planting out
Now you have planted your basket all you need to do now is grow them on. Grow them somewhere warm like in a heated greenhouse, warm conservatory, warm porch, window ledge. Anywhere warm, with plenty of light. When the weather turns warmer, and it is warm in the afternoon you can start putting them out during the day and bring them in again at night. Do this for a week or so and then around the end of May when the risk of first has passed they should be ready for hanging outside in their final positions.
The next step is maybe the most important
Watering and feeding
Your tomato hanging basket will probably need watering daily as tomato plants need lots of water and what you want to try and do is keep the compost moist, but not wet. It is actually quite hard to over water when the plants are established, especially if you do follow our advice and use 3 plants per basket. On warmer days they may even need watering twice a day
When the yellow flowers start to appear, it is time to feed them with a high in potash feed. Any tomato feed will do the job and it is recommended that you feed every 7 days although the instructions on the label may vary so check first. Continue feeding right the way through summer whilst they are producing fruit.
Recommended hanging basket tomatoes
Our favorite tomato plant varieties for using in hanging baskets are all trailing in habit and make excellent plants when grown in basket.
Tumbler is probably our favourite and is known for it’s trailing habit and sweet cheery tomatoes. You can’t really go wrong with this variety.
Tumbler tomatoes in hanging basket
‘Tumbling Tom Red’
This vigorous tomato plant is an excellent trailing tomato which will trail all the way around the basket and fill out in all directions and produces heavy crops of sweet cherry-sized tomatoes.
‘Tumbling Tom Yellow’
Just as vigorous as the red variety and the same in habit producing masses of tomatoes.
Thompson & Morgan describe this variety as ‘Possibly the world’s most prolific cascading cherry tomato’ and for a good reason. It has an unbeatable trailing habit and produces masses of small cherry tomatoes.