How to grow Tumbling Tom’s (Tomatoes) in hanging baskets
Tumbling Toms are a fantastic beginner plant to grow for the would be veggie gardner.
The Tumbling Tom variety of tomatoe plants are visually awesome – they produce eye catching, cascading tumbler vines dotted with glossly red fruit. A single plant can produce up to 2kg of fresh fruit per season!
With their tumbling, aesthetic form, they make eye catching feature plants when placed in hanging baskets or trellises on your patio or garden.
And if you’re an adventurous little ranger with a well-lit indoor space, you can also grow Tumbling Tom’s indoors – which is pretty cool.
These guys a pretty easy to grow, but it’s still best to know what you’re doing before you get stuck in.
When to plant your Tumbling Tom
In Australia spring is the best time to plant your Tumbling Tom, as tomatoes are a summer crop.
Plant seeds indoors just before the last of the cold weather to ensure you have a seedling ready for early spring.
In warmer climates like Queensland, you can plant earlier in the season and will get a longer harvest.
What size pot / basket for my Tumbling Tom?
Your basket should be at least 30cm deep and 30cm across. These guys need some room to grow. The bigger the pot the more tomatoes your Tumbling Tom will produce, in general.
It’s also important that you plant one Tumbling Tom per pot only. One plant will easily fill your pot and needs room for aeration to prevent fungal diseases.
Ensure there is a good amount of drainage in the bottom of the pot, as always.
Are Tumbling Tom’s Determinate or Indeterminate?
Tumbling Tom’s are a determinate variety.
If that doesn’t mean anything to you, don’t stress, I’ll explain.
Determinate varieties are smaller and bushier than indeterminate – which grow vertically.
Tumbling Tom’s only grow to around 30cm in height – making them perfect for container gardeners.
Being a bush variety it trails and hangs over pot edges hence its ‘Tumbling’ name. In our opinion this makes it one of the more attractive tomato varieties.
It is also a heavy yielding. If you do a decent job and it has access to good light, it should produce up to 2kg of fruit in a season. They do come in both red and yellow, so keep an eye out for both varieties.
Tumbling Tom care
Tumbling Tom’s are very easy to care for as they are so compact which is great for beginner gardeners.
How much sun does your Tumbling Tom need?
They require full sun, 6-8hrs per day. In warmer regions morning sun is best vs the harsh afternoon sun. This will ensure fruit production.
If you’ve got bright indirect light all day, you’ll likely be ok as well, but may not produce as much fruit as a direct sun location.
What soil should you plant a Tumbling Tom in?
Any premium vegetable purposed potting mix will do fine. We personally mix about 1/5 portion of perlite in with ours as well, to ensure good drainage.
Should you use mulch with Tumbling Tom’s?
Tomatoes in hanging baskets need a good layer of mulch to stop them from drying out quickly in the summer heat. Sugar cane mulch is great for fruits and vegetables and it also benefits the soil. One inch of mulch should protect your soil from drying out too quickly.
Fertilising Tumling Tom tomatoes in hanging baskets
Tomatoes like to be planted in a soil with lots of compost matter. This will ensure high yield from your Tumbling Tom. So use a good potting mix to start with.
If you have a worm farm ‘worm tea’ is a great liquid fertiliser for your Tomatoes. See our guide in making your own worm farm here.
Tomatoes require potassium for fruit development. We feed our Tumbling Tom’s with a diluted seaweed solution once a fortnight. Liquid potash at the start of flowering (once a season) is good idea also.
If your plant is yellowing, it may be potassium deficient and in need of a feed.
Watering your Tumbling Tom
Tomatoes in hanging baskets or pots will dry out a lot quicker than in the ground, due to increased airflow. In spring, water your plant thoroughly approximately once a week and keep it consistent – watering the same day each week. As summer approaches and the weather heats up you will need to increase watering to twice a week – I water Wednesday, Saturday.
In the height of summer, you may need to water more frequently so make sure to test the soil with your finger. If the top inch is dry it’s time to water.
Tomatoes like their soil kept moist. If the tomato dries out you will damage your plant and fruit will split or become prone to blossom end rot.
At the same time, be sure not to water if your soil is moist at the top layer – you’ll make her too soggy and suffer root and fruit rot.
This takes some experimenting in different regions – I’m in sunny Queensland.
Should I ‘pinch out’ my Tumbling Tom suckers?
The short answer is no. Determinate varieties are bush tomato plants. By leaving all the side shoots or suckers it gives the plant its fullness appeal.
It also makes for more flower buds, meaning more delicious tomatoes for you. The Tumbling Tom does not require staking or cages as it grows low to the ground.
Common tomato pests and disease
Typically has a silvery grey type appearance on the plants leaves. If you notice this try to avoid watering the leaves and water from the base. Remove affected leaves. Make sure the plant has good aeration and isn’t crowded by other plants to avoid mildew.
Blossom end rot
A common problem in tomato plants. Blossom end rot as the name suggests rots the fruit from the bottom upwards. It appears black on the base of the plant. Most commonly caused by infrequent or irregular watering consequently the fruit does not absorb enough calcium. Ensure you are watering to a schedule and often in the warmer months.
Aphids are small sap sucking bugs that group in clusters around the stems or undersides of leaves. If you see these early enough pick them off and kill them. If left they can grow in numbers quickly and will damage the plant. Ants eat the sap that aphids make, noticing ants can be a sign of aphids.
Mosaic virus / leaf curl
This virus is spread by other pests. If you notice yellow and dark green mottled patches on leaves and leaf curl your tomato may have this virus. There is no cure for this disease, destroy the plant to avoid spread.
These buggers love warm dry conditions. They are tiny red crawlers that produce webbing living on the undersides of leaves. They will quickly take over your plant if not controlled.
Be sure to use Eco oil (Neem oil) at first signs of spider mites. First signs of mites are often lots of tiny yellow specks appearing on leaves. Blasting the undersides of leaves with water is an effective way to keep numbers down. Be sure to isolate any pots with spider mites to avoid garden infestation.
Caterpillars are usually easy to spot and can be removed by hand. They will eat your tomato leaves for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Quick guide (for those on a busy schedule)
- Plant in spring time
- In the biggest hanging pot you can find for your space (30cm deep x 30cm wide)
- One plant per pot
- Use plenty of compost material when planting
- Be sure to mulch well
- Keep soil moist and water on set days
- Feed seaweed solution fortnightly
- Potash feed when first flowers appear
- Morning sun is preferred
- Harvest and enjoy!
Miss Pot Plant xoxo