DIY Network

How to Grow Tomatoes from Transplants

Tomatoes are popular garden additions because they are delicious, nutritious and so easy to grow.

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  • Time

    Several Months

  • Price Range

    $1 - $50

  • Difficulty



Step 1: Purchase the Plants

Most gardeners elect to grow tomatoes from transplants rather than seed. There are two main types of tomato plants: determinate and indeterminate. Determinate plants are shorter, bushier and produce fruit that ripens mostly at the same time. Indeterminate types are taller, more vine-like, and produce fruit over the entire season. The varieties of tomato plants are endless, with numerous sizes, shapes and colors. When selecting a plant, choose those with thick stems, dark green leaves, and no tomatoes or blossoms.

Step 2: Prepare the Site

Tomato plants require plenty of sun, at least 6 to 8 hours a day for best results. The soil should be well-drained and enriched with a good amount of organic matter, such as compost. Work a slow-release 5-10-10 fertilizer into the garden bed before planting. Position tomato cages or drive stakes at the site of each planting location. Doing so after planting can harm the plants.

Step 3: Plant the Tomatoes

After the fear of frost has passed dig holes at the base of the stakes or cages. Tomatoes have the unusual ability to grow roots from their stems, so planting them deeply makes them sturdier. Remove the bottom leaves from the plant and place into holes deep enough to come up to that spot. Cover with soil and water well. If the seedlings are tall enough, carefully tie the stems to the stakes.

dig hole based on size of plant

Step 4: Mulch

Mulching tomatoes is critical to their health. The mulch acts as a barrier between the plant and soil-borne diseases. Add a generous layer of mulch around the plants, being careful to keep it away from the tomato stems.

Step 5: Cultivate the Tomato Plants

New plants need to be watered every day for the first few weeks. Continue to stake and support the plants as they grow taller. Apply liquid fertilizer every two to three weeks for optimum production. As tomato plants grow they produce new vines that sprout between two older vines. Prune these sprouts with clean scissors to concentrate the plant’s energy. Patrol the plants frequently for pests, removing and destroying them as soon as possible.

strips of panty hose used to secure tomato plants

Step 6: Harvest the Tomatoes

When tomatoes fully ripen, they release rather easily from the vine. Gently grab the fruit, twist and pull. Be sure to pick all ripe and overripe fruit from the vine to prevent pests, diseases and molds. To ripen green tomatoes, place dry fruits in a paper bag and store in a warm place.

today tomatoes are popular around the world