How to Grow Roma Tomatoes from Seed to Harvest
You want to grow Roma tomatoes at home? Great! It’s fairly simple and also quite a lot of fun.
Before you start with your growing project, make sure that you read this article since I explain how to grow Roma tomatoes from seed to harvest step-by-step.
Moreover, I also give you some additional general information on how to grow Roma tomatoes at the end of this article.
Without further ado, let’s get right into it!
Roma Tomato Plant Profile
|Size||Around 4 – 5 feet tall and 2 – 3 feet spread.|
|Climate||Roma tomatoes prefer warm to moderate climatic zones with optimal temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.|
|Sun Exposure||Roma tomatoes grow best in full sun.|
|Soil Requirements||Roma tomatoes grow best in slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.2 to 6.5.|
|Country of Origin||Mexico.|
|Growing Difficulty||Easy – Intermediate. While growing Roma tomatoes is not that difficult, you still need some knowledge and you should definitely check out the rest of this article.|
|Perennial?||No, Roma tomatoes are harvested within the first growing year and can’t stand frost at all.|
|When should you start?||You should start growing Roma tomatoes indoors around one month before you expect the last spring freeze. If you want to start outdoors, wait until one week before you expect the last spring freeze.|
|Expected Yield & Harvest||You can expect between 30 and 50 Roma tomatoes per plant if you follow all the instructions in this article.|
|What to do with it?||Roma tomatoes can be used for various different salads as well as for soups and many other dishes.|
When should you start to grow Roma Tomatoes?
The best time to start growing Roma tomatoes is between March and May. However, this also depends on the climatic zone you live in.
For instance, if you live in a warm climatic zone, you can start growing your Roma tomatoes earlier since the last freeze will be earlier in the year compared to colder climatic zones.
In general, you should start growing your Roma tomatoes between 4 and 6 weeks before you expect the last freeze.
I advise you to start relatively early so that your Roma tomato plants will have enough time to grow and to develop in a healthy manner.
If you start out too late, chances are that the fruits of your tomatoes may not get ripe in time.
How long does it take to grow Roma Tomatoes from Seed to Harvest?
To grow your Roma tomatoes from seed to harvest, it will take between 75 and 90 days.
However, please note that this also depends on the overall climatic conditions and also on your individual skill level in growing tomatoes.
For instance, while a gardening expert may be able to grow Roma tomatoes in only 75 days, it might take you much longer if you have never grown Roma tomatoes before.
Consequently, don’t get discouraged if it takes you a little bit longer to grow your Roma tomatoes. In fact, you should see it positively.
If it takes you longer to grow your tomatoes, you can also enjoy your growing experience for longer.
What is the best Climate to grow Roma Tomatoes?
Roma tomatoes like moderate to warm climatic zones.
However, also if you live in rather cool climatic zones, you will still be able to grow Roma tomatoes.
It will just take you a little bit longer to do so and your yields may also be lower due to that.
Hence, don’t be discouraged if you don’t live in the perfect climatic zone.
Chances are that you will still be able to grow Roma tomatoes in a decent manner.
What Temperature do Roma Tomatoes like?
Roma tomatoes grow best with daytime temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Yet, as mentioned before, this doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to provide these optimal conditions for your plants.
As long as you don’t live in too extreme climates, you will be just fine to grow Roma tomatoes as long as temperatures do not drop below the freezing mark between early summer and autumn.
What plants should you grow with Roma Tomatoes?
If you want to learn more about what plants you should grow next to your tomatoes, make sure to check out my article regarding the best and worst roma tomato companion plants.
What do you need to grow Roma Tomatoes?
While growing Roma tomatoes is not difficult, you still need some equipment to do so which I listed for you below:
- Growing bed (to grow your Roma tomatoes seedlings)
- Flower pots (only necessary if you don’t have a garden to grow your Roma tomatoes)
- Roma tomato seeds
- Fertilizer (you can also make your own organic fertilizer for which I give you the instructions below)
- Sticks and cord
- Potting soil
- Slug fence
- Watering can
- Garden shovel
- Compost (optional)
What Yield can you expect when you grow Roma Tomatoes?
You can expect a yield of between 30 and 50 Roma tomatoes per plant. Some growing experts even claim that they produced up to 200 Roma tomatoes per plant.
However, the yield will also greatly depend on various factors, including your skill level and also the overall conditions you provide for your Roma tomatoes during the growing season.
If you are still a beginner, I would not expect more than 30 Roma tomatoes per plant. In fact, I would be pretty happy to see this number in my first year of growing Roma tomatoes.
Hence, don’t expect too much in your first growing year. Chances are that you will make mistakes and your overall yield may be pretty limited due to that.
However, over time, chances are that you will get much better and that you can significantly increase your Roma tomato yields.
Why should you grow your own Roma Tomatoes?
There are many reasons why you should grow your own Roma tomatoes at home.
While it may not make too much sense from a financial and also from an effort perspective, it can still make sense to grow your own Roma tomatoes due to various reasons.
For instance, growing Roma tomatoes can just be a pretty nice hobby.
In fact, I love seeing my tomatoes grow and I also have a real passion for gardening in general.
For me, growing Roma tomatoes does not feel like work and I really enjoy the growing process.
Thus, growing my own tomatoes just makes my life much better in general.
Moreover, by growing your own Roma tomatoes, you no longer have to rely on tomatoes from the store.
A high fraction of tomatoes from your local store will be contaminated with harmful substances since plenty of pesticides and herbicides are used in conventional agriculture.
By growing your own Roma tomatoes at home instead, you can grow them in a fully organic manner and your health will thank you for that in the long run.
Additionally, growing your own Roma tomatoes at home can also greatly reduce your overall stress level.
Of course, this is not only true for Roma tomatoes, but for growing vegetables and fruits in general.
Especially if you are currently working in a demanding office job for long hours, you will just need a break from your stressful daily life from time to time and gardening can be a great way to get this break.
As you can see, growing Roma tomatoes at home can make sense due to various different reasons and you should definitely try it, especially if you haven’t grown Roma tomatoes before.
Growing Roma Tomatoes: Step-by-Step
1. Select a Site for your Roma Tomatoes
After making sure that you really want to grow Roma tomatoes at home, it is time to get into the actual planning process.
The first important thing you have to do is to choose the optimal site for your Roma tomatoes.
Do Roma Tomatoes like Sun or Shade?
Roma tomatoes love the sun. In fact, the more sun you can provide for your Roma tomatoes, the better they will grow.
Make sure that your Roma tomatoes get at least 5 hours of direct sunlight every day. Even better would be full sun all day long.
Only if your Roma tomatoes get sufficient sun, they will grow in a healthy manner and the yields will also be much higher.
Hence, choose a spot in your garden or on your balcony that provides as much sun as possible for your Roma tomato plants.
What are the Soil Requirements of Roma Tomatoes?
Roma tomatoes prefer slightly acidic soil with a soil pH of between 6.2 and 6.5. However, they are also quite tolerant towards smaller swings in soil pH.
Hence, if you just get conventional potting soil from your garden center, you will be good to go.
Make sure to loosen the soil a bit so that the roots of your Roma tomato plants can develop in an optimal manner.
You can also add some compost or soil from your garden to the potting soil to make your soil mix rich in organic content and also well-drained so that your Roma tomatoes can grow even better.
How much Space do Roma Tomato Plants need?
Roma tomatoes can get quite bushy and big and you should plan around 10 square feet of space for each plant.
If you have a really big garden and space is not a problem for you at all, you could even provide more space.
Always remember that the more space you give your Roma tomatoes, the more nutrients and sunlight they will get and the better they will grow.
Also the yields will typically be much higher if you give your Roma tomatoes more space to grow.
Should you plant Roma Tomatoes in a Pot or in your Garden?
You can either grow Roma tomatoes in your garden or in a pot.
However, since your Roma tomato plants will get quite big, you would also have to use extremely big pots to grow them.
Hence, in my opinion, it is a much better idea to grow your Roma tomatoes in your garden instead of in pots.
Of course, if you don’t have a garden, you will simply have no choice other than to grow your Roma tomatoes on your balcony in a pot.
However, if you have a garden, I highly recommend you just grow your Roma tomatoes there.
2. Plant Roma Tomato Seeds
After selecting the perfect site for growing your Roma tomatoes, it is now time to get into the seeding process.
Should you buy Roma Tomato Seeds or Seedlings?
Before you can start your growing project, you have to decide whether you want to grow your Roma tomatoes from seed or if you want to use seedlings from your garden center instead.
While just getting Roma tomato seedlings from your garden center might be more convenient, you would just miss out on the first important step of each growing project.
In fact, growing seedlings from seed is an essential part of growing Roma tomatoes and therefore, I suggest you grow your own Roma seedlings instead of just getting them from the store.
If you learn how to grow your own seedlings, this will not only be beneficial for your Roma tomato growing project, it could also help you for various other growing projects since you can just transfer your knowledge.
And also note that growing your own Roma tomato seedlings is not difficult. In fact, I show you how to do it step-by-step in the following chapters.
Should you buy Roma Tomato Seeds or produce Seeds by yourself?
You also have to figure out whether you want to buy your seeds or if you rather want to produce your own Roma seeds to grow your seedlings.
While both options are fine, I recommend you just get some tomatoes of your favorite Roma tomato variety from your store and cut the fruits in halves.
You can now easily extract the seeds. To clean them and to remove the pulp, just use a sieve and you are good to go.
How to plant Roma Tomato Seeds
Now that you got your Roma tomato seeds either online, from your local garden center or produced them by yourself like mentioned above, it is time to actually plant the seeds.
For that, just get your growing bed and fill it with potting soil from the store. Place your Roma tomato seeds onto the soil.
Make sure that each seed has at least 5 inches of space to each other so that your tomato seedlings will get enough sunlight and nutrients to grow in a healthy manner.
After you placed all of your seeds, make sure to cover them with a little bit of additional soil (around 1 inch in height).
Water your growing bed and place it at a warm and bright spot in your home so that your Roma tomato seeds will germinate in an optimal manner.
Now it is time to wait until you will see the first seedlings reaching the soil surface. However, don’t expect that every seed will germinate.
In fact, many seeds will just rot in the soil and will not turn into seedlings. Thus, make sure that you plant enough seeds to get a sufficient number of seedlings.
I recommend you plant two seeds for every tomato seedling you want to get so that you can be quite sure to reach your goal.
How long does it take to see the first Roma Tomato Seedlings?
It will usually take a little bit more than one week to see the first seedlings reaching the soil surface.
However, this doesn’t mean that all of your Roma tomato seedlings will germinate during this time.
In fact, it can take a few weeks or even more than one month until you will see all of your seedlings reaching the soil surface.
Hence, just be patient and wait for a few weeks. If you still haven’t produced enough seedlings after one month, you might want to plant some additional seedlings into your growing bed.
How to protect your Roma Tomato Seedlings indoors
Your Roma tomato seedlings will be properly protected inside your growing bed indoors and you don’t have to take any additional protection measures, at least if you don’t have pets.
If you have pets, make sure that they will not be able to reach your growing bed to protect your seedlings.
When should you transplant your Roma Tomato Seedlings?
After you produced your tomato seedlings, it will take a few weeks until they get bigger and stronger.
At one point in time, they will be ready to be transplanted outside. For me, it is time to transplant Roma tomato seedlings outside if both of the following criteria are met.
First, make sure that the outside conditions are suitable for your Roma tomato seedlings.
This generally means that you should make sure that temperatures no longer drop below the freezing mark since your seedlings will still be quite vulnerable to the cold and may even die off due to freeze.
Second, make sure that your tomato seedlings have a certain minimum size before you consider transplanting them outside.
In fact, I would wait until my tomato seedlings have a minimum size of 5 inches.
Only then will they be resistant enough to deal with the harsh outside conditions.
If both criteria are fulfilled, you first have to prepare your growing site before actually planting your seedlings outside.
Just dig one hole of 10 square feet in size and one foot deep for each Roma tomato seedling into your garden.
Mix the soil from your garden with potting soil from the store.
You can also add some compost to make the soil mix even richer in nutrients. Fill the holes with the soil mix.
Make sure that the soil mix is loose so that your tomato roots can develop in an optimal manner and also that excess water can vanish easily.
After you prepared your site, transplant each Roma tomato seedling into each spot and water your seedlings.
If you don’t want to grow your Roma tomatoes in your garden but rather want to use a pot, just fill your big pots with potting soil and transplant your seedlings there.
What kind of Protection do Roma Tomato Seedlings need outdoor?
Now that your seedlings will face the harsh outdoor reality and are no longer protected inside your four walls, it is time to add additional protective measures to your Roma tomato seedlings.
While you could rely on chemical substances to keep away slugs, this is generally not a good idea since those substances can be extremely harmful to our environment and they will often also not keep away other animals who will try to feed on your Roma tomato seedlings.
Hence, instead of using chemical protective measures for your Roma tomatoes, I just recommend you use a slug fence.
While it is a pretty simple measure, slug fences are quite effective and don’t hurt our environment.
Therefore, just use slug fences for protecting your plants and you are good to go.
3. The Roma Tomato Growth Process
Now that you successfully transplanted your Roma tomato seedlings outdoors, the hardest part is already done.
From now on, your tomato plants will grow bigger and stronger every day and you don’t have to put in too much work anymore.
However, there are still some things to consider for the remaining growth process that I want to show you in the following.
Should you prune your Roma Tomatoes?
Some people claim that pruning Roma tomatoes is a good idea. I don’t agree with it.
In my opinion, it is far better to give your Roma tomatoes enough space and soil so that they can develop in an optimal manner.
I don’t think that pruning your tomatoes is a good idea since it is kind of unnatural and can just do more harm than good.
Hence, I just recommend you let your Roma tomatoes grow and let nature do its work.
Do you have to pollinate your Roma Tomato Plants by Hand?
No, there is no need to pollinate your Roma Tomatoes by hand. In fact, if you grow your Roma tomatoes outdoors, there will be many insects around who will do the job for you and you don’t have to worry about pollination for your Roma tomatoes at all.
Should you stake your Roma Tomatoes?
Since Roma tomato plants will get quite big and bushy, it makes quite a lot of sense to take them.
For that, just use some bamboo sticks and place them close to each plant. Just tie your plants onto those sticks and you are good to go.
I advise you to make one tie for every foot in height so that your Roma tomatoes are stabilized in a proper manner and can resist heavy winds and other extreme outside conditions.
4. The Roma Tomato Harvest
After closely following all the steps mentioned before in this article, you should expect pretty decent yields at harvesting time.
When should you harvest your Roma Tomatoes?
It is pretty easy to determine the optimal harvesting date for your Roma tomatoes. Just wait until they get a deep red color and pick them from your plants.
If you are not sure whether they are already ripe or not, just pick one tomato and taste it.
If it tastes as it should, you can harvest all other ones with the same red color.
If it tastes rather unripe, wait a little bit longer and give your tomatoes a little bit more time to mature.
How to store your Roma Tomatoes?
If you want to store your Roma tomatoes, you should not do so in the fridge since it takes away some of the flavor of your tomatoes. Instead, store them in a dry and cold place inside your home.
However, please note that even if you store your tomatoes in the perfect spot inside your home, they will still get bad after around two weeks and you should therefore make sure that you eat your Roma tomatoes in time.
What should you do with your Roma Tomatoes?
Roma tomatoes are a quite versatile vegetable. In fact, while you could just make a delicious salad out of them, you could also make your own pasta sauce or use your Roma tomatoes for making a pizza.
There are so many opportunities and you should just use your tomatoes for dishes you like most.
After all, you did all the work for growing your own Roma tomatoes and you should therefore also be rewarded for it.
Roma Tomato Plant Care Tips
Now that I walked you through the whole lifecycle of your tomato plants, it is time to give you some additional general information so that you know how to care for your Roma tomatoes in a proper manner.
How often should you irrigate Roma Tomatoes?
Roma tomatoes need lots of water, especially when they get bigger and when the weather outside is pretty hot.
In fact, on hot summer days, I recommend you water your Roma tomato plants every day.
If you are not at home to water your plants since you are on vacation, make sure that you have someone who can irrigate your Roma tomatoes since they will not be able to withstand a longer period without water in hot summers.
If you are not sure whether you have to water your Roma tomato plants or not, just take a look at the leaves of your plants.
If the leaves begin to hang, this is a sure sign that your Roma tomatoes need water.
You can also just use your small finger, dig a small hole into the ground and see if soil sticks to your finger.
If it does, this is an indication that the soil is still wet enough and that no watering is required right now.
If not, the soil is dry and you should water your tomato plants pretty soon.
At what Time of the Day should you water your Roma Tomato Plants?
You can water your Roma tomatoes whenever you want to do so throughout the day. In fact, there is no “best” time to water your plants.
While some experts claim that the best time to water your Roma tomatoes is in the early morning, I personally haven’t seen any difference regarding the time of the day your water your plants and I just advise you to water your tomatoes whenever they look like they need it.
How often should you fertilize your Roma Tomato Plants?
Since Roma tomatoes can get quite big and produce many fruits, they need plenty of energy to do so. Hence, you should fertilize your Roma tomatoes on a regular basis.
Of course, if you already created a nutrient-rich soil mix when you transplanted your seedlings outdoors, your plants will have sufficient nutrients to grow in a healthy manner for a few weeks.
However, sooner or later, it is time to fertilize them to optimize your yield.
What kind of Fertilizer should you use for your Roma Tomato Plants?
While fertilizing your Roma tomatoes is a good idea, I don’t recommend you use any chemical fertilizer since it can be quite harmful to our environment.
Instead, I suggest you use natural fertilizer which you can get online or from your garden center.
Alternatively, you can just make your own natural fertilizer from stinging nettles.
For that, just collect some stinging nettles and put them in a bucket full of water. Wait for a few days and remove the stinging nettles.
You just produced stinging nettle liquid that is perfect to fertilize your Rome tomatoes on a regular basis.
You just need to add some of it to the water in your watering can and you are good to go.
Should you use Pesticides or Herbicides for Growing Roma Tomatoes?
Stinging nettle liquid is not only great as fertilizer, it can also help to keep away many pests. However, the application method is a little bit different.
You need to spray your stinging nettle liquid onto your plants and by doing so, you can deter many different pests since they usually don’t like the taste of stinging nettle liquid at all.
Thus, there is no need to use chemical pesticides to keep away pests from your Roma tomatoes.
You can also just remove weeds by hand instead of using any herbicides and you will be just fine.
If you want to learn more about pest control, you should also have a look at how to control tomato pests and plant diseases.
What’s left to say?
First of all, thanks for reading my Roma tomato grower’s guide to the end. I know it was quite long.
However, to provide you with all the information you need to grow Roma tomatoes from seed to harvest in the best possible manner, it just had to be that long.
I hope you got some value out of it. If so, make sure to share it! Also feel free to read my other articles. And now it’s your turn. Stop reading and start growing! 😉
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.