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Growing Tomatoes in a Greenhouse Successfully

Updated on September 19, 2007

Kinds Of Tomatoes

It`s not difficult growing tomatoes in a greenhouse (toshkel) which taste delicious and provide you with a supply of healthy nutritious vegetables throughout the summer and early fall months. But before you start on this exciting adventure, just take a little time to choose the kinds of tomatoes you would like to feast on when harvesting. Here are some:

  • Cherry Tomatoes - small fruits packed with flavour
  • Plum Tomatoes - shaped like plum :0)
  • Beefstake Tomatoes - biiiiiiig toms sometimes lacking flavour
  • Yellow Tomaoes - sweet and gives colour variety in cooking
  • Grape Tomatoes - sweet and very small
  • Pear Tomatoes - pear shaped

In the photo below you will be able to pick out examples of cherry, plum, pear and yellow tomatoes.

A Selction of Tomato Kinds

Photo taken by: joeysplanting at
Photo taken by: joeysplanting at
Seed sowing station.  All photos are not necessarily of the vegetable described but they illustrate the principles.
Seed sowing station. All photos are not necessarily of the vegetable described but they illustrate the principles.
Starting tomatoes from seed in a tray.
Starting tomatoes from seed in a tray.
Starting tomatoes from seed in a plant pot.
Starting tomatoes from seed in a plant pot.
Starting tomatoes from seed in an old egg box.
Starting tomatoes from seed in an old egg box.
Seed germinating - the two leaves are called `seed leaves` or Cotyledons, not true leaves.
Seed germinating - the two leaves are called `seed leaves` or Cotyledons, not true leaves.
The Best way to water so as not to wash out seeds - water rises up from bottom.
The Best way to water so as not to wash out seeds - water rises up from bottom.

Starting Tomatoes From Seed

All that is needed is a 15cm(6") seed tray or 7cm(3")plant pot.

Fill either with seed/potting compost - preferably bought from your local garden center as it will be free from pests and diseases.

Starting tomatoes from seed is easy... yes it really is! Sow the seed thinly onto the compost in your seed tray or plant pot then cover with a thin layer of compost.

Water in using a watering can fitted with a fine rose - you don`t want to wash out the seeds as you water.

Keep the compost moist but not wet and in a temperature of about 65F. A warm window ledge (not direct sun) or propagator is ideal.

When the first true leaves appear prick them out into a 7cm(3") plant pot filled with potting compost - planting them deeper than they where in the seed tray... this encourages more roots to grow from the stem.

If starting tomatoes from seed isn`t what you want to do - I know, you don`t want to get your hands dirty, then you can purchase plants from your garden center which will already be 15-20cms(6-8") tall. This is an even easier way to start growing tomatoes... but you will miss out on the satisfaction of starting from scratch.

Soil Requirements

Growing tomatoes in a greenhouse gives you lots of flexability. Planting tomatoes in the border soil will mean doing a little preparation during the autumn or fall months - Top Tip: making raised beds out of the border soil will give even better results.

Dig in peat or a small amount of compost or well rotted manure. Apply a general fertilizer just before transplanting your tomatoes into the soil.

Unfortunately border soil can become infested with soil and plant pests/diseases after 3 or 4 seasons and will need to be sterilized or changed.

Border soil prepared for planting, pots or growing bags.
Border soil prepared for planting, pots or growing bags.
Cutting out drainage slot in bottom of growing bag.
Cutting out drainage slot in bottom of growing bag.
Growing bags ready for planting up with tomatoes.
Growing bags ready for planting up with tomatoes.
Inserting tomato plant into growing bag
Inserting tomato plant into growing bag
Planted tomato
Planted tomato
Growing tomatoes getting taller.
Growing tomatoes getting taller.
Growing tomato supported by twine suspended from roof.
Growing tomato supported by twine suspended from roof.

Growing Greenhouse Tomatoes in Containers

Because of the difficulties with growing tomatoes in the border soil, other systems have become popular.

One way is to plant tomatoes into 23cm(9") pots filled with soiless compost - it`s good way of growing greenhouse tomatoes without the problems of pests and diseases building up.

But growing bags have now become the most popular growing system - used by the professional and amateur vegetable grower alike. They are both good and reliable but watering balance can be a little tricky.

I personally only ever use growing bags and to `master` the tricky watering problem I cut a long slit in the underside of the bag then turn it over onto the border soil.

The possibility of overwatering and getting the bag waterlogged because of minimum drainage holes has never been a problem - excess water drains easily into the border soil.

The growing bags are changed each year of course and in 25yrs of growing greenhouse tomatoes I haven`t had any serious problems.

Transplanting Greenhouse Tomatoes

Plant out your young tomato plants into growing bags, border soil 23cm(9") plant pots when the seedlings are about 15-20cms(6-8") tall and the flowers of the first truss are forming.

Water in thoroughly - spacing the plants 45cm(18") apart if they are planted into the border soil.

Feeding and Watering Your Growing Tomatoes

Water the growing tomatoes regularly to keep the soil moist - irregular watering can cause the fruit to split or to develop blossom end rot.

Feed with a soluble tomato fertilizer about once per week. Some commentators recommend feeding every time you water. In the summer with lots of growth that could be once a day... I have always had successful crops feeding once a week and certainly no more than twice a week - it`s cheaper too.

Tomatoes Starting To Swell

Staking Your Terrific Tomatoes

The tomato plant is a vine so the stem will not remain upright on its own.

Push a stake - I use a 2.5m (approx. 8ft) bamboo cane into the growing bag adjacent to the stem. At intervals loosely tie the stem to the stake as the plant grows.

Alternatively, wind the stem up a well anchored but slack length of twine.

Pruning Tomatoes

Thereis very little pruning to do to your tomato plants. Where the leaves grow out from the main stem a side shoot will grow - pinch this out from each leaf joint as they when they are about 5cm(2") long.

When the plants are about 1.2m(4ft) remove the leaves from below the first truss. Remove yellowing leaves as the season progresses. Don`t overdo this deleafing process.

Growing Tomatoes Now Ready To Eat

Harvesting Tomatoes

The time has now come to reap your rewards for growing greenhouse tomatoes. Pick them when they are ripe and fully coloured.

Holding the fruit in your palm, break it off at the 'knuckle' using your thumb. The knuckle is the swelling on the flower stalk just above the fruit.

And now stop for a moment and survey your growing tomatoes then pop one in your mouth - savour that fantastic flavour ... you`ll never get a store bought one to taste like that and you also know what's gone into them mmmmmmmmmmmm.


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    • profile image

      Michael  9 years ago

      My greenhouse is actually a glass house. I have a heater that is set to 20'C and he exhaust comes on at 25'C. I want to start growing veggies for the first time in the glass house instead of only growing my seeds to seedlings and then into the garden. Regarding the tomatoes, do you have to hand pollinate the tomatoes, or do you just leave them alone to self pollinate?


    • slamjunk profile image

      slamjunk 9 years ago

      Hi Michael,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Just leave them alone as far as pollination is concerned - insects will do the biz.


    • profile image

      zscooper 9 years ago

      Hi Micheal,

      This may be coming late but I pollinate may tomatoe plants with a vibrating toothbrush. Turn it on and touch it to the flowers you will see the pollen shoot out. Every flower I 've had has turn in to a tomatoe. Good luck

    • profile image

      Julie 8 years ago

      Hi Michael,

      I have never had a greenhouse before, but I am thinking of buying a very old (30 yr old) delapidated metal glass house (6' x 4') quite cheap. As over half the glass panels are broken or missing, (and need replacing), I have the chance to change this to either all polythene or glass. I intend to grow vegetables hydroponically, and are not quite sure which would work best for this type of growing. Could you please advise me.

    • profile image

      Slamjunk 8 years ago

      Hi Julie,

      If you can then re-fit with glass. This will allow the maximum light through as light is very important.

      Plastic replacements will not allow the same amount of light and will over a relatively short period of time be affected by ultra violet which is part of light`s spectrum, this causes it to break down and allow even less light through.

      You will then have to replace it. You wont have to replace glass - unless you break it :0( - just hose and brush it once a year.


    • profile image

      Laurence 8 years ago

      Hi Jesse,

      I live in the UK so not much experience concerning the `lone star` state. I presume your temperatures are given in fahrenheit.

      It is quite cool for night temperatures but day temps should be fine. If there is strong sunlight you may need to shade the glass.

      As with anything gardening there is ample space to experiment so just go ahead and give it a go. Try finding a variety that does better in cooler climates.

      Good luck


    • Wallpaper Queen profile image

      Wallpaper Queen 8 years ago from Malaysia

      nice informative hub! thx

    • profile image

      Christian 8 years ago

      Smashing site and informative, just moved into a new house with garden and greenhouse, I've planted some tuscan and provence salad seeds and a range of tomatoes (artic, gardeners delight etc) and a few chillie seeds. Is it to late to expect any good results? The ready done plants for less than a dollar are tempting, is that the best thing to do when you are starting so late into the growing season?



    • slamjunk profile image

      slamjunk 8 years ago

      Hi Christian,

      Thanks for your kind words.

      No, it's not to late at all... and yes it might be a good idea to purchase some `ready to grow` plants to get started.

      You can get more info at my site at . Show our visitors what you are doing by going to the `Grow and Tell` section (see navigation link in left column on the website under `Grow and Tell` or click the link ) and make sure you post a photo.


    • profile image

      Peter 7 years ago

      I'm thinking of growing tomatoes in my greenhouse in the fall here in MD. I have a concrete floor - do you think the grow bags will be fine just laying on the concrete? Also, where do you buy the grow bags? Is there special grow bags just for tomatoes or are you just buying regular "potting mix"?

      Thanks! Great info!

    • profile image

      Jacob 7 years ago

      Hi Slumjunk, thanks for the insights, I'm a young aspiring farmer in Kenya, surrently constructing a greenhouse using polythene and wood, locally available materials, intending to do it commercially. Your insights will go a long way as I strive to revolutionize the practice around where I come from. God bless you.

    • profile image

      Adrienne 7 years ago

      I live in Hope BC. I have loads of tomatoes in my greenhouse, but they are not ripening, any ideas

    • profile image

      Slamjunk 7 years ago

      Tomatoes need sun to ripen. I`m in the UK so I don't know what your climate is like. But days are getting shorter and colder so this will certainly affect them.

      Try picking them and placing them indoors on a window ledge or place in a brown paper bag and place in a draw for several days. The gas they give off helps with the ripening process because it is being contained.

      There are many things you can do with green tomatoes from making chutney to frying them.

    • profile image

      Slamjunk 7 years ago

      Peter Re Grow Bags.

      Growbags will do fine on concrete flooring but I would double up on them - one on top of the other. For mor details about this go to my site and read under `Planting Tomatoes In GrowBags`.

      I purchase my growbags from my local nursery, plant center or Garden Center.

      Ordinary potting compost will suffice but remember you will need to feed weekly with a Tomato fertilizer.

    • profile image

      tim 7 years ago

      I'm building a greenhouse and would like to grow heirloom tomatoes. Would a three gal. container work? Some of the variety are large or should i use larger ones? Thanks

    • slamjunk profile image

      slamjunk 7 years ago


      That will be plenty large enough, just make sure after planting you don't let the compost dry out and feed with a liquid tomato fertilizer once a week. After the first truss has set and the fruits begin to grow then increase feeding to twice a week.

      More at

      To your success.


    • profile image

      C arlye  7 years ago

      My greenhouse tomatoes have a problen with the leaves turning yellow, and eventually dying. Please,,Why is this and what may I do about it.

    • profile image

      sekitoleko M 7 years ago

      please sirs

      am in Uganda East Africa please i need to start green house tomato growing what do i need email

    • profile image 7 years ago

      Hi Sir

      am intending to grow tomato in greenhouse for first time, so please tell me how to start, A-Z.,such as, land preparation, irrigation systen and intervals,feedings,pests and diseases control,suitable meaures for planting,any other requirement

      Best Regards


    • profile image

      casey 7 years ago

      hi i just built a greenhouse all glass and any tips on growing tmatoes and cucumbers

    • AutumnFitz profile image

      AutumnFitz 7 years ago

      Do you have to worry about pests while growing tomatoes in a greenhouse? I'm looking for an organic bug spray for my tomatoes and came across this online: It can be used right up until the day of harvest.

    • profile image

      Nige 7 years ago

      I use a large 10-12" pot for my tomatoes. I usually cut the bottoms off the pots, then cut holes into grow bags to match and sit the pot on top of the grow bag.

      Some extra soil in the pot and a large cane and you`re ready to go.

      This allows the tomatoes more root space and room for excess water to drain away if I overdo it.

    • profile image

      mercy 7 years ago

      ope to start green house farming.with ur tips,i ope to suceed.will come back to you when av done it

    • profile image

      Kopiyo Benedict 7 years ago


    • profile image 6 years ago

      Michael, where can I get info on the building of glass greenhouses, FOR FREE?, from beginning till end?

    • profile image

      frank 6 years ago

      I worked in a greenhouse 35 years agao in Michigan. This grower grew plants for seed production. The plants were started in raised beds.Then transplanted into 3" pots when about 2 inches tall. At the 6 to 8 inch stage they were planted in the ground of the greenhouse not in bags. Every year after the harvest the ground was steemed by use of under ground steam lines and tarps covering the ground to keep the siol free of diseases.

      During the growing season the insects were controled with the use of nicoteen canistors witch is dangerous to use but very efective. The feeding was a mixture of fertlizers into the watering system. Close to the same as what you can get as a premixed product for that purpose. The soil was always prepared by using a mixture of peatmose and decomposed cow manure. The plants were tied at the base and supended from wires over head. The suckers were pruned until the plants reached the wires then let go grow as they wished. This grower who has sence pased was one of the top seed producers for tomatoes at the time.

    • profile image

      Mahendran 6 years ago


      We are basically flower growers now started cultivating tomatoes and other vegetable plants in a little scale. Our tomato plants crossed almost 50 days and we are thinking to support it with twine. Pls guide us, when we could start supporting the plants with twine and what is the right procedure to to follow? Awaiting for your reply. You can also post your comments to my mail ID.

      With Thanks


    • profile image

      susan kenya 6 years ago

      thanks for the tips..i planted tomatoes 4 weeks back in a greenhouse. they are growing well.some leaves have not opened fully and some appear weak.What could be wrong? Am new to greenhouse farming .can you give me tips to keep my plants healthy /

    • profile image

      ASEWE KENYA 6 years ago

      I made a green house 3 days ago and planted seedlings of tomatoe I hope your litrature above will be practical. Thank you

    • profile image

      ASEWE KENYA 6 years ago

      I made a green house 3 days ago and planted seedlings of tomatoe I hope your litrature above will be practical. Thank you

    • profile image

      Wendy 6 years ago

      I'm a new B to small garden, I grew up with fields, so incouping it all together, is a new challenge, composting the glasshouse is the first question, have dug out the grass, ready for what compost?

    • profile image

      c,a,merritt 5 years ago

      It's interesting to read the advice, but please state time of jear. We are now in January can I start seeding my own tomatoes seeds in my unheated green house it has been a very mild winter. How can I keep my earth on the floor of greenhouse healthy and fertile without having to change it every year - too difficult voor a lady of 74.

    • profile image

      Simon Thailsand 5 years ago


      I havt of february and I e just started from seed in November in Plastic Greenhouse it is now start of February 2012 and I have lots of green fruit. The plants are only 2 Ft tall, and falling over. Am I too late to tie string, IF not do I tei to the top of plant to keep it straight or do I use a 8ft bamboo stake. How long should the fruit take to go red

      Also, what do I do once I have picked the Tomotae does it keep on baring fruit. I want to do commercially so this is just experiment.

      Also as it get very hot here in the next couple of months do I have to get some fans or extraction in the Greenhouse to keep the temperature down or as long as I keep warming does it not matter about the temperature

    • profile image 5 years ago

      perffect teaching about the green house and well understood about types of tomatoes.

    • profile image

      balvantsinh rajput 5 years ago

      verry verry beautiful your tomatos greenhouse product and farm iam very intrested in green housesed plese my email id- india{gujarat

    • profile image

      hh 5 years ago

      frank, who commented above, thank you for commenting! I would like to know if you would contact me regarding greenhouse design. I would be very happy to speak with you about your experience. I am willing to hire you as a consultant if interested.


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