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What type of container for growing tomatoes?

by Paula
(Philadelphia, PA)

Q. What type of container is best for growing tomatoes on a deck? We have both clay pots and plastic ... is one preferred over the other?

A. Both clay pots and plastic pots work well for growing tomatoes. Each has advantages and disadvantages.

Terra cotta and clay pots. These are natural choices for tomatoes because they blend in well almost anywhere. Natural materials also lend themselves to good circulation. Air and water move well through them. But a word of caution: terra cotta and unglazed pottery can dry out quickly. You need to monitor tomatoes in these containers often to make sure they get enough water. Also, extreme changes in temperatures can make pottery crack more easily than other materials. You may need to replace clay pots more often than containers made of something else.
(Check out a wonderful selection of terra cotta & clay planters here.)

Plastic. Practical and inexpensive, plastic containers have become one of the most popular container choices. They withstand freezing and thawing. Plastic also retains moisture readily – soil in plastic pots tends to require less watering. New advances in plastics mean more variety in styles.
(Here's a terrific list of lightweight or plastic containers.)

No matter which medium you choose, a common mistake is to select a pot that is too small for the tomato variety. Tomatoes have extensive root systems. When they get root-bound, they produce fewer fruit. Use the biggest pot you can.

Learn more about different kinds of pots for growing tomatoes.

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