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How to Grow Tomatoes in Arizona – 10 Tips for Growing Tomatoes

How to grow tomatoes in Arizona - 10 tips for growing tomatoes #tomatoes #arizonagardening #howtogrowtomatoes The low desert of Arizona includes cities in and around Phoenix, including Glendale, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Peoria, Apache Junction, Buckeye, Fountain Hills, Tolleson, Surprise, Sun City, Queen Creek, and Goodyear.

Learning how to grow tomatoes may feel overwhelming. Entire books have been written about growing tomatoes, but these 10 tips will fast-track you to tomato-growing success. 

The taste of homegrown tomatoes is the reason many people begin a garden. In the United States, it is said that more gardeners grow tomatoes than any other vegetable.

Wondering about how to grow tomatoes in Arizona, the low desert and other hot climates? Keep reading, there is plenty of information for you too!

The low desert of Arizona includes cities in and around Phoenix, including Glendale, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Peoria, Apache Junction, Buckeye, Fountain Hills, Tolleson, Surprise, Sun City, Queen Creek, and Goodyear.


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10 Tips for How to Grow Tomatoes


Tip #1 for Growing Tomatoes: Choose a tomato variety suited for your tastebuds and climate

How to Grow Tomatoes in Arizona - 10 Tips for Growing Tomatoes The low desert of Arizona includes cities in and around Phoenix, including Glendale, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Peoria, Apache Junction, Buckeye, Fountain Hills, Tolleson, Surprise, Sun City, Queen Creek, and Goodyear.

Decide which type of tomato you want to eat. Different types of tomatoes are suited for eating fresh, canning, making salsa, or cooking

For the best chance of success, choose a type of tomato suited to your climate as well. Because of the heat of Arizona summers, we have a short growing season. Look for plants with short (60-90) days to maturity. These are often types with small to medium fruit or Roma or paste varieties. Varieties highly recommended for desert climates like Arizona include Punta Banda, Celebrity, Pearson, and Cherokee Purple. 

Different climates have other considerations and growing conditions. Ask a local grower for varieties that do well in your area.

The low desert of Arizona includes cities in and around Phoenix, including Glendale, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Peoria, Apache Junction, Buckeye, Fountain Hills, Tolleson, Surprise, Sun City, Queen Creek, and Goodyear.

Tip #2 for How to Grow Tomatoes: Plant tomatoes at the correct time

To give tomato plants the best chance for success, plant tomatoes right after the last spring frost date. For the low desert of Arizona, this is usually around February 15th For this planting start seeds indoors from December 15 – January. 

The low desert of Arizona includes cities in and around Phoenix, including Glendale, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Peoria, Apache Junction, Buckeye, Fountain Hills, Tolleson, Surprise, Sun City, Queen Creek, and Goodyear.

Once planted, if necessary, protect plants from cold nighttime temperatures. Plant tomatoes in the morning, so tomatoes have the day to settle in before cooler nighttime temperatures. 

There is a second (monsoon) planting window for planting tomatoes in the low desert of Arizona at the end of July through mid-August. For this planting start seeds indoors from May 15 – June. 

Once planted protect plants from high daytime temperatures with a shade cloth. Plant tomatoes in the evening, so tomatoes have the cooler evening to settle in before hot daytime temperatures. 

The low desert of Arizona includes cities in and around Phoenix, including Glendale, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Peoria, Apache Junction, Buckeye, Fountain Hills, Tolleson, Surprise, Sun City, Queen Creek, and Goodyear.

Tomatoes grow best in temperatures of 70℉ to 90℉ with nighttime temperatures consistently above 55℉. In Arizona, you want tomatoes to flower and set fruit before it gets too hot. Once temperatures reach 90℉, tomato pollen is not viable. Fruit that has set will continue to mature, but new fruit will not set if pollen is not viable. 


Tip #3 for Growing Tomatoes: Plant tomatoes in the right location

  • The most important requirement for productive tomatoes is plenty of sunshine.
  • Give tomatoes full sun for the entire plant with adequate growing space around each plant for air circulation.
  • Allow 2 feet between each plant for healthy and productive plants.
  • Do not plant tomatoes in the same location year after year. Rotate the location to prevent build-up of disease in soil.  

Tip #4 for How to Grow Tomatoes: Prepare soil correctly

Tomatoes need soil rich in organic matter; make a habit of amending your soil with compost. Good drainage is important as an area with standing or puddling water invites disease. Prepare your soil correctly and your plants will thank you. If you are growing tomatoes in raised beds, this article talks about the best soil for raised beds


Tip #5 for Growing Tomatoes: Plant tomato seedlings deeply

Planting deeply encourages a more extensive root system and a healthier plant.

  • Remove the bottom 2/3 of leaves on the tomato transplant.
  • Dig a shallow trench or deep hole (depending on depth of planting bed) and plant transplant so that only top leaves are above the ground.
  • Roots will grow along the entire stem of the plant.
  • Bear in mind that after planting the tomato, plants may appear to do nothing for a bit- but they are growing roots.

Tip #6 for How to Grow Tomatoes: Mulch tomato plants well

Use compost, straw, leaves, or pine needles to reduce evaporation and insulate the soil from extreme hot and cold temperatures; soil will stay at a more even temperature. 

Mulching helps control weeds, and plants will not have to compete with weeds for water and nutrients. Most mulch ultimately becomes fertilizer as it decomposes into the soil around the plant.

How to Grow Tomatoes: Mulch tomato plants well


Tip #7 for Growing Tomatoes: Water tomato plants correctly

  • Water early in the day to prevent excessive evaporation.
  • It’s best to water at the soil level so leaves do not get wet. Wet leaves encourage disease.
  • Water to a depth of at least 12 inches to encourage roots to grow deep in the soil to find nutrients and moisture. 
  • Water slowly and deeply.
  • Deep, extensive roots help plants withstand dry spells.
  • Water regularly as needed, but do not allow plants to become soggy as plant roots need oxygen. How often you water depends on your soil and the weather conditions. Water deeply each time you water and then let the top few inches dry out a bit before watering again. During the hottest months of the summer that might mean every day. During the winter that often means every 7-10 days.

Tip #8 for How to Grow Tomatoes: Feed tomato plants

When planting, if your soil is low in phosphorus it’s important to provide a source of phosphorus (bone meal or rock phosphorus) and again as plants begin to bloom and produce fruit. A soil test can determine if your soil is low is phosphorus. Without proper fertilization, plants do not produce well and are prone to weeds (which invite pests and other diseases).

Once tomatoes set fruit feed them about once a month. Tomatoes do best with regular feeding from organic sources of fertilizer. I feed mine with a diluted fish emulsion/seaweed fertilizer.

How to Grow Tomatoes: Feed tomato plants

Tip #9 for Growing Tomatoes: Provide support for growing tomato plants

It’s important to encourage tomatoes to grow vertically.

Growing Tomatoes: Provide support for growing tomato plants
  • Growing tomatoes vertically keeps the plant upright, and prevents the stems from breaking from heavy fruit or wind.
  • Trellising tomatoes also keeps the leaves off the ground which helps reduce diseases.
  • Fruit is easier to harvest when it is off the ground as well. 
Growing Tomatoes: Provide support for growing tomato plants

Tip #10 for Growing Tomatoes: Provide shade for tomato plants in extreme climates like Arizona

Provide shade for tomato plants in extreme climates like Arizona
Provide shade for tomatoes in extreme heat

Your plants may need a little help to get through a long, hot summer in the low desert of Arizona.

  •  Shade can reduce the air temperature for tomatoes by several degrees, and it also extends the growing season.
  • Providing shade in desert climates helps reduce stress on tomato plants, and can prevent sunscald on ripening tomatoes.
  • Shaded tomato plants are more likely to survive the extreme heat of the desert, and may perform better when cooler temperatures return in the fall.
Provide shade for tomato plants in extreme climates like Arizona
Sunscald on tomatoes

How to grow a vegetable garden in Arizona #arizonagardening #arizonagarden #desertgardening #hotweathergarden #howtogarden

Want more information about gardening in Arizona? This blog post shares 7 tips for  how to grow a vegetable garden in Arizona


If you found this post about how to grow tomatoes in Arizona helpful, please share it:


Sherry

Thursday 14th of July 2022

Tip 7 states to water regularly. How often is that in Arizona. I am used to gardening in Utah. Tip 8 says to feed plants every 2-3 weeks, what do you feed them with?

Angela Judd

Tuesday 19th of July 2022

How often you water depends on your soil and the weather conditions. Water deeply each time you water and then let the top few inches dry out a bit before watering again. During the hottest months of the summer that might mean every day. During the winter that often means every 7-10 days. I feed my plants with diluted fish or seaweed fertilizer.

Lynn

Sunday 3rd of July 2022

Your site is absolutely wonderful. So informative and easy to follow. I have a some questions from an old gardener but from the East Coast. In Ma. we had a small farm and grew wonderful vegetables. Fast forward I moved here in Sept. 2020 and last year with a friend tried to grow tomatoes, pole beans, cucumbers inside in the AZ. room. I can't garden outdoors, I'm in a rental house in Sun City West and the yard is all ornamental rocks. The Az. room is East facing in the morning and the sun shifts to the West in the afternoon. I started with seeds and after the 2nd set of leaves started taking them out onto to the patio. I would take them out at 6am and bring them back in between 9 and 10 am, didn't know then what to plant and not to and the 3 separate growing seasons. Then the gnats hit and I lost everything before the plants were even 6 inches tall. So I gave up for the season after cleaning every pot and discarding the soil. I have since read some info. from the State and decided to try again. In April this year, we started and the seeds took off like gang busters giving me hope. Then the plants started to stagnate and stopped growing. The gnats even returned and I did not put any plants outdoors at all. All the plants were set 1 feet back from the windows and when they started to have burned leaves we moved them to 3 feet back. Now they are stagnate again even the geraniums are losing their green and some leaves are turning light green. I have 4 tomato seedlings that are still alive and are still 4 inches tall, darnest thing I've ever seen. I would love some help, I am determined to grow some veggies again. You can call me also. Thanks and have a great 4th.

Angela Judd

Monday 4th of July 2022

Hi. If they stop growing they may need larger containers or more nutrients. This blogpost may help: https://growinginthegarden.com/when-and-how-to-pot-up-seedlings/

Dallas

Thursday 2nd of June 2022

Here it is the beginning of June, I started my tomato plants from seeds back in February or early March and I had four fairly healthy looking plants come in. Once their roots began growing out of their peat pots I transplanted them into the garden and at first it looked like three of the four took, but now I’m down to one. I don’t recall off hand the variety I planted, but the one survivor never blossomed and with the heat setting in I’m guessing I won’t be getting any fruit off this plant. So now I’m trying another round and have started a half dozen pots with Romas and four more of the other kind. If they aren’t blossoming, does that sound like my soil needs amending? This is the first year I’ve tried growing, for what it’s worth.

Angela Judd

Friday 3rd of June 2022

My guess is timing. I start seeds indoors in late December or January so they are in the ground right after frost. This gives them plenty of time to get established and produce a crop before the heat. The second outdoor planting window (and my favorite time to plant) is here in late July or August. I'm starting seeds indoors right now for that planting. The plants settle in and grow and then once temps cool the pollen will be viable and ready to set fruit.

Leslie

Friday 6th of May 2022

Thank you Angela for sharing all your wisdom. I have learned so much from your website and videos! It is very difficult to find gardening advice that pertains to Arizona gardening so you are a rare gem. Would you consider writing more specifics about the second “monsoon” planting of tomatoes. Specifically, how to you harden off seedlings in such hot weather and should you use shade cloth beginning at planting? Thank you!

m

Wednesday 20th of April 2022

Do you recommend growth bag for tomatoes in Chandler? how many gallon growth bag? Thanks.

Angela Judd

Thursday 21st of April 2022

Yes. At least 10 gallons of soil. Here is a blogpost that may be helpful: https://growinginthegarden.com/gardening-in-grow-bags-5-tips-for-success/