ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Home»
  • Gardening»
  • Planting Vegetables

How to plant a tomato plant in your garden or a container

Updated on June 30, 2016
lobobrandon profile image

From his early days, Brandon helped his grandmother in her garden. He was always passionate about tomatoes.

How to plant a tomato plant - planting tomatoes for a bumper crop

Each and every gardener who plants tomato plants would want to know how to plant a tomato plant so as to get a bumper crop. The method you use when planting tomatoes as well as the time when you plant it depends solely on the weather conditions at your place. For people with short summers i.e. short tomato growing periods you would have to plant all your tomato plants in one go and the way you need to do this is explained further on. For people with longer summers you could plant tomatoes in batches and not all in one go so as to receive fruit continuously rather than all in one go.

The simple steps below explain everything you need to know right from planting the seeds to harvesting delicious tomatoes.

A well grown tomato plant in a container - It's bushy and green!
A well grown tomato plant in a container - It's bushy and green!

When do you plant your tomatoes?

See results

When to plant your tomato plant

How to plant a tomato plant is one question, but the most important thing to understand is when to plant your tomato plant. The best time to plant a tomato plant would be when the soil temperatures are around 50 – 60 degrees Fahrenheit and the room temperature around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. However, this needs to be the condition of the external soil be it your garden or container. Instead of wasting precious weeks waiting for the exterior temperatures to be suitable you could grow tomato seedlings indoors in small containers in an area that receives ample sunlight on a daily basis. Don’t make the mistake of planting them out in the garden too early nor place the containers outside if you’re permanently keeping them in containers because this rush may lead to a whole crop failure.

A time lapse of tomato growth - notice how the tomato plants droop when the soil dries up. The day is on the left and you'll notice the word water appear on the bottom right whenever the plants are watered.

Do you harden your tomato plants before transplanting?

See results

Getting your tomato plants ready for the backyard/container

If you really want to know how to plant a tomato plant successfully, this is a very important step – How to plant a tomato plant in your backyard or container. No matter whether your tomato plants are bought from a store or planted from seeds you would need to ensure that your tomato plants are hardy enough to survive the changing outdoor temperatures. To accomplish this you would need to wait till the temperatures are just right as already mentioned above and then place the tomato plants outside in the shade during the days and get them back in during the nights or if it isn’t possible to get them back in at least find a way to cover them like in a green house.

Planting tomatoes is very simple if you know the basics and most people do know them but fail to implement them. Many of us know that plants should not be kept in the chill of the night as they could be harmed. However, not many of us are aware of the shock plants receive when they are suddenly exposed to the harsh direct sunlight. Yes, tomato plants do need direct sunlight; but, it doesn’t happen all in a day. You’re tomato plants were indoors from the day they germinated and aren’t used to the sun so they would need to be exposed to the sun slowly and not suddenly. This process of hardening tomato plants usually takes about a week to a week and a half. After the tomato plants have been hardened they are ready to be transplanted into the garden or bigger containers/pots. However, before transplanting there’s one more step that needs to be taken care of.

A simple guide to help you better understand the process of hardening tomato plants and the importance of hardening your tomato plants.

Is this your first time planting tomatoes

See results

Specialized articles

If you've found this article helpful or informative and you're looking for more info; then, you'd surely find the other articles I've written about tomatoes to be helpful.

How to water tomato plants - The wrong method could lead to crop failure
Fertilizing Tomatoes - What Should I add?
Yellow leaves on tomato plants - A sign of mineral deficiency, but which one?
Growing and caring for tomato seedlings - Indoor care

Getting the soil ready for a bumper crop

If you want to know how to plant a tomato plant you should first have suitable soil to plant it. For any plant to grow well it needs to get an initial boost. If the tomato plant doesn’t grow well right from the minute it germinates, there’s very little hope of you getting any fruit from it. Therefore, before you transplant the tomato seedlings into the garden soil or the soil in the containers make sure to dig it up and loosen the soil. Add a bit of compost to the soil and mix well to ensure a uniform distribution of nutrients. If you’ve decided to plant in a container add a few earthworms to the soil – just 3-4 will do. Sprinkle the soil with water and keep it covered with mulch till the tomato seedlings are ready to be transplanted as this helps keep the soil flora and fauna which includes useful microbes and earthworms to live and keep the soil well nourished. Also the mulch that you add will decay and slowly deposit organic matter to the soil which works as a fertilizer.

Test your tomato planting skills - Answer sincerely to know where you stand

view quiz statistics

It’s time for transplanting

It’s now the time we’ve all been waiting for. How to plant a tomato plant from seeds has already been answered and we’ll now look into transplanting it outdoors. We want to see our tomato plant seedlings transferred from their nursery into their permanent home – either the ground or a container. You may wonder when it’s time to plant a tomato plant outdoors; the plants are ready to be out in the open after they have been hardened and grown to a size of about six inches. The best time to plant tomato plants or any type of plant is on a cloudy day as they won’t get a shock of direct sunlight. When tomato plants emerge from their seeds they have two leaves at the base (the first leaves) that carry the nutrients for the initial life of the soil. These leaves need to be plucked out before you transplant the tomato plant and the plant will have to be at a depth to just cover the birth leaves.

Fertilizer and Support

Before you plant the tomato plants outdoors you could add both kelp as well as bone meal to the soil instead of chemical fertilizers as the addition of strong fertilizers will put the plants in a state of shock. Kelp and bone meal are slow releasing fertilizers and will provide the tomato plants with micronutrients, phosphorus and other essential minerals. Most importantly, when transplanting tomato plants, see to it that you do it carefully as bruises may leave the plant weak and vulnerable to pests and diseases.

If you live in a windy area, the tomato plants are going to need support to stand erect and firm. Therefore, you would need to add some sort of support – just like a stake. If you plan to add stakes to help your tomato plants stand up, add them before you transplant the tomato plants as this ensures that you don’t harm any roots while inserting the stakes into the soil.

Here's a simple way of adding support to tomato plants using stakes and in this case it doesn't matter whether you do it before or after transplanting because the stakes are nowhere close to the tomato plants root system.

I would like to thank the following people for the amazing pictures that helped explain each and every step on planting tomatoes:

Apreche for the beautiful picture of a healthy tomato plant in a container on his veranda

Gkdavie for the huge tomato on the awesome tomato plant

OakleyOriginals for the picture on preparing the soil for gardening.

Wait for the plant to grow and bear fruit

If you’ve followed all the steps as mentioned above, you’ll be sure to get a bountiful crop. Now that you know how to plant a tomato plant, you could begin planning and setting up your garden- tilling and making compost.

Continue to water the tomato plants the right way and see to it that they don’t lack in any nutrients. If at all you’re tomato plants suffer a deficiency you will notice yellow tomato leaves – more than usual.

Add compost and manure as and when required and you’ll see your tomato plants growing tall and bearing flowers and ultimately fruit. Once the fruit has grown big enough you could harvest them and use them in your kitchen to prepare delicious meals or sauces.

I did say - wait for the plant to grow and bear fruit. But, most people are confused whether the tomato is a fruit or vegetable. Hope you've found this article helpful and now know a bit more on how to plant a tomato plant.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • lobobrandon profile image

      Brandon Lobo 3 weeks ago

      Good luck Margie.

    • Margie Lynn profile image

      Margie Lynn 3 weeks ago from Beautiful Texas Hill Country

      Brandon, I have been unscuessful with planting tomatoes in containters; with your tips I may try again. Thank you!

    • lobobrandon profile image

      Brandon Lobo 4 years ago

      You should definitely give it another try FullofLoveSites and Paradise7, an indoor banana plant? I've never seen one of those before. Is it a special variety of banana? Good luck :)

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 4 years ago from Upstate New York

      Excellent! Thank you for all the good advice. I'm going to try a tomato plant, also a mini banana plant, for indoor next spring, should I live so long.

    • FullOfLoveSites profile image

      FullOfLoveSites 4 years ago from United States

      I've planted a tomato plant before but wasn't very successful... It appears that the plant remained stunted. Thanks for your very useful information... I will try it one more time

    • lobobrandon profile image

      Brandon Lobo 5 years ago

      Thanks Alexadry, and it's sad to hear about the multiple factors that destroyed your crop last year. Hope you get a bumper crop this time around :)

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      Voted up and useful. After my tomatoes were ruined last year by hail, then heavy downpours and finally bugs, I planned to keep them indoors this year in my sunny room. So far they are thriving. I do not want to use pesticides. Love this hub!

    • lobobrandon profile image

      Brandon Lobo 6 years ago

      Hi Wilderness, Planting tomatoes is quite easy and it may take you some time to master it. This hub is a detailed explanation and I'm sure it will help. Glad that you liked it and hope to see you back to let me know how you did!

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 6 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      This is great, and right on time - thanks!

      I've planted a few tomato plants before, at the edge of my yard but always ended up mowing them with the lawn! Last year I put one out in a different location and it did well, but not as well as I had hoped. Planted too late, I believe, as I got many tomatoes, but mostly small and a huge number of tiny, immature ones just before frost got them.

      Bet I review this hub a couple of times in the next month or two.

    • urmilashukla23 profile image

      Urmila 6 years ago from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA

      Yes, will do. Thanks.

    • lobobrandon profile image

      Brandon Lobo 6 years ago

      Hi Urmila, thanks for the comment and I'm sure you'll grow great tomatoes, its pretty easy once you get the hang of it. Use one season to experiment and find out what works best for you.

    • urmilashukla23 profile image

      Urmila 6 years ago from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA

      Great tips! I had tried growing tomato plants in my backyard but was not successful as I had expected. Will follow your techniques and see. Thanks for sharing it.Pictures, quizzes and videos are great! USEFUL AND VOTED UP!

    • lobobrandon profile image

      Brandon Lobo 6 years ago

      Thanks and wish you the same ;)

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 6 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Thank you so much! You are a very kind person, I am sure. I am happy to be one of your followers as well! Have a wonderful week-end! :)

    • lobobrandon profile image

      Brandon Lobo 6 years ago

      Haha I noticed you had 99 and you do have some interesting hubs so I followed :)

      That's awesome, I guess you do have a big garden to grow that many tomatoes, I couldn't imagine getting enough to make sauce as well as stewed tomatoes for an entire year!! Yup there's nothing better than a fresh tomato - I like them chill and I put a bit of salt to make them even tastier.

      Thanks for the fan mail, I really appreciate it :)

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 6 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Very good information for growing tomatoes! We grow enough tomatoes each year that we make our own Picante Sauce and can stewed tomatoes to use all year. I like to pick, just one, when I am watering and eat it right there. Nothing tastes like a fresh home-grown tomato! Very useful hub. Voted up! :)

      I just found your "Fan Mail". I didn't realize I was that close to 100. I have to say Thank You for being my 100th follower. I am honored! :)

    • lobobrandon profile image

      Brandon Lobo 6 years ago

      Yes, that's the best part no matter what you grow or do :) After all its the fruit of your labour :)

    • Injured lamb profile image

      Injured lamb 6 years ago

      Thanks for this hub sharing lobobrandon, it's always an excitement to harvest and use them in the kitchen after much effort and care...

    • lobobrandon profile image

      Brandon Lobo 6 years ago

      Hi farmer Brown, glad that you found the hub complete :)

      Adding a quiz widget is simple - HP provides it when you edit or create new hubs just as the text and pictures.

    • Farmer Brown profile image

      Farmer Brown 6 years ago

      Great guide to growing tomatoes from seed to fruit. Your quiz widget is cool - maybe a hub on how to add that to a hub? Voted up and useful!