Tomatoes come in all different varieties, ranging from miniature plants for hanging pots, to large, indeterminate garden plants. All types require certain elements in order to stay healthy and robust and to produce fruit. Without these elements, tomato plants may become susceptible to disease and will not yield many fruits for harvest.
Tomato plants are warm-season vegetables requiring temperatures between 55 and 90 F degrees at the extremes. They cannot withstand frost, so if you are planting them outside you must plant after the danger of frost passes. Tomatoes need full sun in order to be healthy and produce fruit. Without full sun, the plants will become weak and leggy. Indoors, place potted tomatoes in a south-facing window to get the required amount of sun.
Tomatoes grow well in many soils but grow best in well-drained, deep loamy soil. Clay soils that hold water will cause root rot, eventually killing the plant. Amend the soil with an organic compost or manure before planting to provide the tomatoes with extra nutrients.
Water makes up 95 percent of the tomato fruit. As such, the tomato plant needs lots of water to thrive. Water newly planted plants with 2 quarts of water per plant per day until harvest. During harvest, the tomatoes require 2 to 4 quarts of water per plant.
Supported plants produce more fruit than unsupported plants. If you support the tomatoes early in the growing process, they also resist rotting, diseases and pests more easily. Staking the plants requires you to prune and tie up the tomato plants as they grow. Cages require less manipulation, allowing you to simply leave the plant to grow after setting up the cage.
Start the tomato with a starter fertilizer, mixed into the soil before planting, to give young plants the nutrients they need to thrive. You can purchase this at any garden store. When the tomato fruits are 1/3 their eventual size, apply a complete fertilizer to the soil. Apply again three and six weeks after this application. This will encourage the plant to keep growing and producing. Follow the directions on the package for application instructions.