How to Plant Tomatoes Outdoors


The taste of a garden tomato is far superior to what you buy at the supermarket, making tomatoes one of the most popular plants in home gardens across the United States. Some gardeners choose to start their tomato plants from seed indoors, but you can also purchase young plants that are ready to be set into the ground. Because tomatoes are a warm-season vegetable, they should not be transplanted outdoors until the threat of frost has passed. Soil temperature should be at least 60 degrees F before planting tomatoes outdoors, according to the University of Missouri Extension.

Step 1

Choose a location for planting your tomatoes. Tomatoes thrive in hot, sunny spots and will do best with a well-draining soil containing a lot of organic matter.

Step 2

Remove rocks, sticks, weeds and other debris from the planting site.

Step 3

Dig a hole for the plant. Tomatoes should be planted 1 to 2 inches deeper than they were originally grown, according to the University of West Virginia Cooperative Extension Service. Plants grown in peat pots can be set in the ground still in the peat pot, but be sure the entire pot is underground after planting.

Step 4

Fill the hole in with the surrounding soil, packing it down firmly to remove pockets of air.

Step 5

Apply a water-soluble starter fertilizer to the plants immediately after planting, according to the University of Illinois Extension. Follow label directions with regards to how much to apply to each plant. When applying fertilizer, do not let it come into contact with the plant's stems or leaves because they can be damaged.

Step 6

Water the tomato plants after planting. Tomatoes are 95 percent water and need to be watered consistently to grow, according to the University of Missouri Extension. Make sure the plants get 1 inch to 2 inches of water each week.

Step 7

Place a cage around your plant or install a stake behind it to provide support for growth. Stakes should be set about 4 inches from the plant and should be driven about 1 foot into the ground.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel or trowel
  • Starter water-soluble fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 or 5-10-10
  • Tomato cages or stakes, if desired


  • University of Missouri Extension: Growing Home Garden Tomatoes
  • University of Illinois Extension: Tomato
  • University of West Virginia Cooperative Extension: Growing Tomatoes
Keywords: growing tomatoes, planting tomatoes outdoors, outdoor tomato planting

About this Author

Meghan McMahon lives in the Chicago suburbs, where she spent six years as a newspaper journalist before becoming a part-time freelance writer and editor and full-time mother. She received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University in 2000 and has written for "The Daily Southtown" and "The Naperville Sun" in suburban Chicago.