The tomato tree, or tree tomato (Cyphomandra betacea) is a subtropical, woody shrub. The fruit of the tree, which is called the tamarillo fruit, resembles traditional tomatoes in both appearance and taste, but the plant actually is not related to garden tomatoes at all. Native to parts of South America, this plant is most often grown outdoors in California and Florida, according to Purdue University. In other areas of the country, tomato trees can be grown in containers and brought indoors during the cold autumn and winter months.
Choose a planting site that receives full sunlight, unless your area has regular, long periods of hot, dry weather. In that case, choose a site that gets some afternoon shade. The location also should be protected from strong winds.
Make sure the soil is well-draining. Do not place the plant where standing water develops, as this can rot the shallow roots in just a few days, according to the website of the California Rare Fruit Growers Association. Container plants should be planted in pots with drainage holes and in loose, loamy potting soil.
Dig a hole as wide and shallow as the root ball. Place the tomato tree in the hole so that the bud union is just above the level of the soil, or in a pot so that it is just above the rim of the container. Backfill the hole, or fill the container with the potting soil, and gently tamp down the soil around the plant. Water thoroughly to settle the soil.
Prune the tree back to a height of only 3 or 4 feet immediately after planting. This will help encourage strong branching, according to Purdue University.
Add a 3- or 4-inch layer of mulch around the tree, to the edges of the canopy. This will help conserve moisture in the soil without it getting overly wet.
Water enough to keep the soil barely moist and cool, but not so much that the soil is very wet or soggy.
Harvest when the color of the fruit is deep. Most varieties are red, but some are yellow. The fruit may ripen at different times on the tree, necessitating several harvests. Simply pull the fruit off the tree.