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Tomato Planting and Growing Tips

Updated on October 13, 2017

How to plant tomatoes to get the best results:

Did you know that there is a best way to plant atomato seedling?

Read on to find out how to make your baby tomato plant grow strong and healthy roots.

The planting tips here are the ones that I actually use in my own garden and containers. The images shown on this page illustrate how I planted my own tomatoes in a container, but some of the tips can apply to planting tomatoes in the ground, too.

The images are mine; use only with permission.

Please note

This page was originally published several growing seasons ago by me, Mickie Gee on a site called Squidoo. The products mentioned in this article are still excellent choices. The tomato planting tips are timeless and proven. I currently feed my container and garden grown vegetables and herbs with Dynamite Complete Plant Food Flowers & Vegetables. It is in a red container.

How have you had the best luck growing tomatoes?

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The BEST Fertilizer for Growing Tomatoes: - A southerner knows about growing tomatoes!

I have personally used this fertilizer in all of my container and in ground gardening. I have found none better. What I love about Dynamite Flower and Vegetable Plant Food is that I do not need to worry about "burning" my plants by using too much product. I tend to forget when I last put on fertilizer, so this product is perfect for me.

Dynamite Mater Magic

Dynamite 605910 Natural and Organic Mater Magic Plant Food, 0.675-Pound
Dynamite 605910 Natural and Organic Mater Magic Plant Food, 0.675-Pound

If you cannot get the Dynamite Complete Plant Food for Flowers and Vegetables, purchase this Organic one. I have used it just for my "maters!


Tomato Planting Tip#1:

Bury that plant deep!

Step 1: Dig a deep hole in the dirt for the tomato plant: - You will bury all but the top of the healthy tomato plant!

I also sprinkle in some Fertilome Start-N-Grow. It is an excellent product. Not "organic", however. Burying at least 2/3rds of your healthy plant helps develop a strong root system.

Give your young tomato plant a boost: - Sprinkle this boosting fertilizer into the hole before you put the plant in the dirt.

I use this Start-n-Grow product on almost everything--flowers and vegetables--I put into the dirt. You can also use it at other times of the growing season as a fertilizer. It is the best product I have found and I buy a lot of it.

Ferti-lome 10738 Start-n-grow Premium Plant Food, 14 Oz, 19-6-12
Ferti-lome 10738 Start-n-grow Premium Plant Food, 14 Oz, 19-6-12

I always have this product on my gardening shelf. I will not plant a flower or a vegetable unless my Start-N-Grow is on hand.


Step 2: Clip off the lower leaves from the tomato before you put it in the dirt: - You snip off the lower leaves because they might be harboring disease.

These are usually the first leaves to develop fungus problems. I bet trimming offf leaves near the soil after the plant has grown at least 3 feet tall will help with disease, too.

Your trimmed tomato plant should look like this one:

take all lower leaves off the plant
take all lower leaves off the plant

Handle the tomato plant by the leaves or the pot. Avoid touching the stem too much so you won't bruise it.

Step 3: If your tomato is in a peat pot take off the white label. - OR carefully remove the tomato plant from the container.

Leave the plant in the biodegradable peat pot--just peel off the bottom of the container. It will help protect the root system when you are planting. If the plant is not in a peat pot like this one, carefully remove the tomato plant before you put it in the ground.

Gently remove the bottom of the peat pot:

gives the roots a way out.

Tomato Growing Tip #2:

Have good dirt!

And Plant Deep!

After trimming the plant and preparing the peat pot, sprinkle in a booster fertilizer (like the Fertilome Start-N-Grow mentioned above) and plant deep! Only the top of the seedling should be visible. The light brown granules are organic lime fertilizer.

Tomato Growing Tip #3 for a great harvest:

Use a good fertilizer and follow the recommend application instructions.

Again, Remember to Fertilize your tomato plants! - I cannot tell you about this gardening product too many times.

Dynamite is an excellent environmentally sustainable fertilizer that I use in my own vegetable garden and containers. If you cannot find it in the stores, do purchase it here on this page. I have also found that Fertilome Tomato and Vegetable Food is an excellent product, as well.

A must have product for container grown tomatoes! - Calcium will keep away blossom end rot!

If there is not enough lime in the dirt, you will get blossom end rot on tomatoes and peppers. Use granulated or liquid soil additions when preparing dirt for your containers.

Tomatoe Planting Tip #4:

Use mulch. It keeps the weeds to a minimum and helps hold in the soil's moisture and keep the roots warm during the cool spring nights.

(I misspelled tomato on purpose!)

Mulching the tomato plant is a good thing.

Grass clippings used as mulch for the tomato plants
Grass clippings used as mulch for the tomato plants

But first, I made a circle to go around the tomato plant! - This prevents weeds and holds in moisture.

Recycling a cardboard box for mulch.
Recycling a cardboard box for mulch.

I used a cracker box to make a circle. For a pattern I used the saucer from a pot. This circle disintegrated late in the summer, but it still did a great job protecting the young tomato plant from weeds and holding in moisture until the plant was established.

I have since decided that using a box with dye in the paper is not good for the plant. Who knows what that dye my contain? Use plain newsprint from a newspaper. Stay away from colored anything. Hmm, I wonder if it might have been possible to peel the colored paper off the cardboard? Sometimes a company will let you know if the package is organic and does not contain harmful chemicals.

Cut a notch in the center of the cardboard to put around the tomato plant
Cut a notch in the center of the cardboard to put around the tomato plant

Cut a hole in the center of the circle and cut from the edge of the cardboard circle to the notch. You have to be able to slip the circle around the plant.

Cardboard circle around the tomato.
Cardboard circle around the tomato.

Carefully place the cardboard circle around the tomato plant. Then cover with pine straw, bark nuggets or a mulching material of your choice. Do not let the mulch touch the stem.

Tomato Growing Tip #5:

Do not place the tomato plants too close together.

Proper spacing helps control disease and pests.

These plants are too close together! - Tomato plants need good air circulation!

Tomato Plants too close together!
Tomato Plants too close together!

Space equals less disease and problems for your tomato crop!

My bamboo tomato stakes are nice, though. Cages built around your plants are great for helping the plants stay in their own space.

My best basic tip for growing tomatoes:

If you must grow tomato plants in pots, buy the varieties that are developed for growing in pots!

Big Boy, Early Girl, etc... all prefer to be planted in the ground.

You should look for "Patio" and "Cherry" tomatoes.

They will also do well in a raised bed garden or the ground. (You can try your favorite kind of tomato, too!)

I learned this from experience!

The Tomato Plants two weeks after planting: - That Fertilome Start-N-Grow really gave them a boost!

See how my tomatoes have grown!
See how my tomatoes have grown!

Notice that I have put the stakes in even though the plants are not high. Putting them in early keeps you from damaging any roots. Yes, these are the very same seedlings shown above after two weeks. I watered them every morning and made sure that they got at least 6 hours of direct sunlight.

This year I have two containers and am growing a cherry tomato and a yellow tomato (one plant per pot). I will post pictures for you as the growing season passes. Check back often to see what happens.

If you have a tip you would like to share, feel free to leave a comment below. You do not have to be a member of Squidoo to leave a comment! Please feel free to leave me your favorite tip for growing the best tomatoes that you can!


Share your tomato growing tips!

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    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 4 years ago

      @Kailua-KonaGirl: Good tips that I most definitely will check out for this year's tomatoes.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      I love using organic compost for my tomatoes rather that using bottled stuff from the garden centers. Luckily I have always had beautiful tomatoes. I also pinch of the first flowers for a higher yield, and keep the sucker leaves pinch off too. It helps the plant put its energy into developing fruit instead of leaves. Be careful of too much nitrogen in your store bought fertilizers. This will cause more foliage instead of fruit too. A 5-10-10 blend is a good rule of thumb with the 5% the amount of nitrogen in the product. The 10-10 portion is Phosphorus (for your tomato flower growth) and Potassium (encouraging the flowers to go to fruit). Overall it is a good idea, if planting tomatoes in the ground, to do a soil test to find out what nutrients the soil may be lacking.

    • profile image

      mywyomingadventure 5 years ago

      I have learned so much from reading this lens. I recently lost all my tomato seedlings because I put them outside too soon and the wind got to them. I plan on employing your ideas for my next batch. Thanks.

    • flicker lm profile image

      flicker lm 5 years ago

      Thanks for the useful tips on growing tomatoes. I'm always interested to hear other people's veggie growing experiences.

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 5 years ago

      @LittleLindaPinda: You can definitely try! Make sure you use at least a 10 gallon sized pot and remember to fight that blossom end rot!

    • LittleLindaPinda profile image

      Little Linda Pinda 5 years ago from Florida

      Can you grow Roma Tomatoes in a pot?

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 5 years ago

      @Country-Sunshine: Good luck. Remember, these tips do not work for a pepper plant.

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 5 years ago

      @ottnepal: I would assume that my tips work around the world. Tomatoes are just tomatoes.

    • profile image

      ottnepal 5 years ago

      All these process are same for Nepal also?

    • Country-Sunshine profile image

      Country Sunshine 5 years ago from Texas

      Finally purchased my tomato & pepper plants today. Timely information. Thanks!

    • profile image

      nursecraft 5 years ago

      I found these tips to be very helpful!

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 5 years ago

      Great tips for anyone, but especially for someone who wants to grow tomatoes for the first time. They are easy and taste So much better than anything store bought!

    • profile image

      StaCslns 5 years ago

      Thanks for the great tips!

    • Paperclip LM profile image

      Paperclip LM 5 years ago

      My tip for growing the best tomatoes is to move to the South. We home here, but it's not the same.

    • SoSimplyStephanie profile image

      Stephanie 5 years ago from DeFuniak Springs

      Great Lens!

    • sockii profile image

      Nicole Pellegrini 5 years ago from New Jersey

      Nice lens! I've had good luck growing tomatoes the last 2 years but still have a lot to learn to improve my crops.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Nice lens and good tips. I'm looking forward to growing tomatoes this year.

    • profile image

      funbee lm 5 years ago

      I'm thinking of planting tomatoes, this lens will come in handy.

    • eilval profile image

      Eileen 5 years ago from Western Cape , South Africa

      Nice lens and thanks for all the tips !

    • Ribolov LM profile image

      Ribolov LM 5 years ago

      Nice lens, great pictures and a lot of good informations. Thnx for this lens!

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 5 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Excellent advice here. I'm going to use your tip about trimming off the lower leaves when I plant my tomatoes this year! Angel blessed.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great tips, I like all the direction you gave on this too. *blessed*

    • profile image

      Yudioke 5 years ago

      use your heart and whispered to them "come on honey, grows up and make this world so green" :)

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 5 years ago

      I have a tomato plant and I love eating them in my salads, this is a great tutorial.

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 5 years ago

      @PlethoraReader: I did some research and discovered that the leaves and branches near the base of a growing tomato plant do not get as much sun and will be the first to get diseased. Trimming them off after a plant reaches 3 feet tall might prevent fungus and disease from happening. Mulch would also keep the soil from splashing up on the leaves and keep bad buggers from growing, too.

    • PlethoraReader profile image

      Matthew 5 years ago from Silicon Valley

      Great suggestions. Would love to know why you trim the branches near the base of the plant after planting. Thank you for sharing!

    • intermarks profile image

      intermarks 5 years ago

      Very nice! I have not plant any tomato before, will they grow tomato if we plant it in the pot?

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      This is great. We plant tomatoes every year. Now we have ideas that will improve this year's crop. Thank you for publishing this lens.

    • lilymom24 profile image

      lilymom24 5 years ago

      Great tips and just in time as I am planning my garden strategy for this year.

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      Great growing tips! I am a pretty traditional gardener (plants in ground, out in the veggie patch) but I think this year I may try growing a plant or two using the hang-upside-down method, just for fun. Nothing tastes like a sun-riped tomato, fresh from the vine!

    • profile image

      zvous 5 years ago

      thanks for giving us a very informative lens, cheers :)

    • naturegirl7s profile image

      Yvonne L. B. 7 years ago from Covington, LA

      This wonderful, informative lens has been featured on Nature at Its Best Blog ( )

    • LadyFlashman profile image

      LadyFlashman 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Great step by step guide, perfect for beginners like me! Your burger photo looks delicious too!

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 7 years ago

      Love this. I have tried to grow tomatoes in pots on our deck but end up with about 2 tomatoes. Maybe I will follow your tips and see what happens.

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 7 years ago

      @anonymous: Great tip! I use shards from broken pots in the bottom of my pots!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Great tomato growing tips, Mickie! Your plants look healthy. You need to provide for drainage when growing in pots. Don't let water sit it the bottom or your roots could rot. :(

    • profile image

      Salama44 7 years ago

      I just wish I had some sun! Tomatoes need lots of that to grow.