When to Plant Tomatoes in North Carolina?

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Quick Answer: When to Plant Tomatoes in North Carolina

Tomato is a warm-season crop. In North Carolina, February and March are suitable for sowing tomato seeds indoors, while May 15-May 20 are suitable for transplanting the plants outdoors. The air temperature of the day should be above 60 degrees F. The soil should be complemented with compost.

Here is your ultimate guide on planting tomatoes in North Carolina.

Let us get started!

Best Time to Plant Tomatoes in North Carolina

The ideal period for sowing the tomato seeds is at least six weeks before the last spring frost.

The ideal month for transplanting the tomato plants in your garden is two weeks after your last spring frost.

According to the Frost Table below, mid-February to the First week of March is suitable for planting seeds indoors. Mid-may is suitable for transplanting tomato plants. 

The temperature is just perfect, with warmer days and not-so-cold nights. Heavy rainfall is not observed during the mid-week of May. 

Daytime temperature ranges from 70 to 80 degrees F, and night temperatures fall between 60 to 70 degrees F.

Table: Frost Dates For North Carolina

CityFirst Frost DateLast Frost Date
PersonOctober 15April 24
BrunswickNovember 4April 4
GrahamOctober 20April 25
WashingtonNovember 1April 7

For Indoors

Plant your tomato variety suited for the warm season in trays. Keep the soil warmth of 60 degrees F and above for healthy root growth.

Set your tomato plant trays towards the south-facing window to receive the maximum direct sunlight. 10-12 hours of sun heat is enough for indoor tomato plants. 

Lay your seeds in well-prepared soil at least 2 weeks before the end of the last average frost in your area. Mid-February is the best time to plant new tomato seedlings.

A well-prepared soil should have-

  • Two to four inches of compost.
  • No portion of fertilizer.
  • Neutral pH.
  • Porous property.
  • Good water-holding capacity.

Indoor tomato plants require daily watering. You can spray water in plant trays using a plastic spray bottle. 

Give your soil medium some time to absorb the given water in trays, and then sow the tomato seeds in it.

Seeds should be buried to ¼ inch deep, roughly 1 inch apart in the soil.

Provide bottom holes to the trays to enable air circulation and water outlet. 

If the place is cooler than 60 degrees F, warm your water up to 75 degrees F to facilitate the germination of tomato seeds. 

For Outdoors

Before you transplant your beautiful tomato plants directly under the sun, provide them an equal amount of shade and sunlight for 15 days. 

After 15 days, transplant them in raised beds of soil. Provide the tomato plants with six to eight hours of sunlight daily. 

Amend the soil with an equal portion of sand, manure, and organic fertilizer. 

Encourage good water drainage in the container or the garden. 

Spring rains provide an adequate amount of water to the soil. If rainfall is not up to the required amount, water your plants with your hands or use a drip irrigation system after every 3-5 days.

Check out this video on how to grow tomatoes from seed-

How to Take Care of Tomatoes in North Carolina

It is crucial to take care of tomatoes during their growing season.

Improve the air circulation between the plants by planting the tomato plants at least 3 feet away from each other. You can also achieve this by staking and caging the plants carefully. This will provide physical support to the growing stems and leaves of tomato plants. 

Do not work with moist soil, wet foliage, and wet garden. It will result in soil compaction. 

Mulch your fertilized soil with an extra layer of at least 2 inches with organic matter, hay, and leaf. It will maintain the soil temperature. 

Prepare your soil mix with sand dust, manure, and 10-10-10 balanced fertilizer.

Check for the soil structure before growing the tomato plants. Improve the pH of the soil to a slightly acidic level by increasing the amount of calcium in it.

Water is very crucial for the survival of the tomato plant in summer. Seedlings require more water than mature plants. Water your tomato seeds every day. 

After germination, look for the water requirement of your plants. Heavy rainfall compensates for the water needs but also invites the growth of various diseases. 

Water the roots and stems of the tomato plants very gently after every 3-5 days. Prevent water splashing and foliage from wetting during the season.

Water your plants in the morning to maximize the absorption of the water by the plants.

Check out this video on how to grow tomatoes in the hot season-

Best Tomatoes to Plant in North Carolina

You should aim to plant hybrid and determinate tomato varieties. It will provide good quality and quantity of tomatoes before the beginning of the frost season. Better Boy, Big Beef, Grape tomatoes, and Celebrity are some popular options for North Carolina.


Do tomatoes grow well in North Carolina?

Yes, the warm weather in North Carolina works well for tomato harvesting.  However, heavy rainfall in the area puts tomato plants at risk of developing root-borne diseases. With proper precautions, you can harvest good-quality tomatoes

What do Epsom salts do for the tomatoes?

Epsom salts are naturally available products that enhance tomato yield and quality. It promotes germination, root growth, and photosynthesis and prevents root rot disease.

When should I stop putting my tomato plants in direct sunlight?

Summer heat is harmful to the tomato foliage. August and September sun can leave your plant’s leaf sunburnt. 


If you’ve been wondering when to plant tomatoes in North Carolina, I hope this article has been helpful.

If you have any tips or tricks of your own, please share them in the comments section!

Be sure to share this article with your friends and family so they, too, can have a successful planting season. Happy Gardening!