If you’ve ever eaten a dish including tomato sauce or tomato paste, you’re familiar with the popular Roma tomato. Growing Roma tomatoes in pots is a fantastic way for a home gardener to get this delicious tomato into homemade pastes and sauces, as they don’t require much space to grow.
Roma tomatoes are among the many varieties of plum tomatoes. Read on to learn techniques for growing Roma tomatoes in pots.
Choosing the Roma Tomato That’s Right for You
There are many varieties of Roma tomatoes, so you shouldn’t decide what you’d like to grow until you’ve done some research.
Looking at Roma varieties before planting will ensure you get what you want — or close to it, anyway — from growing Roma tomatoes in pots. Read on for a look at some Roma tomato varieties.
Saucy Lady Tomato
The Saucy Lady tomato is a hybrid variety that produces a heavy crop of 3-4 oz tomatoes. It has bright red skin and firm flesh, making it ideal for slicing and using in salads or sandwiches.
The Saucy Lady cooks down super-smooth and has a sweet flavor balanced perfectly with its acidity, making it an ideal go-to Roma for sauce and paste.
A very popular variety of Roma tomatoes, the Better Boy has been around for decades. It’s renowned for massive single-plant yields, which makes it an excellent choice for growing Roma tomatoes in pots, given the space limitations imposed by container gardening.
The Sunrise Sauce variety of Roma tomato is well-suited for container growing. It grows on short vines and reaches maturity in about 60 days. Additionally, its bright orange color adds a vibrant touch to the patio or wherever you grow it.
If you’re thinking about trying your hand at concocting some homemade tomato paste, grow the Heinz variety of Roma tomato, widely acknowledged as the best Roma for tomato paste. As a bonus, the meaty flesh of the Heinz makes it an excellent choice for grilling or roasting.
The Plum Regal variety of Roma tomatoes is a good choice for new gardeners. It is resistant to disease and is also a high-yielding variety, thereby rewarding the gardener who chooses to try growing Roma tomatoes in pots.
If, in addition to growing Roma tomatoes in pots, you’d like to try your hand at canning them for extended use in your kitchen, you should seriously consider the San Marzano variety. The San Marzano also is ideal for tomato sauce and is a good choice for roasting.
Selecting the Right Pot for Growing Roma Tomatoes
In selecting the proper container for growing Roma tomatoes in pots, choose a fairly large one. A good starting point is 14 inches in diameter, but if you go to a pot as large as two feet in diameter, you’re likely to have more success in growing Roma tomatoes.
As another guide to choosing the right container for growing Roma tomatoes in pots, you should remember that the plants will produce deep roots as they search for water and nutrients. Your container should thus be between two and three feet tall.
You can use plastic pots for your Roma tomatoes — even a five-gallon bucket with holes cut in the bottom for drainage will do — but ceramic pots and terra cotta pots are better choices and well worth the added expense for both practical and decorative reasons.
Ceramic or terra cotta containers are weighty enough to remain stable as your plants and tomatoes grow, counteracting any top-heaviness in the plants and fruits.
How to Plant Roma Tomato Seeds in Pots
Roma tomatoes can be grown from seed indoors in small containers and transplanted into the larger container in which they will mature, or seedlings can be planted directly into their final container.
However you get a seedling into its final container, you should remove its bottom leaves and set about three-quarters of the plant into the soil. Plant your Roma seedlings in loose potting soil that is well-aerated and drains effectively.
Beyond that, choose potting soil with lots of nutrients, including alfalfa and bone meal, in addition to traditional components like phosphorous, potassium, and calcium, for success in growing Roma tomatoes in pots.
How to Support Your Roma Tomato Plant
Regardless of which variety you choose for growing Roma tomatoes in pots, you’ll need to have some sort of physical support for them.
The good news is that Romas are determinate tomatoes, meaning that they produce all of their tomatoes at one time rather than throughout a longer growing season.
As determinate tomatoes, Romas also will typically grow to only around four feet high, meaning that they can be supported by simply installing a tomato cage in the host container. Tomato cages, round metal frames that support the plant’s weight as it grows, are available at garden centers.
To install the tomato cage, push it into the soil until its metal legs contact the bottom of the container, and you’re on your way to growing Roma tomatoes in pots.
Watering and Fertilizing Roma Tomato Plants in Pots
There is a simple rule for watering your Roma tomatoes in containers. When watering, make sure the soil is saturated, and pour water into the container until it comes out of the bottom. From there, wait until the soil dries out and repeat the process.
To get the highest quality from growing Roma tomatoes in pots, fertilize the plant with a balanced mixture of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous.
In addition to the fertilizer, you should consider using manure and sprinkling it at the base of your plants. Organic manure is the best choice for this aspect of ensuring good yields from growing Roma tomatoes in pots.
Pests and Diseases in Roma Tomato Plants
While it might be tempting to believe that container gardening provides some protection against pests and diseases in comparison with planting in a regular garden plot, that’s not necessarily the case.
There are, however, steps you can take to lessen the chances that pests and diseases will get to your container-grown Roma tomatoes. First, you should ensure that the container you’re using is clean by scrubbing it with a mixture of detergent and water.
If you’re planting in a previously used container, soak it in a solution of one part household bleach to 10 parts water for an hour to ensure that the container is free of any previous contamination.
As you’re growing Roma tomatoes in pots, be sure to remove any dead leaves or flowers to prevent the spread of any possible disease or pest infestation. Inspect your plants regularly for signs of potential problems, looking at both sides of a random selection of leaves.
It will also help to ensure the area around your containers is clean. If your containers are on a porch, deck, or patio, hose off or sweep them regularly to ensure your success in growing Roma tomatoes in pots.
Harvesting Your Roma Tomatoes
When it’s time to harvest your Roma tomatoes, you can get them from the plant to your kitchen in a couple of different ways. Romas can be harvested individually, but you can also remove whole trusses — clusters of stems where groups of tomatoes develop — from the plant.
While tomatoes can be pulled carefully from plants, it’s always best to use a small pruner or some garden scissors to harvest tomatoes to avoid damage to the fruits and the plant.
When they’re firm to the touch, you’ll know your Roma tomatoes are ready for harvest. If you need further assurance that your Roma tomatoes are ready to be picked, take one from the vine and bite into it to see if it has the variety’s slightly tart taste.
If you should pick Roma tomatoes before they’re fully ripe, you can place them inside in a well-ventilated, room-temperature space to finish ripening. It’s best, however, to let them ripen on the vine as you’re growing Roma tomatoes in pots.
Wrapping up How to Grow Roma Tomatoes in Pots
We hope this post has you on your way to growing Roma tomatoes in pots. For more on tomatoes, including other amazing varieties, and how to take care of them during the growing season, go to Minneopa Orchards.