How Cold Is TOO Cold for Tomatoes?
Tomato, the native fruit of Central America, has specific growth requirements. When it comes to climate, most of them do their best at warm temperatures, when provided with full sun, rich soil, and a steady supply of moisture.
However, not all of us live in warm areas with longer growing seasons. When the temperatures drop, for the tomato plant to flourish in cooler weather conditions, you should know how cold is too cold for tomatoes in the first place.
So, if you want to enrich your garden with these red edibles and get the best out of the crop, ensure that, above all, your outdoor space meets all the requirements for their growth.
Ideal Temperatures for Growing Tomatoes
Since the tomato comes from warmer places, it’s no surprise that it’ll grow best at higher temperatures. It can’t withstand frosts and high humidity. Therefore, tomato temperature tolerance is essential for the development of blossoms and fruits.
For instance, in the spring, when the daytime temperatures are warm, but during nighttime drop below 55F, in most cases, it’ll come to blossom drop. Also, during summertime, when they’re over 90F during the day and over 76F at night, the flowers won’t pollinate because of the heat; then, they’ll drop as well.
The ideal daytime temperature so the tomato grows actively and healthy is between 65F and 85F. However, during each stage of its growth, the tomato plant has different climatic requirements.
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Ways to protect your tomatoes
- Get an outdoor thermometer as you will need to know the exact temperature. All of these are a good choice.
- Use a cover for the tomatoes, especially if they are blossoming and it’s below 55 degrees. Cold is the #1 reason for blossom drop. Either get a tunnel cover or any kind of landscape fabric.
- If it gets too cold even with the covers on, consider adding some lights under the covers. Even Christmas lights will work to some extent.
- Water the plants regularly for cold protection. Plants that are well hydrated will always tolerate cold or even freezing temperatures much better than non-hydrated ones.
If you live in a colder area, where the growing seasons are short, i.e. there are fewer frost-free days, you probably wonder how cold can tomato plants tolerate. Luckily, there are dozens of different varieties. Each variety handles different temperatures and can withstand different environmental conditions. Needless to say, any plant, including tomatoes, requires the soil to be fertilized, aerated and watered properly.
Heat Tolerant Tomatoes
There are tomato varieties that have the potential to produce quality fruits in areas with excessive summer temperatures. Some of them are:
- Solar Fire
- Summer Set
- Sun Chaser
- Fourth of July
- Super Fantastic
They tolerate heat best; thus, their names.
Cold Hardy Tomatoes
On the other hand, there are tomatoes that will tolerate cooler temperatures – that is, below 55F. Compared to other tomato varieties, the short- to mid-season tomatoes mature in 55 to 75 days after planting. Some of the cold-hardy varieties are:
- Early Girl
- Golden Nugget
- Oregon Spring
- Orange Pixie
- Husky Gold.
Therefore, before planting tomatoes in your garden, make sure you choose the appropriate variety for your growing conditions, so you have a successful crop.
How Cold Is too Cold for Tomatoes FAQs
Temperatures below 50F will adversely affect tomato plant tissues, which will slow down the physiological activities. Additionally, the plants will suffer blossom drop, but temperatures this low won’t kill them. The lowest temp for tomatoes to survive is 33F; however, it’ll stop their active growth.
Since the tomatoes are frost-sensitive plants, they need warmth and sun to grow. A light frost can damage the fruits, and even kill the plant. Therefore, it’s important to protect the plants once the temperatures drop. However, in the case of prolonged frost, it won’t be possible to preserve fruits. But still, you can save the crop. Pick the sufficiently mature green tomatoes, remove their stems, wash them, and air-dry. Wrap each of them in a newspaper, put them in a shallow, covered box, then store at 55F to 70F until ripe.
The soil moisture is crucial for tomato growth. How often you should water the tomatoes depends on the variety and location. Once you’ve planted the seeds, check daily to make sure the soil hasn’t dried out. However, since the seedlings don’t require tons of water, keep just the top of the soil moist. Once they sprout, they’ll need more water. Replant the seedlings in the garden or larger container. If you’re growing the tomatoes in the garden, make sure to water them once a day. They require 1-2 inches of water weekly. On the other hand, tomatoes grown in a container need even more water. Water the plants every morning. If the soil has dried out by the afternoon, water them again.