How to Manage Tomato Plants


Tomato plants, according to Iowa State University, are one of the most popular garden vegetables. Tomatoes come in two main types, determinate and indeterminate styles. Determinate varieties are small and compact, setting their fruit all at once during a short period. Indeterminate varieties grow larger and continue producing fruit until the first frost. Managing a tomato plant properly will yield the greatest amount of fruit and prevent disease.

Step 1

Plant your tomato plant outside once the soil is warm and all danger of frost has passed (around the beginning to middle of May). The University of Illinois suggests putting black plastic or a plastic covering over the plant if transplanted earlier to protect it from frost.

Step 2

Space dwarf plants so they are 12 inches apart in a row, and larger plants that require training on a stake 15 to 24 inches apart.

Step 3

Train large tomato plants up a large stake as the vine grows to improve air circulation to the plant. Purdue University Cooperative Extension recommends using a stake that is 8 feet in height and 1 inch in diameter, with the pole buried 1 to 2 feet deep, about 4 inches away from the plant. Tie a cloth around the plant in a figure 8 formation to attach it to the stake. Nylon stockings work well, as they breath and stretch and will not crush the plant as it grows.

Step 4

Apply a starter fertilizer, purchased from a garden center, to the plant when it is transplanted to the garden.

Step 5

Water the plant at least twice a week, more during dry periods, recommends the University of Illinois. Plants in containers may need daily watering.

Step 6

Apply 10-10-10 fertilizer at one pound per 100 feet of row. Use the fertilizer according to the instructions on the package.

Things You'll Need

  • 8 foot pole
  • Nylon stockings
  • Starter fertilizer
  • 10-10-10 fertilizer


  • Iowa State University Extension: Tomatoes
  • Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service: Tomatoes
  • University of Illinois Extension: Watch Your Garden Grow--Tomato
Keywords: tomato plant, tomato plant care, manage tomato plant

About this Author

Cleveland Van Cecil is a freelancer writer specializing in technology. He has been a freelance writer for three years and has published extensively on, writing articles on subjects as diverse as boat motors and hydroponic gardening. Van Cecil has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Baldwin-Wallace College.