The Better Boy tomatoes are known for their classic tomatoey taste.
Coupled with the ease with which they are cultivated and the high yield of fruits they produce make Better Boy one of the most well-known tomatoes around the world.
This plant holds the Guinness World Record for yielding the highest number of fruits from a single plant.
It belongs to the family Solanaceae.
These are a hybrid and indeterminate variety of plants that grow up to be six to ten feet tall.
They give huge, round, and juicy fruits that boast a characteristic bright red color weighing up to one pound.
This detailed guide will walk you through the do’s and don’ts of growing a healthy Better Boy tomato plant.
Better Boy Tomato Plant Care
Better Boy tomatoes love growing in peat moss-based soil with pH levels ranging from 6.5 to 7. Like other tomato varieties, this tomato needs to keep its soil moist yet well-drained. They love being under the sun in hot and dry temperatures. Support Better Boys using stakes or cages.
Basic Better Boy Tomato Plant Care
Better Boys grow best in organic or peat moss-based soil which is slightly acidic of up to 6.5 to 7 pH. The soil should be well-drained.
Mulching is also helpful for Better Boy tomato plants. This will keep the temperature of your soil warm and will hold in the moisture and prevent your soil from drying out too quickly.
According to research, red mulch is shown to produce a better and higher yield of Better Boy tomatoes.
Better Boy tomatoes require moist and well-drained soil at all times. Water this tomato plant variety twice weekly.
Keep touching the soil to make sure the top two inches of it are dry before watering. Water your plant evenly to ensure the healthy growth of your fruit.
If the weather is too dry or hot, your plant may require more frequent watering.
If you want to use showers or sprinklers, water your plants early in the morning so the excess water can dry off before the evening. This will also prevent disease risks.
Just like all species of tomatoes, Better Boy also requires bright sunlight.
If you are growing your plant indoors, place them near a south-facing, sunny window that receives plenty of sunlight.
If the seeds have not yet germinated, you can also grow them under fluorescent lights that are turned on for 16 hours a day.
If your plant is growing outdoors, place it in the full sun, where it receives light for 6 to 8 hours a day.
Better Boy has very thick foliage that normally prevents its lower leaves and fruits from getting sun scalded.
Tomato plants are generally grown in temperate zones. The optimum temperature required for their growth is 55 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
The nighttime temperature shouldn’t fall below the 50-degree Fahrenheit mark.
They are most commonly grown in the spring and summer as they require hot and dry weather for their healthy growth.
These plants cannot survive the frost and die off when autumn arrives.
These plants can be grown indoors before the frost goes as the temperature can be manually controlled indoors. This ensures an early harvest.
Better Boy plant grows in places where the moisture content of air is low.
Tomato plants become prone to diseases such as early blight and pests that attack only during humid conditions.
Better Boy plant has different nutrient requirements during the different phases of its growth.
Before planting the seeds, when you have dug the soil beds, add a little bit of compost.
During the initial stages when the plant has not germinated, fertilizer with higher nitrogen content is preferred that would enhance foliage growth.
Midway through the season, a balanced fertilizer of 10-10-10 NPK would sustain the healthy growth of vines till they start giving fruits.
Pruning, Staking, and Caging
A single Better Boy plant is capable of giving many large and heavy fruits.
Better Boy plants that are not given support can grow thicker foliage and hence will yield much more fruit than a supported plant.
However, staking or caging makes sure that they grow up to be strong, robust structures with well-established root systems that give larger and cleaner fruits.
If you want to grow Better Boy for commercial purposes, it is better to give the plant support.
Although you may stake the plant, it is preferred to use cages instead.
Cages can be planted along with the seeds or seedlings so the plants grow within their vicinity.
As the plant grows, they adapt to the cage and normally don’t extend their branches out too far.
Although a stake is not the better of the two options, it is still very good for most tomato species. All varieties of tomato plants grow best if they are held up using Teepee style stakes.
Better Boy tomato plant can grow up to be 10 feet tall. It has thick foliage. To keep the massive branches in check, it is necessary to either stake or cage these plants.
Prune off any small suckers that arise from your stem as they can steal your plant’s nutrients.
Also, prune any branches that start reaching the ground or that grow too long and start moving out of the cage.
Better Boy tomatoes grow very thick foliage, and although they can be grown in pots if they are large enough, it is preferred that you plant them in the ground.
Plant the seeds or seedlings 8 inches deep into the soil. Space the bushes at least 3 to 4 feet apart to allow the branches to grow and spread.
Place them in full sun where they can be exposed to sunlight for at least 6 hours.
Water the plants immediately and make sure to keep watering regularly as soon as the top of the soil starts becoming dry.
At the time of planting, use fertilizers with higher nitrogen content that release their nutrients slowly and gradually in the soil.
Fertilizers with higher nitrogen content will help the plants germinate faster and increase the growth rate of foliage.
If you want an earlier crop, you can plant the seedlings indoors before the frost season has settled and shift them outside as soon as the temperature becomes warm enough.
This will allow you to harvest the tomatoes before the usual seasonal time.
Better Boy tomatoes start ripening in around 70 days.
If you grew the tomato plants in bulk, it is possible that all the fruits of Better Boy trees might not ripe at the same time. They become ready to harvest in 80 or 90 days.
You will know the fruit is ready to be harvested when it assumes a large, rounded, and firm shape that is bright red in color.
Pick out the fruits regularly that you think have become ripe to decrease the load on the plant.
As these plants are cultivated for commercial use, it is important to ensure that they are stored correctly.
Better boy tomatoes produce ethylene gas that is used to ripen fruits.
If these tomatoes are kept together in a container or wrapped in sheets, the gas produced makes the tomatoes overripe and inedible.
Temperature also affects the ripening and storage of tomatoes.
Extreme temperatures are not suitable if you wish to store your tomatoes soundly.
Such as if tomatoes are placed in the refrigerator at temperatures below 12 degrees Celsius, they will become tasteless and will ripen more slowly.
However, if they’re placed in high temperatures, they will ripen quickly.
Tomatoes can also be dehydrated, canned, frozen, or dried before storing. This will prevent them from spoiling too quickly.
Tomato seeds can also be stored. Just scoop out the seeds from the tomato pulp.
Separate them from the fruit and wash them carefully. Dry the seeds. Make sure there won’t be any residual moisture left on the seeds as it may lead to decay.
Tips for Growing Better Boy Tomato Plant
- Weed is a very common problem while cultivating Better Boy. Keep an eye out for weeds and keep cutting and pruning them or they may compete with your plant’s nutrients and kill them or prevent their germination.
- Make sure your plants are getting a minimum of 6 hours of sun exposure a day.
- Feed your plant with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer in the initial stages of growing.
- Make sure to rotate the crop and not plant it in the soil that has grown potatoes, eggplants, or peppers within three years.
Common Problems With Better Boy Tomato Plant
- If you are planting Better Boy tomatoes in pots, take extra care of watering as these plants dry out earlier in containers.
- The growth of weed may suck the nutrients out of your plants and kill them.
- If the tomatoes are planted too close together, the spaces between the plants may become dense and humid and the growth of diseases may become a common problem. As the spaces are too little, this may also transmit infectious diseases between the different shrubs easily.
- If the water does not seep evenly through the soil, you may notice irregular blooming and fruits that end up growing cracked or split.
- Protect your fruits from birds around the fruiting time as they peck holes in the fruits and ruin them.
Pests and Diseases
One of the many qualities of Better Boy that make it a popular fruiting plant is that it is resistant to two of the most prevailing diseases that attack a tomato plant – Fusarium and Verticillium wilt.
If the crop is properly rotated, it will withstand almost all pests and diseases.
Excess watering may cause early blight of tomato in your Better Boy while excess drying may cause blossom end rot on the fruit.
If your plant shows any signs of diseases or spots, immediately discard your plant to prevent the transmission of infection from one plant to another.
Many specially hybridized varieties of Better Boy tomato such as TMV resistant Better Boy are separately sold.
Frequently Asked Questions About Better Boy Tomato Plant Care
Is this plant poisonous?
Some parts of the plant such as its foliage are poisonous if they are ingested so eat only the fruits. Make sure to wear gloves and take proper care while handling the plant.
I picked out my tomatoes early because the frost season was near. How do I make my tomatoes ripe now?
Place all the tomatoes you want to ripen in a paper bag. Seal the bag from the top and make several, small holes in them. This will keep some of the ethylene gas that tomatoes naturally produce and help the tomatoes to ripen faster. Keep checking the tomatoes every day and when they start becoming redder, check them every few hours as fruits become overripe very easily. Tomatoes normally take from 1 to 5 days to become fully ripe.
Why are my Better Boy tomatoes cracking or splitting?
One of the main reasons why your fruits are growing cracked or split is that you did not water them evenly. Make sure to water them slowly by allowing the water to seep through the layers of soil.
Why are my Better Boy tomatoes small?
Small fruits mean that your plant is under stress and its growing conditions are not being met sufficiently. Make sure that you water your plants well and put them in a place where they receive plenty of light.
Better Boy tomatoes are the most commonly used of all tomato varieties in the world.
Because of their classic tomatoey flavor, they are grown in most parts of the world and eaten in all of them. Therefore, there’ll always a high demand for these tomatoes.
Better Boys require less care as compared to other plants and are handy plants that can be grown in your little vegetable garden as well as in large farms.
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Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.