How to Grow Tomatoes on a Balcony

by balconyboss
tomatoes on balcony
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Tomatoes are a versatile and easy to grow garden crop. They’re ideal for gardening beginners and balcony farmers alike because they’re simple to maintain and produce abundant fruit.

That said, it’s worth knowing the ins and outs of tomato growing before getting started. So, let’s cover everything you need to know about how to grow tomatoes on a balcony.

Tomato Requirements

Tomatoes are a fairly flexible plant once they’re in the right conditions. You can grow them in hanging pots and railing planters, but beginners will be best growing them in fairly large ground planters with plenty of upright support.

Some basic points for growing tomatoes are:

  • Sunlight: Full sun
  • Grow in pots: Yes – 5-10 gallon pots are best
  • Grow indoors: Yes, but best outside
  • When to plant: Late spring

You can grow tomatoes from seed. If you’re doing it this way, buy packs of tomato seeds rather than trying to grow them from ones you bought at the supermarket. Depending on the variety, the seeds might not produce the same tomatoes, and you need to process the seeds slightly to make them germinate.

However, for balcony gardening beginners, your best option is to buy young plants from a hardware store or nursery. Look for plants that are 4-5” tall and have at least 2 sets of “proper” leaves. These look like tomato leaves rather than the small, oval-shaped sprouting leaves.

Some good options for balcony gardening include:

  • Red racer (salad tomatoes)
  • Juliet (long cherry)
  • Candyland (sweet cherry)
  • Early resilience (salad)

There are thousands of different kinds of tomatoes. If you’re growing more than one plant, have a cherry tomato variety, a salad type, and perhaps a beefsteak. This’ll give you plenty of variety for different meals, and they ripen at different speeds.

How to Grow Tomatoes on a Balcony

To grow tomatoes on a balcony, you’ll need:


1. Keep your young plants indoors until you’re certain the last frost of the year has passed. Depending on your climate, you’ll probably be planting them outdoors around late May.

2. Take your container and add around 2” of soil. Don’t fill it up completely, as it’s easier to work with just a small amount of soil and add more later.

3. Create a small well in the center for the tomato plant. You don’t want it to be touching the bottom of the container, but it shouldn’t be far off.

4. Remove the plant from its nursery container and put it in the well you created.

5. Gently push soil around the plant’s stem and then continue filling up the container. Don’t worry about burying stem that was above ground – this is intentional. All the small hairs on the stem can become roots, and burying it deep helps make it more stable.

6. Once you’ve filled up the container, give it a good watering and put it in full sun.

7. Add a support, which could be a cage, some bamboo canes, or your balcony railing.

8. Once the plant starts flowering (around a month after transplanting), start feeding them with fertilizer. Follow the instructions on the bottle.

Tomato Maintenance and Care

Tomato plants come in 2 main types: vining and bush. Ideally, your plant’s label will tell you which it is, but it should be possible to tell from its dimensions. Vining plants are long and thin, whereas bushing plants are shorter and squatter.

Either way, you’ll need to do some pruning to keep your tomato plant in check. It’s more important with vining tomatoes, as they can quickly get out of hand if left alone. Plus, pruning means:

  • Larger tomatoes
  • Better airflow
  • Lower risk of disease

When pruning, you need to look for suckers. These are small sprouts that become vines. While they produce fruit, they can get unruly and draw nutrients away from the main plant. It’s easy to spot suckers: they form in the “elbow” between the main stem and offshoots. You should see small, spindly shoots coming out of this joint – pinch them off when they’re about an inch long.

Some other maintenance tips include:

  • Remove lower leaves to reduce the change of spreading fungal spores
  • Snip of yellow or old leaves for the same reason
  • Never remove more than a third of the plant’s leaves at once
  • Wait until your plant is dry before cutting any leaves
  • When watering, aim your watering can at the plant’s base to reduce splashes, which can spread fungi onto the plant

Final Thoughts

Depending on when you planted your tomatoes, and your weather, you should have your first crop around late June or mid-July. Get ready to eat lots of tomatoes, though, as they’ll quickly ripen.