Nothing compares to the flavor of freshly picked, homegrown tomatoes, and the experience is made even more pleasant once you learn more about its journey from seed to plate.
The first thing you might wonder about when deciding to cultivate tomatoes is how long they will live.
What is the lifespan of a tomato plant? When cultivated outdoors, a tomato plant normally only survives for one growing season (6 to 8 months), however when grown indoors under optimum or regulated conditions, tomato plants can live for up to five years. Its lifespan might be indefinitely extended by propagating sound cuttings.
It’s simple to forget that the common tomato was not developed for exceptional growth in temperate conditions; rather, it is a native of tropical South America.
This is not to imply that, with enough work, your homemade tomato plant cannot thrive. Learn more about this plant’s life cycle, growth inhibitors, and ways to extend its lifespan.
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Tomato Plant Life Span
Tomato plants go through four growth stages on their way from seed to fruit, and each stage’s care requirements, location of growth, and particular variety all affect how long they live.
Tomato Plant Life Cycle
What Factors Trigger Tomato Plant Death
Stunted growth and poor-quality fruit can result from uneven watering, a lack of sunlight, and nutrient-poor soil, while a confluence of pest damage and unfavorable growing circumstances can cause a wide range of lethal diseases.
The founder of Gardening Know How, Heather Rhoades, suggests that your tomato plant receive “at least five hours of daily light” and that the soil should never be “cracked and dry nor swampy and standing in water.”
Additionally, companion planting and protective bird netting help lower insect populations, and loamy, organic-rich soil can provide enough nutrients.
How Long Can a Tomato Plant Live in a Greenhouse?
Since tomato plants grown in greenhouses have year-round access to controlled temperatures and humidity as well as protection from direct sunshine and pests, they can live for three to five years.
A higher absorption of nutrients from the soil and fertilizer is also encouraged by the warm, controlled atmosphere.
How Long Can a Tomato Live Indoors?
Tomato plants may endure inside for up to two growth seasons under optimal conditions (2 years).
Gill Matthews, who earned a degree in Plant Biochemistry & Soil Science from the University of South Wales, issues the following advice:
“After the first year, growth will be lanky and straggly, and indoor light will not be enough to yield quality fruit.”
How Long Can a Hydroponic Tomato Live?
Tomatoes produced hydroponically can survive 8 to 11 months and are cultivated in nutrient-rich water rather than soil, according to research from Upstart University and vertical farming technology creators.
Tomato plants grown hydroponically can live for as little as 6 months or as long as 2 years, depending on the water quality utilized in the procedure.
Don’t miss out on my comprehensive tutorial, “Hydroponic Tomatoes 101,” where you can learn everything you need to know to get going.
How To Extend the Life of Tomato Plants
Three crucial elements must be present for your tomato plant to live longer:
- From spring until frost, a perfect atmosphere is provided for growing.
- proactively addressing disease and pest damage.
- picking the fruit at the ideal moment.
You can also extend the life of your tomato plant by taking cuttings, cultivating wholesome companion plants, and so on.
Provide Ideal Growing Conditions
Given the optimum temperature range of 65-85°F and twice-daily watering, tomato seeds germinate in 1-2 weeks. Additional light (try these grow lights) can help prevent spindly stems during leaf growth.
From that point on, transplanted tomato plants will thrive in a soil pH range of 6.2–6.8 and 6–8 hours of direct sunlight.
Once flowering starts, they should also be fertilized with a high-potassium fertilizer (I get great results with this tomato food) and sufficiently watered to stay moist.
Plant Companion Plants for Tomatoes
Combining particular plants with your tomatoes can offer significant growth advantages, from improved insect management to higher soil richness. Here are some to think about:
Remove Fruit Before Ripening Begins
When tomatoes have transitioned from green to a pale pink color, they are ready for harvest.
Joe Lamp’l, an expert and instructor on organic gardening, refers to this as “the breaker stage”: after tomatoes turn half green and half pink, they have stopped absorbing nutrients from the plant and may be picked off the vine without losing any of their flavor, quality, or nutritional value.
Look for plant food, such as Miracle-Gro Tomato Plant Food, with an NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) ratio of 18-18-21.
For indoor potted plants, use 12 teaspoon fertilizer and 112 gallons of water; for outdoor plants, use a watering can solution of the same proportions.
Immediately after planting, fertilize; during the flowering and fruit-bearing stages, increase fertilization to once every two weeks.
Treat Pest & Disease Issues Immediately
Healthy crops can be saved if alarming symptoms are detected on the fruit and leaves in time. On-site treatments for bug and mold infestations include organic pesticides and garden fungicides.
Long-term problems can be avoided by watering at the soil level rather than the foliage level, using high-quality fertilizer to increase disease resistance, and rotating your crops every two to three years.
Root Tomato Cuttings
By taking healthy cuttings and “propagating” them in new pots, you can prolong the life of your tomato plant.
Tomato plants send out side branches in May or June after generating their first cluster of healthy fruit; these shoots are frequently clipped to direct growth to the developing fruit, but you may save them and root them in water using this straightforward technique.
Bring Tomato Plants Indoors Before First Frost
To enjoy your plant for a second growing season, protect it from the first sign of chilly weather.
Find out when the first frost is expected in your location, then dig the plant up from the ground and move it into a pot.
Place it in a protected, well-lit area with grow lights, ideally in a garage or greenhouse, and in a microclimate of 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
What Is the Lowest Temp a Tomato Plant Can Tolerate?
Tomato plants have a hard time growing in temperatures below 50°F since they can’t germinate their seeds and older plants’ growth is stunted.
Cold-hardy types can tolerably produce fruit in low temperatures of 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, but they need 70 degrees or more to thrive.
When Should I Bring MyTomato Plants Inside?
Normally, tomatoes are moved inside towards the end of the summer or just before the first frost. This typically occurs when the outside temperature is continuously below 60°F during the day.
Tomato plants should be overwintered in “unglazed clay pots since this allows them to breathe and enhance soil aeration,” according to urban agriculturist Bonnie L. Grant.
Considering diversifying into aquaponics? One of the best crops to cultivate using this strategy is tomatoes; find out the fundamentals here.
Do Tomatoes Grow Better in Pots or in the Ground?
According to Julie Martens Forney from Bonnie Plants, taller, cordon tomatoes (indeterminate types) benefit from ground growth because of their broad root systems, whereas compact bush tomato plants (determinate varieties) thrive best in the loose, rich soil of container gardening.
What Does Epsom Salt Do for Tomatoes?
To assist seedlings better absorb nutrients from the soil and reinforce cell walls, epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) can be added.
It can also prevent the yellowing of foliage caused by a lack of magnesium and be sprayed on mature plants to encourage the growth of larger, juicer fruit (find out more here).
How long will tomato plants keep producing?
Usually, the plants exhaust all the nutrients from the soil in 4 to 5 years, which results in the end of tomato production. However, the plants can continue to develop and produce throughout the following years if the correct nutrient supply is maintained, temperatures are ideal, and pests and diseases don’t target them.
Will tomato plants continue to produce?
With the right assistance, some people can actually grow as tall as ten feet or even higher. Even after the first ripe tomatoes on the vine start to ripen, indeterminate tomato types will continue to produce fruit throughout the entire growing season. If you want to spread out the harvest over a longer period of time, they are better.
Can you keep a tomato plant alive all year?
To keep tomatoes alive throughout the year, you can grow them indoors, but they usually develop more slowly and yield a lesser summer crop than outside plants. Plants can be brought within for the winter even if you move them outside, but they will eventually stop bearing fruit.
A tomato plant can live longer by being harvested at the pre-ripened sweet spot, being grown with helpful companion plants, and being brought indoors before the first frost.