Knowing when to plant tomatoes in NC can help you prepare your seedlings for the summer and avoid squandering time, money, and opportunities for growing the plant.

Right Season for a Good Yield

To prevent rotting tomatoes from cold temperatures, flowering delays, soil depletion and a high presence of pests that might affect tomatoes, it is crucial to grow the produce at the appropriate time of year.

This complete guide gives you all the information required to know the best time to plant tomatoes in North Carolina so that you know the NC tomato growing schedule if you live in the area.

You can better plan your schedule with these planting tips this coming season, so continue reading to learn more about the topic!

When Should You Plant Tomatoes in NC?

You should plant and grow tomatoes in North Carolina in the early spring season as long as the risk of frost has passed. Zones 7b to 8a of the USDA encompasses North Carolina and tomatoes can be planted beginning in mid-April. This pertains to planting tomato plants outdoors.

To know when to plant tomatoes before growing full-fledged tomato plants, keep an eye on the temperature and weather forecast and wait for a night without frost.

– North Carolina Tomato Planting Season

The NC planting tomato season considers the 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) threshold, the lowest temperature tomatoes can take.

At least six weeks before the latest day of frost, seeds should be sown indoors. When two weeks have passed since the last date of frost in your area, you can transplant them outside, but only if the tomato seedlings are ready.

It is in the summer months that most people prefer to plant tomatoes. But which summer month is ideal for growing tomatoes in your backyard? It would be best if you begin planting tomatoes between April and mid-May<span style=”font-weight: 400;”> for the full heat of the sun without the risk of experiencing cold days.

– Perfect Temperatures at Which Tomatoes Will Thrive

Tomatoes grow at ideal temperature conditions of mild to warm. During the day, they thrive in between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees to 27 degrees Celsius) environments.

The soil should maintain a temperature range of 60 degrees to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 21 degrees Celsius), while tomatoes prefer nighttime temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (15 and 21 degrees Celsius). Tomatoes won’t perish at temperatures as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). 

There will be little growth, and prolonged exposure to colder temperatures may significantly inhibit the plant’s development. The last frost date and the type of tomato you are growing are the two main factors determining when to plant tomatoes in North Carolina.

You must pick tomato cultivars that can thrive throughout the sweltering North Carolina summer. In North Carolina, it is encouraged to plant tomato varieties like Roma tomato, Cherokee Purple, Early Girl, Green Zebra, Better Boy, Big Beef or Grape Tomatoes.

It would be a waste to plant tomato seedlings that turn out to be unable to handle the weather conditions in your location.

Farm Worker Spraying Tomato Plant

– How Long Does It Take for Tomatoes To Grow in North Carolina?

It takes tomatoes around 60 to 100 days to grow in North Carolina, but this will largely depend on the variety of tomato you are growing as well as the specific region in NC where you are located. These are the primary determinants in deciding how long tomatoes will grow.

With this in mind, tomatoes may require 10 to 20 extra days to grow in Asheville and 70 to 80 extra days to grow in Raleigh.

– Assess the Frost Date

Tomatoes may bloom late if planted too late. When this happens, it can experience problems because its blooming period tends to coincide with the first frost.

To avoid it, you also need to pay attention to the onset of the frost date in the year you planted the tomatoes. You would want to harvest the tomatoes before the first frost date, so start planting on time.

Additionally, tomatoes can suffer if they are grown before the latest date of frost. Most tomatoes perish from rotting because they can’t resist extremely cold temperatures.

The soil might be impacted by planting too late, so assessing the frost dates is vital. Make sure the tomatoes you plant will not be impacted by the freezing temperatures of frost.

– Avoid Transplanting Tomatoes Too Early

New tomato growers frequently plant outdoors too early in the growing season. Furthermore, because North Carolina’s last frost dates can occasionally be much later, tomato growers must act quickly to protect their tomatoes in the event of an unexpected freeze. 

If you suspect frost and have already planted your tomatoes outdoors in North Carolina, the best chance you have now is to cover the young tomatoes with burlap or any other winter protection material.

If the frozen leaves are exposed to the sun, the plant will die, and young plants will lose their foliage due to the rapid heating action on the frozen leaves.

If your tomatoes are left unprotected throughout the night and there is frost in the morning, you can save the plants if you thaw them out with warm water in the morning before the sun rises, but you will have to act fast.

– Dates of the Last North Carolina Frost

Zone 8a of the USDA Hardiness Scale is where North Carolina falls. In North Carolina, around April 10th is the expected final frost date; however, the date differs between places and could alter significantly in the following years due to climate changes.

To determine how long you have to grow and harvest tomatoes in your region, you should also consider the first frost date. The first frost typically occurs on October 30th

If you want to learn when to plant tomatoes in Raleigh, NC or when to plant tomatoes in Charlotte, NC, then the specific final and first frost dates are listed below. 

  • Charlotte’s first and last frost dates are October 28th and April 11th, respectively.
  • Raleigh’s first and last frost dates are April 8th and October 29th.
  • Greensboro’s first and last frost dates are April 10th and October 31st.
  • Durham’s first and last frost dates are October 29th and April 10th, respectively.
  • Winston-first Salem’s and last frost dates are November 3rd and April 7th, respectively.


When Is the Best Time to Plant Tomato Seeds Indoors in NC?

The best time to plant tomato seeds indoors in North Carolina is February to March, as long as the risk of frost has gone. Starting the seedlings as early as February gives them a head start when it comes to the growing season, making it beneficial for the tomatoes.

Starting your tomatoes from seedlings might be advisable if you are a novice gardener and need help judging the temperature. However, all you need to do is to water your tomato seedlings at least every other day to get healthy growth and fruit quality.

Tomato seedlings need at least 12 hours of sunlight each day to produce tiny leaves. If you wish to begin with seeds, start them indoors on a windowsill, or you can do it outdoors as well.

Fresh Cherry Tomato Plant

– Indoor Tomato Seedling Planting Season

Tomato seeds can be put indoors as early as February, giving them a head start in the growing season. After the risk of frost has gone, you can later transplant the seedlings into your garden on a day when the sun is not as hot in the afternoon to help the plant acclimatize.

Depending on where you reside in North Carolina, you may also begin sowing tomato seeds indoors around the first week of March. You can start tomato seeds, seedlings, or transplants outside when the soil temperature is consistently above 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius).

To grow healthy and thriving tomato plants from seedlings, make sure to keep the seeds warm; average room temperature should be fine.

Spray the seedlings twice every day to give them enough moisture and nutrients to sprout, then move them to a sunny corner when they have broken the soil. From this point on, the baby plants should be given enough light and warmth to grow strong and healthy.

– Outdoor Tomato Seedling Planting Season

When the last frost date has just passed and you have been developing tomatoes growing indoors in a protected environment for 40 to 60 days, only then can you move them outside.

After the final frost date has passed, you might expect another freeze due to the unpredictable weather changes happening worldwide.

The best time to plant tomatoes outdoors should still be determined by looking at the weather forecast and other indicators to be safe. You should start hardening off the tomato seedlings and getting them ready for life outside before the final transplant. 

To achieve this, take the seedling trays outside and expose the tomatoes to the sun for a few hours each day. After doing this, they will become more accustomed to the weather in the garden.

The optimum time to plant tomatoes outside is generally around April 25th. For optimal results, protect your young plants from insects and promote healthy foliage by covering them with a floating row cover for around four weeks or a shade cloth to shield your tomatoes from the sun and wind if required.


– Can I Plant Tomatoes in North Carolina in July?

Yes, you can plant tomatoes in North Carolina in July, but the weather, plant care, and maintenance are the three factors determining success for late-season tomato output.

Make sure not to plant tomatoes too late in the year as they may be affected by the frost during colder months.

Tomatoes harvested in the late season require a lot of air movement between plants to promote robust development as well as disease and insect resistance. Plants will suffer if planted too closely, and you will receive fewer tomatoes.

Group of Fresh Tomatoes

Keep late-season tomatoes well-mulched and watered. You should have success producing late-season tomatoes if you transplant them no later than the third week of July, and mid-September will see the start of fruiting.

Late-season tomato plants will grow abundant crops up to the first severe freeze in fall with minimal frost protection.


You now know when to go ahead and plant tomato in North Carolina, which is during the summer, to prevent wasting time and resources.

Let us summarize all that we have read in the section below. 

  • Growing tomatoes at the right time of year is essential to avoid rot from cold temperatures, flowering delays, soil depletion, and the high presence of pests that could impact them. 
  • Tomatoes can be grown outside in North Carolina in the early spring as long as the risk of frost has passed. Tomatoes can be planted in North Carolina’s USDA zones 7b to 8a starting mid-April.
  • Watch the temperature and the forecast and wait for a night without frost before planting the tomato plant outdoors. Mild to warm temperatures make for the best growing conditions for tomatoes. 
  • Tomato plants thrive between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 and 27 degrees Celsius) daily. Tomatoes prefer nighttime temperatures of 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 21 degrees Celsius), and soil temperatures should be kept constant at 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 21 degrees Celsius).
  • Start your tomatoes with seedlings if you are a novice gardener and need help gauging the temperature. If seeds are what you’d like to start with, place them on a windowsill inside. To start the growing season off early, tomato seeds can be started inside as early as February.

After reading about growing tomatoes, if you are in North Carolina and need a garden full of them, you can do so now. Make sure to wait for the right season and get your seeds and gardening tools ready to enjoy the process of growing tomatoes!

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