how much cold can they tolerate

ccwoodMarch 8, 2009

just wondering what the average cold temperature that most tomatoes can withstand without freezing of killing the plants. i'm tring to figure out when to put them in the unheated greenhouse beofre putting them in the ground.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It does depend on the variety a little bit, for my coldframe I have an old thermostat and two small heating rods. My thermostat is set at 44/45 degrees. I have to supplement with an old blanket covering the whole top and most of the sides if the temp is going to get below 40 degrees.
So with an enclosure like your unheated greenhouse 40 degrees plus should be maintained.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2009 at 1:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
cirtes(U:10 - S:21)

I have 8 plants in the ground since mid February in zone 10. Low temps went down to 39 but typically we are upper 40s low, 70s high at this point with a lot of sun. All the plants are happy and growing.

If your prevailing conditions in the greenhouse will be favorable, with a few odd days here and there that drop down below 40 but above freeze, your plants will be just fine if they get enough sun to warm up during the day.

If the forecast calls for a few cold nights, just light a candle in the greenhouse before going to bed. It can increase the temperature in an enclosed area by up to 20 degrees. The Inuit in Alaska did this in their igloos.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2009 at 2:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
eaglesgarden(6b - se PA)


How big an enclosed space, and how big a candle?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 12:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bobb_2002(Z6 S.W. CT)

A Roman Candle?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 10:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
yardenman(z7 MD)

They are tropical plants. Just keep that in mind. I think 50 degrees is a good minimum.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 5:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

In the San Jose, CA area, I go from garage to garden on April 15th. Tax day is an easy one to remember. At that point the night time lows are typically in the 50's. I've found that putting them out earlier has never done any good, and occasionally can have very bad results.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 11:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 12:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am in zone 9, and have 5-6 varieties of tomatoes growing in an outside garden. I have had them uncovered as low as 34 degrees, and they are all fine. If it drops to 32 or below, they will die. I had a whole crop die like that a year ago.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 10:31AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

120F = Severe heat, but if plenty of water is available, the plants are fine. This temp is way above levels at which pollination can take place. Plants with heavy fruit set may show stress. Nutrient transfer imbalances occur because the plant is busy moving water into leaves instead of moving nutrients into fruit.

92F = This is the temp at which pollen starts clumping and blossoms begin to drop.

70F to 92F = This is the goldilocks zone. Tomatoes grow prolifically, flowers set readily, plants need maximum fertility in the soil. The high end of this range is optimum for spread of several foliage diseases.

65F to 72F = the best temperature to grow seedlings.

50F to 65F = this is the beginning of cold stress. Tomato plants in this range grow slowly, often produce anthcyanins (turn purple), and become pale green from loss of chlorophyll function.

32F to 50F = This is the range where normal tomato plants show severe cold stress. Leaves shrivel, turn yellow, wilt, stems lose turgor, roots stop absorbing water. If your plants get this cold overnight, you can reverse the effects by raising the temperature above 90 degrees the next day for the same length of time they were too cold!

28F to 32F = This is the maximum range most tomatoes can withstand without freezing. Note that if frost forms on the leaves, then the leaves will freeze and die. The plant may live and can form new leaves, but the stunting effects take quite a bit of time to overcome.

22F to 28F = This is the range that a few select varieties can withstand for brief periods of time but stipulating that frost on the leaves will still kill them.

15F to 22F = This is the range that a few Russian cultivars are reported to survive, again only if frost does not form. The reports I have read indicate that this tolerance is only for a limited time period, in other words, repeated low temps for 3 days or more will still kill the plants.

0F to 15F = A few Russian cultivars are able to handle temps this low for brief periods of time. This is the low end of the range that wild tomato species S. Habrochaites, S. Chilense, and S. Lycopersicoides can withstand.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 2:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
potterhead2(z5b NY)

This is really helpful! Thanks!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 1:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Good info - bumping

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 5:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

O" this thread is old, but the subject is valid.

Just this season, in late May, we had several night that the temps dipped down to 39, 41, 42, .. and many nights in HI 40s. This was , of course out of the norm. But the tomatoes survived without any protection but cucumbers died and eggplants stunted. So tomatoes are pretty tolerant of cold, more than most people think. But the thing is that they will not grow much, until the lows get around 48F+.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 7:02AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Late May we had nights under 50, days almost 90, of course June a foot of rain, sporadic 90 degree days, heat wave (90+) last week plus dry July - so blossoms dropping. Now raining buckets, could get up to 3" today! I am beginning to think we won't get any ripe tomatoes at all this year, unless weather continues warmer than usual and frost holds off well into October.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 9:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi have a small greenhouse in Va. Beach. Seen something on E How about growing tomatoes in the winter they have a good idea of putting plants on shelf about 3 ft off the ground and putting hardwood mulch on ground and water it once a week. It will decay and give off heat going to try it this year sounds like it will work. Just changed our heating in house to heat pump now have 100 gls. of heating oil tiring to figure out a way to use it to heat my greenhouse without killing me or my plants any ideas folks. ty gussmo

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 8:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What you are talking about will help if there is enough nitrogen in the mulch.
I have a small greenhouse attached to the workshop and use an old solar hot water panel with a water heater in the line for backup.
The key for tomatoes is to keep the soil warm enough. They will survive air temperatures near freezing. Of course, if frost develops on the leaves, as stated above, they are history. Very dark clear nights can also be a killer because the leaves will radiate too much heat.
Several of us are working on a truly freeze tolerant tomato and are making some progress. Darrel, who posted above, has done the most work and we owe him big time.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2013 at 12:34AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Soil temperature is also a factor. But in early spring (past LF date) soil temp should be much higher than night lows. Average ground temp (few feet below) range 55F to 65F. But when the air temps are in 40s or lower, the soil will cool off. This is especially the case with narrow raised beds, that cool down deeper than flat ground bed. To help this situation plastic covers can be useful for a while.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2013 at 5:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We have also tried circulating warm water through tubing in the soil. A 4x8 solar panel will easily heat a 10x20 foot bed. Some of our earliest tomatoes go out in those areas. Landscape cloth really raises the soil temperature as well.
Here is one of our fields the winter before last. The tomato plants are underneath the cones.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 8:27AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Tell apart a Cherokee Purple and Black from Tula?
This year I decided to plant a mixed bag of seeds since...
The Color Of Tomato
Do you remember the movie called The Color Of Money...
Seysonn_ 7b-WA/HZ1
What is wrong with this leaf?
This Pink Brandywine has one bottom leaf that is dry...
Quick Start
I sowed 6 tomato varieties yesterday in frozen garden...
Container size for tomatos
I'm considering some of the larger tomato plants. How...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™