The Best Time To Plant Tomatoes

An old Chinese proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” While a great saying and applicable to many activities in our lives, it doesn’t work for tomatoes. Tomatoes are warm-weather plants, and every year around this time, the temptation to plant tomatoes early hits many. However, early planting can result in slow growth because temperatures are not warm enough for tomatoes to grow. Here are a few guidelines to follow to help with the best time to plant tomatoes for a successful growing season this year.

This week’s riddle: What kind of flowers are on your face?

It’s All About The Temperature

Tomatoes love warm weather. The first signal it’s time to plant tomatoes is nighttime temperatures. When nighttime temperatures consistently stay above 50 F., Tomatoes will not grow in temperatures below 50 F, and they will experience blossom drop if temperatures are warm in the day and drop below 55 F. at night.

For those of you without Jain Unity software, here is a great website to help you determine when temperatures consistently stay over 50 degrees in your city.

For seedlings growing in a glasshouse or your kitchen window, 58 -60 F is the temperature of choice.

For the more advanced gardener, take a look at soil temperature too. The soil temperature needs to be 60 F or above for good tomato growth, 65 – 70 F is ideal. A soil thermometer is a good investment (under $20), and check your meat thermometer, it may go down that low, and it works for soil temps.

This Weeks Favorite Tweets About Tomatoes

Watch those high temperatures too.

Later in the spring and summer, when temperatures move over 90 F and low stays above 76 F, tomato plants will also lose flowers.

Here are some varieties of tomatoes that do well in warm climates:

  • Fourth of July
  • Big Beef
  • Heat Wave
  • Spitfire

If you live in a cooler climate, these varieties work better for you.

Early Girl


Husky Gold

Oregon Spring

Tomatoes are fun to grow because they present a challenge. It is not a plant it and forget it fruit. However, putting some enjoyable work into your tomatoes will pay off with delicious fruit and the satisfaction of a job well done during the summer when you enjoy them and share them with friends. Check back here during the season because we share tomato tips all season long.

Answer – Tulips (two lips)


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