How to Grow in Containers

Container Size Considerations

There are a few rules of thumb to follow in regards to container sizing for either peppers, tomatoes, or eggplants.

  1. The larger the fruit, the larger the pot you'll need. A multi lb tomato or bell pepper needs a lot of nutrients and water to grow to size, and the only way to deliver these is through a large root system. And you need a large container for a large root system. You can make up for a small container size with more frequent fertilization, but that can only overcome so much, and over fertilization can decrease the plant's health.
  2. The same reasoning applies to larger plants. If a pepper plant can grow to 36", it will need a more roots and nutrients to support. A 6" tall ornmental pepper on the other hand can make due with a 1 gallon pot or even smaller.
  3. A smaller container will dry out more quickly and need more frequent watering.
  4. Do not put a small plant in a large pot! The water and nutrients will flow too far from the roots, and it will take a longer time for the plant roots to branch out deep enough. We recommend up potting our plants into a quart size container before planting in its final location.

Planting Medium

We recommend planting into a soil medium that is 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 perlite. This will seem like a lot of perlite, but drainage is critical as your pepper, tomato, or eggplants do not want wet feet!

Recommended Minimum Sizes

One Gallon Container
  • Pepper plants maturing to less than 12" tall
  • Dwarf tomato plants, such as the Micro-Tom
Three Gallon Container
  • Pepper plants between 12" and 24" tall and fruits smaller than a banana pepper
  • Determinate tomato plants up to a medium size fruit
Five Gallon Container
  • Pepper plants greater than 36" tall
  • Peppers with fruits as large as a banana pepper or larger
  • Tomato plants up to a medium size fruit, determinate, semi, or indeterminate
10 Gallon Container
  • Intederminate tomato plants with large or very large fruits

Container Materials

  • Low airflow - good for dry climates
  • Doesn't break or chip
  • Inexpensive
  • Light weight
  • If material isn't UV resistant, it will break down in the sun
  • Not very environmentally friendly
Fabric Grow Bags
  • Note that these are woven plastic, but more breathable for wetter climates
  • Doesn't break or chip
  • Inexpensive
  • Light weight
  • Handles can rip when moving
  • Not very environmentally friendly if made out of plastic
Unglazed Terracotta or Unglazed Stone
  • Durable, but can chip
  • Breathable - allows air to the roots and helpful for wetter climates
  • Usually more aesthetially pleasing
  • Expensive
  • Heavy
Glazed Terracotta or Glazed Stone
  • Durable, but can chip
  • Less airflow is good for dry climates
  • Usually more aesthetially pleasing
  • Expensive
  • Heavy

Whatever material you choose, make sure that it has adequate drainage! This is done via a hole or holes in the bottom and being raised off the ground.

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