“Determinate” varieties grow for a shorter period of time, all the tomatoes will ripen at once, and then the plant stopsPlants that produce small, cherry-sized tomatoes in abundance generally do better indoors than larger slicing varieties. They're also handy for popping into your mouth or into salad in the dead of winter. Tomato plants can grow upwards of 10 feet, so the variety you choose to grow is important when growing them indoors. One type most appropriate for indoor growing are so-called micro dwarf varieties, like Red Robin, which will reach only about a foot tall. Mohamed, Yellow Canary, and Florida Petite are also good plants for indoor growing. varieties can be easier to grow in a container as they require minimal or no staking. “Indeterminate” varieties continue to grow and produce indefinitely, and they usually require staking.
In my opinion, the best tomato varieties to grow indoors and outdoors are heirlooms. Cloning your outdoor heirlooms is an easy end-of-season hobby.
If you have grown outdoor heirloom cherry or patio tomatoes and would like to have one or more of them indoors until planting outdoors in spring, or for fresh eating, you can begin to clone it a month or so before it would naturally die. You can use this method to prepare transplants for spring, or grow the heirloom plant for eating fresh tomatoes through winter. Choose indeterminate varieties that grow and produce all the time for plants that will go into the spring garden. Determinates will give you one crop, all at the same time, in a set number of days, but that's ok, too. If You're growing tomatoes indoors for eating throughout the winter and for transplanting, you can clone and have both. But only the indeterminates will produce again in the garden.
first.... you can't just bring in a tomato plant after it's done doing it's
thing and get tomatoes.
cloning process outdoors. I stick quite a few healthy cuttings from my best
plants close together
into a large fabric grow bag with well-draining, quality potting soil. While
the plant you choose is still thriving outdoors, cut off a few young and healthy
tops from plants that
obviously won't have time to be productive anymore. I try to cut at least a 6-10
inch piece from each plant. You can plant them close because you're just rooting
cuttings which will be transplanted into pots when they're ready.
Plant 1 plant in each planter you choose, and make it big enough so that it can grow indoors and not be transplanted again until spring. If your plant is determinate, you might get a crop before spring, indoors. If the plant is dwarf or cherry indeterminate, you might get a batch of tomatoes on a constant basis from these little plants. They are heirloom clones, and will be exactly like its parents, true to variety. I cut more stems than i need, and if i have too many, I will gift them to friends to plant outdoors in spring. My plant varieties are hard for me to find, so i take no chances.
You can successfully repeat this process every year if the original plant doesn't begin to die before you cut it. Be patient, it will take a few weeks for the cuttings to be happy plants. Pinch your plants over the winter, and fertilize as you would when growing in the ground. Most important is the 8+ hours of sun, natural and/or grow lights, and plenty of water. Cloning your heirloom plants is a great way to pass on some gardening history, and keep a favorite variety true to the original. There are many heirlooms that disappeared, and here's your chance to perpetuate a species and hand them down. Saving seeds is best, but my varieties have very few tiny seeds and almost no pulp. I let my friends do that if they wish, from the tomatoes i've given them.
The following varieties are heirlooms and hybrids you can try indoors.
Remember..... Determinate varieties grow for a determined period of time, to a determined size, all the tomatoes will ripen at once, and then the plant stopsvarieties can be easier to grow in a container as they require minimal or no staking. Indeterminate varieties continue to grow and produce indefinitely, and they require more care. Not too much more, except for finding space for them, and staking tall plants. Indeterminate varieties are best if you're going to move the plants and plant them in-ground in spring. Determinate is a good choice if you're just growing tomatoes indoors for your winter fix.
Ripening time is from seed to harvest. Transplants will take less time to ripen.
Baxter's Early Bush
Pink Ping Pong
Silvery Fir Tree
Tips for growing tomatoes indoors
You should keep tomato plants between 60°-90° F., but the optimal range is 72°-82° F.
I do not fool with seeds much, I'm impatient and not very good at taking the time. I get my instant gratification by purchasing seedlings from online nurseries. You can certainly grow from seed, if you wish.
Tomato plants love sun. If sunlight is not abundant (they need at least 8 hrs. of sunlight/day), use one of the dozens of types of grow light setups that are available. I use them for an indoor garden, and my plants do great all winter. There's one type that is on a telescoping stand, and it has 3 or4 twisty arms - which is great for over tall and shorter plants at the same time, there are clip-on types you can use on shelving units, there are also hanging panels that you can hook from hooks in beams and such in your basement or attic.
I particularly like using the light bulb replacements in warm white. They look just like regular everyday lightbulbs and shine in white, but they're grow bulbs. I use a few gooseneck lamps with these bulbs and bend to my satisfaction. They take very little energy, last a long time, and do a great job. I attached a timer - the kind you use when you go away and your lights magically turn on when you want them to. Most of the stand types come with a timer attached as an option. I have them set for 12-18 hr. sessions, they shut off automatically, then turn on automatically. Nothing for me to remember for the basement plants. All are hooked up to 8 ft. long 6-outlet extension cords that are also connected to each other, so i get lots of coverage. Cords are hidden behind or between the plants in a color that doesn't stick out. The stand lights are easily dismantled and tucked away when you expect company and need room, or at the end of the indoor growing season. Tiny cherry tomatoes can be planted in hanging baskets and hung in front of sunny windows. Clamp types are great for shelf-sitting plants. Use long surge protecting extension cords. They can hold 6 plugs and cover an entire room's lighting.
Plant as you would outdoors - Plant your seedlings by burying the stems to about the middle of the plant. You will have stronger plants, not skinny, spindly ones. Roots grow all along the stem, so plant them as deep as you like, for a husky specimen. Put the seedlings in a large pot with potting mix, and move the pots to the sunny place you picked out earlier, and the tomato plants will grow to full size. Choose a large enough pot, and you won't have to transplant them again.
I fertilize when I plant, then every two weeks. I use diluted fish emulsion fertilizer. I occasionally toss a little epsom salt in the pot and water it in. You can use either of these as a foliar spray - just mix some up in a plant mister and go to town every few weeks. My plants respond very well to the fertilizers.
Stake, if and when necessary. Water
regularly and turn the plant now and then to get even sunlight on all parts.
Pinch the daylights out of 'em - they like it, and it helps keep them bushy. I pinch back the top a little when they reach 6 inches, then I pinch them back a few inches again when they are 12 Inches tall. I like to do a last pinch when the plant reaches 18 inches - Never prune micro dwarf varieties. Prune if you’re growing indeterminate tomatoes (vining plants that grow all season long) or determinate tomatoes that do all their growing in a short, fixed period. Prune the suckers. Pinch the suckers off with your fingers or cut them with pruners, leaving a small piece of stem.
It usually takes indoor tomato plants around 60 to 80 days to produce fruit, just as they do outdoors. Pick tomatoes before they’re red and ripe, allowing them to fully ripen afterward. This reduces cracking and insect damage. If tomatoes are harvested at half ripe, or red justnear the shoulder area, let them ripen on the kitchen counter, and they will be fully ripe within a few days. The flavor will be the equal to vine-ripened. To pick a tomato, grab it near the stem and twist to snap it off.
Grow some windowsill basil and parsley and a few leafy mesclun or buttercrunch lettuces, and you'll have a fine indoor Italian tomato sauce, caprese salad, and antipasto ingredient garden to pluck in winter.