Growing Cherry Tomato Plants

Overview

The cherry tomato gets its name from its diminutive size, 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches across. The University of Illinois tells us, "Tomatoes are packed with vitamin C, potassium, fiber and vitamin A in the form of health-promoting beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A." Those health benefits make cherry tomatoes great for snacks and salads. The most difficult part of growing cherry tomato plants is not eating all the plump little tomatoes as you harvest them. One cherry tomato plant produces enough fruit to feed a family.

Step 1

Select a sunny, well-drained location in which to plant cherry tomato plant seedlings. In the spring, work the soil down to a depth of at least 10 inches using a shovel or rototiller. Work in two to three inches of organic matter, such as compost or leaf mold.

Step 2

Rake the soil to remove rocks, break chunks of soil and to level the area.

Step 3

Plant the tomato seedlings in the spring after the last frost. Use your fingers or a hand spade to create an opening large enough for each seedling. Plant the seedling so the soil level of the seedling is about half an inch below ground level. Press down lightly around the seedling, being sure to push a little soil around the seedling's stem.

Step 4

Space the seedlings a couple of feet apart (see Step 6 for details about spacing if sturdy cages are to be used for support). Water lightly, using about one cup per seedling. A watering can with a sprinkler head or small spout can make this task easier. Depending on the size of the plant when it was placed in the ground, it can take from 45 to 70 days before fruit appears.

Step 5

Mulch if desired. Plastic mulch will help to keep down weeds and retain moisture. Additional organic matter applied an inch out from the base of the seedling and extending at least a foot around can also help to keep down weeds while adding nourishment.

Step 6

Install tomato cages or other forms of support specifically designed for tomato plants. Tomato plants can reach heights of six feet, so make sure the support is at least that tall. Using wire with large grids, such as that used in construction, will give the plant something to lean against while still allowing you to reach inside. The cage should be about two feet in diameter. If the plants are set two feet apart, the cages will touch the next cage in the row. Space the initial plantings farther apart if you prefer to be able to walk around the cage instead of having to go to the end of the garden to get to the next row to reach the tomato plant. Three or four wooden stakes (about 1-inch-by-1-inch) pounded 18 to 24 inches into the ground surrounding the plant can be used instead of a cage. Drill holes at six inches in the stakes and then run twine through holes. A single stake is also an option. Place the stake in the ground about three inches from the plant and then loosely tie the plant to the single stake with every six to 12 inches of vertical growth.

Step 7

Keep the soil consistently moist. Water as needed. That could mean applying about a quart of water at the base of each plant each day that it does not rain.

Step 8

Fertilize with a commercial vegetable fertilizer like Miracle Grow. Water-soluble fertilizer can be used when watering the plant. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for use, which may call for application every two or three weeks.

Step 9

Harvest the tomatoes when they are firm and red. The cherry tomatoes can be picked off the plant one at time, or you can use garden clippers to snip a branch of ripe tomatoes to take inside. The plant will continue to produce fruit until the first fall frost.

Things You'll Need

  • Cherry tomato plant seedlings
  • Shovel or rototiller
  • Organic matter
  • Garden rake
  • Hand spade (optional)
  • Water
  • Watering can (optional)
  • Fertilizer
  • Clippers (optional)

References

  • University of Illinois Extension: Tomato
  • University of California: Growing Tomatoes in the Home Garden
  • University of Iowa Extension: Tomatoes
Keywords: cherry tomatoes, gardening, plant tomatoes, grow tomatoes

About this Author

Barbara Raskauskas is a certified e-learning specialist and certified Microsoft Office specialist. She has written web content, technical documents and course material for a decade. Raskauskas now writes how-to's, product reviews and general topics published on several websites, including Demand Studios.