How to Grow Cherry Tomatoes from Seed to Harvest
You want to grow cherry tomatoes at home in your garden or on your balcony? Great! It’s quite easy and also a lot of fun if you know what you are doing.
In this article, I show you step-by-step how you can grow cherry tomatoes from seed to harvest.
At the end of this article, I also give you some further tips to make your growing experience even better.
Please note that I also included some videos from other passionate gardeners in this article to give you a more comprehensive picture of how to grow cherry tomatoes in an optimal manner.
Without further ado, let’s get started! 😉
Table of Contents
Cherry Tomato Plant Profile
|Size||4 to 7 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide.|
|Climate||Cherry tomatoes prefer moderate to warm climatic zones with temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.|
|Sun Exposure||Cherry tomatoes love full sun.|
|Soil Requirements||Cherry tomatoes prefer slightly acidic or neutral soil with an optimal pH between 6.3 and 6.8.|
|Country of Origin||South America.|
|Growing Difficulty||Easy. Even beginners can expect decent yields.|
|Perennial?||No, cherry tomato plants will not survive the winter.|
|When should you start?||Mid-March – Mid-May, depending on your region and also on whether you want to start indoors or not.|
|Expected Yield||Between 50 and 100 cherry tomatoes per plant.|
|Time from Seed to Harvest||Between 80 and 110 days to grow cherry tomato plants from seed to harvest.|
|What to do with it?||You can use cherry tomatoes for pasta, pizza, salads or you can also eat them raw.|
What Types and Varieties of Cherry Tomatoes can you grow?
While you may only be used to a few different cherry tomato varieties from the store, there are numerous different types of cherry tomatoes you can grow. I have listed the most popular ones for you below.
- Black Cherry
- Green Envy
- Mirabelle Blanche
- Power Pops
- Yellow Pear
- Midnight Snack
- Orange Sunsugar
- Black Pearl
For me, growing the Orange Sunsugar cherry tomato variety is the best way to go since it produces pretty sweet fruits I love and the yields are also pretty decent.
However, if you just start out as a new gardener right now and haven’t grown your own cherry tomatoes before, I would suggest you just grow various different types of cherry tomatoes so you can figure out for yourself which one tastes best for you.
Always remember we are all different and so is our taste 😉. You can also just buy a cherry tomato seed mix if you are a person who loves surprises since you will not exactly know what you will be growing.
Cherry tomatoes can look quite different over the different varieties and you will be surprised what colors and shapes cherry tomatoes can actually have.
By growing a variety of different cherry tomato sorts, your growing experience will be much more interesting compared to just growing a single variety.
When should you start growing Cherry Tomatoes?
The best time to start growing cherry tomatoes is between mid of March and mid of May. You could also start as late as the end of May.
However, note that the later you start with your cherry tomato growing project, the higher the risk that your cherry tomatoes will not get ripe in time.
Hence, I would recommend you just start at the end of March if it fits in your timetable and you can be sure that your cherry tomato project will be finished on time.
How long does it take to grow Cherry Tomatoes from Seed to Harvest?
To grow cherry tomatoes from seed to harvest, it will take between 80 and 110 days most of the time.
However, please note that this greatly depends on several factors like your overall climatic conditions, the soil you provide for your plants, the site where you grow your cherry tomatoes and also your personal skill level.
In fact, while experienced gardeners will be able to grow cherry tomatoes from seed to harvest in a relatively short period of time, it may take longer if you are just starting out and have never grown cherry tomatoes before.
However, even though it might take you longer, don’t let this discourage you!
In fact, growing cherry tomatoes is not only about the harvest, it is about loving the process. See the positive!
If your cherry tomatoes take longer to grow, you can enjoy the growing experience for longer.
Thus, just stay patient and start early enough so that your cherry tomatoes will get ripe in time and it will not really matter if it takes a little bit longer or shorter to grow your cherry tomatoes from sowing to harvesting.
What is the best Climate to grow Cherry Tomatoes?
While cherry tomatoes grow best in rather moderate climatic zones with many sunny days, they are rather tolerant as long as you don’t live in climatic zones that are quite extreme.
For instance, if you live in the US or in Western Europe, you will have no problems with growing cherry tomatoes at all.
If you live in the middle of the desert or in Antarctica, it will be a different story 😉.
What Temperatures do Cherry Tomatoes like?
Cherry tomatoes like it warm and sunny. The optimal temperature range for growing cherry tomatoes is between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, please note that although this is the optimal range, cherry tomatoes also grow quite well if you can’t provide this temperature range.
In fact, seed companies did a great job in developing cherry tomato strains that can do well in a quite wide temperature range.
Consequently, if you live in a rather moderate climatic zone where there is no freeze in summer and early autumn, you will be just fine to grow cherry tomatoes at home.
What do you need to grow Cherry Tomatoes?
You don’t need too much equipment to grow cherry tomatoes. However, there are some things you urgently need which I listed for you below:
- Growing bed (to grow your cherry tomato seedlings)
- Flower pots (only necessary if you don’t have a garden to grow your cherry tomatoes)
- Cherry Tomato seeds (you can also produce your own seeds as explained in the next chapters)
- Fertilizer (you can make your own organic fertilizer for which I give you the instructions below)
- Sticks and cords to stake and stabilize your cherry tomatoes
- Potting soil
- Watering can
- Garden shovel
- Slug fence
- Compost (optional)
- Passion for growing cherry tomatoes 😉
What Yield can you expect when you grow Cherry Tomatoes?
You can expect to harvest 50 to 100 cherry tomatoes per plant if you are still a beginner. However, if you have already grown cherry tomatoes before, you may be able to harvest up to 200 cherry tomatoes from each plant.
Of course, this also greatly depends on the overall conditions you provide for your tomatoes in your garden or on your balcony.
If you give them quite a lot of space and soil, your cherry tomatoes will grow much better compared to a state where your cherry tomato plants don’t get sufficient nutrients and also have to compete for sunlight with other plants.
Please also note that the numbers above are just a rough estimate.
In your first year, you may produce quite low yields and you should not be disappointed if this is the case. In fact, everyone of us started out as a beginner and you will learn quite a lot over time.
And as I mentioned before: Growing your own plants at home is not only about the harvest, it is about loving the process! 😉
What to grow with Cherry Tomatoes?
If you want to learn more about what plants you should grow with cherry tomatoes, make sure to check out my article regarding the best and worst cherry tomato companion plants.
Why should you grow your own Cherry Tomatoes?
People often ask me why you should actually bother with growing your own cherry tomatoes. Wouldn’t it be just easier to just get them from the store?
Of course, it would! However, apart from the convenience aspect, there are some other points to consider.
First, growing your own cherry tomatoes can be quite a lot of fun. In fact, I really love seeing my plants grow and for me, growing my own plants is not about the yield. It is a nice hobby for me which I enjoy quite a lot.
Second, by growing your own cherry tomatoes, you can also greatly reduce your overall stress level.
If you work in a demanding job for long hours every day in the office, chances are that you will feel stressed on a regular basis.
If this is the case, growing your own plants at home can be quite beneficial for you since it can help you unplug from your stressful daily life.
In fact, when I sit next to my plants, I get an inner feeling of peace and can really slow down my life a little bit.
Third, growing your own cherry tomatoes can also help you reconnect with nature.
Many people, especially if they live in big cities, have completely lost touch with nature and also don’t know too much about how food is produced anymore.
However, this is quite problematic in my opinion since our ancestors lived in line with nature for many thousands of years and a certain need to connect to nature is deeply anchored in our DNA.
By growing your own cherry tomatoes, you can get back some of this original feeling in your daily life.
Fourth, growing cherry tomatoes at home can also improve your overall health level. In fact, for growing your plants, you will have to do some manual work which in turn improves your overall fitness level.
Moreover, since you do no longer have to rely on cherry tomatoes from the store, you can also avoid the consumption of tomatoes that are contaminated with herbicides and pesticides.
In fact, in conventional agriculture, large amounts of those chemical substances are used.
Hence, if you don’t want to consume those harmful components, you should grow your own cherry tomatoes since you can make your tomato growing experience fully organic at home.
As you can see, there are several advantages of growing your own cherry tomatoes, even though it might take more work compared to just getting them from the store.
Growing Cherry Tomatoes: Step-by-Step
1. Select a Site for your Cherry Tomatoes Plants
If you are as excited about growing cherry tomatoes as I am, we can now start the actual planning process for your cherry tomato growing project.
First of all, you first have to choose the optimal site where you can grow your cherry tomatoes.
Do Cherry Tomatoes like Sun or Shade?
Cherry tomatoes love the sun. In fact, the more sun you can provide to your cherry tomato plants, the better they will grow. However, please note that we are talking about optimal conditions.
In life, almost nothing is perfect and if you can’t provide your cherry tomatoes with sun all day long, it will just be enough to give them a few hours of sunlight every day.
Hence, just choose a sunny spot in your garden or on your balcony and you are good to go.
What are the Soil Requirements of Cherry Tomatoes?
Cherry tomatoes prefer to grow in slightly acidic environments with a pH of 6.3 to 6.8 (7 means neutral on this scale).
Hence, if you just mix soil from your garden with potting soil from your local garden center, you will be good to go since you will be in this range most of the time.
Even if the pH of your soil is a little bit above or below this range, this doesn’t matter too much.
In fact, cherry tomatoes are rather tolerant of this and you don’t have to worry too much whether your soil is too acidic or alkaline.
More important than the exact pH of your soil is that the soil is loose and well-drained so that water can run off and the roots of your cherry tomatoes will not rot.
How much Space do Cherry Tomato Plants need?
Since cherry tomato plants can get quite bushy and also quite big in the vertical, you should calculate to provide each plant with at least 10 square feet in space and you should also make sure that your cherry tomato plants will not be confined in space in the vertical since they can get as big as 8 feet in height if you provide optimal growing conditions.
Providing each plant with enough space is crucial since only then will your cherry tomatoes get sufficient nutrients and sunlight to grow in an optimal manner.
Should you plant Cherry Tomatoes in a Pot or in your Garden?
While you could grow cherry tomatoes in pots, I would not recommend you to do so in case you also have a garden.
In fact, cherry tomatoes need quite a lot of space and you would have to use pretty big pots to give them enough space.
Of course, if you don’t have a garden and live in a flat with a balcony instead, you will have no other choice than to grow your cherry tomatoes in a pot.
However, if you have a garden, I would advise you to just grow your cherry tomatoes there since they will get better access to nutrients and sunlight and your overall growing experience will be far less complicated compared to growing cherry tomatoes on your balcony.
2. Plant Cherry Tomato Seeds
After you figured out the perfect site for growing your cherry tomatoes, it is now time to get into the actual cherry tomato seeding process.
Should you buy Cherry Tomato Seeds or Seedlings?
In this step, you first have to decide whether you want to grow your cherry tomatoes from seed or whether you want to just get seedlings from your garden center.
While it will be easier to get your seedlings from your local garden center, I would still recommend you to grow your own seedlings instead.
Only if you grow your own cherry tomato seedlings, you will get the full growing experience and you will also be able to transfer your knowledge to various other growing projects you might undertake in the future.
Hence, especially if you have never grown cherry tomatoes before, I advise you to just grow your own seedlings instead of relying on seedlings from the garden center.
Growing your own seedlings is not difficult at all and I will show you how to do it step-by-step in the following chapters.
Should you buy Cherry Tomato Seeds or produce Seeds by yourself?
I hope I convinced you that growing your own seedlings is in fact a good idea. If so, you also have to decide where you want to get your cherry tomato seeds from.
You can either get them from an internet vendor, from your garden center or you can also produce your own cherry tomato seeds by yourself.
In my opinion, there is just no need to buy your seeds from a seed company.
You can just get your favorite cherry tomato varieties from your local grocery store, cut those tomatoes in halves and extract the seeds out of them and you have produced your own seeds.
You can just remove the pulp from the seeds by using a sieve and you are good to go.
How to plant Cherry Tomato Seeds
After you either extracted your own cherry tomato seeds or got them from a seed company, it is time to really start the actual growth process.
To do so, just fill your growing bed with potting soil. Make sure to leave a little bit of space in the vertical and don’t completely fill your growing bed with soil.
After that, just place your cherry tomato seeds onto the soil surface.
Make sure that each seed has at least 4 inches of space into each direction so that your seedlings can grow in an optimal manner and don’t interfere with each other too much.
After you placed all of your seeds, it is time to cover them with an additional soil layer of about 1 inch in height.
Finally, just water your growing bed and place it in a bright and warm place in your home.
How long does it take to see the first Cherry Tomato Seedlings?
It will usually take around one week until you see the first results. However, this doesn’t mean that all your seedlings will germinate after one week.
It just means that you will likely see the first seedlings reaching the soil surface. Until all your seedlings will become visible to you, it can take up to one month.
However, please note that not all seeds will germinate and that you should plant more seeds than you want to get seedlings.
In fact, I would advise you to use a ratio of 2:1 between seeds and required seedlings so that you can be pretty sure that you produce enough seedings.
If you really produce more seedlings than you actually need, you can still give them away to family and friends.
How to protect your Cherry Tomatoes Seedlings
During the first few weeks when your seedlings will stay indoors, there will be no need to protect them since they will not be attacked by snails or other animals inside your four walls.
However, if you have pets, make sure that your pets will not be able to reach your growing bed to avoid any unpleasant surprises for your cherry tomato seedlings.
When should you transplant your Cherry Tomatoes Seedlings?
Before transplanting your cherry tomato seedlings outdoors, make sure that the following criteria are met.
First, make sure that your cherry tomato seedlings have a minimum height so that they are robust enough to face the harsh reality outside.
I suggest you wait until your cherry tomato seedlings reach a minimum height of 5 inches before you consider transplanting them outdoors.
Second, make sure that the climatic conditions are suitable to transplant your seedlings outdoors.
Suitable means that temperatures do no longer drop below the freezing mark. If both criteria are met, it is time to transplant your seedlings outdoors.
However, before you can do so, you first have to prepare your growing site in your garden.
To do so, just dig one hole per cherry tomato plant into your garden. Each hole should be around 10 square feet of size and should be around 1 foot deep.
After you dug those holes, mix the soil from your garden with potting soil from the store.
If you engage in composting in your garden, you can also add some compost to the mix.
After you prepared your soil mix, fill up the holes you dug before with the soil mix.
Now you are ready to transplant each cherry tomato seedlings in each spot.
After you transplanted all of your seedlings, just water them and you are done.
Alternatively, if you want to grow your cherry tomatoes in a pot, just fill your pot with potting soil and transplant your cherry tomato seedlings there.
What kind of Protection do Cherry Tomatoes Seedlings need outdoor?
Now that your seedlings are no longer protected as they were inside your four walls, it is time to think about some additional protection measures.
While I would not recommend you to use chemical measures to protect your cherry tomato seedlings, I would suggest you use a slug fence to deter slugs and other small animals.
In fact, slug fences are a great way to protect your seedlings from many attackers and they are also not harmful to our environment.
3. The Cherry Tomatoes Growth Process
Now that you transplanted your cherry tomato seedlings outdoors and also protected them against animals, you did most of the manual work.
In fact, your cherry tomato seedlings will get more robust and chances that your seedlings will make it increase every day.
However, even though the hardest part is done at this point, there are still some things to consider which I address in the following.
Should you prune your Cherry Tomatoes?
Whether you should prune your cherry tomatoes depends on how much space you have in your garden or on your balcony.
If you have sufficient space, I would not prune your cherry tomato plants and just let them grow.
In fact, pruning can be considered as kind of unnatural interference since tomatoes have grown long before the first human was born on this planet.
Hence, in former times, there had just been nobody who could ever prune tomato plants.
Thus, also from a historical perspective, pruning cherry tomatoes does not make too much sense and I am rather a fan of just letting them grow and letting nature do its work.
Do you have to pollinate your Cherry Tomatoes Plants by Hand?
There will be no need to pollinate your cherry tomatoes by hand.
In fact, insects will do the work for you and especially if you grow a significant number of tomato plants in your garden or on your balcony, you will be surprised of how many insects will be around that will distribute the pollen of your cherry tomato plants from one plant to the other.
Consequently, no manual action is required from you in this regard.
How to stake your Cherry Tomatoes Plants
Since cherry tomato plants can get quite big, you should definitely stake and stabilize them.
You can just use big bamboo sticks, anchor them in the ground next to each cherry tomato plant and tie your tomato plants to the sticks.
Make sure that you make a tie for every foot in height so that your cherry tomato plants will be stabilized in an optimal manner and will also be able to resist heavy winds.
4. The Cherry Tomatoes Harvest
If you followed all the steps I outlined in this article, you should be able to harvest pretty decent yields in summer or early autumn.
When should you harvest your Cherry Tomatoes?
If you grow red cherry tomato varieties, it is pretty easy to determine when it is time to harvest your tomatoes.
In fact, you just have to look at the color and when your cherry tomatoes turn deeply red, it is time to harvest them.
If you grow cherry tomato varieties that will stay green, it will be a little bit harder to tell when those cherry tomatoes will be ready to harvest since the color will no longer indicate the optimal harvesting time.
In this case, you should rather have a look at the size of your cherry tomatoes and wait until late summer or early fall.
You can just harvest one of those cherry tomatoes, eat it and see whether it tastes well or not.
If it tastes well, you can also harvest the other crops. If not, just wait a little bit longer and give your cherry tomatoes additional time to ripen.
How to store your Cherry Tomatoes?
Once you harvested your cherry tomatoes, they will not have an extended shelf-life. In fact, you will often not be able to store your cherry tomatoes more than a few days or one week after you harvested them.
For storing purposes, make sure that you don’t put them into the fridge since they will lose some aroma if you do so.
However, I would not advise you to store your cherry tomatoes too long anyways.
They taste best right after the harvest and I would recommend you use them pretty soon after you removed them from the plant.
What should you do with your Cherry Tomatoes?
There are numerous dishes that you can prepare with your cherry tomatoes. I personally love to make pasta with garlic, onions, cherry tomatoes, basil, olive oil and parmesan.
However, there are many other dishes you can create and I am sure you will make the best out of it according to your individual preferences.
Cherry Tomatoes Plant Care Tips
If you follow all the steps to grow your cherry tomatoes from seed to harvest mentioned above, you will have a great time growing your tomatoes.
However, I still have to give you some additional general information on how to grow cherry tomatoes so that you can further improve your growing experience.
How often should you irrigate Cherry Tomatoes?
You should water your cherry tomato plants every time they need water. I know this answer is kind of intuitive. However, it is exactly what you should do. To give you a rough estimate:
You will have to water your cherry tomato plants only a little bit when they are still small but the water demand will increase exponentially over time.
In fact, on hot summer days, you will have to water your cherry tomatoes on a daily basis. You will also see whether your plants need water or not from their leaves.
If the leaves begin to hang, this is often a sign that your tomato plants need water. You can also use a simple trick.
Just dig a small hole with your finger right next to your cherry tomato plant. Pull your finger out. If soil sticks to your finger, there is still enough water in the soil and you don’t have to water your plants.
If no soil sticks to your finger, you should water your plants since this indicates that the soil is quite dry.
Over time, your intuition will tell you when it is time to water your plants and you do no longer have to rely on those tricks 😉.
At what Time of the Day should you water your Cherry Tomato Plants?
The best time to water your cherry plants is arguably in the early morning. However, I haven’t seen any difference in watering my plants in the morning compared to watering them at nighttime.
Hence, I would suggest you water your cherry tomatoes just whenever they need water instead of relying on a fixed watering schedule.
How often should you fertilize your Cherry Tomatoes Plants?
Your cherry tomato plants will get quite big and in order to produce significant yields, you will have to fertilize them on a regular basis.
However, this doesn’t mean that you have to rely on fertilizer from the store.
What kind of Fertilizer should you use for your Cherry Tomatoes Plants?
I would suggest you use organic fertilizer instead of chemical ones to protect our environment and also the local flora and fauna.
While you could buy organic fertilizer, you can also just make your own organic fertilizer yourself. It is pretty simple.
Just collect some stinging nettles (make sure to wear gloves 😉) and put them in a bucket full of water.
After three days, remove the plant material and you have a perfect natural fertilizer that you can just put into your watering can and use it on a regular basis.
Should you use Pesticides or Herbicides for Growing Cherry Tomatoes?
Instead of using chemical pesticides or herbicides, make sure to use organic pesticides.
In fact, if you want to produce stinging nettle liquid as mentioned before, you already have a pretty good natural pesticide.
In fact, stinging nettle liquid is not only a pretty good fertilizer, it can also help to keep away many different pests.
Just spray it onto the leaves of your cherry tomato plants and you are good to go.
You also don’t have to use chemical herbicides. Just remove weeds by hand instead.
If you want to get more information on pest control, also make sure to have a look at how to control diseases and pests on tomato plants.
What’s left to say?
First of all, thanks for reading to the end of this article. I know it was a quite long cherry tomato grower’s guide.
However, to provide you with all the information to grow cherry tomatoes from seed to harvest in the best possible manner, I was simply not able to make it any shorter.
I hope this article was helpful to you. If so, make sure to share it with your family and friends. Also feel free to have a look at my other grower’s guides.
You want to learn more about growing tomatoes in general? Make sure to also check out my grower’s guide on how to grow tomatoes.
About the author
My name is Andreas and I’m really passionate about our environment and also about growing plants. In fact, I have grown several different plants over many years. I love to see my own plants grow and always try new things.
In my blog posts, I want to share my experiences with you so that you can become successful in growing various different plants, even if you are still a beginner right now.