Do I Need to Plant New Tomato Plant Every Year?

coco-nut(9)April 11, 2012

Before I posted this I did research but became more confused about this topic.

See, I planted some a Japanese Tomato plant called a Momotaro last year from a starter plant I got a Japanese store. It grew fine and big, had plenty of tomatoes too. Well, now that Spring is here and it survived winter it is producing tomatoes again but they are small. Very small, much smaller than they were last year. They ripen into red tomatoes that are the size of a ping pong ball at best.

I am wondering why the tomatoes are so small. Is it because it's not "season" and the flowers that grew on the tomato were produced during the "cold" season and now that it is early Spring it's too early for a good crop or is it because the plant is a year old and tomatoes should be replanted every year?

Reason I question if that is the reason is, I research and read that people are always saying that you need to plant new tomatoes every year because if you don't the frost will kill the plant so you need to replant. But here is the thing, in the greater Los Angeles area we do experience frosts at times but not often and this Winter I don't recall one frost at all, it's been a warm winter. So my plant was not killed by frost, it flowered during Winter and those flowers fruited but into small tomatoes.

So should I pull the plant out now and plant a new one since it's that time of year again or will the new crop fruit big tomatoes since it's even warmer now than the previous few months? Should I chance it and see if it does so or should I pull the plant and replant as to not chance the tomatoes being small again and waste all this time while I could have planted a new plant and harvest bigger tomatoes later on.

I see plenty of questions about should one plant every year rather than keep the plant but I have not seen anyone ask about this from warm weather places like So Cal. I can understand if one lives in Michigan, yes yank the plant and plant a new one because it freezes up there but where I am there is no such things as freezing. We can grow just about anything except for coconut trees and Durian and a few other things.



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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

It is an indeterminate variety, vining, so in theory it will live and produce until killed by frost or disease. That's in theory.

But as the plant ages and the vines become longer, the circulatory system is compromised, the stem diameter shrinks, nutrient uptake is reduced, leaves begin to die from the bottom of the plant upwards, and it produces less and less fruit and much smaller fruit. That is why most prefer to plant new plants each season.

It is your choice of course but IMO there is little to be gained by saving it assuming tomatoes are your goal.


    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 6:20PM
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digdirt, thank you for the info. I will take your advice and get rid of the existing plant and start over. I have some seeds from a tomato I got off the plant so I'm hoping that the seeds will sprout and I can have a new Momotaro Tomato plant. I might just buy a starter Momotaro plant or two and plant those and if the seeds I have work then I'll give them away to friends or family when they get big enough to transplat.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 8:54PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Uhhh Momotaro is a hybrid variety. Like most hybrid varieties it will not breed true from seed. If you want real Momotaro tomatoes you will have to buy new plants or purchase commercial seeds to grow your own.


    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 9:14PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

coco-nut, if you don't find Momotaro seedlings at your Japanese store, you can buy seeds online from Evergreen Seeds, Kitazawa Seed, or Tomato Growers Supply. The first two specialize in Asian vegetables. The last two will send you mail-order catalogs.

One package would probably give you about 2 dozen seeds, and if you store them in a cool, dry place, they'll last for multiple years.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 10:48PM
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digdirt thanks for the info. Now I know from what you say that starting a plant from the seeds of the tomato I got off the plant will not work so I will have to go out and buy some starter plants or commercially available seeds. I'll just buy the starter plant.

missingtheobvious, thanks for the info. Originally I bought the plant from Marukai in Japanese Town Los Angeles. I have been there a bunch of times since and never saw these again, then again it's not a regular item and I don't go there often. I lucked out when I bought the plant.

There is a nursery run by Japanese Americans by the way, called The San Gabriel Nursery and it's near me. They have the starter plants for pretty good price so I'll buy a couple of those and if they have the seeds too I'll buy some. I'll plant the starter plants and be done with that but it would be nice to have the seeds for next year too since you said they'll last multiple years. If the nursery does not have them I'll buy the seeds from the online stores you recommend.

Thank you both.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 11:11PM
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You could take cuttings off your older plant, if it's not diseased in any way.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 11:33AM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

Ditto Tracy! They root very easy Coco!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 1:34PM
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I just bought some new plants today at the San Gabriel Nursery. $1.95 each so I got four, two for my mom and two for myself. Planting one in a big pot and one in the ground where the old one was.

Here is the San Gabriel Nursery web site if you are curious -

I have before tried to cut suckers off the plant and replant and hope it rooted but no luck. I gotta try again.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 5:20PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Another option is bending down a long stem so it contacts the soil (perhaps 12-18" from the tip), weighting it with something (the proverbial brick, landscape staples, whatever), and keeping that soil damp. You'll get roots.

Suckers are supposed to root better in soil than in water.

Pinch off any buds so the new plant can concentrate on making roots.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 7:57PM
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