Overwintering Tomatoes: Is It Worthwhile?

Is it possible to overwinter tomatoes? We explain whether it is worthwhile overwintering heat-loving plants and what conditions are needed.

Apr 09, 2021 02:22 pm
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Ripe tomatoes on a bush

Tomatoes thrive for many years in their native home, in our region they are usually cultivated annually

Is it possible to overwinter tomatoes? The answer is: usually not. However, there are circumstances where it may be possible to overwinter in a pot in the house. We have compile all the information you need on the subject.

Overwintering Tomatoes: Key points

It is generally not possible to overwinter tomatoes in our climes, as these plants require plenty of light and warmth and are grown annually in our region. You can try out overwintering balcony tomatoes that are still healthy in the fall. These should be robust, bush tomatoes in a pot. Place the plants in a bright place in the house or in a heated greenhouse. Keep the soil moist but not wet. Fertilize sparsely and check the tomatoes regularly for pests.

Can tomato plants be overwintered?

Tomatoes originate from South Africa, where they can be cultivated for several years thanks to the climatic conditions. However, in our region the plants are annual as they require warmth, and above all light, to thrive. It is usually not worthwhile overwintering tomatoes in our climes, as the plants simply cannot survive the cold times of year. They do tolerate brief temperature spells down to 33.8 degrees Fahrenheit, however they stop growing at temperatures below 48.2 degrees Fahrenheit. The thermometer needs to climb above 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit for them to form fruit. Plus: The typical red color of the fruit only develops over 89.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

A further problem for overwintering is that most tomatoes are already too heavily affected by blight by the end of the season. This is a fungal disease that mainly occurs outdoors. There are fewer infestations in greenhouses, however here, other (viral) diseases can afflict the tomato plants. As sick plants do not usually survive the winter, it is more advisable to sow new tomato plants every year.

How can tomatoes be overwintered?

You can test overwintering with small balcony tomato varieties grown in pots that are still healthy in the fall. The so-called bush tomatoes are the most suitable. However, they only grow to a certain height, around 23.62 inches, depending on the variety, and then finish with a flower bud. Important: Check the plants carefully beforehand for diseases and pests.

Tomato seedlings on a window ledge
A bright place on a window ledge is important for overwintering tomatoes. Grow lamps are also useful for preventing a lack of lighting.
Where can tomatoes be overwintered?

Tomatoes lasting out the winter on a window ledge

A robust and still healthy (!) specimen for the trial A bright place in the house, ideally on the window ledge of a south-facing window, is suitable for overwintering bush tomatoes. It can be helpful to improve the lighting relationship for the tomatoes with dedicated grow lamps. Leave the epicormic shoots on the plant and keep the soil moist but not wet when overwintering tomato plants. Fertilize extremely sparsely and check the tomato plants regularly for pests.

Overwintering Tomatoes In The Greenhouse

It may equally be worth trying to overwinter tomatoes in a heated greenhouse. Robust bush tomatoes are also the most suitable choice here. Ensure that the temperature is between 71.6 and 75.2 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter months and that there is plenty of light - grow lamps may also help here.