Like full-sized tomatoes, cherry tomatoes are available as both determinate and indeterminate varieties. Determinate tomatoes grow to a specific size and cease growing. These plants produce blooms and set fruit all at once, making them ideal for a quick harvest. Indeterminate tomatoes continue to grow up until frost, bloom over an extended period and set new fruit throughout the summer. These plants provide fresh ripe tomatoes for a month or more, depending on your location. Both require a sunny location and rich well-drained soil.
Select an appropriate cultivar for your region. For small areas or containers, consider determinate varieties, as these do not require caging or staking. Look for days to maturity that match the number of frost free days in your area. Keep in mind that days to maturity is typically determined under optimum growing conditions in a warm area. Tomatoes grown in a northern garden may require more time to reach maturity.
Select a sunny location that receives at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day. Tomatoes thrive in full sun and prefer all day sun, if possible.
Test the soil to determine the needs of your soil. Contact your local extension office for a soil test kit and follow the directions for gathering a soil sample. The office provides a written summary of your soil; including recommended amendments for adjusting pH, balancing nutrients and improving texture and drainage. Amend the soil following the directions in the summary.
Plant cherry tomato seedlings in late spring once the danger of frost has passed and temperatures remain above 55 degrees F during the night. Although tomatoes will survive as long as there is no frost, cool nighttime temperatures cause stress to these tender warm-season plants and may set growth back by several weeks.
Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball. Add a handful of compost or well-rotted manure and mix in well with the existing soil. Pour 2 qts. water into the hole and allow to seep into the soil. Place the cherry tomato seedling in the hole and fill in around the stem with soil. Firm gently with your hands to secure the plant. Water thoroughly to moisten the soil to the root level.
Apply water-soluble fertilizer designed for tomatoes following the application rate on the package. Fertilize on a 10 to 14 days cycle throughout the summer. Avoid high nitrogen formulas, as this causes lush green foliage, but inhibits fruit production.
Water deeply once a week to moisten the soil to the root level. Deep watering encourages the formation of a strong root system. Container-grown tomatoes require more frequent watering. Watch for signs of wilting and adjust water to meet the needs of your cherry tomato plant. The more sun the tomatoes receive, the more water they will need.
Weed regularly to prevent weeds from robbing your cherry tomatoes of valuable nutrients. Pull or cut weeds when they are small to prevent disturbing the roots of your plants.
Stake or cage indeterminate varieties to provide support for the growing plant. You can purchase wire or wooden cages designed for tomatoes at your local home improvement or gardening store.