Best Tomato Varieties For Container Tomato Gardening

Our guide to the best tomato varieties for a container tomato garden includes pictures of the fruit, and links to places you can buy their seeds online.

Just about everyone loves a juicy, fresh tomato, but did you know that there are over 500 different types of tomatoes grown around the world?

Whether you're looking for sweet and tender, plump and mild, or a great cooking tomato, there is a tomato variety for nearly everyone.

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Types of Tomatoes

When you begin doing your research on the different types of tomatoes, it can be hard to wrap your head around all the names, types, and diversity. Click an image to jump to each type:

Cherokee Purple tomato variety
Cherokee

Cherry tomato varieties taste great in salads
Cherry

Patio tomato varieties grow perfectly on a porch or rooftop
Patio

Big Boy tomatoes on the vine
Big Boy

Big Beef tomato varities slice well for sandwiches
Big Beef

Yellow pear tomatoes
Yellow Pear

JetStar Tomatoes
JetStar

The Celebrity tomato is becoming more popular
Celebrity

Roma tomato varieties are often referred to as paste tomatoes
Roma

Bush tomato varieties
Bush

White tomato varieties are growing in popularity
White

Multiple tomato varieties
Best-Tasting

Heirloom tomatoes are considered the "classic" tomato, and like their name implies, they come from a long line of unmodified seeds that have not changed from generation to generation.

Heirlooms have less uniform shape and color than their hybrid cousins, but are said to have a richer and more flavorful taste. Heirloom tomatoes aren't normally sold commercially due to their short shelf life.

Hybrid tomatoes are the standard deep red, perfectly round tomatoes you see in stores. These tomatoes have been bred to be tough, disease resistant, and more physically appealing.

Hundreds of varieties exist, but tomato enthusiasts often argue over the merits of heirloom versus hybrid tomato varieties.

Cherry tomatoes (considered hybrids) are small, symmetrically round and have a very sweet taste. Several types of cherry tomatoes exist, including the popular Sun Gold, Sweet 100, and Black Cherry strains.

Cherry tomatoes grow very well in containers, and make for a great porch plant.

Hybrid Tomatoes vs Heirloom Tomatoes

Hybrid tomatoes are bred to be disease tolerant, have less cracks, and do pretty well in a lot of different climates.

Heirloom tomatoes (the opposite of hybrids) are selected for more taste. Though not as disease tolerant or climate friendly, they are preserved species, carefully protected from cross-breeding, and their seeds are kept from one season to the next.

See our page on Heirloom Garden Seeds for more information.

Cherokee Purple Tomato

The Cherokee Purple heirloom tomato is said to have originated from a century old strain of plants grown by Cherokee Indians.

This tomato variety is noted for its unique deep red, nearly purple hue and green shoulders. It is considered a beefsteak tomato, meaning it's great for sandwiches or raw consumption.

The Cherokee Purple is one of the more highly sought-after tomato varieties due to its unique characteristics.

Cherokee Purple tomato variety

Photo used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of OnePercolated and Flickr

Big Beef Tomato

If you're looking for a big, tough tomato, the Big Beef is a great choice! Big Beef tomatoes are large, meaty, flavorful, and a favorite among many gardeners.

Big Beef tomato varities slice well for sandwiches

Photo used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of your neighborhood librarian and Flickr

Big Beefs are resistant to fusarium wilt, verticuillium wilt, root nematodes and tobacco mosaic.

Just because these tomatoes get huge doesn't mean you have to grow them in the ground! With a five-gallon or larger container and a tomato cage, you can easily grow this beast of a tomato right on your porch.

The main difference between a container and a garden plant is that container plants need watered and fertilized more often.

The Patio Tomato

This guy is specifically designed for this particular use. You'll see the plant producing tomatoes in about 70 days.

Patio tomato varieties grow perfectly on a porch or rooftop

Photo used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Mandymooo and Flickr

The problem sometimes with planting tomatoes in containers, is that the plant gets too big for its britches.

The Patio Tomato will host a stockier stem. Thus giving it the ability to "hold itself" upright much easier than a traditional tomato plant. The fruit the Patio Tomato produces will be smaller than the others, however the taste is just the same.

Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes, as you probably know, make great for salads and are delicious! However, they produce really long vines. That could be a problem if you didn't have the tomato supports required to hold these guys up.

Cherry tomato varieties taste great in salads

Photo used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of 5cent and Flickr


My suggestion. The grape tomato! Grape tomatoes are a really small cherry tomato. They'll host a much smaller vine than the regular cherry tomato. A winner for our container garden needs.

Big Boy Tomato

Big Boy tomatoes have been around since 1949, withstanding the test of time and becoming a favorite of gardeners all over the world.

Big Boy tomatoes on the vine

Photo used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of megankhines and Flickr

The a Big Boy tomato can grow to be one pound, is extremely flavorful, and is one of the most disease-resistance tomato varieties available.

Yellow Pear Tomato

The Yellow Pear tomato variety is one of the oldest available, dating back to the 1800s.

Yellow pear tomatoes

Photo used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Giant Ginkgo and Flickr

They are noted for their unique color and shape (hence the name) and their sweet yet mild flavor. Yellow Pear tomatoes are frost resistant, and can produce fruit well past the time of other tomato varieties.

The vines of this variety grow very long, with some going past 10ft large, requiring a tall tomato cage. Due to this, Yellow Pear tomatoes are not suited for containers.

The JetStar Tomato

This one is an old favorite and will also produce fruit in about 70 days. A requirement however, would be tomato cages or stakes that would keep the long wiry stem upright.

JetStar Tomatoes

Photo used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of JasonVance and Flickr

In addition, a very large tomato container is a must. I would suggest something at least 5 gallons.

If you do like a big, luscious fruit, you'll see it on this one. Sporting a low-acid tomato, you'll adore this guy melting away in your mouth.

The Celebrity Tomato

A great all-around tomato plant! This one will bear fruit in about 70 days as the ones above. This variety has a decent-sized vine that would suit a tomato container garden nicely.

The Celebrity tomato is becoming more popular

Photo used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of JefferysClark and Flickr

Get ready for a very, mouth watering and delicious taste. This guy will do excellent on sandwiches, salads... you name it!

Staking or a tomato cage would also be a necessity on this variety.

Roma Tomatoes

Roma tomato varieties sport a smaller vine as well. Again, with the addition of a tomato cage or support, the Roma tomato is very suitable for a large tomato container.

Roma tomato varieties are often referred to as paste tomatoes

Photo used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of BellaEatsBooks and Flickr

Well known for a great tomato paste and other cooking avenues, such as salsa and chili, this one would make a win-win situation as well.

For our full article on Roma Tomatoes, click here.

Bush Tomato

The Bush tomato variety is characterized by bushy foliage and shorter vines, which is the opposite of standard tomato varieties. These tomato plants do not grow as tall and are perfect for container planting.

Bush tomato varieties

Photo used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Chris Winters and Flickr

Bush tomato varieties usually grow faster and produce fruit more rapidly than traditional vine tomatoes. However, bush tomato plants' fruition timeframe ends sooner in the summer. The Roma is one of the most grown bush tomato varieties.

Several popular tomato varieties now come in bush form – Bush Beefsteak, Bush Big Boy, Super Bush, Bush Goliath, and the 506 Bush.

Like most container plants, more frequent watering fertilizing is necessary. A general rule is to keep the container's soil moist to prevent overheating. 

Fall Tomatoes

Who knew that you could extend your tomato growing season all the way into fall? Several tomato varieties have proven to do well into the fall season, giving you access to fresh, tasty tomatoes longer than anyone else!

The key to successful fall tomatoes is planting heat-resistant tomatoes late in the summer, around July.

Start the tomato plants inside during late May to ensure they'll be ready for planting by July. The best fall tomato varieties are cherry tomatoes, Better Boy, Sweet 100, Supersteak, and Beefmaster.

Some gardeners skip all of the steps above and simply cut down a few of their tomatoes in July in hopes that new growth will continue into the fall.

However, this plan doesn't always work, especially with zones that face potentials of 100 degree heat. 

White Tomatoes

For some gardeners, it's all about being unique. White tomato varieties have become increasingly popular due to their distinctive color, low acidity, sweetness, and high yields.

White tomato varieties are growing in popularity

Photo used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of KarenDotCom and Flickr

Only a few white tomato varieties exist, with the most popular being the Great White and White Queen beefsteak tomatoes, and the Snow White cherry tomato.

Some growers have reported that due to the low acidity, these tomatoes are great for those that can't normally eat tomatoes without breaking out in a rash.

The Great White and Snow White varieties may be good candidates for a container, but ensure you water frequently and use a large cage!

Because white tomato varieties are still relatively unknown, you could start a white tomato container revolution! 

Rainbow Tomatoes

They say that variety is the spice of life, and with rainbow tomato seeds, you can have an assortment of colors, shapes, and flavors!

Rainbow tomatoes are actually just a packet of seeds that combines tomatoes of the heirloom variety, meaning their colors and shapes are less uniform than hybrid tomatoes.

The most popular rainbow tomato combination usually includes a purple, white, green, red, and orange variety.

Recently, a blue tomato variety was created by Jim Myers of Oregon State University. While not of the heirloom variety, this deep blue tomato is unique, and reported to be quite tasty.

Best-Tasting Tomatoes

We always want the best, right? With hundreds of tomato varieties to choose from, it can be hard to narrow down what the best-tasting tomatoes are.

Brandywine heirloom tomatoes have a long legacy of being considered a classic tomato with a great balanced flavor.

Brandywines are one of the best-selling tomatoes year after year, and are often included in many “best of” lists. Brandywines have a thick skin, are very juicy, and have a low sweetness.

Multiple tomato varieties

Photo used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Muse_Whipped and Flickr

As word of the Cherokee Purple tomato spreads, many growers are beginning to rate this as one of the best-tasting tomatoes available. The Cherokee Purple tomato has a rich, complex, yet sweet taste, with some describing it as almost wine-like.

Cherry tomatoes are known to be quite sweet and a great snack food. The Sweet 100 and the Black Cherry tomato topping many "best-tasting tomato" lists. Best of all, these tomatoes are easy to grow and work especially well in containers.


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