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10 Tomatoes for Small Spaces

Dwarf tomatoes

cherry tomatoes in potsSmall tomato plants that deliver big flavor are just right for growing in small gardens and on decks, patios, and balconies.

Small tomato plants range in size from 18 inches tall or less to no more than 3 or 4 feet tall. Small tomatoes require no staking or caging—but you can.

Fruits on small tomato plants can range from cherry-size to as large 1 pound, about the same size as many large vining plants.

The flavor from small plant fruits can vary just as with larger plants from mild, to acid-sweet, to full old-fashioned tomato taste.

small tomato plants
Small tomatoes are ideal for growing in containers or small gardens.

Small Tomato Growing Tips

  • Like large tomato plants, compact tomatoes require 6 to 8 hours of sunlight each day—especially if you are growing for optimal flavor.
  • Also like large tomato plants, compact tomatoes require consistent moisture for steady, even growth and maximum flavor. Keep the soil in your containers evenly moist—meaning do not let it dry out or get soggy.
  • Feed container growing tomatoes every three weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer high in phosphorus, 5-10-5 is about right.
  • A 2-gallon, 8- to 10-inch pot or box is right for most small tomato plants; some can grow in pots as small as 6 inches across, about the size of a 1-gallon nursery container.

10 Flavorful Tomatoes for Small Spaces

You should be able to find seedlings for one or more of these small tomatoes at a nearby garden center. All are readily available from seed growers online or in garden centers.

• Better Bush: small, compact bush for patio, deck, or balcony containers; fruits to 8 ounces, with old-fashioned tomato flavor; to from 3 to 4 feet tall; requires staking. Indeterminate, hybrid VFN, 68 days to harvest.

• Bush Beefsteak: a compact plant with good-sized beefsteak-shaped fruit, 6 to 8 ounces. Determinate, open-pollinated, 62 days to harvest.

• Bush Early Girl: small, compact plants with a top yield of 6- to 7-ounce fruits and very good flavor. Determinate, hybrid VFFNT, 54 days to harvest.

• Clear Pink Early: a compact plant with trusses of round, smooth pink fruit; sweet and tangy flavor. Russian heirloom, determinate, open-pollinated, 58 days to harvest.

• Early Wonder: compact plant produces round, dark pink fruit to 6 ounces; full tomato flavor, great taste. Determinate, open-pollinated, 55 days to harvest.

• New Big Dwarf:  compact to 2 feet tall; flavorful fruits from 8 ounces to 1 pound. “New” from 1915, so this is an heirloom; determinate, open-pollinated, 60 days to harvest.

• Red Rocket: compact, bush with smooth, flavorful, even sugar-acid blend fruits, 8 to 10 ounces. Determinate, open-pollinated, 60 days to harvest.

• Tiny Tim: small plant for containers growing to about 18 inches tall; use a 6-inch pot; bright red cherry tomatoes to about ¾ inches. Determinate, open-pollinated, 60 days to harvest.

• Tumbling Tom: small plant for hanging baskets, cascading habit to about 18 inches; 1- to 1-inch cherry tomatoes; can grow in 6-inch pot. Determinate, hybrid, 70 days to harvest.

• 506 Bush: small plant to 18 inches tall with medium size, mild-flavored, bright red fruit with a hint of sweetness; good drought tolerance. Determinate, open-pollinated, 62 days to harvest.

Also of interest:

How to Grow Tomatoes

Best Large Tomatoes for Home Gardens

Tomato Planting: Easy Steps to a Bumper Crop

 

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25 Comments

    • The tomato variety you are looking for is called New Big Dwarf and it is available from several tomato seed growers–try online Victory Seeds, Tatiana’s Seeds, Totally Tomato Seeds, and Tomato Growers Supply Company.

    • The tomato flower is a complete flower–meaning it contains both male and female parts. You can aide pollination by giving the flowers trusses a gentle shake–do this whether the plant is growing outdoors or indoors.

    • Bush or determinate tomatoes grow to about 3 feet–some may grow to 4 feet. They commonly get no wider. Staking and caging is usually not necessary, however a stake or cage will ensure the plant once loaded with fruit near harvest time will not tip over.

    • Young vegetable seedlings are often called “starts”. Check at a nearby garden center, nursery, or even a farmers’ market for vegetable starts. Starts give you a head start on the season–the grower sowed the seeds 4 to 6 weeks ago–so that saves you a month or more in the garden. Most growers offer starts that will grow easily once transplanted. So, you can grow your own from seed or plant starts–or grow some of both. Let me know if you have questions about specific crops. Happy Gardening!

  1. I have grown some tiny tip tomatoes from seed and planted them in a bucket, in my greenhouse but they are quite small and are already beginning to get flowers. Is this normal or should they be in a smaller pot,? Thanks

    • It is not uncommon for young tomatoes to flower. However, early in the season, it is best to pinch off those flowers and allow the plant to put its energy into root development (not flower and fruit development). The size of the container will not trigger blooming. If you can keep the soil just moist the plants will grow into the bucket size. If keeping the roots moist is difficult, you can downsize the container–but that will be temporary.

  2. I am winterig in south texas. I was wondering about buying a container tomato plant now and taking home to iowa. This would give me 6 to 8 weeks head start on my tomatoes at home. Has anyone did this and did they have any problems.

    • Once you get back to Iowa, be sure to protect the plant from temperatures colder than 60F until temperatures warm. Use a floating row cover to protect the plant at night or during cold days.

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