Tomato plants can be grown as tender seedlings indoors or transplanted outdoors once the threat of spring frosts has passed. For best results, protect seedlings with row covers or plant tepees until the weather warms up.
Tomatoes grow best in rich, well-draining soil with a pH range of 6.5 to 6.8. They need a constant supply of major and minor nutrients, like calcium.
Sunlight is a crucial part of tomato plant growth. Whether they are indoors or in the garden, tomatoes need to be exposed to sunlight at least 6 hours a day for their fruit to develop properly.
Tomatoes grow best in full sun locations, but they can also produce fruit with partial shade and indirect sunlight. However, if they don’t get enough direct sunlight, their fruits will split or crack, which could prevent them from ripening.
The amount of sunlight a tomato plant receives can change dramatically over the course of the growing season, so use a light meter to determine actual sun exposure before positioning your pots.
Tomatoes should be exposed to morning sunlight, which is high-intensity and low-heat – perfect for seedlings. If temperatures exceed 90deg F, apply a shade cloth to the west side of your garden to prevent excess heat stress. In addition, several hours of afternoon sunlight is recommended for tomato plants to thrive and increase their crop size.
Water is crucial for the growth and development of your tomato plant. Without it, the fruit may split or rot, and the leaves will be yellowing and wilted.
How much water a tomato plant needs will vary from plant to plant and season to season. This is due to several factors such as soil type, current temperature and humidity, and weekly rainfall.
One way to ensure that your tomato plants get the right amount of water is to water slowly and deeply. This encourages the roots to grow deeper into the soil and soak up more moisture.
It also helps to develop a strong root system that will help the plant survive dry spells in the future.
Tomato plants are very thirsty, so it is important to check their moisture levels daily. The soil should be moist at all times, but do not water if the top inch or two has dried out as this can lead to underwatering.
Tomatoes are one of the heaviest feeders of vegetables in the garden, and they need nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and other micronutrients to thrive. Without adequate amounts of these nutrients, tomato plants will struggle to grow and produce a large harvest.
Fertilizers should be applied at various stages of tomato plant growth. For example, when seedlings are transplanted, fertilizer should be mixed with the soil at the bottom of the planting hole.
Then, once the tomatoes have been established in the soil, side-dress them with fertilizer every one or two weeks throughout the growing season. If you use a liquid organic fertilizer, apply it at half of the recommended strength to ensure that all of the nutrients make their way down to the roots instead of getting washed away by watering.
If you are using a straight fertilizer, mix it with soil at the bottom of the hole, as that will help prevent burns to the fragile tomato roots. If you want to boost calcium in your soil, mix worm casting tea or bone meal into the soil at the bottom of the hole as well.
Pruning is one of the most important aspects of tomato plant care, and it can be used to increase fruit size or to speed ripening. It also helps control fungal disease and improves airflow.
Pruning should be done when plants have their first flower cluster, and then continuously throughout the season as needed to control fruit size. Using the appropriate pruning technique will ensure that your tomatoes produce healthy and abundant yields of delicious tomatoes.
Both determinate and indeterminate varieties require some pruning to direct the plant’s energy toward fruit production. Determinate varieties like Ace 55, Biltmore, Heatmaster, Heinz Classic and Mountain Pride don’t have to be trimmed as much as indeterminate tomatoes like Big Boy, Beef Master, German Queen and most heirlooms.
The upper and lower leaves growing closest to fruit clusters generate the sugar necessary for a tomato plant to bloom and to produce fruit. Avoid removing these leaves when pruning, as they protect fruits from unexpected sunscald.