Tomato and Peppers in Containers and Fertilizing

ideal2545(9B)January 30, 2012

Hi Everyone,

So I was reading that its a good idea to withhold Nitrogen after a certain time for Tomatoes for them to start flowering and fruiting, is this true? I am planning on using Foliage Pro once the seedlings grow up a bit, and then maybe switching to another fertilizer to make them flower? Would this also be the same for pepper plants in containers?

Sorry for all the questions! Usually I just kind of stick plants in some potting soil and let them do their thing but the yields are usually not the best I am trying to get a little better at this in-pot growing thing. I am planning to use 511 mix with my potted veggies.



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I have used ratios of 3-1-4 in veg. stage for tomatoes and 1-4-5 for the bloom. These where fertilizers I used with good results. I dont use these fertilizers anymore because I have about the same results using miracle gro 18-18-21. Dyna gro is the best choice out there from what I have heard.

If you use foliage pro the whole way through you will need a K spike or you will be growing foliage not fruit ;)

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 6:15PM
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You can reduce the nitrogen, increase phosphate (not as productive), replace nitrate with ammonium (less anion competition for phosphate), or wait. I have had great success manipulating the type of of nitrogen the plants get: during vegitative phase, i use a 4:1 of nitrate to ammonium (nitrate is absorbed much faster than ammonium so the N is readily available), for flowering I use a 1:4 nitrate to ammonium ratio at about half the total value of previous amounts (the ammonium still provides N, but there is less anion competition so that the phosphate is more easily used), and for fruit development I do a 1:1.
I know it's complicated, but it is interesting. Simple route: just reduce the amount of overall N.
For the peppers, I Imagine that it would be the same, but I'm not sure.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 8:03PM
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Mastergardener...are you using that MG throughout the season than?

Soil drench I assume.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 8:11PM
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DaMonkey007(10b - Miami)

This concept confuses me. In my area the growing season is long, potentially indefinate. I have indeterminate tomatoes in pots that I won't replace until they totally grow themselves out, or the heat of the summer does them in. They could grow for many fact, I have some Everglades Wild Cherry's that are native to South Florida, and can grow right through summer. These plants will be continually growing and fruiting, growing and fruiting. I can see where this could be useful for determinate varities in places with shorter seasons, but I can't see how this applies to indeterminates, specifically in locations such as mine. Can anyone shed some light on how this?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 9:35AM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Al addressed the issue of reducing nitrogen to encourage flowering/fruiting in an old post that you might find interesting. Read it here.

Here is a link that might be useful: When should I induce an N deficiency?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 10:09AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I fertilize the whole way through.

In my area, the weather affects flowering more than the fertilization, I believe.
Provide the nutrients needed, and when the temps and humidity are kosher, plants will produce.


    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 10:50AM
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I agree with several of the comments above. My tomatoes and peppers are beginning to flower right when I transplant them from 4" pots into their summer homes. They need nitrogen at this stage, so I don't want to cut-back. Also, I'm growing many different varieties-each with its own flower/fruit cycle. Trying to time fertilizer applications would be hectic, to put it mildly.

I generally incorporate fertility amendments into the container mix prior to planting. I top dress just a bit when I transplant and then bi-weekly after that - letting the plants and weather dictate, to some extent, when they need a boost. This is using granular organic ingredients. If you're using synthetics, your regimen would be different.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 1:58PM
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DaMonkey007(10b - Miami)

Interesting read. I might try it with a Roma or two for a side by side comparison. I still can't see the benefit for indeterminates, specifically if they have a long season. I'm no veteran grower, but the vines that I've had success with bloomed and fruited for months on end. It seems to me that month after month of an induced N-deficiency would do more harm than good, IDK...maybe I'm missing something. Besides, I'm not interested in having yellowing, scraggley, N-deficient plants. I grow for the beauty and asthetics of the plants as much as the harvest. I think I'll follow Josh's lead and fertigate consistantly all the way through, let mother nature run her course. Interesting stuff though!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 3:59PM
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i am in a simalar situation here in the phoenix area and here's what i do with pretty goos success fo my indeterminants which are gound on theirs 2nd year now and produce right through winter. starting now in the spring i rotate a regular miracle grow feeding and a tomatoe formula feeding which has less n every 14 days from now till june (it's to hot to set fruit anyway) then i start again in september through thanksgiving then i don't fertalize at all till spring i've done this 3 years now and baring frost i can keep my tomatoes producing heavily (now in january i pick about 5 pounds of yellow cherries and red grapes off of 2 plants every friday) about 8 months a year. the only other dressing or fertalizing i do is coffee grounds about every other week from starbucks. my peppers get the same treatment and produce allmost year round as well

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 12:09PM
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Just got home from my second 14hr shift, one to go and just out of curiosity and tiredness I would like to ask a couple of maybe strange questions.
Does anyone plant tomato's and peppers in the same pot?
Several here grow several different type tomato's and peppers. What is the best way to keep them from crossing. Not pepper to tomato LOL Im not that tired.
Well I'll check back on this but for now Im going to hit the sack.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 11:52PM
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Does anyone plant tomato's and peppers in the same pot?

In theory, if your planter is big enough, it won't be a problem. In practice, tomato and pepper plants have differing grow habits. Unless you're growing a dwarf, the tomato plant is likely to overwhelm the pepper plant. My advice: give them each their own pot; they'll thank you for it.

What is the best way to keep them from crossing.

Tomatoes and peppers are both self-pollinating but will cross to varying degrees based on plant type, insect activity and several other factors. Generally speaking, you can expect a cross rate of roughly 10% for tomatoes and, I've read, up to 40% for peppers. If you want better odds, you'll need to isolate either the plants or the blossoms. Simple Isolation cages can be made out of 1 x 2 lumber and window screen material. To isolate the blossoms a lot of folks use tulle fabric. I have heard that incidence of blossom drop is increased using tulle. Also, and this may be stating the obvious, unless you want to save seed to plant next year, there's no need to worry about cross pollination. Contrary to some claims, cross-pollination has absolutely no bearing on this year's fruit.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 12:34PM
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Does anyone plant tomato's and peppers in the same pot?
Last year I I grew Roma & Jalapenos in a single pot and had good results.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 8:08AM
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Too much nitrogen will give you a big bush with possible blossom drop and little fruit, that was my past experiences. This year I went with the lower nitrogen level around 15 using a water soluble plant food of 15-30-15 watering every two weeks and misting the plant leaves with the mixture and is working great as you can see from my photo. Not one blossom dropped and everyone is setting. The tomato plant is an Early Girl.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2014 at 1:54PM
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Bearybee(Zone 8 SW Georgia)

Has anyone used fertilizer spikes? I am growing in containers for the first time. I found some that sound promising but so does everything. It is an 08-24-08 and is recommended for two every 8 weeks.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 6:41PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

"Too much nitrogen will give you a big bush with possible blossom drop and little fruit, that was my past experiences"

That is so true. Nobody wants to deprive them of nitrogen, just lower it, they grow rapidly when young and need more, once mature, you can cut back. You will be rewarded with more fruit. I completely disagree with feeding them the same. But many here are very stubborn people who have convinced themselves the numerous studies and observations are wrong and they are right.
With trees which was one example, one never feeds them during fruiting. To give an example of a tree that is not fed at all, being the same as feeding all the time was rather amusing.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 10:54PM
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Well, Drew51... While I understand your basic premise, it's a bit of a terse reply. In truth, you are in a completely different growing zone than the OP, and each has its challenges. What I would do in SE MI is not necessarily the same thing that I would do in SE FL. But that aside, we are also hobby gardners, not commercial growers. Some of these approaches that are taken are ridiculously complicated. Since I'm not concerned with trying to gain mega yields - the plant equivalent of overriding the natural threshhold of production, i.e., a "plant on steroids", I prefer to take a much more organic approach. I also enjoy a longer growing season, so if it's any help to the OP, I'd just throw this in: If you get away from synthethics and their corresponding regiments, for "better yield through modern science", you can just organically supplement your plants, and let them take whatever nutrients they need, as they need them. I top dress my tomatoes and peppers with rock dust, earthworm castings, and alfalfa hay. Maybe a dead fish goes in with each planting. I get almost year round production of beautiful fruits. Not trying to change anybody's mind or suggest the superiority of my own methods. Just saying that there's more than one way to skin a cat, and no need to get snippy with anyone for trying new things. If there were no people to defy the "traditional" knowledge, there would be no progress.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 10:02PM
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One thing I'd consider is are you(meaning anyone)actually container gardening or raised bed gardening? If that container is set on the ground and can anchor itself with it's roots then it has another(not necessarily an ideal one)source for nutrients.

I think without a doubt container(true) gardening in regards to fertilization is quite tricky. This is especially true when you're using liquid fertilizers. They tend to drain on out.

Last time I grew tomatoes in a container was quite an adventure. The plants were cuttings(of a cutting of a cutting) I took in August or September and brought in the house and kept alive They wound up in the end living about a year and a half and dying from disease. I had tomatoes in May though. I fed em fish emulsion once a week. I don't remember if I stopped but the stinky stuff used to just run right through them. They were pretty productive.

For the tomatoes in my greenhouse in the ground last year though I vegged them out and at some point I just stopped fertilizing. They got slow release(organic), fish emulsion and then nothing. They were monsters and loaded with fruit.

Now the trick this year for me is to make sure i can manipulate the fertilizer routine like i did last year and utilize the cozy greenhouse to get them jumping. It's not going to be easy. I think it starts with knowing how much slow release fertilizer(organic) per cu foot if you will along with the tricky maintenance(ph concerns fast does garden lime kick in?, also micro nutrients).

2 things I will make sure of, the containers breathe(greenhouse can go well over 120 degrees, although cool shot with the hose drives the heat out)and use organic so there is no real over feeding.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 11:05PM
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