Tomatoes at 37 Deg.

MarshallkeyMay 12, 2013

Here in So. Central Indiana they are predicting 37 deg in the morning. Sometimes at ground level its a few degrees colder than that. I have 20 tomatoe plants planted . Just wondering if I should cover them and how ?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I put empty nursery pots over mine if the forecast is for possible frost, and remove them first thing in the AM.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 9:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Yes, you sure should cover them. No question.

Blankets, sheets, a plastic tent or tunnel (no leaves touching the plastic, row covers, inverted boxes or pots, etc. Hundreds of cover options available.


    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 1:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

OK, here I am, tail between legs, admitting that I planted too early. In southern Ohio we are also expecting temps in the low 30s. I have 10 tomato plants, each in a 25-gallon pot with a 6-foot tomato cage in place. They outgrew their WOWs, so I had to remove them. The plants are 2-3 feet tall and bushy. I was thinking of draping a 30-gallon garbage bag over each one, but Dave says not to let the plastic touch the plants. Should I go out and buy each plant it's own frost blanket or bed sheet? $$$$!!! I don't know how to protect them without covering the whole cage.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 1:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Here's a photo.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 1:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

If you have any row cover, extra sheets, blankets, towels, etc you can push them through the cages just above the plants so the plants are covered. If it is windy you can use clothes pins clipped to the cages to keep the cover in place.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 1:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

The problem with plastic is it transfer the chill dircetly to what it touches. Sheet plastic tented over each cage staked out like a tepee at the base would seem to provide minimal contact.

Otherwise the plants appear to be small enough that the cages could be removed without doing any damage. If so, that's what I would do and then with a short stake in the pot cover each with a sheets or blanket.

Another alternative is to leave the cages on, wrap one blanket all around the cage and throw another over the top - a blanket smoke-stack so to speak.

Will any of those work?


PS: how cold? If really cold then around midnight - Timmy calls it the "Letterman run" I think for his wood heat - put a jug or two of hot hot water sitting in the cover with each plant.

For future ref - for the price, it is always handy to have a roll of Reemay on hand for situations just as this. We can always hope we never have to use it but it can be a plant saver in emergencies.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 1:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Thanks so much for the great ideas. I just went out and purchased something called Frost Guard, which looks like remay and says it protects down to 30F, and wooden clothes pins. I plan to remove the cages and use stakes to create a teepee over each plant. Am I right in thinking the frost cloth is better than a bed sheet and that it doesn't transmit the cold the way plastic does? So I don't need to be as careful about keeping the fabric from touching the plant?

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 4:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
hoosier40 6a Southern IN

Not far from you Marshallkey. Forecast is for 35 degrees. I am going to cover with 5 gallon buckets. Fortunately I only planted out 10 last week. I was afraid of an extended wet period and decided to chance a few.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 6:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Here's what my tomatoes look like in their frost guard teepee/smoke stacks. I am so glad I invested in Texas Tomato Cages last year. I figured out that I could remove the top halves and have a ready made structure to wrap the frost cloth around. (All you people who are handy at making things can just stop laughing.)

I've been following three different weather sources and the prediction for tonight's low has bounced all over from 38 to (briefly) 32. A frost advisory has just been issued for the Ohio River Valley. Best of luck to all of you with plants outside.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 7:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thax so much for all ur comments . No problem now they are all covered with trash bags , since they are surrounded by cages. . By the way I'm curious. In Florida , citrus fruit and in other parts of the U.S. strawberries etc. I've seen on the media where a hard frost or freeze is coming that they put a water mist on their plants and that protects them. Do you think at these temps. ( 37 DEG ) that one could get up at daylight and if there is a light frost, spray them with a light mist individually with a spray bottle. By the way if there is a light frost I am willing to sacrifice one plant of 20 just to see if this works, so I left 1 uncovered. Just an experiment . Who knows.. On the otherhand of course I'm hoping there is no frost ! We shall see !

This post was edited by Marshallkey on Sun, May 12, 13 at 22:30

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 10:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ohiofem - where did you purchase your tomato cages in the photo? I like those!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 10:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Looking good Ohio - good luck.

Marshall - someone else asked that very question last week so you can probably find that discussion still. The consensus was that it won't work on tomatoes. Their foliage is much more fragile than citrus foliage and tomato plants on the whole are much less cold/frost tolerant than many other fruit.

I found one article that explains exactly how it - creating an ice jacket - is done and how the timing and air temp is crucial (must be exactly 32) and then it must be kept wet at all times.


    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 10:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thx Dave !!!!!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 10:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Hudson: Those are Texas Tomato Cages. Expensive, but far superior to anything already made on the market. Google them.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 11:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I covered my plants with plastic buckets. I always thought that I should remove them first thing in the morning, but the temps are still only in the high 30s. I realize that it should be considerably warmer under the buckets, but should I wait a couple of hours? Or, maybe just raise them up a bit with rocks to get some air circulation?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 9:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

We have freeze watches and warnings all over the place for tomorrow morning. Yes freeze, not frost....yikes!Were spared last night by clouds and a nice breeze. Most of my tomato plants are still in their WOW's but there is still alot of other stuff that will have to be covered or brought inside. Only looks like a one night affair though, then temps are up and running again.

BTW, nice set-up Ohio... :-)

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 9:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Here in Southwest Ohio, according to, it got down to 35 early this morning. My plants appear to be OK, but I'm guessing they could have been weakened. Yesterday I thought we would have only this one night below 40. But now, the forecast is for 39 Tuesday morning. I am going to leave my frost cloth in place one more day and night. One thing I'm learning is that the forecast can change every couple hours.

Good Luck Easterners.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 10:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have 26 tomato plants in the ground and I think they all made it through. I did take the buckets off this morning when it was about 38 but the sun was a shining on them. So, should be okay.

Not too worried about the cold affecting them. I did an experiment last year with a left over seedling. I planted it in a pot on around 4/9/12. I never expected it to survive as I didnt provide it any protection. It twisted, turned, and such. But, once mid-May hit, it grew faster than the rest of my plants that I planted in May. The only thing that stopped it was that it was in too small of a pot.

Now, I am sure every variety is different and some may be more sensitive than others to cold temps and that tomatoes don't generally like it this cold. But, they can be amazingly resilient.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 10:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am in zone 7a and we are supposed to get down to 42 tonight with a dewpoint of 32. I think I won't take a chance and cover mine also. Ohiofem, that is a nice set up! I have Texas tomato cages also and love them. This year I am growing in 15 gallon nursery container. The cages fit down over these and the supports are in the ground. So I am losing about 18 inches of height. May have to order the extensions!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 12:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Supposed to be 32 at 5am tomorrow here. DH said it was 38 when he got up today. My aunt and uncle live 1/2 mile up the hill from us, I imagine it got colder there. She bought 2ft tall tomato plants on Sat (2 for $10) from women's club, he covered them with a blanket last night but they look dead. Surprisingly, the basil looks OK.

I offered them replacements from ones I started (he really wanted cherries anyway and all they had were grapes), the "regular" tomatoes might be something I can't replace since I didn't start many hybrids (have some Best Boys).

This post was edited by ajsmama on Mon, May 13, 13 at 19:02

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 6:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
timmy1(6a ri)

Can we re-titlle the post 'Tomatoes at 27 Deg.'?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 7:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
hoosier40 6a Southern IN

My tomato's made it through under the buckets and I should be home free with high's in the mid 70's to mid 80's and lows in the 60's.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 7:43PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Repotting tomato seedlings - use regular potting mix or orchid mix?
Hi All - I am going to repot some tomato seedlings...
Turbo-Tomato Mulch (Red Plastic) From Gurneys
First time poster here. I wonder if anybody has used...
Overwhelmed with tomato variety options, need some help choosing...
I realize that for many of you tomatophiles, planting...
How Is The Weather ..1- 2015
Spring has arrived early here. The temperatures are...
Seysonn_ 7b-WA/HZ1
Solo Cups vs Ribbed Pots
Cost factor is in favor of the cups, especially if...
hoosier40 6a Southern IN
Sponsored Products
Signore Degli Annelli 72
| Italy Design
Traditional Hydronic Towel Warmer 19.5 x 37 Chrome & White Radiator
Hudson Reed
Polaris Sinks PS1232 90 Deg. Rectangular Stainless Steel Utility Sink
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™