When To Plant Tomatoes In Missouri? Discover Ideal Planting Time

Timing is everything if you’re a Missouri gardener looking to grow delicious tomatoes. Knowing when to plant tomatoes in Missouri is essential for a thriving crop.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the best planting times, conditions, and tips for success when growing tomatoes in Missouri.

Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, our comprehensive Missouri tomato planting guide will give you the information you need to get started. So, let’s dive in and discover the best practices for growing tomatoes in Missouri.

Understanding Missouri’s Climate for Planting Tomatoes

Missouri’s climate plays a crucial role in determining the success of your tomato crop. The state has a humid subtropical climate with four distinct seasons: a mild spring, hot and humid summer, cool autumn, and cold winter.

The ideal temperature range for growing tomatoes in Missouri is between 70°F and 85°F. The soil temperature should be at least 60°F before planting, as lower temperatures can hinder the growth of tomato plants.

While Missouri generally has ample rainfall, it’s crucial to ensure consistent watering throughout the growing season, as drought conditions can significantly impact the quality and yield of your crop.

Understanding Missouri’s Soil Types

The type of soil you have in your garden can also affect your tomato crop. Missouri’s soil types range from clay to sandy loam, with different levels of fertility and moisture retention.

According to the University of Missouri Extension, the best soil for growing tomatoes is well-draining soil with moderate fertility and a pH level between 6.0 and 6.8.

If you’re unsure about your soil type, consider having it tested for nutrient levels and pH. This can help you make informed decisions about soil amendments and fertilizers to improve the quality of your soil for tomato planting.

Choosing the Right Type of Tomato for Missouri

When selecting the correct type of tomato for growing in Missouri, there are a few key factors to consider. These include the growing season, weather conditions, and the intended use of the tomatoes.

Some varieties are better suited to Missouri’s climate than others, so choosing wisely for the best crop is essential.

Determining Your Planting Dates

When selecting a tomato variety, the first thing to consider is your planting dates. Missouri has a relatively short growing season, so choosing a variety that can mature before the first frost is essential. Depending on the specific cultivar, tomatoes generally require 70-90 days to reach maturity.

For early planting in Missouri, you must choose a variety that matures in less than 70 days. These include Early Girl, Celebrity, and Stupice, among others.

For mid-season planting, you can choose varieties that require 70-80 days to mature, such as Roma, San Marzano, and Brandywine. Late-season varieties, like Beefsteak and Mortgage Lifter, need more than 80 days to grow and are best planted in June or July in Missouri.

Consider Weather and Pest Resistance

Another consideration when selecting a tomato variety is its resistance to common pests and diseases. Missouri’s hot and humid summers can lead to blight, leaf spot, and fungal infections in tomatoes.

Choosing a variety with some resistance to these conditions can help improve your chances of success.

Some commonly available pest and disease-resistant varieties include Legend, Better Boy, and Juliet. Check the seed packet or ask your local nursery for recommendations on specific varieties suitable for Missouri’s climate.

Choose the Right Type for Your Needs

Finally, consider the intended use of your tomatoes when selecting a variety. If you plan on making sauce or canning your tomatoes, you’ll want to choose a variety with a meatier texture, like Roma or San Marzano. For slicing and eating fresh, you may prefer varieties with a sweeter flavor, like Cherry or Sungold.

Ultimately, the key to selecting the correct type of tomato for Missouri is to consider your planting dates, weather and pest resistance, and intended use. Considering these factors, you can choose the best variety for a bountiful tomato crop.

Preparing the Soil for Planting Tomatoes in Missouri

Before planting your tomatoes in Missouri, it’s crucial to ensure that your soil is adequately prepared to provide your plants with the best possible growing environment. Follow these tips to get your soil ready for planting:

Step 1: Test Your Soil

Testing your soil for tomato planting is the first step in preparing it. You can purchase a soil testing kit at your local garden center or send a sample to a soil testing lab. The results will tell you which nutrients your soil lacks and how to amend it.

Step 2: Amend Your Soil

Once you know what nutrients your soil lacks, you can amend it accordingly. Adding organic matter such as compost or well-aged manure can improve soil structure and fertility. You can also add specific nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the form of fertilizer.

Nutrient Best Fertilizer Type
Nitrogen Blood meal, fish meal, or cottonseed meal
Phosphorus Bone meal or rock phosphate
Potassium Greensand or kelp meal

Step 3: Till Your Soil

Tilling your soil can help to loosen it and improve drainage. It also makes it easier for your tomato plants to establish roots. However, be careful not to over-till, as this can damage soil structure and result in compaction.

Step 4: Mulch Your Soil

After you’ve prepared your soil, adding a mulch layer can help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.

Tip: Use 2-3 inches of organic mulch such as straw, leaves, or grass clippings.

Following these steps to prepare your soil before planting will give your tomato plants the best possible chance of success in Missouri’s climate.

Starting Seeds Indoors: A Step-by-Step Guide

Starting tomato seeds indoors is an effective way to get a head start on your tomato crop in Missouri. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

Step 1: Choose the Right Seeds

Before starting, choosing the right tomato seeds for Missouri’s climate is crucial. Look for varieties well-suited for the region’s hot summers and short growing seasons. Some good choices include Early Girl, Celebrity, and Better Boy.

Step 2: Gather Your Supplies

You will need a few supplies to start tomato seeds indoors, including:

Supplies Description
Seed starting trays Used for holding soil and seeds
Seed starting mix A sterile soil mix that provides nutrients for seedlings
Tomato seeds Choose a variety suited for Missouri’s climate
Grow lights or a sunny windowsill Used to provide light for the seedlings
Watering can or spray bottle Used to water the seedlings gently

Step 3: Plant Your Seeds

Fill your seed-starting trays with a seed-starting mix, and plant one or two seeds per cell. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of the mix, and water gently.

Step 4: Provide Light and Warmth

Tomato seeds require warmth and plenty of light to germinate. Place your seed trays under grow lights or in a sunny, south-facing window. The ideal temperature for germination is between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 5: Water Your Seedlings

Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Water the seedlings gently with a watering can or spray bottle. Avoid getting water on the leaves, which can lead to fungal growth.

Step 6: Transplant Your Seedlings

When your seedlings have grown their first true leaves, they’re ready to be transplanted outside. Wait until the danger of frost has passed and nighttime temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit before transplanting.

Harden off your seedlings by placing them outside for a few hours each day for a week before planting them in the ground.

Starting tomato seeds indoors is a great way to get a head start on your tomato crop in Missouri. With the right seeds, supplies, and care, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of delicious tomatoes all summer.

Transplanting Tomatoes Outdoors in Missouri

Once your tomato seedlings have grown to about 6-8 inches tall, it’s time to transplant them outdoors. Transplanting too early can lead to frost damage and stunted growth, so waiting until the risk of frost has passed and the soil has warmed up is essential.

The best time to transplant tomatoes in Missouri is in late May or early June. By this time, the risk of frost is minimal, and the soil temperature should be at least 60°F.

Before transplanting, harden off your seedlings by gradually exposing them to outdoor conditions for a few hours each day for a week or two. This will prepare them for the transition and help prevent shock.

Transplanting Tips

When transplanting your tomato seedlings, follow these tips:

  • Choose a well-draining, sunny location for planting.
  • Add compost, aged manure, and other organic matter to prepare the soil.
  • Make a deep hole to plant the seedling to the first set of leaves. This will encourage strong root growth.
  • Remove the seedling from its container and gently loosen the roots, carefully not to damage them.
  • Place the seedling in the hole and fill in with soil, pressing gently to secure it.
  • Water the seedling thoroughly to settle the soil and reduce transplant shock.

After transplanting your tomato seedlings, continue to care for them by watering regularly and mulching to help retain moisture. Avoid getting water on the leaves, as this can increase the disease risk.

As your plants grow, provide support by staking or using cages to keep them upright.

Caring for Your Tomato Plants in Missouri

Now that your tomato plants are in the ground, caring for them properly is essential to ensure a healthy and bountiful harvest. Here are some tips for caring for your tomato plants in Missouri:


Tomato plants require consistent moisture, especially during hot summer months. Water deeply twice a week, providing about 1-2 inches weekly. Avoid getting the leaves wet to prevent diseases.


Tomato plants are heavy feeders and require regular fertilization throughout the growing season. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and apply a balanced, organic fertilizer every 3-4 weeks.


Pruning your tomato plants can help increase airflow and sunlight penetration, resulting in more vigorous plants and larger fruits. Remove suckers (shoots that grow between the main stem and the branches) and any diseased or damaged leaves.

Pest and Disease Management

Regularly inspect your tomato plants for signs of pests or diseases, such as tomato hornworms, aphids, or blight. Use organic pest control methods, such as companion planting or handpicking, and promptly remove any infected plants or leaves to prevent disease spread.


Tomatoes are ready to be harvested and have developed their characteristic color when fully ripe. Gently twist and pull the fruit off the vine, not damaging the plant. Pick tomatoes regularly to encourage continued fruit production.

With these tips, you can keep your tomato plants healthy and productive throughout the growing season in Missouri’s climate.

FAQ: Common Questions About Planting Tomatoes in Missouri

As you embark on your tomato planting journey in Missouri, you may encounter some common questions. Here are the answers to a few of them:

What are the best tomato varieties to grow in Missouri?

Well-suited tomatoes to Missouri’s climate include Early Girl, Celebrity, and Cherokee Purple. These varieties have a shorter growing season, making them ideal for the state’s climate.

When is the best time to plant tomatoes in Missouri?

The best time to plant tomatoes in Missouri is in early May. You can also plant them in late April if you’re planting in a greenhouse or starting seeds indoors. It’s essential to wait until the danger of frost has passed before planting tomatoes outdoors.

How often should I water my tomato plants?

Tomatoes need consistent moisture to thrive, but overwatering can harm the plants. Aim to water them deeply once a week, providing enough water to saturate the soil to the roots. If the soil feels dry, it’s time to water your plants.

How can I prevent diseases and pests in my tomato plants?

Use good cultural practices like crop rotation and proper sanitation to prevent diseases. Additionally, you can apply fungicides and other treatment products if necessary.

As for pests, you can use natural methods like introducing beneficial insects or insecticidal soap to control infestations.

When should I harvest my tomatoes?

Tomatoes are ready to harvest when fully colored and firm to the touch. You can also do a taste test to determine if they are sweet enough for your liking. Remember to harvest tomatoes before the first frost to avoid damage to the fruit.

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