How to Care for a Tropical Tomato Plant

Overview

Tomato plants love warm weather. Though they're typically grown as annuals, tomatoes raised in tropical climates like Hawaii and Florida can be raised as a perennial, according to the University of Illinois. Provide your tropical tomato plant with the care it needs to thrive and produce bushels of juicy, red tomatoes that beat the store-bought varieties on color and flavor.

Step 1

Test your garden soil with a pH testing kit, available at most garden stores. Tomatoes thrive in soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0, according to the University of Hawaii. The pH levels can be raised or lowered as needed with various kinds of lime and sulfates. Consult your regional cooperative extension system office (see Resources) to find what's used in your area.

Step 2

Fertilize the soil. Mix 3 to 4 inches of compost into the gardening site, followed by 2 1/2 lbs. of 6-8-8 fertilizer for every 50 square feet of gardening space, recommends the University of Florida.

Step 3

Plant the tomato seeds or transplants. Bury seeds 1/2 inch below the soil surface. Transplant seedlings at the depth of their original pot. Whichever method you use, space the plants 12 to 18 inches apart and separate rows by approximately 3 feet.

Step 4

Water the planting site three times a day to keep the soil surface moist if you're starting your tomatoes from seed. The seeds will usually germinate within three weeks. For germinated seeds or transplanted seedlings, water twice a week until the plant begins producing fruit, after which you should irrigate the area thrice weekly, according to the University of Hawaii. Use enough moisture to soak the soil to a depth of 8 inches.

Step 5

Pile 2 inches of mulch around your tomato plants once they're 4 to 5 inches tall. This helps conserve soil moisture that would otherwise rapidly evaporate in your warm climate.

Step 6

Fertilize the tomatoes again three weeks after planting, according to the University of Florida. Spread the fertilizer at the same rate used in Step 2.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil pH kit
  • Soil pH adjusting amendments
  • Spade
  • Compost
  • Fertilizer
  • Tomato seeds or starts
  • Mulch

References

  • "American Tomato: The Complete Guide to Growing and Using Tomatoes"; Robert Hendrickson; 2006
  • University of Illinois: Tomato
  • University of Hawaii: Tomato
  • University of Florida: Tomatoes in the Florida Garden

Who Can Help

  • USDA: Find a Cooperative Extension Office
Keywords: growing tomatoes, tropical tomato plant, tomato plant care

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.