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How to Make Your Tomato Plants Grow Faster for a Bumper Crop

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Tomatoes are one of my favorite summer crops, with every juicy fruit tasting like yummy sunshine bursts! However, waiting for tomatoes to grow and bear fruit can be frustrating at times, with it seeming to take forever from sowing our precious seeds until the first harvest. By discovering how to make tomato plants grow faster, you’ll feel overjoyed that your triffid-like plants are laden with ripe tomatoes way sooner than you could hope!

And – we have a few tips that can help.

Sound good?

Then let’s proceed. Speedy tomatoes await!

How Can I Speed Up the Growth of My Tomatoes?

Cordon tomato vine plants growing wildly in the garden.

Whether you sow tomatoes from seed or buy plug plants from the market, the first stages of growth can be tremendously slow. It isn’t until the summer months are in full swing that you see rapid growth, and even then, it can be approaching fall before you’re getting a bountiful harvest of delicious tomatoes.

But what if I told you about how you can speed up the tomato-growing process? Would you believe me? Because we grow over 15 varieties of tomato plants every year. And by utilizing some clever tricks to speed up vegetation, we reliably harvest tomatoes from early summer until late fall.

Our tomato plants are often at least 8 feet tall by winter, and we have enough canned tomatoes to see us right through until next year’s harvest.

The following tomato-growing tips can help you achieve the same.

What Helps Tomato Plants Grow Faster?

To understand how to make tomato plants grow faster, it helps to learn what stops or slows down the growth of tomato plants. Under anything but optimum growing conditions, the rate at which your tomato plants grow will be sluggish, as these somewhat fussy plants will sulk if everything isn’t quite to their liking.

The prime suspect with slow tomato plant growth is a lack of warmth. It wasn’t until I moved to a Mediterranean country that I realized how much tomatoes love sunshine – they grow incredibly well here! But if nighttime temperatures are low or the soil is still chilly from the winter, growth will inevitably be slow.

The ideal temperatures for growing tomatoes are 70 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit (21-26 C) during the day and 61 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit (16-18.5 C) at night. Regarding tomato soil temperature, the perfect temperature for tomatoes is 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (18.5-21 C).

Most gardeners plant their tomato seedlings in spring after the risk of frost has passed. But while icy weather is unlikely, air and ground temperatures are often too low for vigorous plant growth at this stage. So you’re chucking your carefully nurtured seedlings out into the cold, and they are guaranteed to sulk!

But how do you get around this problem? After all, it’s not like we can change the weather! Luckily, we can nurture our precious tomato plants through the warmer summer with a few little-known gardening tricks.

The first is to warm up the soil before seedlings get planted. Cloches, plastic sheets, or fleece can cover prepared garden beds from mid-spring, several weeks before the average last frost date for your area. Doing so will help lock the sun’s warmth into the ground, raising the soil temperature by several degrees.

Next, when your seedlings get planted into warm soil, they need some careful mollycoddling to get them through the final chilly weeks of late spring. Again, cloches or fleece can rest gently over these delicate little plants. Or you can make individual mini cloches out of plastic bottles. Read more about whether you can cover your plants with garbage bags to protect them from frost.

Covering them will create a conveniently warm microclimate around the plants, boosting growth and helping them get a head start.

If you use mulches such as a layer of straw to protect the ground from frost, remember that this can also slow down the rate at which the sun warms the soil in the spring. Pull back the mulch to allow the sun’s rays to penetrate the soil, replacing it later in the year when your plants are well established.

Are you having problems with animals or insects eating your tomatoes at night? Then read our epic article on the most common culprits that snack on your tomato fruits!

Fastest-Growing Tomato Cultivars

We’ve tried dozens of yummy tomato cultivars. While we love nearly all tomatoes, we want to share some of the fastest-growing cultivars. They are as follows.

Tomato Cultivar NameTomato TypeDays to Maturity
Amish SaladGrape Tomato55 to 65 days
Beaverlodge PlumPlum Tomato55 days
Bush Early GirlStandard Tomato65 days
Dr. CarolineCherry Tomato65 to 70 days
Early GirlStandard Tomato55 to 65 days
EnchantmentSalad Tomato60 to 70 days
First LadyStandard Tomato65 days
Gold NuggetCherry Tomato60 days
Ida GoldStandard Tomato60 days
Oregon SpringStandard Tomato55 to 65 days
PatioHybrid Tomato50 to 70 days
Quedlinburger Fruhe LiebeGerman Heirloom40 to 50 days
Red RobinCherry Tomato55 to 65 days
SiletzStandard Tomato70 to 75 days
Sophie’s ChoiceStandard Tomato55 to 60 days
Sub-Arctic PlentyCherry Tomato50 to 60 days
Super MarmandeStandard Tomato60 to 65 days
Sweet ChelseaCherry Tomato65 to 70 days
Sweet OliveGrape Tomato55 to 60 days
TaxiCherry Tomato55 to 70 days
TigerellaStandard Tomato55 to 70 days
Tiny TimCherry Tomato45 to 50 days
TumblerCherry Tomato50 days
Valley GirlHybrid Tomato65 days
Fastest-Growing Tomato Cultivars

As you can see, while Tiny Tim and Early Girl are two of the most famous fast-growing tomatoes – they aren’t the only options. We hope the list above helps you grow tomatoes early and often.

We also have many other gardening tips to help you grow tomatoes quickly.

How Much Water Do Tomatoes Need?

We should look at watering now that we’ve sorted the temperature levels. Tomatoes are thirsty plants, but it is vital to balance the water they get to give the optimum conditions for vigorous growth.

Newly planted young tomato plants need daily watering until they become well-established. After a few weeks, you can reduce this to watering two or three times per week, ensuring that the soil is completely saturated each time. The aim is to give them 1-2 inches of water weekly.

The trick with tomatoes is ensuring the water reaches deep into the ground. These plants will quickly develop an extensive root system, enabling them to grow flawlessly and focus their resources on fruit production. Rather than watering the soil surface, which can lead to stem rot, try one of these techniques instead:

  • Sink a plant pot into the ground next to each plant and water into it, ensuring the water goes straight to the roots.
  • Push an upturned plastic bottle with the bottom cut off into the soil and fill it with water. The water will slowly seep deep into the garden soil, helping to quench your tomato plant’s thirst.
  • Install a drip irrigation system (my undeniable favorite! Our drip irrigation has saved me around two hours a day this summer.).

Any of these methods will help to keep the deeper layers of soil damp, reducing the risk of problems such as blossom end rot and boosting the growth rate of your tomato plants.

Add a layer of organic mulch during the hottest summer months to maintain consistent moisture levels, and provide shade if your plants are at risk of being scorched by the sun during periods of extreme heat. Going the extra mile will reward you with succulent and juicy tomatoes – packed with summery sweetness!

Seed Needs | Multicolor Tomato Seed Packet Collection | 6 Individual Varieties for Planting

Here's an excellent and colorful assortment of heirloom tomato seeds. Cultivars include Yellow Pear, Beefsteak, Cherokee Purple, Red Zebra, Large Red Cherry, and Yellow Brandywine. The tomatoes have maturity dates ranging from 70 to 95 days - so with luck, you'll have oodles of delicious, flavorful tomatoes all season.

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Which Soil Is Best for Tomato Plants?

The type and quality of garden soil can impact the growth rate of tomato plants. If you think about it, you’re expecting that little tomato seedling to grow into a six-foot-plus plant with multiple trusses of juicy fruits – all that energy must come from somewhere!

As well as harnessing the sun’s rays, your homegrown tomato plants will take up vital nutrients from the soil. If these nutrients are not present, your plants will not thrive.

We’ve already established that tomato plants like regular water, but they will not enjoy being waterlogged. They need well-drained soil and tend to prefer sandy or loamy sites. Although tomatoes can be grown in clay soil, they will need a little helping hand with some simple soil amendments.

How Do I Improve My Tomato Soil?

Tomatoes are hungry plants and will grow fastest in soil containing a high proportion of well-rotted organic matter. They also like secure ground to get their roots into, helping to support these tall, top-heavy plants.

The ideal soil conditions for tomatoes are an established no-till garden bed mulched with a top dressing of well-rotted manure or compost. Their garden spot does not need to get dug in, although this may be beneficial if your soil is heavy clay.

Which Fertilizer Is Best for Tomato Growth?

Tomatoes are one of the few crops in our vegetable garden that require additional fertilizer. Sure. These heavy feeders would produce a reasonable harvest without a balanced fertilizer, but feeding them well gives us rapid growth and a more considerable cropping season with larger, juicier fruits.

However, too much fertilizer can be counterproductive, resulting in abundant leafy growth and a disappointing tomato crop. This overly-vegetative phenomenon is particularly evident if your fertilizer is high in nitrogen.

When buying fertilizer for tomatoes, look for a product specifically for tomatoes and other fruiting nightshade crops such as eggplant and bell peppers. Choosing suitable fertilizer will ensure the ideal balance of nutrients to give fast growth and larger fruit without risking the issues caused by excessive nitrogen.

What Is a Good Natural Fertilizer for Tomatoes?

You’ll find many ‘recipes’ for natural tomato fertilizers. But this study found that (pretty much) all types of organic fertilizers will boost tomato yields for quantity and quality. Those made from animal manures had the best results, but plant-based fertilizers were not far behind.

My favorite natural fertilizers for tomatoes are compost tea and comfrey tea, or a mixture of the two! These organic DIY fertilizers contain all the nutrients needed for healthy growth and fruit set without the problems associated with high nitrogen levels.

Excellent garden tomato fruit growing beautifully on the vine.

Other Top Tips to Boost Tomato Growth

With the perfect temperature, water, soil, and nutrients cracked, you’re on the right path to fast-growing tomato plants and an abundant harvest. But is there anything else you can do to speed things up a bit? Yes, absolutely!

  • Plant your tomato seedlings nice and deep: Tomato plants have an unusual ability to grow roots from their stems. By planting part of the stem under the soil surface, your plant will rapidly develop an extensive and robust root system, helping to support vigorous growth.
  • Give them space: Crowding is a common cause of poor growth in tomato plants, causing them to fight for essential sunlight and air circulation. Allow at least two feet between each plant, and don’t be tempted to squash surplus seedlings into the gaps!
  • Providing support: Rapidly growing plants must be well-supported, as they are highly susceptible to collapse. Place stakes early after planting your seedlings, and tie the plants regularly to keep them securely vertical.
  • Careful pruning: Not all tomato plants need pruning, but indeterminate tomato varieties benefit from having the side shoots pinched out. Removing these tomato suckers redirects growth vertically, resulting in faster growth.
  • Companion planting: Some plants have a symbiotic relationship, meaning they benefit from being grown next to each other. Commonly-grown tomato companions include marigolds, peppers, nasturtiums, basil, lettuce, and chives.

Conclusion

Thanks so much for reading our guide about how to make your tomato plants grow faster.

The Outdoor Happens team has tons of experience growing tomatoes from all over the planet. (Literally. From Australia to Greater Boston and Portugal to Kentucky. We have seen it all!)

We hope you found our speedy tomato-growing tips helpful. Remember that choosing an early-maturing tomato cultivar is half the battle.

What about you?

  • How long does it usually take you to grow and harvest tomatoes? How many days?
  • Will you try growing an early-maturing tomato cultivar within the next six months?
  • Early Girl is one of our favorite early-maturing tomato cultivars. What about you?
  • And finally – what is the BEST way to eat or cook garden tomatoes?

We would love to hear about your experience.

Thanks again for reading.

And have a great day!

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