When to plant tomatoes in Adelaide

A guide to growing tomatoes in South Australia.

If you’re looking to grow tomatoes this season, one of the first things to figure out is when exactly you should plant them.

Below, we answer all your questions about planting tomatoes in Adelaide.

When is the best time to plant tomatoes in Adelaide?

The best time to plant tomatoes in Adelaide is in Spring. You can also plant them in Summer.

Adelaide has a temperate climate. In temperate climates, the best time to plant tomatoes is in Spring, once the soil starts to warm up.

It’s best to plant tomatoes once the soil temperature has reached 15–20 degrees Celsius.

However, overnight temperatures may still be low in Adelaide in spring, so late spring may be a better time to plant.

How late can you plant tomatoes in Adelaide?

Tomatoes can still be planted in Adelaide in January, but they will have a shorter time to grow before the end of the season.

Cherry tomatoes are quick growing so have a better chance of maturing before the season ends.

Can you grow tomatoes in Adelaide winter?

No, growing tomatoes in Adelaide winter is generally not recommended.

However, you can grow tomato seedlings indoors during winter and transfer the plants to your garden in late spring.

Tomato plants can be grown in winter using a:

  • Greenhouse
  • Sunroom
  • Sunny windowsill

If you want to try planting tomatoes outdoors during winter, varieties such as the Giant Tree tomato can tolerate cooler temperatures better than other varieties.

But your best bet is best to plant other cool-season crops like carrots, lettuce and onions until it gets warm again.

The best soil for growing tomatoes

Tomatoes are generally tolerant of a wide range of soils and can be grown in almost any soil type.

However, they prefer rich, well-drained soil with high levels of organic matter and do particularly well in loam or sandy loam soils.

Tomatoes like slightly acidic soil (pH level of around 5 to 7).

You can add compost, manure, or fertiliser to improve the quality of your soil.

Growing tomatoes from seed

Tomato seeds can be directly sown into the garden, but it is important that the soil reaches a temperature of 15 degrees November in Adelaide.

You should check the soil temperature each year before planting tomato seeds. You can do this by using a soil thermometer or by calling your local nursery. Once you’ve planted the seeds, water them regularly for two weeks until they sprout.

Tomato pest control

Pests that can attack your tomato plants include fruit flies, aphids, whiteflies, thrips, and caterpillars.

To protect your tomato plants from these pests, be sure to keep a close eye on them. If you’re growing an early crop or if the weather’s warm, they might need extra attention.

If you think you have a pest problem with your tomato plants, don’t fret. There are a number of options for dealing with common pests.

Fertilising tomatoes

If you prepare your soil well, you will not need to fertilise your tomato plants.

However, if you do choose to fertilise your plants, use a low nitrogen variety.

Nitrogen encourages leafy growth at the expense of fruit production, so it is better to focus on other nutrients such as potassium and phosphorus.

Compost and animal manure are two ways to increase the nutrient content of soil and improve water retention for tomatoes.

Watering tomatoes

Tomato plants need different amounts of water at different stages in their growth. When you first plant your tomatoes, give them a small amount of water.

Your tomato plants will only need a little bit of water to moisten the soil.

Keep a soft moist ground by watering around tomato plants and not on top of them. 

As young plants grow, gradually increase the amount of water given to each plant.

Other tomato growing tips

Here are some helpful tips for growing tomatoes in Adelaide:

  • Let tomatoes get plenty of sun. Tomatoes give you the most fruit when they get at least six hours of full sun each day. But if the temperature is really hot, it’s helpful to give your tomato plants some shade on their leaves and fruit. This helps prevent the fruit from burning in the intense heat.
  • Plant early. The best time to plant tomato seeds is in spring, so you can harvest juicy tomatoes all summer long.
  • Don’t replant tomatoes in the same spot each year. When you replant tomatoes on the same site year after year, tomato diseases can build up in the soil; to avoid this, try rotating your crops around your garden every season.
  • Experiment with late-maturing varieties like “Brandy Wine” for an extended harvest period.

Popular tomato varieties

When planting tomatoes in Adelaide, you can choose from many different varieties.

Popular varieties include Gross Lisse, Tommy Toe, Black Russian, Sweet Cherry Gold, Beefsteak, and more.

FAQ

When should you harvest tomatoes in Adelaide?

Tomatoes should be harvested when they are ripe, which will depend on when you planted them. If the stem pulls away from the plant easily, the tomatoes are ripe and ready to eat. Tomatoes taste best when the temperature is around 25°C. Store the tomatoes in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight until you’re ready to eat them.