Planting tomatoes require an extensive knowledge of its varieties, seeding methods, and handling. Also, you need to be wise in choosing from the wide variety of tomato plants to grow fresh and ripe tomatoes. 

As an expert gardener or a beginner, these tips and tricks on planting tomatoes help you get the most out of your garden. Looking to start an easy garden for tomatoes and seek advice? Check out this handy guide to learn more. 

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Planting Tomatoes: Green-Thumber Tips

A staple of any garden, the humble way of planting tomatoes remains easy to grow. It also goes hardy throughout summer to produce a large number of versatile tomatoes.

Accordingly, planting tomatoes need careful planning.  As a seasoned gardener, you always have something new to learn about these plants.

Tomatoes grow in a wide range of climates, even if the amount of watering and strategy for growth change slightly. Whether you prefer for unique, heirloom tomatoes or a classic beefsteak, this guide gives you all the information you need on how to grow tomatoes.

Afterward, you get to compare the difference between starting with a tomato seed and using a tomato plant starter. Then determine which one suits best for you.

Tomato Varieties: Planting Tomatoes Secrets

Lufa Farms Red Cocktail Tomato Row after successful planting tomatoes

Image: CC by A-SA 2.0, Lufa Farms, via Wikipedia Commons

While everyone recognizes a plump, red beefsteak tomato, you may be surprised to see pink, purple or striped tomatoes. There are far too many tomato varieties for planting tomatoes to list here.

But, there exist some key factors you need to consider before choosing the best tomato varieties. Take a look at the following four factors. 

Then, select the tomatoes that best fit your needs. If you still feel lost, consider buying your tomato seeds or plants at a gardening store.

These specialty stores have professionals who help you to discuss the various pros and cons of different tomatoes.

Disease Resistance

There are lots of diseases that plague tomatoes and depreciate the value of planting tomatoes. Some of these diseases can damage and stunt the plant, while others will completely kill your tomato plant.

While there exist lots of ways to protect your tomato plant, both chemically and naturally. Most plants always grow resistantly to some diseases.

You often find a set of capital letters after each tomato variety. These letters refer to certain diseases. For example, the Better Boy Tomato variety has VFN resistance.

This means that it implies resistance to Verticillium Wilt, Fusarium Wilt, and Nematodes. There remain many diseases that affect tomatoes.

Most importantly, research the particular diseases that exist commonly in your area. Then, choose a well-protected tomato variety.

Determinate or Indeterminate

Oregon Certified Organic Farmer showing an organically-grown tomato after successful planting tomatoes

Image: CC by 2.0, U.S. Department of Agriculture, via Flickr

Another major tip for planting tomatoes, some tomato plants stay small and remain easily kept in planters or pots. Others go expansive and take up lots of space in even the largest gardens. In order to keep them separate, determinate stay smaller plants and the indeterminate ones grow larger.

Determinate tomato plants only grow from about three or four feet tall. On the other hand, indeterminate plants grow much larger and easily reaches six feet tall.

For pros and cons for each, consider where you prefer to place your tomato plant. If you have room for a larger plant, consider an indeterminate. Otherwise, stick with a plant that stays within its container more easily.


If you are in a cooler climate, you may not be able to grow the same varieties of tomatoes.  This happens if you live somewhere warmer. The same remains true for hotter climates.

Some tomatoes like a long, hot growing season before they begin to ripen. Others ripen quickly but easily overheats. Particularly if you buying seeds in the local store or online, make sure the plants you choose suits for your area. Most tomato plant sellers list the climate zones that a tomato plant suits best.

Taste and Appearance

One of the most important factors is taste. While you want a large, healthy tomato plant, the real reason you are growing it is to grow tomatoes you enjoy eating. If you want the classic, large, red tomatoes, consider Big Boys or Beefsteaks. Smaller tomatoes, such as cherry tomatoes, are great for salads or eating raw. Some tomato varieties favor size and appearance over flavor, and others are more suited for cooking rather than for eating raw. Shop for the size and appearance you want, and you may be surprised with the large variety of tomatoes available.

Best Time for Planting Tomatoes

Oregon organic farmer examining an organically-grown tomato after successful planting tomatoes

Image: CC by 2.0, U.S. Department of Agriculture, via Flickr

While they say that the early bird gets the worm, planting tomatoes go ineffective. You lose them due to frost or cool temperatures. Tomatoes remain fairly resilient, but ideally, need a soil temperature of 60 degrees or higher. They also can’t handle frost.

For this reason, make sure you don’t plant tomatoes until the last day of frost. This date is always approximate, so there are ways to protect your tomatoes if you plant them too early. Check the number of days it takes a particular tomato plant to mature. Some can mature in as little as 50 days, while others take 100 days.

Count from the day your tomato is planted until harvest. Make sure you choose a variety that will mature before the first frost in the fall. If you are in a cooler, northern climate, like zones three or four, consider a short harvest date. Hotter climates, like zones nine and ten, can handle longer times.

Starter or Seed?

When considering how to grow tomatoes, you can choose between seeds and starters. A starter is a plant that is already beginning to grow. It will have a stem, leaves and sometimes even flowers.

Starters are ready to plant immediately and are the most popular and easiest ways to grow tomatoes. If you start from a seed, you’ll be growing your own starter. You’ll need to start the seeds indoors, and you’ll either need a room at 75 degrees or a heat mat.

Starting from seeds can be very time-consuming, and often will require additional equipment to be most effective. Starters, on the other hand, require very little additional care.

Planting Tomatoes: Methods of Proper Handling

Famers Planting Tomatoes following the Methods of Proper Handling

Image: Public Domain US, State Library and Archives of Florida, Flickr

For planting tomatoes, whether you choose a starter or a grown a seed, or ready for transplant, think about your outdoor space. Whether you are planting in a garden or a pot, you’ll probably need a few items to prepare your garden.

Here are some basic ways to care for your tomato plant and help nurture it.

Spacing and Support

You may be surprised with how large a healthy tomato plant can grow, particularly indeterminate varieties. Give your tomatoes at least three feet of space on all sides, and make sure they have room to grow up to six feet tall.

Tomato plants grow best when they are supported, so you may want a tomato cage, trellis or stakes to help support them. Don’t wait until your plants are too big; instead, put support structures in place right away.

Soil and Fertilizer

All tomato plants differ, but they usually need a soil pH level between 6.2 and 6.8. Most soils will need some assistance, and fertilizer with calcium is a great way to make sure your tomatoes are healthy and disease-resistant.

Sun and Water

With up to eight hours of sunlight and plenty of water, you’ll have a large, healthy tomato plant in no time. The amount of water and sunlight depends on the variety.

But, most tomatoes need about an inch of moisture every week. If it’s especially hot where you live, you’ll want even more water. The top inch of soil around the plant should remain moist.

Weeds and Mulch

The worst part of gardening and planting tomatoes may be dealing with weeds. While some gardeners resort to heavy-duty weed killers, there are several all-natural ways you can limit the number of weeds around your tomato plant.

A blanket of up to four inches of mulch will keep most weeds from receiving enough sunlight to grow. Mulch can also help hold moisture, which is great for dry summers.

Be cautious using a lot of mulch early in the growing season. If temperatures are still cool, the mulch may insulate your soil. Soil that isn’t exposed to sunlight will cool rapidly, and it may kill your tomato plant.

Pruning in Planting Tomatoes

As your tomatoes begin to mature and you start picking them, you may notice that some leaves have dried up and are dying. Some tomato plants may not be producing as many tomatoes as you would like.

In order to keep your tomatoes large, sweet and healthy, there are a few pruning tricks you can do. First, pinch or prune all the small suckers.

A sucker is a small leaf or flower that is beginning to grow in-between two fully-formed stems. These small flowers will never produce tomatoes, but they take away vital energy.

You can also prune dying leaves, and you can remove rotten tomatoes, ideally as quickly as possible. These will all hinder new growth. Be careful not to remove too many leaves, or your tomatoes won’t be as sweet.

Choose Your Planting Tomatoes Method 

Locally grown tomatoes with the valley in the background after successful planting tomatoes

Image: Public Domain US, Surreallogic, Flickr

While there are many steps to the process, learning proper methods of planting tomatoes can be fun and useful. After your first few growing seasons, you’ll be able to spot issues before they arise.

This will allow you to grow larger, healthier tomato plants. Indoor growing of tomatoes is a great way to cultivate your passion for gardening. Reading gardening blogs gives you some ideas as well. 

Once you master this plant, you’ll be able to try your hand at green beans, squash, peppers, and even fruit. Whether you choose seeds or starters, these tips will help you with planting tomatoes at the right time.

Give them all the proper nutrients they need and care for them all summer long. With a little luck, you’ll be enjoying plenty of fresh, ripe tomatoes every year.

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Featured Image: CC 0 by Public Domain, TGshutter, via Pixabay