• Kim Milikowski

Best Tomatoes for Containers

Updated: Apr 4, 2020

Many people think that patio tomatoes don't taste as good as other garden tomatoes and that they produce small red tomatoes for a short time and then the plant dies. This may have been true in the past but there are a few great varieties available now that will keep you supplied with great tasting tomatoes all season long right from your patio or balcony.

Dwarf Tomatoes

The dwarf tomato varieties are perfect for a gardener with limited space, but a desire to enjoy the great quality and flavor of tomatoes from an open pollinated, indeterminate, heirloom variety.  They thrive in a small 5 gallon container.  The plants are very sturdy with thick, rugose foliage.  Currently most patio tomato varieties are determinate and only set fruit for a short season and the tomatoes fall short on flavor.  Dwarf varieties behave like indeterminate varieties in that they produce for the entire season.  The dwarf plants are crosses between a handful of rare, old, dwarf heirlooms and their larger heirloom cousins.   The Dwarf Tomato Breeding Project was launched by Craig LeHoullier and a handful of other tomato enthusiasts from around the world in 2006 resulting in select group of stabilized varieties that have just become available recently.  We offer several varieties each year as starter plants and larger patio plants.  

All of the Dwarf Tomato Varieties are subject to the Open Source Seed Initiative pledge.  The seeds from these tomatoes may be saved and shared so long as you disclose the pledge.  Please read more here...Open Seed Source Initiative.

A few favorite varieties are:

1. Dwarf Golden Gypsy - 8 - 18 oz. yellow potato leaf. Tangy, heavy yield. 4 foot plants.

2. Dwarf Purple Heart- 10 oz. regular leaf purple tomato. Heart shaped.

3. Brandy Fred Dwarf - 10-16 oz. purple tomato. Prolific, potato leaf plant.

4. Dwarf Wild Spudleaf - 4-10 oz. dark pink with potato lea.f

5. Dwarf Waratah - 6-12 oz. red with regular leaf.

Hybrids and Others

Here are a few varieties to consider trying:

1. Celano - This is an indeterminate hybrid patio grape tomato that is blight resistant. It was a 2020 AAS Winner and is an excellent choice for patio and urban gardens. Height 40".

2. Bush Beefsteak - This is an open pollinated heirloom variety but it is determinate. Plants grow to only 4 feet. Tomatoes are medium size deep red. This tomato is perfect for sandwiches and slicing.

3. Summerlast Hybrid Cherry - 1 to 1 1/2" red cherry tomatoes. Variety is determinate but has lasting performance trait so it produces for a longer season than most determinate varieties.

4. Tumbling Tom for Hanging Basket - A compact hybrid variety that was bred for growing in a hanging basket. This variety makes great use of vertical space in limited area. Perfect for balconies. 1 oz. oval shaped tomatoes on plants that cascade 20" from a 12" basket. Use 1-3 plants in the basket. Available in yellow and red.

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