Unfortunately, tomatoes can’t grow in just any continent or any type of climate. Tomatoes are a seasonal fruit, or vegetable, depending on where you stand on that argument, and are best grown in warm spring and summer conditions. But if you’re a tomato lover like myself, you might consider growing them indoors so you can enjoy them all year long.
Tomatoes grow best when they are outdoors, but if placed in the right position with similar conditions to the outdoors, they can grow inside your home. Tomatoes need a full day of sunlight to grow effectively and to produce the best tasty tomatoes to satisfy your tastebuds.
So, you want tomatoes all day every day and you’re trying to figure out if you can grow them inside? You’ve come to the right place because we have the perfect guide to help you grow your tomatoes inside. Keep reading below to find out the best way to grow tomatoes inside your home.
What Kind of Temperature Do I Need to Grow Tomatoes Indoors?
Tomatoes need to be kept above freezing temperatures to grow and to survive. For tomatoes, temperatures below 50°F (10°C) are considered freezing. This is when the growth of your tomatoes starts to slow down because the cold does not provide enough energy for flowering and fruiting.
If you live in colder climates or your winters get especially cold, there might not even be any use in trying to grow tomatoes in a greenhouse. Greenhouses are optimal for tomatoes to grow in spring and summer if it’s wet and rainy because they prefer to be warm and dry.
If you have heating in your greenhouse this would be the best place for growing tomatoes inside.
Because tomatoes need a lot of sunlight and warmth to grow, you’ll need to have the optimal position in your home to ensure they get their required dose of Vitamin D.
How to Grow Your Tomatoes Indoors
For many of us, tomatoes are a fruit that reminds us of summer.
Fresh ripe tomato salads, barbecued tomatoes on veggie skewers, eating finely cut tomatoes on a burger while enjoying the company of friends in the garden. Tomato is a summer fruit.
When winter comes, and you’re missing out on those delicious tomatoes, sometimes the quality of imported tomatoes just doesn’t do your cooking justice. You might consider growing them indoors!
Here is how you can achieve ripe and delicious tomatoes from your very own home:
Plant them in a moveable container/pot
This is for the simple reason that you might need to move your tomatoes to different windows, so they get enough sunlight during the day.
You want to place your tomatoes in front of larger windows that let in plenty of sunlight. Ideally, tomatoes need around 8 hours of sunlight a day. You may need to move them from window to window depending on where your house gets morning and afternoon sun.
Use heated grow lights
Grow lights help to stimulate warmth which is ideal for summer-loving tomatoes. You don’t need to use grow lights for their whole growth period but they’re ideal for the first 6-8 weeks of their life indoors.
Your baby tomatoes will appreciate growing lights that have both cool- and warm-colored lights that encourage them to cultivate strength and produce healthy leaves, and flowers.
There are many different types of grow lights to suit various budgets, but the most cost-effective grow lights for small indoor tomato growers is a T5 fluorescent bulb.
Use the right soil
Choosing the right soil is essential for the healthy growth of every beautiful plant we find on this earth. For tomatoes, you can use any standard starting or soil mix with good drainage.
Good potting mixes for superior drainage include those with a mix of sand, peat moss, and compost.
We highly recommend avoiding any type of clay soil.
Ensure optimal temperature settings in the house
As you’ve read, tomatoes like it warm and dry, just like a hot summer’s day. If you’re growing tomatoes indoors, just the act of placing the tomatoes in front of a window that catches lots of light is not enough.
The optimum temperate for tomatoes to grow nice fruit is around 62°F (17°C) at night and generally 79°F (26°C) during the day. If this is too hot for you, consider placing the tomatoes in a room specially designed for the healthy growth of summer plants and vegetation.
Begin planting in mid-summer
Because the best time for nutritious, healthy, and plump tomatoes is the middle of summer when deciding to grow tomatoes indoors, start growing them indoors in mid-summer. This doesn’t mean you put your outdoor tomatoes inside though as this will kill them.
Tomatoes don’t acclimatize well so it’s best to leave plants you’ve already started growing outdoors, outside where they can thrive.
If you begin planting your seedlings or cutoffs in mid-summer, by the time fall and winter come along you should have produced some good-looking baby tomatoes almost ready for harvesting.
Choose smaller tomatoes
There are so many yummy varieties of tomatoes to choose from but for indoor growing, many would recommend sticking with smaller cherry tomatoes.
Here are some other smaller tomato varieties you might consider:
- Tiny Tims
- Cherry Cocktails
- Golden Grapes which grow a beautiful sunflower yellow in color
- Baby Red Pear, which are not, in fact, pears but are cute little red tomatoes with a long fruiting season
- Yellow currant is another small yellow type of tomato perfect for garden salads
- Roma tomatoes are ideal for cooking
They need airflow
Air circulation is important for plants to reduce the risk of fungal infections and rot.
Using a fan can be a great way to enhance the airflow around your tomato plant so that they don’t become victims to plant killers like mildew, fungi, and other diseases caused by a lack of airflow.
You can set up a small fan on low-speed and turn it on for a few hours every day to prioritize air circulation for your indoor plants.
A few other tips to improve air circulation is to keep your plants near windows, give your plants space, and ensure your home’s ventilation is an adequate place to keep house plants.
Don’t forget they need maintenance
You need to prune your tomatoes regularly to stimulate growth as well as to keep your tomatoes under control from growing too big. As well as air circulation and flow, pruning helps to minimize the risk of plant diseases and attracting bugs.
If your plants grow too large and start to take over the grow lights the proximity to the heated bulbs will burn your plants.
You are the pollinator
Bees are brilliant pollinators that promote the healthy growth of plants, fruits, and vegetables. We’re assuming you don’t keep a swarm or hive of bees inside your home which means you probably have no natural pollination for your tomatoes. You must become the pollinator to see your tomatoes flourish.
It’s called hand or manual pollination and is also a technique used by people who don’t have many bees attracted to their garden.
Some people choose to carefully shake the plant enough to stimulate pollen release, while others use toothbrushes and small paintbrushes to transfer pollen.
Check out this tutorial by Some Room to Grow for tips on how to manually pollinate your tomatoes.
While planting and growing tomatoes aren’t the most ideal situation for tomatoes to be in, it could be better for them than being left outside in the frost where they will most certainly not thrive or flourish.
You can grow tomatoes indoors easily enough if you follow the above steps and maintain them daily. Indoor tomatoes may need more care than outdoor tomatoes because indoor spaces don’t always provide ideal growing conditions. If you do manage to grow your tomatoes inside, you’ll reap the benefits with ripe, fresh, and delicious tasing tomatoes throughout the year.