Tomato Plant & Pepper Plant Care Tips


Thank you for purchasing plants at our 2nd annual summer tomato sale, we appreciate your patronage!

This information is provided especially for you, our gardening friends who purchased plants at Southwest Gardener’s

 plant sale on August 18, 2012.  Be sure to come to our tomato plant sale in mid-February 2013.


I want you to be successful in your gardening endeavors, when you are successful, I am successful.




Here is some information that might be helpful & a few tips on growing tomatoes & peppers.


The tomato & pepper transplants you purchased are not greenhouse grown. They have been

grown out in the full all day sun, under 30% shade cloth & are as acclimated as any plant

could be to our hot temperatures & dry climate.  This does not mean they are indestructible.

These plants have been carefully grown in such a way, that the sun did not ever strike the

side of the pot, but the plants were in the full sun.


When you take your plants home, plant them as soon as possible.  Plants can be held for

several days, however, the sooner you get them planted, the happier they will be.

Do not bring them inside the house, or place them in deep all day shade,

this will only “soften” the plants, & more likely than not,

they will not survive when you plant them into your garden.


If you are unable to plant your plants right away, do one of the following:


Put your plants in a cardboard box that totally shades the pots, but allows the plants

to be in the sun. Keep them in an area that gets 6 to 8 hours of direct full morning sun,

& afternoon shade, and water daily.




Put your plants under 30% to 50% percent shade cloth.

Keep them in an area that gets full direct sun for 8 or more hours each day, and water daily.


The greatest success will come from you covering your newly planted transplants with

30% to 50% shade cloth, until they have rooted in and put on 6” of new growth, or until

the daytime temperatures are regularly 100° or lower. Using more dense shade cloth is not

recommended or beneficial.  You don’t have to use shade cloth, but it will help your young

transplants to establish themselves more quickly.

This is especially true if the temperatures are 105° or greater.


Whether you choose to use shade cloth or not, right now watering properly is the most

important thing you can do to insure success.  You can’t over-water with any one watering.

You can, however, keep the soil too constantly wet by watering too frequently.

When the temperatures are hot it is easy to keep a plant too wet, & cause the roots to rot.

The best way to prevent this from happening is to check your plant daily for water--don’t

just assume that it needs water.  It is possible that your plants could look wilted during

the heat of the day even when the soil is wet.  When this happens, the plant is letting out

more water through the leaves than it can pull up out of the soil with its roots.

As the temperature cools in the evening, the plant should perk up.

Always check the soil moisture level before making the decision to water.


After planting, water your tomato or pepper starts very well, so the root ball is wet

& the soil around the root ball is thoroughly saturated.  For the first week or two, check

your plants for water daily by sticking your finger in the root ball, not the surrounding soil.

You may not have to water daily, but check daily.  Don’t just cruise by & look at the soil,

since it’s possible for the root ball to be bone dry even though the soil around it is saturated.

By checking right at the root ball with your finger, you’ll know what’s really going on.

When the root ball is between damp & dry, thoroughly water it again.


Whether your plants will be planted in the ground, or grown in pots, place them in an area

that gets 6 or more hours of direct sun daily.  Vegetable plants that flower & fruit need 6 or

more hours of sun to produce fruit.  In less sun fruit production will be greatly diminished.


Tips for Tomatoes or Peppers planted in containers.


Until the temperatures are 100° or less, shade the container.  Plants in containers are

subjected to the hot temperatures more than plants in the ground.  When the temperature

is 110° the soil in the pot can be 110°.  If the sun is striking the side of the pot, it will

superheat the soil & cook the roots of the plant.  As a side note, I have never heard

anyone report back to me that they have had success planting in one of those upside

down, hanging containers.  I don’t recommend planting in them.


Two weeks after planting your starts in containers, begin to fertilize on a monthly basis.

Use an organic liquid fertilizer specially formulated for vegetables & tomatoes, or

vegetables & flowers, or fish emulsion.  Follow the application rate on the package.

Remember: more is not better.


Tips for Tomatoes or Peppers planted in the ground.


Two weeks after planting your starts in the ground, begin to fertilize on a monthly basis.

Use an organic fertilizer specially formulated for vegetables & tomatoes, or vegetables &

flowers.  Dry granular fertilizers are usually more economical than liquid fertilizers, &

better suited for soil application.  There is no reason, however, that you cannot use

liquid fertilizers or fish emulsion for in-ground plantings.  Be sure to follow the

application rate on the package. Remember: more is not better.


Things to expect.


Plants may wilt during the heat of the day.  Once temperatures are cooler, & plants

begin to establish, they should stop wilting.


Tomato plant leaves may curl up or curl down.  This is usually a reaction to heat stress.

Once the temperatures are cooler, this should stop happening.


There are a lot of moths & butterflies at this time of year.  Moths & butterflies are

responsible for a variety of different types of caterpillars.  Pick caterpillars off as you find

them & squish them.  If that is too much for you to handle, then spray with B.T.

This is a natural insecticide that only kills caterpillars; it won’t kill aphids, mites, beetles

or beneficial insects, just caterpillars.  It is most effective when the caterpillars are small.

The caterpillars must ingest the B.T., so be sure to spray the plant’s leaves very

thoroughly, front & back.


For aphids, try hosing them off with water.  If that doesn’t control the problem,

use insecticidal soap.


For beetles, use Pyrethrin.


Always spray early in the morning or late in the evening.



 [This page was last updated on August 18, 2012] Desert Wildflowers