When to cover tomato plants is a worry that many tomato growers have. You should cover tomatoes as fall or frost approaches or if the weather forecasts there will be cold nights.
When growing tomatoes, you should protect them from temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. We have compiled information on when and how to cover tomato plants here.
- When is the Best Time to Cover Tomato Plants?
- At What Temperatures Will Tomato Plants Freeze?
- What To Do When Tomato Plants Gets Cold?
When is the Best Time to Cover Tomato Plants?
You should cover the plants during cold seasons like winter and fall or cold nights. Because the cold weather will reduce the plant’s growth due to the roots change in becoming weaker to develop in cold soil which is why frost is harsh for them.
Low temperatures also cause wilting of tomato leaves, making them more prone to diseases. You can also protect tomato plants from animals by covering them. The chicken wire, tall walls, or fabric covering reduces their chances of feeding on the tomatoes.
You should only cover your tomatoes when temperatures get below 40 or 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping the plants covered beyond those temperatures accumulates heat and can suffocate them and harm the mature tomatoes. Just as the heat or the climate changes again, that is when the weather will recover itself and when the spring sun gets warmer, you can take it off again.
Ensure you remove the covers in the morning and if the temperatures rise. Tomato plants survive at average temperatures, so they won’t require floating row covers. Uncovering also allows the leaves to breathe and receive direct sunlight.
Note that, if there is still an unexpected frost, keep the row covers until the temperatures rise to 50 degrees.
However, if you are covering during frost, plastics can be a bad idea, because the plant has already been subjected to it. When a part of the paper touches your plant, they cause the plant tissue to freeze, killing it.
Instead of plastic bags, cover the plant with drape blankets, bed sheets, or towels before throwing the plastic covering on top.
– Ways To Cover
The best way to use a plastic bag to protect your tomato plants is by layering it on top of a fabric cover. It creates better insulation to ensure cold does not get to the plant through the fabric’s tiny holes. Plastics cause suffocation, and they can block the stomata, reducing transpiration. This leads to the plant’s leaves withering and dying.
Always ensure the plastic paper does not touch any part of the plant, especially the leaves and stem. On another note, you can also use a fabric row cover to protect your tomatoes from frost. These vegetables could go bad, and the plants die during low temperatures. Consider a heavier fabric cover to keep tomatoes safe if it gets too cold.
You can also use homemade plant covers to protect your tomatoes from the cold weather. These include tomato cages, plastic wraps or blankets, and sheets. They also help to maintain the heat for young tomatoes to grow during cold climates.
At What Temperatures Will Tomato Plants Freeze?
Tomato trees will begin to show signs of freezing and withering when the temperatures are below 50 degrees. These low temperatures also damage flower and fruit production, meaning you will have low yields. Therefore, they make it a good time to protect tomatoes.
If you have been wondering, ‘should I cover my tomatoes at 40 degrees?’ the answer is yes, in this case as well, because you should do so to prevent from damaging the vegetables. Covering the plant protects it from freezing temperatures, ensures growth, and keeps diseases away.
It is also a perfect answer for gardeners wondering when to cover tomato plants at night. Your plants are not safe at lower than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Use clear plastic or a trap to maintain the tomato’s warmth.
What To Do When Tomato Plants Gets Cold?
When the tomato plant gets cold, you can grow them indoors, or place them in a heat box, to help them thrive again, in addition, you can also place them under some heating lights, and keep the soil moist, or even cover them at night so that they wouldn’t wilt.
– Grow Indoors
Besides covering tomato trees, you can protect them from frost by growing tomato seeds indoors. A perfect place to grow tomato seedlings is in a greenhouse. Ensure it has enough ventilation for air circulation during the day and for cooling.
Tomatoes can survive the winter, but you must put in some effort, and one of the best ways is to place them indoors. The plants don’t do well in cold areas and climates, meaning leaving them in the garden during winter could kill them. You can turn them into indoor plants until the period passes.
However, they won’t bear flowers and fruits during this time because these plants require enough light to produce. Once the winter is over, you can take your tomato plants outdoors in the garden and fertilize them to get more nutrients.
– Place a Heat Box
Another way to grow tomatoes safely is by building a heat box. These boxes are heated from the bottom, so they won’t allow your crops to suffer in the cold. Also, use water jugs to provide moisture to the potting soil. Water keeps some heat and releases it at night when the plants are freezing.
– Place Heating Lights
You can also offer frost protection to tomato trees by using some heating lights. They generate heat that warms up the garden to prevent freezing.
You can put them in the room you plant tomato trees or in the nursery. This way, they will have radiation passing and keeping the plant safe and warm, which would prevent them from becoming weak and withering.
– Keep the Soil Moist
Ensure you also water the plants in the afternoon. The moisture keeps the plant active and radiates heat at night when temperatures drop. However, keep checking the soil not to overwater your plants.
This is because when you water it excessively, it would lead the plant to more significant problems like root rot especially if the weather is cold.
– Cover the Seeds
Tomato plants can tolerate cold temperatures at night, but not below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, start tomato seeds in warm areas, or cover your seedlings or grown tomato trees when temperatures drop to freezing.
Check the temperature rise to note when the weather is favorable for your plants. Keeping them under the cover for a long time can cause stress to the leaves because of accumulated heat.
1. Can You Cover Tomato Plants in Spring?
Yes, you can cover tomatoes during spring if the nights are cold. Spring has warm temperatures suitable for tomato growth but also cold nights that can damage the plants. Covering traps day heat and maintains warmth during the night, lengthening the plant’s growing season.
2. Can You Cover Tomato Plants to Protect Them from Animals?
Yes, you can cover tomato plants if they are prone to animals. Fence the area with tall walls, or cover the plants with plastic mesh or chicken wire. You can also use plastic bags but ensure there is a fabric underneath. The coverings discourage animals from feeding on the plant, allowing it to yield better.
As a tomato grower, you must look for when to cover your plants. Use homemade plant covers like tomato cages, sheets, blankets, or row covers. From this article, you will realize that;
- Tomatoes don’t thrive well in low temperatures, and the fruit is vulnerable to diseases in cold seasons.
- You should cover your plants when temperatures get to 40 to 50 degrees to protect them.
- Tomatoes don’t do well in the cold, so covering them when there is frost keeps them warm and ensures continued growth. It also protects the fruit from pests and diseases.
- If you use plastic bags to cover tomatoes, ensure they don’t touch the plant’s leaves or stem to prevent molds and rot.
- You should uncover the plants when temperatures rise to prevent suffocation and rotting.
Keep checking the temperatures with a thermometer, and consider covering your tomatoes if they drop toward freezing.
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