Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Plant Tomato Plants in the Garden

By Katie Leigh ; Updated September 21, 2017
Planting tomatoes in a garden bed requires a bit of prep work.

When planting tomatoes, it's important to properly prepare the garden bed first. Tomato plants require quite a bit of nutrition as they grow and can easily sap soil of its minerals within several weeks. Building up the bed with compost and fertilizer is quite important to ensure the plant does not become nutrient deficient, which can hurt its fruit production. Once the soil is ready, planting tomato plants in the garden is a simple process that requires few tools and very little time.

Wait until after the final frost to prepare the garden bed and plant tomato plants. Tomatoes require a consistent temperature of at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit to keep from dying of exposure.

Choose a spot in the garden bed that gets full sunlight. Most varieties of tomatoes require at least eight hours of sun per day to be as productive as possible.

Loosen the top 4 to 6 inches of soil in the garden bed with a hand tiller. Be sure to remove and discard any rocks and debris. Scatter a 2-inch-thick layer of compost (or another organic material, such as manure) on top of the dirt and mix it in with the tiller.

Dig a hole that is about twice the width and depth of the tomato plant's root ball. If you're planting more than one tomato plant, space the holes 24 to 36 inches apart for full-sized tomatoes and 12 to 18 inches apart for cherry, grape and other smaller tomato varieties.

Spread a small handful of organic fertilizer in the hole and center the seedling in the space. Fill the hole with soil, tamping it down lightly.

Cover the garden bed surrounding the tomato seedling with a layer of wood mulch, which locks in moisture and keeps the roots warm

Treat the tomato plant with about two quarts of water. Seedlings require about two quarts per day until they bear mature fruit, then two to four quarts per day after that. The soil should be soaked, but there should be no standing water on the garden bed.


Things You Will Need

  • Hand tiller
  • Compost
  • Spade
  • Tomato seedling
  • Organic fertilizer
  • Wood mulch