Tomatoes grow well in hot climates, but Louisiana’s extreme heat and humidity can make them susceptible to rot and fruit cracks.
For this reason, it’s essential to learn when to plant tomatoes in Louisiana before growing them here. Seeds should be sown around January 1 to March 15 or June 1 to July 1, while transplants will do well with a planting calendar of March 1 to May 1 and July 1 to August 15.
Estimate your gardening dates by reading our tips below.
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Best Time to Plant Tomatoes in Louisiana
1. In the spring, around January to May
- Tomatoes can wilt, become discolored, and even die under frost exposure. For this reason, the growing time for them is after the last spring frost.
- If you want to cultivate tomatoes without waiting for the weather to warm up, the only alternative is to sow seeds indoors four to six weeks before the final frost. The seedlings will be transplantable once they are nine inches tall and night temperatures measure above 50℉.
Additionally, we recommend hardening off the young tomatoes for a week before moving them outside to a permanent location.
Give the plants partial sun for two hours during the first day, then increase the duration they spend outside by an hour every subsequent day. This step will minimize transplant shock and help your crops grow better.
To determine when to raise tomato, look up your final frost date and use our guidelines above for calculation.
Abbeville in south Louisiana has its last bout of ice around February 28, for example, making March 1 a suitable time for growing tomatoes outdoors.
We’ve listed the freeze estimates for some locations in Louisiana below.
|Location||Average last frost||Average first frost|
|Abbeville||February 28||November 27|
|Avondale||February 2||December 23|
|Chalmette||February 23||December 3|
|Destrehan||February 8||December 17|
|Franklin||February 25||November 29|
|Shreveport||March 7||November 16|
2. In summer and fall, from June to August
Given tomatoes’ mediocre cold tolerance, it’s vital to plant them early enough so that the fruits mature before winter frost arrives.
Typically, people will harvest summer and fall tomatoes in Louisiana up until the first freeze or November and December.
You should deduct your variety’s maturation length from the first frost where you live to find the latest planting date.
Generally speaking, tomato seeds will finish growing in 100 days, while transplants require approximately 60 days to mature. If we consider Louisiana’s hardiness zones of 8 to 10 in our calculation, we have the gardening dates below.
|Hardiness region||Average first frost||Seed planting date||Transplanting date|
|8||November 7||July 30||September 8|
|9||November 25||August 17||September 26|
|10||Rare||Any time is technically possible due to the lack of frost. Avoid sowing under day temperatures of 90℉ to prevent heat damage.|
However, residents of southern Louisiana will typically grow tomato seeds in July and transplant seedlings in August, while those in northern parts of the state will do these tasks about a month earlier.
Tips for Growing Tomatoes Successfully in Louisiana
1. Select the right plant varieties
The best tomatoes to grow are those that have been tested and proven to perform well in Louisiana’s climate. You can pick from both determinate and indeterminate tomatoes, depending on how much space you have and your harvest preference.
Determinate cultivars require less staking and fruit once in the entire growing season, while indeterminate types are taller (growing up to 12 feet rather than 4 feet) and produce fruits multiple times throughout the year until the first frost.
If you must grow tomatoes in containers and dislike pruning crops, determinate varieties are the better choice.
Overall, here is a list of tomatoes that suit Louisiana:
- Indeterminate – Big Beef, Jet Star, Sun Gold, Better Boy, Monte Carlo
- Determinate – BHN 876, Celebrity, Floralina, Mountain Spring, Olympic, Tribeca, Spitfire
- Heat-resistant – Florida 91, Solar Set, Solar Fire, Heatwave II, Sun Leaper
- Others – Picus Roma, Sun Gold Cherry, Cupid, Royal Chico, Roma
2. Follow the planting guide below
- Tomatoes prefer loamy, humus-rich soil with a pH of 6 to 7 and eight hours of direct sun per day. Apply five pounds of an 8-24-24 fertilizer every 100 feet of rows before planting, or follow the recommendation of your soil test for nutritional amendments.
- Loosen the planting medium down to six inches and sow seeds at a depth of ⅛ inch. Tomatoes should be 16 to 24 inches apart, and it’s ideal to select transplants with equal widths and lengths, green foliage, and no flowers.
- You can put the tomatoes into the soil horizontally if they are too tall, but avoid burying or removing the leaves. Submerge the white roots only.
- At the same time, tie your tomatoes to stakes using pieces of soft cloth, and mulch them with two to three inches of pine straw to preserve moisture.
- Give the plants one to two inches of water per week, and side-dress them when the fruits set and every month thereafter with a tablespoon of an all-purpose fertilizer.
- If using containers, ensure they have drain holes and a potting mix. Opt for five-gallon receptacles 20 inches wide, and water the plants daily in the morning.
Determining when to plant tomatoes in Louisiana is straightforward if you know your frost dates. Remember—tomatoes grow best under 70 to 85℉ during the day and at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit at night.
Avoid exposing them to strong winds, and put your plants in a south or west-facing location if possible. Doing so will give tomatoes the best chance to grow and bear fruits.
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