When should I plant tomatoes in Virginia?
When to Plant Tomatoes in Virginia – A garden annual, tomatoes – Latin name Solanum lycopersicum) – produce fruit more plentifully when temperatures – both air and soil temperatures – remain within a particular range. For gardeners in Virginia, the best time to plant tomatoes outside is in spring.
Tomatoes, no matter which tomato it is – Black Russian tomatoes, Campari, Beefmaster tomatoes, Cuore di Bue tomato, or whatever – do thrive when the weather is warm to reasonably hot. But when temperatures are too high it will have the opposite impact – tomato plants will produce very little to no fruit.
If the temperature during the daytime rises above 90 F while nighttime temperatures rise above 70 F, chances are good that your tomatoes will set little or no fruit.
As such, in Virginia, the best time to set tomato transplants – plant them out – is early on in the spring. This way the plants will produce fruit – hopefully, a lot of it – before the summertime heat soars.
All the same, tomato plants are, likewise, sensitive to frost. This means that you cannot set your transplants out before the last spring frost. Not unless you wish to provide the plants with frost protection.
The following table lists approximate first and last frost dates for various cities in Virginia. Note that the dates provide a probability of 30 percent. Frost dates are averaged from 30 years of data (1981-2010).
Tap the chart to enlarge
In Virginia, tomato planting dates typically range between the date the final frost is expected throughout the following seven to eight weeks. This makes the middle of June to be the harvesting period for those that plant straight after the final frost date.
When to Plant Tomatoes in Virginia – Last Frost Dates in Virginia
In eastern Virginia, the Tidewater region typically becomes frost-free sometime between April 10 and April 21. Piedmont in the central part of Virginia has an average final frost date also in April – between April 20 and April 30. The western Mountain region is the last region in Virginia to become entirely free of frost – between May 10 and May 15.
Planting Dates for Tomatoes in Virginia
Based on the frost dates provided, in Tidewater, you should aim to plant your tomatoes outside between April 10 and May 30. Piedmont – aim to plant out between April 20 and June 9. As for the Mountain region, optimal dates for planting tomatoes outside are May 10 through end of June.
For reasons already explained you should aim to plant as early as you can within these dates. That way you greatly raise the opportunity to enjoy a copious supply of fruit. Mind you, the earlier you do plant outside the more chance that frost will be the enemy of your plants.