Tomatoes are a common crop for beginner gardeners to start with, along with lettuce and radishes. These crops may do well in the ground or raised beds, but is it possible to grow tomatoes as easily and successfully in a vertical garden?
Tomatoes can be grown successfully in a vertical garden, but they require a system that provides space for their deeper root systems and growing space for the plants. The best vertical garden system for tomatoes is a stackable vertical planter with potting soil as a substrate.
If you are considering growing tomatoes in a vertical garden, you may be interested in what type of vertical garden would best suit the tomatoes. Another consideration is which variety of tomatoes would best suit vertical gardening.
Do Tomatoes Grow Well In Vertical Gardens?
What are the best methods and locations for growing tomatoes in a vertical space? And which tomato varieties work best for your vertical garden?
We will answer some of these questions and give some additional tips for growing a bountiful crop of tomatoes in a small footprint!
The main aspect to remember with growing any plant in a vertical environment is that the plant’s basic needs do not change. The plant will still need the same amount of sunlight and nutrients, but the new environment may have complications that you need to address.
Feasibility Of Growing Tomatoes In Vertical Gardens
There are many benefits to growing your tomatoes vertically, but you will only reap these benefits if you give the tomatoes the environment they need to thrive in your vertical garden.
Tomatoes require six hours of sun per day. Establish your vertical garden in a sunny location to get the maximum benefit from your tomatoes.
Tomatoes have a deeper root system than many other crops traditionally grown in vertical gardens, which makes your choice of the style of vertical gardening important for tomato growing. The system must offer enough depth to give the tomato plants enough room to establish a good root system; otherwise, the plants will not flourish or give a good crop.
Tomatoes grow very successfully in vertical gardens if they are given the right environment and structure to maximize their production potential.
While tomatoes can be grown indoors in a vertical garden, the plants tend to get quite large and unruly and can encroach on the space in the room. Growing indoors would also necessitate providing additional lighting in the form of grow lights, which adds an extra expense to the setup.
It is achievable to grow tomatoes indoors vertically, but it requires much more effort, preparation, maintenance, and monitoring. Our recommendation is to grow the plants outdoors vertically to lower the infrastructure and maintenance requirements.
Best Vertical Garden Method For Growing Tomatoes
The characteristics of tomato plants determine the best form of vertical garden to use for this crop. The size of the plant, its need for support, and the deeper root system are the determining factors for the type of vertical growing system you should use.
In our experience, the gutter, PVC pipe, and pallet vertical gardening methods are not the best options for growing tomatoes. They do not offer a deep enough substrate to provide sufficient rooting space for the tomato plants.
Likewise, hydroponic-based vertical tomato planting does not offer sufficient support for the plants. The roots do not have a substrate that provides enough support for the larger plants. It is possible to grow tomatoes in vertical hydroponic gardens, but you need to provide more support for the plants to prevent them from falling over, particularly when they begin to fruit.
In our experience, the best vertical gardening system for tomato growing is stacked planters. Choosing planters that have good depth in each of the layers provides the best root space for the plants and gives them added support.
Planters that offer a depth of 8-inches and a width of 8-inches provide the best space to meet the needs of the tomato plants. It is good not to plant a tomato plant in every space on the stackable planter, as it could become overcrowded, and the tomatoes may not fruit well.
Inter-cropping is a method you can use to get more than one crop out of your vertical stackable planter. Inter-cropping is growing a companion plant for the tomatoes in the spaces between the tomato plants.
Tomatoes have many companion plants they can co-habit with, but we have found that the best companion inter-planting crop in a vertical planter is lettuce. Lettuce will not grow big enough to compete with the tomatoes for space around the planter.
Best Location To Grow Tomatoes In A Vertical Garden
Tomatoes are a great addition to any vertical garden, but where do you plant them? The location of your planter will need to provide them with enough space to spread out and receive sufficient daily sunlight.
Tomatoes are vining plants and can be trained to grow up a vertical trellis, but you can also let them cascade downwards on the planter. If you are going to let them flow down, it would be best not to plant them in every layer of the planter, but rather in every second layer.
Whether you choose to grow your tomatoes indoors or outdoors, they will need 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight a day.
Fortunately, using a vertical garden tower makes this easy to do and allows you to rotate your plants whenever you want. Tomatoes prefer direct sunlight, and a garden tower can be beneficial for this since you can take advantage of a small sunny spot in the garden, patio, or balcony.
Indoors, you can also use a LED grow light kit. These lights are necessary to provide the required light for photosynthesis.
Most tomato varieties do not like cold weather and will begin to die off as winter draws near. The colder weather will cause the plants to slow down in their fruit production, and the first frost will generally kill the tomato plants.
Types Of Tomatoes Best For Vertical Gardening
Tomatoes come in several varieties, and some varieties are more suitable for vertical gardening than others. You can grow any tomato variety in your vertical planters, but choosing certain varieties will require less maintenance on the plants as they grow and fruit.
Some varieties are vine-type, while others are smaller and indeterminate. The latter can be trained to grow on a trellis and be supported by the vines’ branches. Those whose supported branches will grow indeterminately and produce fruit until the first hard frost kills them.
There are two main tomato groups; determinate and indeterminate varieties. Determinate varieties are generally smaller plants and grow to a set height, after which they stop growing and begin to fruit. Determinate tomatoes also produce all their fruit at once and then do not fruit again in the growing season.
Some varieties of determinate tomatoes remain quite small and are called bush tomatoes and only require a single stake to support them as they reach adult size and begin to fruit.
Indeterminate varieties continue growing throughout the growing season and produce fruit all through the season. Their continual growth makes these plants quite large, and they will require trellising to support the plants.
Vine tomatoes are indeterminate varieties and are the best choice for tomatoes cascading down the planter.
Our recommendation is to plant a selection of determinate and indeterminate tomatoes. This allows you to make the best use of the space in the planter, get a quick crop from the determinate varieties, and then get throughout the season from the indeterminate species.
Learning how to prune your tomato plants will help you to keep the indeterminate tomato plants under control in the planter and encourage better fruit production! Determinate tomatoes can also be pruned to keep them within their space and fruiting well!
Although tomatoes require a little more work in vertical gardens, they can be grown successfully in this type of garden system.
Managing the plants’ support, sunlight, and space requirements will produce a good crop yield from tomatoes grown in vertical systems.
Inter-planting with companion crops in your vertical planter system will help you to gain more productivity and diversity from your vertical growing efforts!