To grow healthy tomato plant and to have good harvest, as a gardener you must be aware of the season, variety and when is it too late to plant tomatoes.
Tomato does well in warmer climates.
So, if you’re living in a warmer climatic region, then you can plant tomatoes almost any-time in the year. But, make sure the temperature doesn’t exceed 90 F.
It’s not easy to tell the exact month or week to start growing tomato plants, because it depends on the variety and hardiness zone you live.
However, as a rule of thumb you need to check two things before proceeding, one is the night temperature should be above 50 F and the soil temperature stays above 60 F. Second thing is to check the first frost date in your area.
If the time taken to mature by tomato plant variety you opted for is less than the first frost date, you can plant tomatoes. Else, the frost can damage your plant and eventually it will die.
Best Time to Plant/Grow Tomatoes
Tomato variety, temperature and weather conditions are to be considered before planting tomatoes.
A tomato plant takes 60-80 days to mature, flower and produce fruits. So, you must choose tomato variety that takes less time to produce fruits.
Tomato patio choice, Sub-arctic, tumbler tomato, gardener’s delight, early doll and stupice tomato are some of the fast growing tomato varieties that you can opt.
Early season tomatoes take 50-60 days to be harvest ready. There are other varieties that take 60-80 days to yield.
Depending on your region’s climatic conditions you must choose best tomato variety that takes less time to produce fruits.
Check this out: How to increase tomato fruit size?
Ideal temperature to grow tomato plants
Tomato plants can’t tolerate frost and colder temperature. Check weather conditions in your locality before proceeding.
This edible plant is considered to thrive in warmer climates, but it can’t tolerate heat more than 90 F.
As mentioned above, tomato plants does well when temperature range is from 60-90 F. In the night temperature shouldn’t fall below 50 F.
If the temperature exceeds 90 F for longer time, then your tomato plant may suffer to flower, pollinate and produce yield.
How to protect your tomato plant from too much heat?
In case of high temperatures, you can use shade cloth so that the plant doesn’t get exposed to heat for full day.
High temperature demands more water. You must water your plant regularly twice or thrice if needed.
Mulching is one of the best ways to reduce the evaporation of moisture to air. Use hay grass for mulching.
Pat attention for your plant, if you see leaves are curling or turning brown, change the location. Your plant is getting too much sunlight.
Partial shade will work great for tomato plant, if you’re living in high temperature regions.
Heat tolerated tomato varieties
A study published in 2021 shows that there are few tomato varieties like Heat master (Seminis tomato seeds), Celebrity hybrid tomatoes, Rally tomato seeds and new girl tomato seeds have shown high yield in high temperatures ranging from 75 F to 93 F.
Must Read: How Long Can a Tomato Plant Go Without Water?
When Is It Too Late to Plant Tomatoes?
Due to climatic conditions, tomatoes are annual plants or short lived perennial plants in some regions.
Planting tomatoes before the season starts may not help to produce high yield, because the plant may experience late frost and it will eventually ruin plant growth.
Best time to plant tomato plant is when the temperature at night time is above 50 F and day temperature is above 60 F and below 90 F.
In tropical regions and warmer climates, you can plant tomatoes any time. But, make sure the plant isn’t exposed to high heat, use shade cloth and mulch to protect from sun burn.
If you missed the ideal season to plant tomato seeds, don’t worry you can purchase tomato seedlings to produce bountiful of tomatoes.
As mentioned earlier, if the time taken by your tomato plant to mature is less than first frost, you can plant tomato plants. Else, you must wait for last frost.
What Happens When You Plant Too Late?
If you don’t pay attention to coming seasons and plant too late. Your tomato plant has to experience uneven climatic changes.
Summer – Heat
Young tomato plant won’t be able to survive in high temperatures. With no strong roots, it becomes hard for the plant to fight the drought and pollinate.
However, if you supply water regularly, your young tomato plant won’t be able to combat with pests like aphids.
As mentioned earlier, you can use shade cloth, mulch and water regularly to protect your plants from high temperature.
Tomato plants won’t produce flowers and fruits when the night temperature is below 50 F.
Anyway, you can protect your plant from cold by growing them in greenhouse or cover young tomato plants with row covers.
How to Keep Tomato Plants Warm in Cold Weather?
To have perfect tomato temperature at night must be above 55 F.
You can’t control the distinct climate in your region, but you can protect your plants from cold weather.
Using green house is one of the best ways to protect your plants from cold. Use lights in the green house to increase the temperature by 2 F to 10 F.
Mulching with hay grass around the base of your plant is also hold temperature and keeps the soil warm.
How to Save Tomato Plants from Frost?
If you’re experience initial frost, then you must save the plants else they will eventually die.
- Green house or covering your tomato plants with frost cover can protect them from damage.
- For large tomato plants you can use floating row covers.
- You can insulate the base of tomato plant with few inches of mulch.
- Remove covering in the morning, so the plant gets enough sunlight and heat.
- Adding Christmas lights underneath the cover will keep the soil warm.
- Choose cold tolerated tomato varieties.
Note: Harvest early, don’t wait for tomatoes to ripe on the vine. Leave green tomatoes, but pluck red, half red and whitish fruits.
Important Tips: To Grow/Plant Tomatoes Late
- Instead of starting with seeds, you can choose best tomato seedlings when you’re starting to plant too late.
- Make sure the tomato plant seedlings are healthy and can tolerate weather conditions in your region.
- For first few days after planting seedlings, provide shade and water regularly. You can also use mulch to protect the young plant from heat and cold.
- To avoid transplant shock, water generously and notice the plant for every couple of days.
When is it too late to plant tomatoes?
If you didn’t skip above article by now you got the answer. However, if you’re looking for one line answer, check the night temperature and if it’s above 50 F then you can plant. Wait, also you must check the first frost date. Stop planting if the first frost is less than 40-50 days.