How to Grow Tomatoes
When to Plant Tomato Plants
Wait until night temps are consistently above 55 degrees. If there's a chance of temperatures dipping into the 40s, it's better to wait! It's tempting to plant as early as possible, but it will payoff in the long run.
Tomato Plant Spacing
Tomatoes need a lot of room and air flow, and we recommend 36" between tomato plants. If you're able to guide the plant to grow more vertically, you can get away with a closer spacing.
What Tomato Plants will do Best in my Area?
Tomatoes love warm soil, but not too warm! Consistent temperatures above 90 degrees will cause most varieties to drop flowers before fruit can set. The plant will continue to grow in these hot temperatures, and fruit will set when the temperatures cool down. Be mindful of your season, and with proper timing and location scouting a tomato can be grown anywhere. If you have a short growing season, focus on early season varieties. Fertilizing will help increase the fruit quantity and time to yield. See here for our write-up on fertilizing.
How to Water your Tomato Plants
Tomato plants can handle more water than peppers, so it is less critical for the soil to dry out between waterings, but make sure the roots are not consistently wet. To assess if your plant needs water, feel the soil at least 3 inches down from the soil line (not just the top surface!).
The morning is the best time to water your tomato plant. Water deeply at the base of the plant and try not to get water on the leaves. If your plant is in a container, water until it flows out of the bottom. Watering in the morning allows the plant to have more available water during the heat of the day, and also for water on the leaves to evaporate. Water that remains on the leaves is a vector for disease. That is what makes night watering risky, because the water will stay on the leaves with cooler temperatures. Removing leaves close to the soil will help prevent disease transfer from water splashing form the soil to the leaves.
Should you Prune your Tomato Plants?
Indeterminate tomatoes are vines, and in our opinion, want to be free. At the end of the season, it can be beneficial to prune suckers to encourage energy put towards ripening fruit, but we've found it's not worth the time to keep at it during the season. We haven't done much testing on pruning semi-determinate or determinate varieties, but you may see benefits to pruning those early in the season to encourage branching out.
See How to Fertilize
for additional information
Back to How To
Next: How to Grow Eggplants