When to Plant Tomato Plants in Georgia?


Georgia has diverse microclimates, timing is everything. Knowing when to plant tomato plants in Georgia can give you a successful start.

Understanding Georgia's Climate

Georgia boasts multiple hardiness zones, ranging from Zone 6 to Zone 8. For most parts, mild winters transition to hot, humid summers. These are ideal conditions for many vegetable crops, including tomatoes.

However, the southeastern coastal areas experience more subtropical conditions compared to the mountainous regions in the north. In the early months, Georgia can still see frost. This is detrimental to young, tender seedlings. Therefore, transplanting the tomato seedlings outdoors too soon can lead to stunted growth and produce no fruit.

Best Tomatoes to Plant in Georgia

Best Tomatoes to Grow in Georgia

When choosing varieties, assess for disease resistance, growth habit, and fruit size. Some of the most popular and reliable choices are 'Celebrity', 'Better Boy', 'Porter', and 'Roma'.

Factors to Consider

For early planting, consider a determinate variety like 'Roma'. It does well in cool temperatures. If aiming for a mid-season harvest, 'Celebrity' and 'Better Boy' offer a solid mix of flavor and resilience. Those looking for an extended season might opt for an indeterminate type. For example, 'Porter' can continuous fruiting.

Preparing the Soil

Soil Testing and Amendment

Tomatoes in Georgia thrive in well-draining, fertile soil with a pH level between 6.2 and 6.8. Before planting in 15 gallon nursery pots, it's absolutely critical to prepare your soil.

You should test the soil. Adjust the pH level and specific nutrients if it’s necessary. You can use a soil test kit to collect samples from your planting area. Then, send it to your local extension office for analysis.

Instructions for Preparing the Soil

Adding compost or well-rotted manure can help improve soil structure and provide organic matter. Specific fertilizers can address any nutrient deficiencies indicated in your soil test. Work these amendments into the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches. Ensure they penetrate the root zone of your future tomato plants.

When to Plant Tomatoes in Georgia?

Early Spring Planting

Georgia's early spring can present a mixture of balmy days and frigid nights. A sudden frost can spell disaster for the young, tender seedlings. To mitigate risk, protect your plants in 7 gallon fabric pots with row covers or cloches.

Growing tomatoes in Georgia from mid-March to early May, after the last frost. When the soil temperature rises above 60°F, it's usually safe to plant. The University of Georgia Extension offers a wealth of information on soil thermometers and other tools. These can help pinpoint the best time for planting.

Late Spring Planting

If you miss the early window, late spring is not a time to despair. By early May, the threat of a killing frost is significantly reduced. Newly-planted tomatoes can benefit from a more stable climate.

The trade-off is a more compressed growing season. But planting tomatoes in georgia in late spring, tomatoes tend to mature during the warm, dry months. This is easier on the fruit.

Influencing Factors

The actual planting dates can vary due to micro-climates. Mountainous regions may have later plant dates due to cool temperatures. For example, the Blue Ridge. The coastal plains and piedmont may have an earlier window.

Select tomato varieties that are well-suited to Georgia's climate. Look for those that are indicated as "early," "mid," or "late" season. This can give you a cultivation time range that matches your planting schedule.

How to Grow Tomatoes in Georgia?

Planting Tomatoes in Garden Beds

Prepare your garden bed by weeding and loosening the soil. If your soil is acidic, work in some lime to balance the pH. Plant your seedlings in the late afternoon or on an overcast day. This can reduce transplant shock.

Gently remove the tomato plant from its 10 gallon flower pots. Teasing the roots if they're circling the pot. Place the plant in the hole. Filling in soil around the roots and stem. Pressing gently to secure the plant. Water well after planting to help settle the soil and hydrate the new roots.

Planting Tomatoes in Containers

When planting in containers, make sure they are clean to prevent diseases. Use a high-quality potting mix to ensure adequate nutrients and drainage. Ensure your transplants are well-watered after planting. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.

Spacing and Depth

Space determinate varieties about 18-24 inches apart. The indeterminate varieties about 24-36 inches apart to allow for air circulation. Dig a hole deep enough to bury most of the stem. Tomatoes can root along their entire stem, making for a sturdier plant.

Care and Maintenance

Watering Techniques

Tomatoes need about an inch of water per week, especially during the fruiting stage. Drip irrigation or soaker hoses can help maintain even moisture levels. They also prevent diseases that overhead watering may cause. Water early in the morning to avoid issues. For example, blight.

Mulching Benefits

Mulching can protect your soil from the intense Georgia sun. It also reduces moisture loss through evaporation. Organic mulches are excellent choices for tomatoes. For example, straw or pine needles. They can control weeds and maintain soil temperature. Mulch can also improve soil fertility over time as they decompose.

Tailored Fertilization

Before growing tomatoes in Georgia, work in a balanced fertilizer with a 5-10-10 NPK ratio. Side-dress your tomatoes with additional nitrogen when they start to set fruit. You should avoid over-fertilization. This can lead to excessive foliage at the expense of fruit production.

Pruning and Support

Regular pruning of suckers can help focus the energy on fruit production. Staking or caging your tomatoes can keep plants off the ground. This can improve airflow and reduce fungal diseases. Support structures should be sturdy enough to hold the weight of mature plants laden with fruit.

Pest and Disease Management

Identifying Common Pests and Diseases

Tomato hornworms, aphids, and whiteflies are just a few of the pests. Common diseases can also damage crops, especially in the humid months. For example, early blight and septoria leaf spot.

Control Strategies

You can use natural predators, traps, and resistant plant varieties before resorting to chemical solutions. For example, planting marigolds with your tomatoes can act as a natural pest deterrent. Good air circulation and proper plant spacing are key prevention methods for diseases.

Organic solutions are effective for managing pests. For example, neem oil and insecticidal soaps. If you do need to use chemical treatments, follow the instructions carefully. Be mindful of application timing to avoid harming beneficial insects.

Harvesting and Storage

Signs of Ripeness

Look for tomatoes in full color and feel slightly soft to the touch. Ripe tomatoes usually have a slight give when pressed. A gentle twist should allow the tomato to release from the vine easily.


Harvest tomatoes as needed. If you have a surplus, store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. You should avoid refrigeration. It can diminish the flavor and texture of your tomatoes.

Recipe Ideas

Celebrate your Georgia-grown tomatoes by incorporating them into local dishes. For example, fried green tomatoes, tomato pie, or a classic tomato sandwich with Duke's mayonnaise.


You will have a successful growing season with the best time to plant tomatoes in Georgia. Patience and proper preparation are key. So take the time to prepare your garden.