When to Plant Tomatoes in Florida? (Best Times & Tips)

Key Takeaways

– 🍅 Climate zones in Florida determine the best times to plant tomatoes: early March in the north, February to March or September to November in the central region, and August to February in the south.
– 🍅 Frost dates and growing seasons vary across different regions of Florida, with the last frost usually occurring in late February to early March.
– 🍅 It is essential to monitor local weather forecasts and take precautions to protect tomato plants from frosts or freezes.
– 🍅 The best time to grow tomatoes in Florida is during the spring season in different regions, such as November to February in south Florida, January to March in central Florida, and February to April in north Florida.
– 🍅 Choosing a suitable tomato variety is crucial for successful gardening in Florida, considering factors like size, flavor, and disease resistance.
– 🍅 Recommended tomato varieties for Florida include Florida 91, Tropic, Solar Set, Cherry and grape tomatoes, Cherokee Purple, Brandywine, Heatwave, Solar Fire, and Sunmaster.
– 🍅 Adequate soil preparation, including testing pH levels, incorporating organic matter, and ensuring proper drainage, is essential for tomato growth.
– 🍅 Proper planting techniques involve burying tomatoes deep in the soil, covering stems and lower branches, and following recommended spacing instructions.
– 🍅 Regular care for tomato plants includes deep watering, balanced tomato fertilizer application, pruning off diseased leaves and suckers, and timely application of organic pesticides if needed.
– 🍅 Maximizing tomato growth and productivity can be achieved through pruning for increased fruit production and staking for support and health.
– 🍅 Florida offers a long tomato-growing season, with variations depending on the region, and tomatoes can be grown year-round in South Florida.
– 🍅 Tips for growing tomatoes in pots in Florida include using a large pot with drainage holes, well-draining potting mix, compact or determinate tomato varieties, and regular watering and fertilization.

When to Plant Tomatoes in Florida? | Best Times & Tips

To have a successful tomato garden in Florida, choosing the right type of tomato that can withstand the region’s diverse weather conditions and receive plenty of sunlight is essential. Additionally, understanding the optimal timing and planting techniques is essential.

Here are some crucial tips to assist you in successfully growing tomatoes in Florida.

Climate Zones In Florida And Tomato Planting

The best times to plant tomatoes in Florida depend on the climate zones. In the north, early March is ideal. In the central region, choose February to March or September to November; in the south, plant between August and February. Tomatoes can be grown year-round in Florida with the right conditions. During the cold months, you may need to bring the plants indoors and provide enough light.

When to Plant Tomatoes in Florida

Frost Dates And Growing Season In Florida

lorida Region Last Frost Date Time to Start Growing Tomatoes Indoors Time to Start Growing Tomatoes Outdoors First Frost Date Latest Planting Time (Assuming 90 days to Harvest)
Northern Florida February 15 December 15-29 February 16 December 15 September 16
Central Florida February 1 December 1-15 February 2 December 10 September 2
Southern Florida No Frost Can Grow Year-Round Can Grow Year-Round No Frost Can Plant Anytime

To plan your tomato garden in Florida, you must know the frost dates. The last frost is usually in late February to early March. The first frost is in Northern Florida from late November to the end of December. Central Florida has its last frost in mid-February and its first frost in early December. Frost is rare in Southern Florida.

To grow vegetables in Florida, you need to know the frost dates. Frost dates determine the growing season. North and central regions have two seasons – spring and fall. In the south, you can grow tomatoes year-round. Knowing when temperatures drop below 32°F (0°C) helps plants survive.

It is important to monitor local weather forecasts for possible frosts or freezes during the season and to take necessary precautions to safeguard your plants if a frost or freeze is expected. Blankets or tarps to cover your tomatoes can help ensure their protection until the weather improves.

Best Time to Grow Tomatoes in Florida

The tomato season varies in different parts of Florida.

  • The spring season in Florida varies depending on the region: November to February in south Florida, January to March in central Florida, and February to April in north Florida.
  • The fall season in Florida typically occurs from August to September. In southwest Florida, it is necessary to choose specific cultivars that can thrive in humid weather for fall planting.

The estimates provided above are for outdoor planting. It is recommended to grow tomatoes outside after the last frost in spring, which typically falls within the months listed above.

If you are eager for warm weather, it is acceptable to begin sowing seeds indoors in containers four to six weeks before the last frost and then transfer the tomato plants outdoors once freezing conditions have subsided.

  • For example, in Tampa, Florida, the final frost occurs on January 31, allowing residents to plant tomato seeds in pots as early as January 3 or December 20.
  • On February 1, Tampa gardeners can transplant their seedlings outdoors or sow seeds in that area.

In North Florida, waiting 2 weeks after the last frost date is recommended before transferring seedlings.

Choosing The Right Tomato Variety

Choosing a suitable tomato variety is vital for a successful garden in Florida. Consider factors like size, flavor, and disease resistance. Because of the hot and humid climate, tomatoes in Florida are prone to diseases like late blight and fusarium wilt, so selecting a disease-resistant type is crucial.

Recommended Tomato Varieties For Florida

Tomato Variety Region Recommended Maturity Time Features
Heatmaster All of Florida 75 days Heat-tolerant, suitable for hot summers
Solar Fire All of Florida 72 days Heat-tolerant, large fruits
Floramerica All of Florida 75 days Disease-resistant, suitable for humid climates
Florida 91 All of Florida 72-76 days Heat-tolerant, disease-resistant
Tropic All of Florida 75-80 days Heat-tolerant, large fruits
Better Boy All of Florida 70-75 days High yields, disease-resistant
Champion All of Florida 65-70 days Disease-resistant, versatile for slicing and salads
Sweet 100 All of Florida 65-70 days Small, sweet cherry tomatoes, high yields

To find tomato varieties that are resistant to diseases and can tolerate heat, consider Florida 91, Tropic, and Solar Set. Cherry and grape tomatoes are a good option if you prefer more petite tomatoes. Heirloom varieties like Cherokee Purple and Brandywine offer a robust flavor.

Florida gardeners like Heatwave, Solar Fire, and Sunmaster may consider growing tomatoes bred explicitly for the region. These varieties offer strong disease resistance and can withstand the high temperatures of Florida’s summers.

Preparing The Soil For Planting Tomatoes

To achieve the best tomato growth, it is essential, to begin with adequately prepared soil with a pH level of 6.0 to 6.8, which is slightly acidic. Test your soil and make pH adjustments using lime or sulfur as needed.

To enhance the growth of your tomato plants, it is essential to incorporate organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, into the soil to improve its fertility and structure. Additionally, it is crucial to ensure that the soil has adequate drainage to prevent waterlogging, which can negatively affect the plants.

When planting in a raised bed, it is advisable to use a soilless mix like perlite and vermiculite to enhance drainage. This will prevent water from accumulating around the plant’s roots, which could cause root rot or other complications.

Planting Tomatoes In Florida Properly

When planting tomatoes, it is recommended to bury them deep in the soil, leaving only the top few leaves above the surface. This promotes more substantial plant growth with deep roots. Covering the stem and lower branches up to the first set of leaves with soil is also advised.

It is crucial for proper vegetable growth and development that different vegetables are planted at appropriate depths. For root crops like carrots and turnips, it is recommended that the seedlings be planted at least two inches deep. A depth of three inches is recommended for peas and beans, while salad greens should be planted at one inch. Planting at the correct depth ensures that the young plants are not exposed and vulnerable, preventing issues such as root rot or damage from cold or dry winds.

To maximize yields, make sure to space your plants correctly. If there is too much space, you may get low yields. Likewise, if you plant them too close together, each plant may not get enough sunlight and nutrients. Follow the recommended spacing instructions on the seed packet for proper plant spacing.

It is recommended to support vining vegetables like cucumbers and pole beans. Cucumbers require a trellis or fence for climbing, while pole beans need stakes and a netting system for proper growth.

Caring for Tomato Plants Throughout the Growing Season

Caring for your plants regularly is essential for a successful tomato garden. Water them deeply with breaks in between, and let the soil dry before watering again. Use a balanced tomato fertilizer every 4-6 weeks and regularly trim your plants for better air circulation and light. This will also prevent diseases from spreading.

Furthermore, it is advisable to remove diseased leaves regularly and stems as soon as they are identified. Additionally, pruning off any suckers that grow in the junction of two branches will promote the overall health of your tomato plants throughout the season.

If any signs of pests or disease are observed, promptly applying an appropriate organic pesticide is recommended. Maintaining a clean and debris-free garden can help minimize these issues’ likelihood.

Maximizing Tomato Growth and Productivity

Its plants’ health and productivity determine a garden’s success. Implementing a few essential practices can significantly impact the yield of tomatoes.

Pruning For Increased Productivity

Pruning is a necessary technique to increase the yield of tomatoes. It involves selectively removing parts of the plant that do not contribute to fruit production. The objective is to focus the plant’s energy on growing tomatoes instead of unnecessary foliage.

When pruning tomato plants, it is essential to remove suckers, small shoots that grow between the stem and a branch. These suckers do not typically bear fruit and can drain energy from the rest of the plant. Pruning regularly also helps to enhance air circulation around the plants, reducing the risk of disease.

Staking For Support And Health

Staking is an essential practice for maximizing tomato productivity. Tomato plants, especially the larger indeterminate varieties, can become heavy as they grow and bear fruit. The stems can break without proper support, damaging the plant and reducing yield.

Staking your plants provides support to keep them upright. It also prevents the fruit from touching the ground, reducing the risk of rot and disease from the soil. Put the stakes or cages in place when planting to avoid root damage later. As the plant grows, tie the stems to the stakes and adjust the ties as necessary.


Growing tomatoes in Florida can be rewarding. Knowledge and techniques are essential. Understanding the climate and selecting appropriate tomato varieties is crucial. Proper soil preparation, correct planting techniques, and consistent care are necessary. Pruning and staking techniques maximize growth and productivity. Each garden is a learning experience. Gain insights each season for your Florida tomato garden.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best tomato to grow in Florida?

Here are some fantastic tomato varieties that thrive in Florida:

  1. The Big Beef, Bonnie Best, First Lady, and Sweet Chelsea are indeterminate varieties that produce excellent results. These tomatoes are known for their big, juicy fruits and fantastic taste.
  2. You can try Flora-Dade, Carnival, Florida Basket, Patio, and Cherry Tomatoes if you prefer determinate varieties. These tomatoes are perfect for smaller spaces and container gardening.

So, whether you choose indeterminate or determinate varieties, growing tomatoes in Florida can be a delightful and rewarding experience. Enjoy the process and savor the delicious flavors of homegrown tomatoes!

If you’re selecting cultivars based on fruit size, consider the following plant types as well:

  • Cherry Grande, Castlette, and Roma for small tomatoes
  • Manapal and Bonnie Best for medium ones
  • Manalucie, Bragger, and Solar Set for large tomatoes

Is it too late to plant tomatoes in Florida?

For optimal tomato growth, it is imperative to ensure they reach full maturity and are harvested before freezing temperatures set in. This is especially critical when cultivating tomatoes for fall/winter consumption.

To determine the perfect planting date, confidently refer to the maturation period of your chosen tomato variety (in days) and calculate backward from the anticipated arrival of the first frost. As a reliable guideline, consider 90 to 110 days as the benchmark for success.

For example, if the first frost is expected on January 3, confidently aim to plant tomatoes no later than October 5 or September 15. Remember, avoiding mid-October for tomato planting is essential as it may hinder their thriving potential.

Why is it so hard to grow tomatoes in Florida?

Several factors can make growing tomatoes in Florida challenging:

  • Planting indeterminate varieties is vulnerable to the Tospo virus, a disease that cannot be treated and can cause deformities in tomatoes.
  • Cultivating tomatoes during excessively high or low temperatures (above 85℉ or below 32 degrees).
  • Excessive nitrogen in fertilizer can hinder fruit production in your crops.

When to Plant Tomatoes in Different Parts Of Florida?

– In North Florida, plants are started in February, after the last frost so that they will produce the most tomatoes before the summer heat sets in.
– In Central Florida, tomatoes can generally be planted in early February for early summer tomatoes and again in September for picking tomatoes in fall and winter.
– Spring season – November to February in south Florida, January to March in central Florida, and February to April in north Florida.
– Fall season – in August to September for central, north, and south/southwest Florida (fall planting in southwest Florida will require cultivars that suit humid weather).

What is the Best Tomato to Grow in Florida?

– The Florida Everglades tomato is an indeterminate variety that produces small, dime-sized tomatoes. It grows very well in Florida and is easy to grow[6].

How Long Does It Take to Grow Tomatoes in Florida?

The time it takes to grow tomatoes in Florida varies depending on the variety and growing conditions. Generally, it takes about 60-80 days from transplanting to harvest.

How Long Is Tomato Season in Florida?

The tomato season in Florida varies depending on the region. In North Florida, the season is from May to October. In Central Florida, it is from March to November. In South Florida, it is from October to May.

How Often Do You Water Tomatoes in Florida?

Tomatoes must be watered regularly in Florida, especially during the hot summer. Depending on the weather and soil conditions, they should be watered deeply once or twice a week.

What Temperature Is Best for Growing Tomatoes in Florida?

In Florida, Tomatoes grow best in warm temperatures between 70-80°F during the day and 60-70°F at night. They can tolerate temperatures up to 95°F during the day and 75°F at night, but fruit production may be reduced.

Do tomatoes grow best in the morning or afternoon sun in Florida?

Tomatoes in Florida thrive when they combine morning and afternoon sun. They require at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily for optimal growth and fruit production.

How long do tomatoes take to grow in Florida?

The time it takes for tomatoes to grow in Florida can vary depending on the variety and growing conditions. It takes approximately 60 to 80 days from transplanting to harvest. However, early-maturing varieties can produce ripe tomatoes in as little as 50 days.

Is it too hot to grow tomatoes in Florida?

While the hot and humid climate in Florida can pose challenges for tomato cultivation, it is still possible to grow tomatoes successfully with proper care. To mitigate the heat, choose heat-tolerant tomato varieties and provide adequate shade, mulching, and regular watering to help regulate soil temperature and prevent plant stress.

Can you grow tomatoes all year round in Florida?

Yes, one of the advantages of Florida’s mild winters is the ability to grow tomatoes year-round. However, during the hot summer, tomato production may decline due to the extreme heat. Choosing heat-tolerant varieties and providing necessary shade and cooling techniques to help tomatoes thrive throughout the year is advisable.

What is the best soil for tomatoes in Florida?

Tomatoes thrive in well-draining, fertile soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH ranging from 6.0 to 6.8. In Florida, sandy soil is typical, so amending it with organic matter such as compost, peat moss, or well-rotted manure can improve its water-holding capacity and nutrient content. A soil test can help determine if any specific amendments are required based on the soil’s nutrient composition.

How to grow tomatoes in Florida in pots?

Growing tomatoes in pots can be a convenient option in Florida, mainly if you have limited garden space or want more control over the growing conditions.

Here are the steps to follow:

– Select a large pot with drainage holes to ensure proper water drainage.
– Fill the pot with a well-draining potting mix or a mix of compost, peat moss, and vermiculite.
– Choose a compact or determinate tomato variety suitable for container gardening.
– Place the potted tomato plant in a location that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily.
– Water the plant regularly, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged.
– Fertilize the plant with a balanced tomato fertilizer according to the package instructions.
– Support the tomato plant as it grows by using a stake or tomato cage to prevent sprawling.

When to Plant Tomatoes in Florida Zone 9:

The best time to plant tomatoes in Florida Zone 9, which includes parts of Central and South Florida, is in March and August.

Can You Grow Tomatoes Year Round in Florida?

Yes, tomatoes can be grown year-round in Florida, especially in South Florida. In South Florida, tomatoes can be produced from August through March.

When to Plant Tomatoes in South Florida:
In South Florida, tomatoes can be planted between August and February.

Where Are Tomatoes Grown in Florida?

Tomatoes are grown throughout Florida but are particularly popular in the southern region, including South Florida.

What is the Best Time to Plant Tomatoes in Central Florida?

The best time to plant tomatoes in Central Florida is in March and August.

Are You New To Tomato Answers?

If you are new to Tomato Answers, then here are a few resources that will help you:

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