Can you grow tomatoes indoors during the cold winter months?

Many gardeners, from beginners to those who are more experienced, will find themselves wondering how to grow tomatoes indoors (especially if they’ve never tried before). If you’re new to indoor crops, tomatoes are a relatively easy one to start with. The care of indoor tomatoes is similar to that of ones grown outdoors, except the plant is in a container. They’re an easy one to start out with, and you can even practice growing tomatoes in winter!

Tomatoes growing on a vine
Dan Gold/Unsplash

Is growing tomatoes indoors easy?

As long as you have a well-lit space (or artificial grow lights), growing tomatoes indoors should be no trouble for you. Tomatoes are a self-pollinating plant — meaning they don’t need any help from insects, wind, gardeners, etc. By growing tomatoes indoors, you’ll be able to enjoy fresh-picked, homegrown tomatoes all year long — even in the winter!

The biggest thing to take note of in an indoor space is how large the tomato plant will get. There are varieties that are better suited for growing on patios, and those may be the kind you want to bring indoors if you’re planning on growing them exclusively inside following the colder months. However, if all you have is the standard tomato plant or seeds you can get at any store, it’s still possible to grow them indoors. You’ll just have to be more mindful of where you put them and how many you decide to grow.

How do you care for indoor tomatoes?

Caring for indoor tomatoes requires the use of the brightest space in your house. South-facing windows are ideal for nice evening light; however, if your space is more dimly lit, and you still want to try growing tomatoes, it’s best to purchase some artificial grow lights (suited for vegetables) that will help your plants thrive!

To encourage a more bountiful harvest, it’s recommended to fertilize your tomatoes once a week. A liquid fertilizer is best for indoor plants, as that will allow the roots to directly absorb the nutrients without having to break anything down. Watering regularly and maintaining a consistent soil moisture will also help your tomatoes be the best they can be. You’ll know it’s time to water your plant when the first inch or two of top soil is dry.

Orange tomatoes on a vine

Can you grow tomatoes indoors during the winter?

Absolutely! With the right conditions, you’ll be able to grow thriving tomato plants indoors year-round. You can start with existing container tomato plants, or grow them from seeds to prepare them for the springtime. Caring for tomato plants during the winter is the same as any other time of the year, with the exception that you’ll want to make sure they stay in a warm-enough temperature. It may be best to keep them away from drafty areas of your home as best you can while still providing the needed amount of sunlight.

Growing tomatoes in winter may be easier with some varieties than others, depending on the conditions of your indoor environment. Most of these will be smaller varieties that are suited for deck gardens, smaller greenhouses, and container growing in general. Some of these varieties include the red robin tomato and the Florida petite tomato. Alternatively, you can also select a variety that can be grown in a hanging environment, creating a dynamic plant while providing you with a fresh harvest.

Do tomatoes grow better outdoors?

It depends on how you look at it. Tomatoes are typically a crop grown outdoors in warmer temperatures. This means that an outdoor garden can’t produce tomatoes once the cold settles in. That is the added benefit of growing and nurturing tomato plants indoors; however, the harvest is typically less than that of the outdoor crop (unless you’re growing in a greenhouse). This because there isn’t as much space indoors as there is outdoors, but still — fresh tomatoes in the winter are better than no fresh tomatoes at all.

If done right, you can start your winter season by extending your summer crop! By bringing the plants indoors (when possible), you’ll be able to keep your summer batch producing tomatoes for just a little bit longer while you set up your indoor space. Keep in mind these plants don’t produce tomatoes forever, so it will just be a small extension, and you will have to replace them with new plants when the time comes.

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