There is nothing quite like enjoying a homegrown tomato alongside your meal during a warm summer’s day. But the tomato plant is an annual that will die due to the cold climate of winter. I wanted to know if I could keep the plant alive if I bring it indoors for the winter.
You can bring a tomato plant inside for the winter by taking 3-4 cuttings and placing them in water. You need to grow the plant indoors near a window that gets good sunlight. And you need to keep it growing by providing the required water, soil, and nutrients.
Fortunately for you, your favorite tomato plant that you have worked so hard to foster during the spring, summer, and fall does not have to fall due to the freezing temperatures in winter. Instead, you can save this your pride and joy tomato plant by giving it a temporary indoor home. Just be sure to provide the additional care to this plant that it will need in an indoor environment. Read on to learn a bit more about bringing your tomato plant inside for the winter.
What is the Lowest Temperature Tomatoes can Tolerate?
Before you consider bringing your tomatoes indoors, you might be curious how long into the winter they will last in their outdoor home. If you are an avid gardener, then you likely know what happens to tomatoes in the cold. But, if you are new to the game, then this might be a venture that is exciting yet nerve-wracking.
It is well-known that tomato plants will perish below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit), though some might miraculously survive at temperatures right above. However, you will likely notice issues with at least a few of your tomato plants once temperatures reach below 50 degrees Fahrenheit- especially if these temperatures are sustained throughout the course of the day.
Because of this, you need to consider alternatives to the outdoor environment in which you would have been cultivating your beautiful tomato plants for several months. You can consider calling it a day once the warm-weather season is over, or you can consider moving your tomato plants indoors or to a greenhouse.
Regardless of which decision you choose, you will want to pay attention to the weather a bit more closely than usual once the colder months are in view. It can be extremely upsetting for an early frost to wreak havoc on your tomato (and other) plants unexpectedly. So, to be sure to avoid this, you will need to be mindful of the expected weather conditions as early as the late summer months.
Can I Bring Tomato Plants Inside?
Whether you are looking to avoid the winter frost, or you are simply looking for a more convenient hike from your bedroom and want to avoid the outdoor conditions, you might be considering bringing your tomato plants inside.
Fortunately, you can bring your tomato plants inside if you follow a few precautions. You will need appropriately sized containers that can easily drain, and you need to ensure proper amounts of water and high-quality fertilizer for your crop. Additionally, you should expect a smaller yield as indoor tomatoes do not have the environmental conditions necessary for a high yield.
However, bringing your tomato plants inside can be a convenient way to reach your plants, and it can help to save your favorite tomato plants from the cold weather in the winter months. Just be sure that you have realistic expectations and a system in place before you begin to transplant your tomatoes.
How Do You Keep Tomato Plants Alive in the Winter?
Since tomatoes (similar to most plants) are harmed by the frosty temperatures in the winter, it is important to take precautionary steps for securing their livelihood. This needs to be done delicately, as precision will help you to maintain your green thumb in this scenario.
There are a few things that you need to do to keep tomato plants alive in the winter. First, you can bring them inside or to a greenhouse. To do this, you will take 3-4 cuttings, place them in water, plant them near the sun, and provide water, soil, and careful inspection.
Each of these steps has important components in caring for the plants, so it is important to follow each one as closely as possible and be mindful of taking caution when working with your favorite tomato plants. After all, you have worked hard to keep your tomato plants alive during the summer. It would be a shame to see them perish in the cold winter months, especially after putting in that much work.
Take 3-4 Cuttings
Taking the cuttings from your tomato plant is the first step in keeping the plant alive during the winter. Of course, this means that you will not be bringing in your entire stalk. In essence, you will be “restarting” your tomato plants by keeping the same branch going in a newly planted location.
To take a cutting of a tomato plant, find the shoot between two branches and cut as close to the base (at the sucker) as possible. Remove the additional branches and leave only 3-4 leaves at the top. Be sure to leave between 6-12 inches on the main cutting so that your plant will begin with a long enough stem.
You do not have to take 3-4 cuttings, as one will do the trick, but it is recommended to take multiple in case something goes wrong with one of them. For example, if one experiences fungal decay or rot, but you have a few backups, then your initial efforts (that were relatively minimal) in taking a few extra cuttings will well pay off.
Place the Cuttings Appropriately
You will want to put the cuttings into deep enough water so that the roots have plenty of room to grow. Try to provide at least 6 inches of water, if not more, such as in a water bottle. You might be surprised at how deep the roots will grow, but you will want these healthy roots to continue the life of your favorite tomato plant. Ample space is vital.
Next, the location of your plants is imperative to their livelihood. When the cuttings are in the water, as well as when they are eventually planted into fertilizer, they need to be near a sunny window. You likely will not see success with your tomato plants if you leave them in a cool and damp environment. Instead, find a sunny spot in your home and proudly show them off.
Provide for Your Tomato Plants
Your tomato plants need some tender loving care, especially when they are indoors during the cold winter months. There are a few main components that need to be provided for your tomato plants. These include fertilizer, moisture, and inspection.
When considering fertilizer, the healthier, higher quality fertilizer you use, the healthier your plants are likely to be. There are general recommendations for how large your planting containers should be, so be sure to review the specifications depending on the size of your plant. Generally speaking, it should not be too difficult to find an appropriate container for your beginning tomato plant indoors in the winter.
Next, you will need to provide adequate moisture. Any avid gardener knows that fungus and rot are two of the most frustrating things that can occur to your tomato plants.
Often, these occur because there is no proper drainage system with your tomato plants. So, be sure to have plenty of drainage holes and some type of container to catch the water (unless you plan on having a sopping wet floor during the winter.
With this moisture and the potential for rot and fungal decay, it is important to daily monitor your tomato plants. These are not plants that you can walk away and forget about. They simply will not flourish. But, with close “supervision”, your favorite tomato plant can survive even the toughest winter indoors
Here are some of my favorite container gardening tools
Thank you for reading this post. I hope it helps you with your gardening needs. I’ve listed some tools below that can help you with container gardening. These are affiliate links so I’ll earn a commission if you use them.
Gardening Gloves – I find the Pine Tree Tools Bamboo Gardening Gloves really good for both men and women. It’s made from bamboo so helps absorb perspiration. They are also comfortable and fit very well.
Containers – You know picking the right container is crucial for your container gardening. I’ve written a detailed post on the best containers you can choose from. If you’re happy with a plastic container, you can check out the Bloem Saturn Planter.
Watering Can – This is a must-have tool when you’re growing plants in pots or grow bags. It helps to water the potting soil without splashing on the foliage. The Kensington Watering Can is stylish, strong, and can provide precision when watering potted plants.
Trowel – Garden Guru Trowel is my favorite because it’s durable and comfortable to use. My gardening friends really love having a trowel because they use it for digging soil, mixing fertilizer, moving seeds, leveling out the soil, mixing compost or mulch, and also dividing tubers
Bypass Pruner – I really like the Corona Bypass Pruner because it’s durable and gives a clean cut that helps plants recover faster. If you’re looking for something cheap, get the Fiskars Bypass Pruner that is really good as well.
To see an extensive list of the best container gardening tools gardeners recommend, check out this resource that I made for you.
Kevin is the founder of Gardening Mentor, a website that aims to teach people to grow their own food in a limited space. As a self-taught gardener, Kevin has spent several years growing plants and creating gardening content on the website. He is certified in Home Horticulture and Organic Gardening by expert gardeners from Oregon State University.