How To Overwinter Tomato Plants

Steps to Winterize Your Tomato Plant

How To Overwinter Tomato Plants-a-tomato-plant
A tomato plant

Tomatoes are usually grown in tropical regions as perennials but in other areas are mostly grown as annuals,  helping your tomato plant to survive the winter months or become cold tolerant is crucial because this action will help your tomato plant to thrive giving them a head start so when the warmer months returns you can continue to reap a good harvest. If your desire is to keep your tomato plant healthy during the colder months you have come to the right place to know how this process is done so continue reading as we take a closer look at how to overwinter our tomato plants.

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4 Best Ways to Overwinter Tomatoes

How to Overwinter Tomatoes from Cuttings

  • Before the first frost, cut a 3-5 inch stem from a part of your tomato plant that is actively growing, for example, a terminal end or a branch, or a tomato sucker. The suckers can be located between the stem and the branch at the leaf nodes. When taking cuttings ensure that you get several in the event that any should die.
  • Remove all of the leaves from the cutting except for a few ( 3-4) that should be left at the top.
  • Now place the ends that are cut into a container of water and place the container in an area that gets lots of sunlight like a sunny window. Watch the water  level and change the water weekly
  • After several weeks white roots will start growing from the cuttings, the rooted cuttings can now be transplanted into a pot with a good potting medium.
  • Locate your cuttings to a sunny window or grow lights can also help greatly
  • The potting medium should not be allowed to dry out completely but should be somewhat moist and not waterlogged.
  • To ensure that your cuttings are getting sufficient sunlight rotate or turn every few days for the entire plant to get an equal amount of sunlight.
  • When the temperature starts to warm outdoors it is time to harden off your cuttings, once the soil warms up and the frost has passed you can proceed to transplant your tomato plants.
  • Once the warmer months return or during springtime, remove your tomato plants outdoors and begin to pot them up 6 weeks before the last frost date or allow them to remain in dormancy. Once the danger of frost has passed proceed to planting them in your garden.

How to Overwinter Tomatoes in Containers

Container-grown tomatoes can be brought indoors this is a great way to winterize them, before bringing them inside however check for pests and treat as needed because insect pests that go undetected will overwinter using your tomato plant as a harbourage and emerge to damage once the warmer season return. After bringing your tomatoes indoors it’s important that you provide them with sufficient light. The sun during winter time may not be as intense nor the days longer therefore it’s best to provide your tomatoes with artificial (grow lights) lighting. Your tomatoes will need 18-20 hours of grow light to thrive. The ideal tomato plants to winterize are dwarf or compact because they don’t grow very tall. With the return of spring once the danger of frost has passed begin the process of hardening off your tomatoes, over the next 2-3 weeks gradually introduce your tomatoes to the outside again.

Growing Tomatoes in a Green House in the Winter

Growing tomatoes in a greenhouse is an ideal way to winterize them, ensure that your greenhouse is equipped with a heater. Before the first frost, pot up your tomato plants, and move them into your greenhouse. Allow your potted tomatoes to adjust or acclimate to the greenhouse temperature, and increase the greenhouse temperature gradually if you’re desire is for your tomato plants to produce fruits. But if your reason is just for your tomato plants to survive and not fruit the temperature doesn’t have to really be increased.

Keep your Tomatoes In Bare-Root Dormancy for the Winter

This method has been around for some time but has proven to be effective, to have success once you have prepared your tomatoes place them in a basement that’s unheated, a garage, or a cellar.

  • Before the first frost move the entire tomato plant by digging it up, now cut your tomato plant back to 30 cm high or 11. 81 inches. With your hand begin to remove all of the soil from the roots. Rap the roots around your hand which should form a loose circle of the roots.
  • Place the plant’s roots on a square of cotton fabric, shredded newspaper, or some damp sheet moss, now cover the entire roots with the damp materials followed by wrapping the cotton fabric around the entire damp materials and fastening with a string.
  •  Wrapped bare-root tomato plant in a tight layer of waxed fabric or plastic or placed in a repurposed plastic grocery bag, place your wrapped tomato plant in a paper bag. Make sure that the bag is tightly closed. The bag should then be placed in a cool location for example a garage, cellar, or in the refrigerator’s crisper.
  • Every 6 weeks check to make sure that the plant’s roots are still surrounded by the moist material, if needed surround the roots with damp sphagnum moss or dampen them with a spray bottle that contains water.

Bonus Just for You

  • If your overwinter tomato plant forms shoots that are thin, unstable, and extremely light this may be because of insufficient light, look for a location that offers more light or consider the use of grow lights.
  • If your tomato plant turns yellow followed by producing many side shoots to compensate for a lack of lighting, allow the shoots to remain but inspect plants on a regular basis for insect pests. Because a tomato plant that shows these signs is more likely to have a pest issue.
  • Quickly dispose of plants that have severe disease issues.
  • If a diseased plant can be saved by the removal of disease parts then do so.
  • During the winter months keeping a watchful eye on your tomato plants is crucial to detect diseases and insects as soon as possible followed by the proper treatment.
  • Any tool that has been used on a diseased plant should be sterilized first with bleach and water before attempting to use on healthy plants.

The final word on how to overwinter tomato plants

Overwintering your tomato plant is that simple, once you put these steps in place your tomatoes will survive the winter months giving you a bountiful harvest once the warmer months return. Tomatoes are a favorite of many and are used in soups, salads, sandwiches, and other food recipes so let’s do what we can to ensure that our tomato plants survive the cold season.


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About the author

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Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.