When is it too late to plant tomatoes?

Homegrown tomatoes are the best and if you missed your first planting date you’re likely wondering how late you can plant tomatoes to still get a harvest. Thus, in this article, we’ll go over all of the essential information!

Planting a tomato plant in the garden

I believe fresh tomatoes are probably one of the most popular plants among all home gardeners, which is no surprise. They’re delectable!

I can’t even eat a store-bought tomato after producing my own since there is no similarity.

Therefore, whether you missed your original planting date, your present tomatoes aren’t growing well, or you just want another excellent crop before the season ends, let’s check whether you may still plant.


How Late Can You Plant Tomatoes?

This is determined by a number of factors. But the two most important factors are days to maturity and your first frost date.

So first, you need to look up your first frost date, then look up the days to maturity for the tomato variety you’d like to plant. You may still plant if the days to maturity are fewer than the number of days before your first frost.

For example, if the usual first frost date in your area is December 1st and you wish to grow Early Girl tomatoes, they will be ready to harvest 60 days after transplanting.

Days to maturity are calculated from the day you transplant young plants, not the day you sow tomato seeds.

This means you may grow Early Girl tomato transplants until October 1st.

Yet, it is vital to note that tomatoes continue to produce for a lengthy period of time. So if you were to plant on the last date possible before your first frost you won’t have enough time before a frost hits to get much of a harvest.

Thus, figure out the final day you can plant, then add a month to guarantee you have enough time to harvest.

In the above example, it means your latest planting date for Early Girl tomatoes is September 1st.

Late Season Tomato Planting Tips

In most places, the optimum time to plant tomatoes is early to mid-spring, when all risk of frost has gone.

Yet, if you have a lengthy growing season or were late putting your plants in the ground, there is no reason not to plant a late-season harvest.

One advantage of late-season planting is that many garden stores reduce their vegetable plants later in the gardening season, so you can often find a fantastic price!

1.) Choose Disease Resistant Varieties

This is an excellent practice regardless of when you plant tomatoes, but it is particularly critical late in the season. Of all the vegetables, tomato plants are often the most susceptible to disease.

Choosing disease-resistant types will alleviate one of your concerns.

Hybrid varieties have more disease resistance than heirlooms and so I’d choose from those or be sure you’re planting a disease-resistant heirloom type. Here are a few excellent options:

  • Early Girl
  • Celebrity
  • Juliet Hybrid

2.) Choose Early Maturing Varieties

Another crucial consideration for late-season planting success is to choose quick or early ripening types.

Some types require up to 100 days to mature, while others only take 50. So choosing varieties with the quickest days to maturity is important especially if you don’t have much time left before your first frost.

Here are a few quick maturing tomato varieties,

  • Sungold – This variety matures in 57 days and yields clusters of golden cherry tomatoes.
  • Early Girl – These tomato plants will have ripe fruit to harvest in about 60 days. They have a delicious taste and are disease-resistant.
  • Goliath Hybrid – This variety should produce fruit in around 65 days and is resistant to a few prevalent illnesses.

There are many more rapid maturing varieties available, so check the plant tags at your local garden shop or the plant description if purchasing online.

3.) Plant and Water Properly

Tomatoes need rich soil, so prepare your garden beds and add some compost before planting. If you are planting in pots you should refill them with fresh potting soil each year to maintain nutrients.

Bury 2/3 of the main stem while transplanting tomatoes. This lets the plant sprout roots along all parts of the buried stem which makes your plant much stronger.

It’s also a good idea to apply a starting fertilizer, which aids in the reduction of transplant shock and the establishment of healthy root systems.

Tomatoes must then be irrigated on a regular basis. Plan on at least one inch of water per week, more in hot weather.

Since late summer planting is expected to be quite hot, I have my garden set up on drip irrigation so that I may water long and slowly.

I also have my garden on a timer, which saves me a lot of time in the garden.

My last planting tip is to avoid planting your tomatoes where other nightshade crops have recently been. Tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes are common nightshade crops.

Crop rotation is a strategy that aids in the prevention of common diseases such as bacterial wilt and early blight, as well as viruses such as the Tobacco Mosaic Virus.

4.) Provide Extra Care

The first thing you should do is provide support for your plants before they get too big. You may use tomato cages, a trellis, wire stakes, or whatever works best for you.

Then once your tomatoes start to set fruit go ahead and fertilize with a balanced fertilizer. Dr. Earth Tomato, Vegetable, and Herb Fertilizer, for example.

You may fertilize every couple weeks till the harvest time is through

5.) Harvest & Store Properly

Now onto the fun part, harvesting time!

Harvest and preserve ripe tomatoes as soon as you see them. Do not store your tomatoes in the refrigerator. Instead, store them at room temperature because anything under 55 degrees F. begins breaking down the tissue of the tomato and takes away from the quality and flavo

How far apart to space out tomato plants?

This is determined by the variety. There are determinate and indeterminate varieties that grow to different sizes so that is the first thing to check.

But I believe more space is better, especially when tomatoes are grown in the hot summer heat. It allows for significantly better air circulation, resulting in healthier plants.

My tomatoes grow well when I spread them 5 feet apart! Head to this post here to learn more, How Far Apart to Space Tomato Plants.

Related Questions

  • Is July too late to plant tomatoes?

    Late season tomatoes should thrive well if transplanted no later than the third week of July. Fruiting will commence around the middle of September. With a modest effort at frost protection, late-season tomato plants will provide an abundant crop until the first hard freeze this fall.

  • What happens if you plant tomatoes too late?

    If you wait too long to plant them you may not have enough time in the season to harvest a full crop. Nevertheless, if you start them too early, you risk stunting or even killing the plants. We connect you with merchants to help you locate relevant items. We may get a compensation if you purchase via one of our links.

  • Can I plant tomatoes in August?

    Waiting until approximately mid-August to sow seeds of cold-season tomato types inside or in a cool, sheltered, well-lit place for planting outdoors 4-to-8 weeks later is the smart decision, but this means not harvesting homegrown tomatoes until October at the earliest.

  • How late is too late to start tomatoes?

    Is it too late to start planting tomatoes? Certainly not. Tomato seeds may be planted at any time throughout the spring.

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