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Growing Tomatoes in Buckets

Growing Tomatoes in Buckets Blog Promo
Jun 10, 2024

Materials Needed

•    Bucket (5-gallon size): Make sure it's a food-safe bucket.  These are made of a type of plastic that is better for gardening. No bucket? Not a problem. You can also use fabric grow bags. 
•    Hammer and nail or drill: You'll need this to make holes in the bucket.
•    Potting Soil:  The bag of soil should say potting soil, not potting mix.  Potting mix is good for indoor gardening.
•    Fertilizer: Look for a 4-4-4 mix (granular or powder will work) that has calcium and magnesium.  Calcium and magnesium are important to ensure a healthy crop.  They help to prevent blossom-end rot.  
•    Determinate tomato variety: Choose from options like Roma, Patio, Celebrity, Rutgers or varieties labeled dwarf.  Determinate tomatoes are smaller plants that grow more like a bush.  In contrast, indeterminate tomatoes are large plants that grow more like a vine. 
•    Optional: Herbs, lettuce or flowers.

Getting Started

Planting tomatoes in 5-gallon buckets is a great option if you don’t have much garden space. Begin by making at least a dozen holes in the bottom of the bucket so that water can drain easily. You can use a drill with a 3/8” bit, or a hammer and nail. (Optional: Place a small layer of large gravel at the bottom to prevent hole blockage.) Fill the bucket with your chosen soil.  A challenge with container gardening is keeping the soil moist.  Choose a soil that has a good water-holding capacity.  These potting soils usually have more peat moss or coco coir.  Both can help retain water.

Planting Your Tomatoes

Pick the best location for your plant.  Tomatoes grow best in a location with full sun.  This means they will need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight for the best growth and flavor.

Dig a hole in the soil. Read the fertilizer package instructions and sprinkle the recommended amount into the hole to feed the plant roots. Tomato plants prefer to have part of their stem buried in the soil, so plant the roots deep enough so that at least 1 inch of the stem is covered. Fill the bucket with more soil and gently press it around the tomato plant to keep it in place.

Adding Support

Insert four sticks into the bucket, extending about 2-3 feet above the soil. These will serve as a trellis! As the plant grows and the tomatoes ripen, use string to gently tie the tomato stems to the sticks for support.

Watering and Maintenance

Water the soil once a day. Make sure the whole bucket gets moistened, but without water running out from the bottom. Add fertilizer once every two weeks to keep your tomatoes healthy and thriving.

Optional Step

If you have extra space in your bucket, consider adding more plants! Herbs like basil or cilantro, lettuce and flowers grow well with tomatoes.

With these simple steps, you'll soon be enjoying delicious homegrown tomatoes.  To learn more about growing tomatoes and find delicious recipes that use tomatoes, read our latest blog post. Happy planting!


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