Lycopersicon esculentumTomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum, formerly Lycopersicon esculentum)

Family: Solanace
Related vegetables: eggplant, pepper and chiles, potato, tomatillo


  • Tender (warm-season) perennial grown as an annual. The fruit is harvested.
  • There are many different types of tomatoes and many different ways to grow them. See “Additional Information” below.
  • Height is cultivar dependent but some tomatoes can grow as tall as 6 ft, especially if staked
  •  Plant transplants two weeks after average last frost date. Planting can continue until midsummer. Last planting date is about 100 days before average first frost dat
  •  Spacing is dependent on variety. Space dwarf plants 12” apart; staked plants 15-24” apart; caged plants and plants allowed to sprawl on the ground 24-36” apart. (see “Additional Information” below
  •  Harvest tomatoes when fully colored. Time from planting to first harvest varies with cultivar, usually 60-90 days. Yield depends on cultural system, see “Additional Information” belo

You can grow your own tomatoes from seeds started indoors or buy transplants. Tomato seeds are rarely planted directly into the garden in Indiana. Start seeds indoors planting them 1/4-1/2” deep, 4-6 weeks before the average last frost date. At optimum germination temperatures of 75-80 °F seedlings should appear in about 6 days. Grow them at 60-75 °F. Transplant into larger pots as the seedlings grow and give them good light so the plants stay short and stocky.

If you purchase transplants, look for short, stocky plants with good root systems and stems about the thickness of a pencil. If you must purchase tall, leggy transplants, plant them by placing them on their side and covering the lower portion of the stem with soil. New roots will form on the stem. Plant out about 2 weeks after the average last frost date or when soil temperature remains above 60 °F. If using cages or stakes, put these in the ground as you place the transplants. If growing in container, select container proportional to the expected size of the plant.

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