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How to plant tomatoes

How to Plant Tomatoes

Growing your own tomatoes is a simple and fun project that allows you to reap lots of (tasty) rewards. Simply choose a sunny spot and your favourite tomatoes – from small cherries to big beefsteak types – and watch as they grow into ripe and juicy fruits to feast on from summer way into autumn

When to Plant Tomatoes

Growing tomatoes from seed won’t be covered in this step-by-step - check out our guide on how to grow tomatoes from seed if you’re planning to grow tomatoes in this way. You should start growing from seed between February and April

Typically, people will choose to grow their tomatoes from young plants or seedlings. When to pot these plants, however, depends on where you’re planting them. You can plant tomatoes in an unheated greenhouse from mid-spring, but if you’re wanting to plant outside, you should do this between May and June

When to Harvest Tomatoes

Your tomatoes will be ready to harvest between July and October. You’ll likely know when to do this by looking at them and feeling them– they’ll have developed a deep colour and be easy to gently pull from the plant

Top tip:

One thing to remember is that, depending on where you are in the country, these times will be slightly different. In areas with milder weather, the timescales may be a little earlier, and for those with harsher weather, it could be a little later

How to plant tomatoes

Know your tomatoes

Tomato ‘Moneymaker

The ‘Moneymaker’ is a traditional choice and is loved for its reliability and remarkable flavour. It’s a medium sized tomato that grows well both in a greenhouse or in the garden

Tomato ‘Tumbling Tom Red

Ideal for hanging baskets and containers, ‘Tumbling Tom Red’ is a compact bush variety that produces a non-stop supply of cherry tomatoes for the whole family

Tomato ‘Beefmaster

This is a classic beefsteak tomato that produces huge fruits, which are perfect for salads and succulent burgers. For best results, you should grow these in a greenhouse

Top tip:

For our beginner gardeners, or those looking for the easiest way to grow tomatoes, you’ll find that the bushy varieties require less maintenance and care

You will need

  • Your choice of tomato plant(s)

  • Patio container, hanging basket, or any other type of container that’s at least 12 inches/30cm in diameter

  • Multi-purpose compost

  • Bamboo canes

Top tip:

You can plant basil and marigolds in the same container or around your tomato plants as a natural pest deterrent

Step by Step Guide: How to Grow Tomato Plants in a Pot or Hanging Basket

  • Choose a container that’s at least 12 inches/30cm in diameter. It’s up to you whether it’s a patio pot or a hanging basket, but tomatoes are thirsty plants, so the bigger the container, the easier it is to keep them evenly watered
  • Pick a tomato plant to suit your container. Go for bushy, upright ones for patio pots, or trailing ones for hanging baskets
  • Put a layer of crocks (broken terracotta) in the bottom of the pot to help with drainage, then fill it with good quality multi-purpose compost
  • Use a hand trowel to plant your tomatoes, leaving about 30cm of space around each plant. Planting tomatoes a few centimetres deeper than the top of the pot encourages the best growth. Firm plants into place with extra compost if needed
  • Tomatoes love the sunshine, so position your container in the greenhouse or outside in a sunny, sheltered spot once all risk of frost has passed
  • As the plants grow, you can support their stems with a bamboo cane and tie as needed. How many tomatoes you can get per plant will vary according to variety, but some can grow up to 100 per plant!

How to Look After Tomato Plants

While tomato plants are super easy to plant, it’s important to look after them well if you want them to grow into plump, juicy tomatoes. Here are some top care tips:

  • How often to water your tomato plants will depend on where you live and how warm the weather is, but it’s a good idea to do this every few days
  • When the tomato plant’s flowers have started to grow, add some tomato food into your watering can mixture
  • Remove the side shoots on tall varieties of tomato plants as they grow to help them produce more fruit. You can leave short bushy varieties as they are