Tomato plants are one of the most popularly grown plants in the entire world.
It’s estimated that almost 3 billion pounds of tomatoes in the USA alone are produced each year!
Aside from being grown at huge rates commercially, they are also the perfect plant to bring life and fruit to your garden during the spring and summer months.
They are easy to grow and very low maintenance, the ideal plant no matter how much gardening experience you have.
But, how long is the tomato plant’s lifespan?
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How long can a tomato plant live?
Typically, tomato plants live for around 6 months and will die after the first frost. There are ways that you can prolong their lifespans, such as picking the fruits early, practicing regular fertilization, and propagating your plant to create copies of it.
The lifespan of a tomato plant
In general, tomato plants only live for around 6 months. They thrive and grow best during the spring and summer months, but are likely to die as soon as the temperature drops and the first winter frost comes.
However, in some environments where the temperature is always above 60 degrees Fahrenheit with no risk of frost, your tomato plant could survive to bear fruit for another season.
No matter how warm your climate is, this is however still quite uncommon.
Tomato plants are quite prone to diseases, especially as they mature and get older, and it is likely that if frost doesn’t kill your plant a pest or a disease will.
Greenhouse-grown tomatoes may live even longer than the 6 months average, with some even surviving and bearing fruit until late fall.
Again, this is all dependent on your climate, and it is also dependant on ensuring that your greenhouse stays at a consistently warm temperature.
Extending your tomato plant’s life
There are several tips and tricks that will help you extend your tomato plant’s life. This will result in you being able to harvest the fruits of your tomato plant for longer.
One way that you can extend your tomato plant’s life is by picking the fruits of the vine just before they start to ripen.
Tomato plants use quite a lot of energy during their fruit-bearing stage, and removing the fruits early can conserve your plant’s energy to continue growing.
I found that placing unripened tomatoes in a paper bag and then putting them near other ripened fruits makes them ripen much quicker.
You could alternatively choose to place them on a windowsill, where there is lots of indirect sunlight.
Ensuring that you practice good fertilization will also help to prolong your tomato plant’s life.
Tomatoes should be fertilized once planted, and then every 2 weeks during the blossoming and fruit-bearing period.
I would suggest using a simple tomato plant food, which can be purchased from garden centers and plant nurseries.
Almost all tomato fertilizers contain NPK nutrients, which are vital in keeping your tomato plant healthier and strong.
The healthier that your tomato plant is, the less likely it will be to get affected by life-threatening diseases, and the quicker it will recover if it does.
Propagating tomato plants
Propagating your tomato plant is another way that you can extend your plant’s life. Propagating a tomato plant from cuttings will create a copy (or clone) of your original plant.
There are various methods for this task, but I find this method the easiest.
The best months to take tomato plant cuttings are during May and June. Although, if you live in a warmer climate you could choose to do so at any point in your plant’s growing period.
Start by using a pair of sterilized pruning shears to cut off any side shoots from your tomato plant. These should be around 15-20 cm long, and shouldn’t have any blossoms or fruits growing on them.
Remove the lower leaves from the freshly cut shoot, and place the stem of the cutting in a glass of water. You can choose to leave this glass on a windowsill that gets lots of indirect sunlight, or in a greenhouse.
Keep topping up the water regularly, and within a few weeks, you should start to see signs of roots growing.
Once your new cuttings’ root system have become strong, it’s safe to transfer them into a pot.
Plant into a pot with a soil mix that is has high moisture-retaining qualities, such as the sandy loam variety.
You have now created a copy of your original tomato plant, which should be ready to bear blossoms and eventually fruit within the next month.
Top tip – I would suggest only taking cuttings from your healthiest tomato plants, as these are more likely to root and turn into new and viable plants.
Frequently Asked Questions about How Long Can A Tomato Plant Live?
Do tomato plants die after fruiting?
This all depends on the variety of tomato plants you are growing. Some may die after the final fruits mature, where others may continue growing until the season is over and colder months set in.
Should I compost a dead tomato plant?
Depending on the reason, you can compost dead tomato plants and the soil that they have been grown in. You should however avoid composting any plants that have been affected by disease or pests at any point during their life, as this could result in any infection spreading to your plants next season.
Can my tomato plant live longer if I plant it early?
Planting your tomato plant early probably won’t have that much effect on how long it lives. I would personally advise against planting them too early, especially if the weather is still cold and frosty, as this can affect the future growth of your plant and could cause frost damage.
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.