When Does A Tomato Plant Produce Fruit?


If you recently transplanted tomato seedlings into your garden, you may not have any fruit on the plants just yet.  In that case, you may be wondering when your tomato plants will produce fruit, and if there is anything you should do to help them along.

So, when does a tomato plant produce fruit?  A tomato plant produces fruit in 49 to 98 days (7 to 14 weeks) when grown from a transplant.  A tomato plant grown directly from seed takes 25 days longer (74 to 123 days) to produce fruit.  Indeterminate tomato varieties will continue to grow and produce fruit until they are stopped or killed by cold or frost.

Of course, depending on the variety of tomato plant you choose, it may take a longer time for your plant to begin producing fruit.  Other factors such as improper pruning, over fertilization, and environmental conditions can all delay the growth of fruit on your tomato plant.  Let’s take a closer look at tomato plants, when they bear fruit, and the factors that can affect your harvest.

When Does A Tomato Plant Produce Fruit?

Depending on the variety, a tomato plant can produce fruit 49 to 98 days after being transplanted to the garden as a seedling.  You can buy established plants from local nurseries or buy them online and have them delivered to your home.

tomato seedling
Tomato transplants will produce fruit 49 to 98 days after being planted in your garden. It could take longer if you grow from seed, or if you have cold weather!

If you decide to grow tomatoes from seed, it will take 25 days longer for the plants to bear fruit.  This means that from sowing seeds to harvesting tomatoes, you will need to wait 74 to 123 days.

Cold temperatures in some climates can further delay the production and ripening of fruit on tomato plants, sometimes by 10 to 14 days.  For more information, check out this article on growing tomatoes from the Oregon State University Extension.

If you want to grow tomatoes from seed, start the seeds indoors 6 weeks before the last frost date.  To find the last frost date for your area, you can use the Frost Date Calculator on the Old Farmer’s Almanac website.

For most varieties of tomatoes, you will want to install supports when putting transplants in the garden.  For more information, check out my article on how to support tomato plants.

How Much Fruit Does A Tomato Plant Produce?

A tomato plant can produce 10 to 15 pounds (4.5 to 6.8 kilograms) of fruit in a season.  Some varieties bred for superior production can yield even more fruit.

Roma tomatoes
A healthy tomato plant can produce 10 to 15 pounds of fruit in one season. You can find red, orange, yellow, purple, and even black tomatoes!

For more information, check out this article on planting tomatoes from the University of Maryland Extension.

The fruit on a tomato plant can be red, orange, yellow, purple, or even black in some cases.  Later in this article, I have provided some links to different varieties that have fruit of many different colors.

In theory, a tomato plant can survive the winter if you bring it indoors.  However, a mature tomato plant may not survive the transplant shock.  The plant’s roots may be damaged if it does survive transplanting.

From a practical standpoint, most people simply start new plants from seed or buy new transplants each year.

Do Tomato Plants Die After Fruiting?

Most tomato plants do not die after fruiting.  Instead, they can survive until cold and frost in the fall kill them off.

There are two basic types of tomato plants: determinate and indeterminate.

Determinate tomato plants will reach a certain height and then stop growing.  They will produce fruit and then be done producing for the year.

Indeterminate tomato plants will keep growing and producing tomatoes until they are stopped (or killed) by cold and frost.

tomato stakes
Indeterminate tomato plants can easily grow to 6 feet tall or higher, and will need support in the form of stakes, cages, or trellises to stay upright.

Certain varieties of tomato plants, such as some determinate varieties, will die after they finish producing fruit for the season.  However, indeterminate varieties and some determinate varieties of tomato plants can live after producing fruit.

What Kind Of Tomato Plant Should I Get?

As mentioned above, there are both determinate and indeterminate tomato varieties to consider.

If you want to grow smaller tomato plants that do not need tall supports, choose a determinate variety.  You may also want to choose a determinate variety if you are growing indoors or in containers.

If you want to get tomatoes throughout the season and are willing to support your plants with stakes, cages, or trellises, then choose an indeterminate variety.

You should also consider the length of your growing season, and the time to maturity for the tomato plants you choose.

plant cage
A cage can help to support tomato plants as they grow.

Here are some tomato varieties from Burpee that you can try.

Do You Need Two Tomato Plants To Produce Fruit?

No, you do not need two tomato plants to produce fruit.  All tomato plants are self-pollinating, which means that the flowers contain both male and female parts.

This means that you only need one tomato plant in order to produce fruit from the plant – no cross-pollination is required.  However, keep in mind that self-pollination does not mean guaranteed pollination.

bee on blueberry flower
A lack of bees can put a damper on pollination of your tomato plants. However, you can use an electric toothbrush instead if you are desperate!

Certain environmental conditions, such as high humidity or lack of bees, can prevent flowers on your tomato plants from setting fruit.

If you have been waiting a while and see flowers but no fruit on your tomato plants, then check out my article on the causes of tomato plants with flowers but no fruit.

What Other Factors Affect Fruit On Tomato Plants?

The quality of care that you give your tomato plants will help to determine how much fruit you get each year.  Some of the most important factors are temperature, watering, fertilizing, and pruning.

Temperature

As mentioned earlier, early fall frosts or late spring frosts can spell death for your tomato plants.  When temperatures fall below 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius) at night, your plants may stop producing fruit.

Luckily, there are some ways to protect your plants from cold at both the beginning and end of the season.  You can use cloches to protect your plants from cold and wind, and you can use row covers to protect mature plants.

For more information, check out my article on how to protect your plants from cold and frost.

On the other extreme, your tomato plants may stop producing fruit if daytime temperatures are over 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius).  In addition, the hot, sticky days of summer can prevent proper pollination due to excessive humidity.

Unfortunately, there is not much you can do about high temperatures or humidity levels.  Just be sure to insulate your tomato plants by putting a layer of mulch or compost over the topsoil around them.

Watering

Avoid letting the soil stay dry for too long, since uneven watering can lead to blossom end rot in tomatoes.  If you find that you have a problem with dry soil, check out my article on how to treat dry soil.

On the other hand, over watering your tomato plants can lead to root rot and eventual death.  The best way to decide when to water is to feel the soil with your fingers.

garden hose
Get your hands dirty and feel the soil with your fingers to avoid over or under watering your tomato plants!

If the soil feels dry 2 or 3 inches below the surface, then go ahead and water.  For more information, check out my article on over watering your plants.

Try to water early in the morning, rather than at night, to allow water to soak into the soil.  Avoid getting the leaves wet to prevent rot, mold, and diseases.

Fertilizing

Before you plant tomato transplants in your garden, add some compost to your soil.  It will provide organic material and nutrients for your plants as they grow.  The best part is that you can make compost yourself from ordinary yard and kitchen waste!

compost bin
Compost is a great way to add both organic material and nutrients to your garden.

For more information, check out my article on how to make your own compost.

It may be necessary to use fertilizers as a supplement to compost, in order to provide extra nutrients if your soil is lacking. The best way to tell if you need fertilizer is with a soil test.

For more information, check out my article on soil testing.

Finally, remember that it is possible to harm or kill your tomato plants by over fertilizing them.  For example, too much nitrogen can prevent your tomato plant from producing any fruit.

For more information, check out my article on over fertilizing and my article on low-nitrogen fertilizers.

Pruning

Many gardeners choose to prune off the suckers, or side shoots, of tomato plants as they grow.  The result is fewer, but larger, fruits on the vine.

tomato plant
Pruning away the lower branches and leaves of a tomato plant reduces the chance of disease and rot.

Pruning away the lower leaves and branches of the tomato plant can also help to prevent the spread of disease in your garden.  When you remove the lower leaves and branches, there is less chance of dirt splashing up onto leaves due to rain or watering.

Conclusion

By now, you have a much better idea of when your tomato plant will produce fruit.  You also know a bit more about how to take care of tomato plants and how to avoid the problems that can affect your harvest.

I hope you found this article helpful – if so, please share it with someone who can use the information.  If you have any questions or advice about tomato plants, please leave a comment below.

jonathon.david.madore

Hi, I'm Jonathon. I’m the gardening guy (not guru!) who is encouraging everyone to spend more time in the garden. I try to help solve common gardening problems so that you can get the best harvest every year!

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