How to Maintain Tomato Plants

Overview

Tomatoes are a staple in many home gardens. Red and succulent, nothing says summer quite like a ripe tomato. Maintaining your tomato plants once they are in the ground helps pave the way for a prolific harvest later on. Grow tomatoes from seed indoors and transplant outside after all danger of frost, or purchase healthy plants from a trusted nursery or garden center. More varieties are available if you decide to start from seed, but favorites such as Better Boy and Beefsteak are readily available as seedlings.

Step 1

Plant tomatoes in well-draining soil in an area that receives eight or more hours of sun a day. Tomatoes are not frost tolerant and must have warm conditions to thrive.

Step 2

Place a stake behind the tomato plant at the time of planting, if applicable. Other wise, place a tomato cage or other support structure over the seedling. Staking at this time avoids damaging the root which may occur when driving stakes in at a later time.

Step 3

Lay down a 2 inch layer of organic mulch around the tomato plants to preserve soil moisture and prevent weeds. Pull any weeds that surface through the mulch immediately; tomatoes do not like competition.

Step 4

Tie the main stem to stake every 8 inches, using soft plant ties or strips of pantyhose. For cages, pull the vines through the cage when needed so the grid work supports the fruit bearing vines.

Step 5

Provide at 2 inches of water a week, preferably in one or two deep waterings as opposed to daily shallow watering. Keep the soil moist at all times and add additional water as needed to maintain this moisture.

Step 6

Apply 1 1/2 ounces of nitrogen fertilizer to the soil in a circles 8 inches around the plants stem. Apply when the first fruits begin appearing. Apply a second fertilizer dose when the first fruits begin to ripen.

Tips and Warnings

  • Provide enough water every week. Periods of low water followed by heavy irrigation leads to blossom end rot, which ruins the fruit. Protect young tomato plants from temperatures under 40 degrees Fahrenheit in spring by placing an overturned bucket on top of them at night or using a wall o' water system, available at garden centers.

Things You'll Need

  • Stakes
  • Tomato cages
  • Mulch
  • Plant ties
  • Fertilizer

References

  • Clemson University Extension
  • Ohio State University
Keywords: maintaining tomatoes, growing tomato plants, staking vegetables

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.