How to Take Care of a Tomato Plant


Tomatoes are the most popular home garden crop; their bright flavor is synonymous with summer. Growing your own tomatoes gives you a chance to try varieties you'll never find at the supermarket. And, without much effort, you end up with something that gives you bragging rights throughout your neighborhood, not to mention the self-satisfaction of growing the most amazing thing you will ever eat.

Step 1

Prepare your soil well. Tomatoes like to be planted deep and they like nice, light fluffy soil. Mix in plenty of organic material, compost, good topsoil, and soil amendments, like calcium and phosphorus. Build the bed or use a container that is deep enough to give your tomato's roots enough room--at least a foot, and 2 feet is best.

Step 2

Plant your tomato deep, once night temperatures are above 50 degrees. Remove all the leaves from the bottom 8 inches of the plant, or from the bottom two-thirds of the plant, if it's not very big. Dig a hole deep enough to bury the plant up to 1 to 2 inches below the first remaining set of leaves. Add a handful of a granular, organic fertilize and mix it well with the soil in the hole. Plant your tomato and gently firm the soil around it.

Step 3

Water your tomato very well. Then, water it about 1 inch per week, up to 2 inches in very warm or dry conditions. Tomatoes don't like soggy soil, but they don't want to be completely dry, either. Monitor the soil, and water when it dries out below the first couple of inches.

Step 4

Support your tomato. Surround it with a tomato cage, or bury a stout stake next to it and tie it to the stake as it grows. Remember that some tomatoes can grow quite tall, up to 6 feet. They naturally sprawl along the ground, but you don't want that to happen.

Step 5

Prune the suckers off of your tomato. Inspect your tomato when it starts flowering. Remove any small leaves you find sprouting from the axils, the crotches between the main stem and the branches.

Step 6

Keep the ripe tomatoes picked. This keeps your plant producing. Eat them, can them, freeze them, give them away, but keep picking those tomatoes.

Step 7

Prepare for frost. When low temperatures approach, pick all the full-size, almost ripe tomatoes and take them indoors to finish ripening. Add your tomato plants to your compost pile and start planning for next summer's tomatoes.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not bring tobacco in any form into your tomato patch and always wash your hands after smoking. Temperatures must be above 55 to 60 degrees for your tomato to set fruit. Daytime temperatures must be below 90 to 95 degrees for your tomato to set fruit.


  • "Tomatoes"
  • Mother Earth News "The Royal Red"
  • Ohio State University Extension "Growing Tomatoes in the Home Garden"

Who Can Help

  • Laurel's Heirloom Tomato Plants "Laurel's Tomato Growing Tips"
Keywords: growing tomatoes, tomato gardening, raising tomatoes

About this Author

Patricia Bryant Resnick started writing when she was 7. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Sonoma State University in 1975. She began writing professionally in 1996 and has been published in "Rolling Stone," "Georgia Family Magazine" and online. Resnick specializes in food and gardening articles; she is a regular reviewer of tea on the Web.