When to Plant Tomatoes in Florida

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Quick Answer: When to Plant Tomatoes in Florida

In Florida, the last frost usually occurs in March. Florida has a warm climate so; we can plant tomatoes in early spring and late winter. Good tomatoes require fertilized soil, well-drained, and pest-free soil. Enough sunlight should be given to the growing plant.

This is your well-researched guide to help you plant tomatoes in Florida.

Let us begin!

Best Time to Plant Tomatoes in Florida

Agricultural hardiness zones of Florida lie between 8 and 11. North Florida lies in 8 zones and southern Florida lies in 11.

The weather deviates sharply from one zone to another. Hence, it is advised to check for the last ten years’ frost dates and plant the tomatoes accordingly.

The general planting rules say that ‘ Fifteen to twenty days after the last frost is the ideal time for transplanting whereas, six to eight weeks before the end of frost is suitable for planting seeds indoors.’ 

In Florida, tomatoes can be grown in two seasons- spring and fall.

Depending on the region, frost days, and the growing season you can choose for either spring or fall season.

Table: Frost Dates For Florida

CityFirst Frost DateLast Frost Date
MiamidadeJanuary 2January 22
HamiltonNovember 22March 8
VolusiaDecember 10March 5
PascoNovember 28March 8

In areas with the Frost season of November to March –

Ideal dates for planting seeds inside are February in the spring season and July in the fall season. Suitable dates for transplanting tomatoes outside are April in the spring season and August in the fall season.

In areas with the Frost season from January to February –

Ideal dates for planting seeds inside are January in the spring season and July in the fall season. Suitable dates for transplanting tomatoes outside are March in the spring season and August in the fall season.

Check out this video on when to grow tomatoes in Florida-

The most important thing to remember while transplanting tomatoes outside is –

'You should protect the tomato plants from the extreme heat of September and harvest them before the onset of November.' 

Choose tomato varieties that are cold endurable and have less maturation period.

Check out this video on how to grow tomatoes in Florida-

How to Take Care of Tomatoes in Florida

The helpful tips that will enable the healthy growth of your tomato plants are-

  • The optimum temperature for proper growth of the tomato plant is a day temperature of 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit and a Night temperature of above 62 degrees F but below 72 degrees F.
  • Water your plants every day during the germination stage. After transplanting, water at least 3 gallons or 1-2 inches of water per week in the morning using hoses, tubes, and hands.
  • Monitor the water needs of the plant by the foliage. You can insert your finger 1-2 inches deep in the soil and check for soil dryness.

The soil of Florida is not suitable for tomato planting. It has less water retention and no reservoir of nutrients.

Soil & Fertilizer Requirements for Tomato Plant

You should prepare your soil mix by using-

  • Loamy soil as a base 
  • Add leaf mold or peat moss for increasing the water retention capacity of the soil. 
  • Add manure or compost for enriching the soil with minerals and essential nutrients.
  • Add the required amount of fertilizer to the soil.

The germination phase of the tomato plant requires high nitrogen and in the growing phase, plants require less nitrogen and high phosphorus and potassium.

Keeping in mind the requirement of the elements, a balanced type of fertilizer should be used.

Spray the desired fertilizer after every seven to ten days. Water the plants thoroughly after every application.

Check out this video on growing tomatoes from seed in Florida-

Keep a space of 24-36 inches between the plants and 4-5 ft. between the rows. 

Plant your tomatoes in mulched raised beds for maintaining the soil moisture, reducing the risk of weeds, better drainage system, and good soil depth, increasing the tomato yield, and hastening the early ripening process.

Best Tomato Varieties for Florida

Always choose tomato varieties that provide resistance to root-borne diseases and harvest in fewer days.

  • Bonnie Best is an intermediate tomato variety that produces medium-sized fruits and is suitable for Northern Florida.
  • Solar set produces large-sized fruits and is suitable for Southern Florida.
  • Flora Dates produces large Tomatoes whereas, Sweet Chelsea produces small but more tomato fruits.

FAQ’s

Do tomatoes need full sun in Florida?

Any variety of tomato thrives in six to eight hours of direct sunlight. Irrespective of the area, sunlight is the most relevant factor for the good growth and yield of the tomato.

Is it hard to plant tomatoes in Florida?

Florida has a growing season of 260 days which is perfect for tomato growth, fruit ripening, and harvesting. If sown and planted in the right season, the tomato plant in Florida is very fruitful and easy.

What month do tomatoes ripen in Florida?

The tomato usually ripens at the end of the growing season which is the Late-Summer season. The ripening duration greatly varies with the area, rainfall, temperature, and care practices involved during growth.

Should I pick my tomatoes before they turn red?

The best time to pick your tomatoes is when the tomato just starts to develop a red color. Before the color develops, it will be difficult for you to ripen the tomatoes inside.

Summary

I hope this guide would prove useful to you to plant healthy tomato plants in Florida.

I will be delighted to hear your suggestions on the same.

Do share this guide with your family and friends!