When to Plant Tomatoes in Iowa?

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Quick Answer: When to Plant Tomatoes in Iowa

In Iowa, the first frost begins a little early in September, hence tomatoes get less time to mature and set the fruits. To anticipate a fruitful yield, choose early-ripening tomato varieties with a harvesting period of around 55-60 days. Transplant the tomatoes in May when the danger of frost is completely over. Select and sow the tomato seeds in March so that plants attain a stable root system indoors with no physical and environmental stress.

Here is a detailed guide for you on tomato planting in Iowa. 

The guide has weather conditions and a season suitable for the healthy growth of tomato plants.

Let us get started!

Best Time to Plant Tomatoes in Iowa

The most important factor that affects tomatoes is Frost. Always maintain a gap of at least 20 days between the last frost and transplanting. 

In central Iowa, planting around 8 May is ideal. For southern gardeners of Iowa, you can plant the tomatoes roughly around the same time. In northern Iowa, frost is over by May; plant tomatoes in the first week of May.

Avoid transplanting the tomatoes late. Do not extend till mid-June otherwise; plants will not mature properly. 

Two months gap between the last frost and sowing seeds, and one month gap between sowing and selecting seeds is a practical solution to the proper maturation of the plant. 

Give your plants to sunbathe for at least a minimum of eight hours. Sprouting seedlings require almost double sunshine or light.

Do not let your tomato plants suffer dehydration. It makes them weak. Water young plants every day, and during the well-grown stage, provide at least two inches of water through rainfall if not, water yourself.

Table: Frost Dates For Iowa

CityFirst Frost DateLast Frost Date
AlbionSeptember 29May 1
Lawton September 28May 3
DavenportOctober 2April 30
BrandonSeptember 29May 1

The optimum day temperature is 65-80 degrees F, and the nighttime temperature is 55-65 degrees F. 

Humidity must be moderate such as 70%. 

The soil temperature must be warm enough. The optimum temperature is 65-70 degrees F.

The suitable garden soil pH should be slightly acidic

How to Take Care of Tomatoes in Iowa

The basic measures one can take to protect the tomatoes from adverse climate conditions-

  • Before transplanting, put the plants outside for some time. This way, plants will get adapted to hot climates. 
  • Before harvesting, ripe the partially ripened tomatoes inside. It will protect the plants from diseases.
  • Cover the tomato plants with plastic or nylon sheets.

A transplanted plant must have its first true leaves. Remove the bottom leaves for the prevention of disease. Use disinfected tools and maintain hygiene while pruning.

IOWA Tomato Cultivars

The suggested tomato varieties are-

  • Jet Star (indeterminate)
  • Better Boy (indeterminate)
  • Celebrity (determinate)
  • Mountain Delight (determinate)
  • Sunrise (determinate)
  • Jubilee (indeterminate)
  • Small Fry (determinate).

Check out this video for best heirloom tomatoes In Iowa-


What will happen if my foliage is wet?

The wet foliage promotes fungal diseases. You should avoid touching wet foliage and do not water the leaves.

How is staking and caging helpful?

Staking the plants help indeterminate varieties to gain physical support. It promotes air circulation within the plants.

Stake the wooden stick deeper in the soil. Cage the tomato using wires and penetrate the wires at least two inches in the soil.


I hope this article helped give you a better understanding of when to plant tomatoes in Iowa. If you have any tips, please share them.

Do share this article with friends and family who may also be interested in learning when to plant tomatoes!