Should I Rotate My Container Tomatoes?

“If I grew tomatoes in a container last year, what CANNOT  be grown in that container this year? I’ve read about crop rotation but can’t find this answer anywhere. Hope you can help me.” Question from Debbie of Hoquiam, Washington

Answer: You cannot plant a tomato in that pot unless you refresh its potting soil. Tomatoes are rife with soil-borne diseases that can carry over from year to year, so it is better to be safe than sorry. (Click here to learn more about tomato diseases and disease-resistant tomato varieties.) If you opt for rotation, tomatoes should be rotated on a three-year cycle–tomato one year and other vegetables the next two years. (Either way, the potting soil should be refreshed every one to two years.) Good vegetables to rotate in after tomatoes include beans and peas because they naturally fortify soils with nitrogen, and greens, because they are not too demanding.

I encourage you to read my article about vegetable rotation titled Spring to Fall Vegetable Rotation: Planting for Non-stop Garden Produce. It will provide all of the information you will need to effectively rotate your crops, whether container- or garden-grown. You might also like to watch the video below about successfully growing tomatoes in containers.

Happy potted tomato growing!

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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