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Growing tomatoes in home gardens

​​​​​​A quick guide to tomatoes

  • Start tomatoes from seeds indoors, five to six weeks before planting outside.
  • When buying plants, choose sturdy plants up to a foot tall.
  • Transplant outdoors after all danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed.
  • Stake or cage plants at the time of planting.
  • Pick all the fruit and bring it indoors before the first frost at the end of summer.

Sun-loving tomatoes 

Four red and green tomatoes growing on plant

Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum, Lycopersicon lycopersicum) are the most popular homegrown vegetable.  

Like other plants in the potato family (which includes eggplants, peppers, and tobacco), tomatoes are heat-loving plants that require a long, frost-free season and full sun. The long, hot, sunny days of Minnesota summers are great for growing tomatoes.

You can start your own seeds indoors or buy plants by mail or from a garden center. 

Soil pH and fertility

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Selecting plants

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Planting

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How to keep your tomato plants healthy and productive

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Managing pests, diseases and disorders

Many things can affect tomato leaves, flowers and fruit. Changes in physical appearance and plant health can be caused by the environment, plant diseases, insects and wildlife. In order to address what you’re seeing, it is important to make a correct diagnosis. 

You can find additional help identifying common pest problems by using the online diagnostic tools or by sending a sample to the UMN Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic. You can share pictures and get input on the Ask a Master Gardener form.

There will always be some level of disease and insect feeding in Minnesota tomatoes. It is possible to have a satisfactory crop of tomatoes even though the plants and fruit show some disease and pest problems.

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Cindy Tong, Extension horticulturist; Marissa Schuh, integrated pest management Extension educator; and Jill MacKenzie

Reviewed in 2022

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