How to Fertilize Tomato Plants


Luscious vine-ripe tomatoes provide the ingredients for fresh salads and salsa and are simply delicious sliced and served as aside dish or in sandwiches. Their vibrant color and robust flavor are not the only reasons to include tomatoes in your diet. These fleshy fruits contain lycopene, an antioxidant known to fight the formation of cancer cells. Growing them in the home garden provides garden-fresh fruits bursting with flavor, especially when care is exercised in fertilizing them correctly.

Step 1

Fertilize tomatoes when planted to provide the nutrients and minerals they need to develop strong roots and stems. Well-rotted manure mixed into existing soil prior to planting provides an organic fertilizer that will not damage young roots.

Step 2

Trace a circle in the soil around the newly planted seedlings approximately 6 to 8 inches away from the base of the plant. Sprinkle commercial (5-10-10) fertilizer around this circle, following the recommended application rate on the package.

Step 3

Mix the fertilizer into the top 2 inches of soil with a hoe or garden rake. The fertilizer will release slowly into the ground with each watering and provide the nutrients your tomato plants need to grow, without the risk of damaging tender young roots.

Step 4

Begin a 10-to-14-day schedule of fertilizing tomatoes with a foliar feeder designed for tomatoes three to four weeks after planting. A foliar feeder is a water-soluble fertilizer applied with a sprayer attached to your hose. It can be applied by hand with a watering can if preferred.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizer because it will produce lush, green foliage, but blooming and fruit formation will be inhibited.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden tools
  • Well-rotted manure
  • 5-10-10 fertilizer
  • Foliar feeder


  • University of Missouri Extension
  • University of Illinois Extension
  • Healthy Food Guide

Who Can Help

  • Tips for Growing Tomatoes
Keywords: fertilizer, foliar feeder, tomatoes

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.