Best Soil for Growing Tomatoes in Pots
Growing tomatoes in containers has become a viable alternative for people who lack a large home garden. It’s a cheap and convenient way to grow your own organic tomatoes, and you can even harvest a surplus that you can sell in your local market.
However, growing tomatoes in pots isn’t just filling a container with soil and expecting a good harvest. You need to select suitable potting soil.
So, which is the best soil for tomatoes in pots?
The best potting soil for tomatoes is the one that is loose and great in both drainage and moisture retention. Also, it should have a balanced PH level (ranging from 5.5 to 7.5). The soil should also have all the essential nutrients needed for tomato growth.
Keep reading to find out the best type of soil for tomatoes, the best commercial potting soil for tomatoes and what to consider when choosing the right sand for potted tomato plants.
- Difference Between Garden Soil and Potting Soil
- Can You Use Potting Soil for Starting Seeds?
- Can You Use in Ground Soil for Raised Beds?
- Can You Use Potting Soil for Growing Plants in the Ground?
Which Is The Best Soil for Tomatoes in Containers?
While tomatoes aren’t very picky when it comes to soils, below are some of the characteristics of the ideal potting mix for growing tomatoes in containers.
Tomatoes thrive better in loose soil, preferably loamy soil. The soil needs to be well-drained and be adequately aerated. Compact soil like clay can inhibit growth, while extremely loose soil will not hold water long enough to support the growth of tomatoes.
Tomatoes prefer a pH between 5.5 and 7.5. As such, you need to test the PH of the soil and make the necessary amendments. For instance, to make the soil less acidic, you can add lime. And to make the soil more acidic, you can add compost, pine needles, or sulfur.
Tomatoes are heavy feeders. So, above all else, make sure the potting soil has lots of nutrients.
Some of the ingredients that nutrient-rich soil should contain include compost, alfalfa, and fishbone meal. Also, make sure the soil contains enough phosphorus, potassium, and calcium.
Now that you know the best type of soil for potted tomatoes, there are two ways you can access these soils:
- Make your own potting soil
- Buy bagged potting soil – This is the best option for those who are not good at DIYing. Or you don’t have the time to make your own or you just want to save money.
How to Make Your Own Potting Soil for Tomatoes
DIY can be fun and you get to control the ingredients to add to the mix. It also saves you a few bucks.
If you choose to go the DIY route, below are some of the items you’ll need:
- Garden soil
- Perlite (One of the best soilless growing media)
- Peat Moss
One process that has worked for me is mixing all the ingredients above in a 1:1:1 ratio. That means:
- 1 part of organic materials for nutrients, drainage, and aeration. (Preferably garden soil, compost, or commercial potting soil)
- 1 part inorganic materials for improving drainage (perlite or sand).
- 1 part inorganic materials to prevent compaction (peat moss and or coir)
Once you have all the ingredients, put them in a large bucket for efficient mixing. Start with the peat moss or coir, which needs to be pre-soaked.
The best ratio is 2:1 for peat moss and water. Once it’s soaked, add all the other ingredients as mentioned above.
It’s also essential to add slow-release fertilizer, especially if you will be using the potting mix right away. If not, make sure you add some when planting the tomato plants.
NOTE: Be careful when using garden soil or compost since it’s dense and may contain contaminants. If possible, you can sterilize it by baking the soil at temperatures ranging from 180 to 210 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes.
5 Best Commercial Potting Soil for Tomatoes
#1. Fox Farm Happy Frog Organic Potting Soil
The frog potting soil is one of the best for growing tomatoes because it’s made of organic matter.
This means that the soil is rich in nutrients and will ensure your plants remain healthy as they grow, giving you better and high tomato yields.
Also, with this soil, your plants will easily absorb nutrients because the PH level is adjusted.
The other reason why this soil is ideal for growing tomatoes in pots is that it’s made for container tomatoes and works well no matter the type of container you are using.
Additionally, the soil is designed to allow the roots to penetrate easily as well as keep the plants stable.
- It’s purely made of organic materials.
- No need to prepare or mix it. It’s ready to use right out of the box.
- It contains a wide range of nutrients.
- Quite expensive.
- Some users complained about gnats and fungus infestation after using this potting mix.
#2. Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Potting Medium
Miracle-Gro is a well-known brand, so you can’t really go wrong with their products. This soluble is the best for growing vegetables and herbs in pots, and its ingredients are natural.
Unlike the Fox Farm potting soil, you dissolve the Miracle-Gro soil in water and soak your tomato plants. As such, you can use it even as your plants are growing, especially when the soil you already have lacks nutrients.
- It’s easy to use.
- It offers excellent value for money.
- You can use it to can revive your plants in case other soils don’t work.
- If you overuse it, it could kill your plants.
#3. Espoma AP8 8-Quart Organic Potting Mix
Espoma is rich in organic material and contains several components that will give you good results, including humus and living microorganisms that prey on harmful nematodes and feed on them, thus ensuring your tomato plants are safe.
This potting soil has the three most essential nutrients for plants, which are nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (NPK).
Therefore, its PH levels remain balanced throughout. The other feature is that it allows water and air to flow through efficiently because it’s not compact.
Also, its moisture retention ability is excellent, and you won’t be watering your plants every day.
When used in the right amounts, this is one of the best potting soils you can use for your container tomatoes.
- It packs lots of nutrients.
- It’s affordable, even for several containers.
- It doesn’t contain any harmful additives.
- Sometimes it retains too much water. So, monitor your plants regularly.
- There are complaints about fungus and gnat infestations
#4. SaproGanics Organic Potting Soil
SaproGanics is one of the most versatile potting soils. You can use it to grow your tomatoes indoors, top-dress outdoor plants, amend your soils, or even as a seed starting mix. This is thanks to the balanced nutrient content.
Another good aspect of this tomato potting soil is that it is not toxic and doesn’t smell. This is because it is made from plant dirt available in muddy lakes, and therefore it is chemical/additives free.
Additionally, SaproGanics is full of rich mineral elements, which helps to protect the plants by making them resistant to root rot.
This is, without doubt, a perfect soil to buy if you want all-around healthy tomato plants.
- It’s versatile.
- It’s safe.
- Works great for all stages of the tomato plant.
- It’s not suitable for all regions, so make sure it’s usable for agricultural use in your area.
- It’s also quite expensive.
#5. Dr Earth GL61100518430 Potting Soil
The Dr Earth potting soil is made to give your tomato plants everything they need to thrive.
It is ready to use soil for potted tomatoes with a well-balanced pH level.
You can count on it for excellent tomato yields thanks to its rich components such as fishbone meal, alfalfa meal, mined potassium sulfate and soft rock phosphate, all of which are organic and natural.
Other essential components are the living microbes that help eat the harmful ones, thus ensuring well-protected plants.
Another incredible property of Dr Earth is its high tolerance to drought. This is made possible by the eight strains of Ecto and endo mycorrhizae found in it.
While you can use it on its own, it’s best to add it to other soils and mix it with fertilizer to give your tomatoes a better chance of surviving.
Besides, mixing potting soil with other ingredients to make your own soil saves on cost.
- It contains lots of nutrients thanks to the mixture of organic materials.
- It doesn’t contain GMO or chicken manure, which can do more harm than good to your tomatoes.
- It’s versatile.
- The nutrient levels aren’t always balanced.
Things to Consider When Choosing Potting Soil for Growing Tomatoes in Containers
As mentioned earlier, there are varieties of potting soils. This makes choosing the best a daunting task, especially for a new gardener.
The plants you intend to grow are the primary guide to suitable potting soil.
Also, the quality of the soil matters because some plants will thrive in loamy soil while others in clay. Here is a guide to help you choose a potting soil that will work for your potted tomatoes.
Location of Plants and Moisture Retention
The location where you want your plants to grow is the number one factor to consider.
Are your plants going to be under a shade or full sun? You will need light potting soil if you grow them under a shade because evaporation will be limited.
On the other hand, if you’re growing them under full sun, you will need a denser tomato potting soil so that it can hold water for long.
If you are too busy to water your plants daily, you might need potting soil that features gel granules because they will help them hold water for a longer period of time.
Organic Vs. Inorganic
Potting soil can either be organic or nonorganic. Organic soils are the best for nutrients, while inorganic is the best for soil amendment.
However, they are both good for potted plants. The difference is that inorganic mixes contain fertilizers while organic ones are natural with various types of nutrients.
You can also mix organic and inorganic ingredients, as explained earlier, for a better potting mix.
This is another factor that should guide you to the right mix. Potting soil contains several ingredients, including peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, and organic ingredients.
On the other hand, some don’t include organic materials. The ones that have vermiculite hold water for long, while those with perlite are great in drainage.
Additionally, others have lime which helps in balancing the pH level of the potting soil.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Potting Soil the Best for Tomatoes in Pot?
Yes. Potting soil is specifically made for potted plants, hence, it contains the essential nutrients that tomatoes grown in containers need to thrive.
Is Fertilizer Good for Tomatoes in Grown Containers?
Naturally, tomatoes require lots of nutrients to grow. Therefore, you can add fertilizers to potted tomatoes primarily because lots of nutrients are lost when water drains through the holes in the containers.
Can One Make their Potting Soil?
Yes. You can make your potting soil if you don’t want to buy the ready-made ones. However, you must include all the necessary ingredients, including peat moss, perlite, compost, and coco air.
And there you have it. There are many brands of potting soil in the market today, and you even have a chance to make your own. Whichever route you choose, make sure the potting mix has enough nutrients, the right pH, proper aeration, and proper water retention capabilities. And the good thing is that you can use commercial potting soil to make your customized potting soil.