Lycopersicon esculentum

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 2 Professionals
Common Name: tomato
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Solanaceae
Native Range: South America
Zone: 10 to 11
Height: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: Flowers not showy
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual, Vegetable
Flower: Insignificant
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Tolerate: Rabbit

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained garden soils in full sun. Prefers moist, humusy, deep, fertile loams. Select varieties that are resistant to verticillium (“V”) and fusarium (“F”) wilts. Start indoors in spring from seed 5-6 weeks before last frost date or purchase starter plants in cell packs for planting outside after last frost date. Seed can be sown directly in larger patio containers outside around the last frost date. For large plantings of standard size tomatoes, consider planting in rows that are 4-5’ apart. Space plants every 2-4’ within each row, depending on type. Plants may be spaced 1.5’ apart if staked, caged or otherwise supported. For supported tomatoes, consider removing suckers to limit plants to 1-2 central stems. Mulching root zone helps reduce weeds and retain moisture. Water plants regularly throughout the growing season. Select varieties that mature at different times to maximize total harvest time. Crop rotation from year to year helps cut down on diseases. For additional information on the growing of tomatoes in Missouri, see Fresh Market Tomatoes (University of Missouri Extension publication - G6370), which is available for inspection and/or purchase at the Kemper Center Information Desk.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Tomatoes are tender perennials that are grown in vegetable gardens as annuals for their fruits. Varieties are either determinate (bushy with fruit produced at terminal buds) or indeterminate (more vine-like with indefinite stem growth). Numerous varieties are available in commerce. In addition to standard size tomatoes, gardeners can also grow, inter alia, cherry/grape tomatoes, large-fruited tomatoes and pear-shaped tomatoes. Novelty (e.g., yellow and orange-skinned) and heirloom (old fashioned varieties) tomatoes are also available.

Genus name comes from the Greek words lykos meaning a wolf and persicon meaning a peach originally the name of an Egyptian plant, later transferred to this American genus.

Specific epithet means edible or good to eat.

Problems

Disease problems include anthracnose, bacterial spot, early blight, fusarium wilt, late blight, verticillium wilt and viruses. Insect pests include tomato hornworms, tomato fruitworms, stinkbugs, aphids, Colorado potato beetles, flea beetles, cutworms and whiteflies. Nematodes can be a problems in some areas. Watch also for physiological disorders such as blossom end rot, catfacing, blossom drop, leaf roll and sunscald.

Garden Uses

Tomatoes have no ornamental value for the landscape. They are grown primarily in vegetable gardens or containers for their fruits.