Tomato Plant 101: Growing at Home

The Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) is a member of the nightshade family, Solanaceae.

The genus Lycopersicon contains over 100 species of annual and perennial herbs and shrubs.

The common names include potato, groundcherry, and cape gooseberry. The fruit is a berry, usually red, but sometimes yellow, orange, or black.

The fleshy part of the fruit is edible, although not always palatable.

History of Tomato

The earliest cultivated forms of the Tomato were found in Peru, where it was domesticated between 5000 and 3000 B.C.E.

The ancient Egyptians may have grown tomatoes as early as 2000 B.C.E., and the Greeks and Romans grew them extensively.

Tomatoes were introduced to Europe in the 15th century and to North America in the 16th century.

Cultural Symbols of Tomato

The Tomato is associated with the goddess Demeter, who was the Greek goddess of agriculture.

The goddess was so fond of the fruit that she gave it to her daughter Persephone, who became queen of the underworld.

When Persephone ate the pomegranate seeds, she was forced to spend half the year in the underworld with Hades, the god of the underworld.

Is Tomato a Good Indoor plant?

Yes, it can grow indoors / in your backyard.

But like any other plant, it has its own specific needs to flourish.

You will need to give it bright light, especially at night, and a temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

This makes growing tomatoes growing a bit of a challenge if you do not get enough sunlight.

6-8 hrs of sunlight is ideal for its growth.

How much Water does Tomato Need? Water regularly, but only when the soil feels dry. Do not let the soil become soggy.

There are several other considerations to grow a tomato plant, such as soil type, watering, how deep one should plant, care, diseases etc.

Another interesting point regarding tomatoes is that you can also grow them in hanging baskets, thus saving space.

Types Of Tomato Plants

There are many different varieties of tomato plants, literally thousands of them! including cherry, beefsteak, plum, and Roma.

Some of these are listed below:

  1. Cherry Tomato
  2. Beefsteak Tomato
  3. Plum Tomato
  4. Roma Tomato
  5. Grape Tomato
  6. Heirloom Tomato
  7. Green Tomato

and many more.

Many people are confused about which tomato type is best – for example, hybrid vs heirloom etc. But there is no set answer to this as most varieties have their own pros and cons.

Tomato Plant Diseases and Issues

Common Diseases for tomato plants are Aphids, Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus, Bacterial Blight, Cucumber Mosaic Virus, Powdery Mildew, and others.

The disease can be part of flower, stem, leaves, or even roots.

A common sign of these is wilting of the tomato plant.

It is very important to safeguard your tomato plant from these and thus a keen eye is needed if you grow them in your backyard.

There can be other issues, which are not exactly diseases – such as splitting, suckers, catfaced tomatoes, frost, etc.

Apart from that tomato plants can also be troubled by birds, but there are easy ways to tackle them.

Even when there is no apparent disease or issues, your tomato plant may not produce ripened tomatoes, there can be lot of reasons for the same and this situation can be addressed with some effort.

Apart from the diseases, other common issues are overwatering, improper sunlight, and lack of nutrition.

Tomato Plant – Growth Drivers

There are several ways to enhance the growth of your tomato plant.

The effort to develop a healthy tomato plant starts as early as the tomato seedling stage.

Companion plants also work well with tomatoes, for example, cucumbers.

For example, if the soil lacks essential minerals (like magnesium, calcium, etc.) it should be added.

Here is a quick list of easily available items which can help tomato plants grow –

If you are wondering what is the best time to grow tomatoes in US, check out our detailed guides for the same.