Growing Tomatoes in Arkansas: Expert Tips & Tricks for Success

Welcome to our guide on growing tomatoes in Arkansas! As one of the most popular crops in the state, tomatoes are a staple of many gardens and farms. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, growing tomatoes in Arkansas can be a rewarding and delicious experience.

In this article, we’ll provide you with expert tips and tricks to help you grow the best tomatoes possible in Arkansas. We’ll cover everything from choosing the right tomato varieties to caring for your plants to preventing and managing common tomato diseases.

So if you’re ready to get started on your tomato-growing journey in Arkansas, let’s dive in!

Choosing the Right Tomato Varieties for Arkansas

Arkansas is home to a variety of tomato cultivars that thrive in the state’s unique climate. When deciding which variety to grow, it’s important to consider factors such as the growing season, pest resistance, and the intended use of the tomatoes.

One of the most popular tomato varieties in Arkansas is the Celebrity tomato. This variety has a high yield and is commonly used for slicing and canning. Other popular varieties include the Arkansas Traveler, which is known for its heat tolerance, and the Mountain Pride, which has a long growing season and produces large tomatoes perfect for sandwiches.

Choosing the Right Type of Tomato for Your Garden

When selecting a tomato type for your garden, it’s important to consider the intended use of the tomatoes as well as their growth habits. Determinate tomatoes, for example, are perfect for container gardens or small spaces because they grow to a predetermined height, while indeterminate tomatoes continue growing and need to be staked or supported.

Some popular tomato types for Arkansas gardens include:

  • Beefsteak tomatoes: These large, meaty tomatoes are perfect for sandwiches and burgers.
  • Cherry tomatoes: These small, bite-sized tomatoes are perfect for snacking and salads.
  • Roma tomatoes: These paste tomatoes are perfect for canning and making sauces.
  • Heirloom tomatoes: These unique varieties come in a range of colors and flavors and are perfect for the adventurous gardener.

Consider Disease Resistance

Arkansas is prone to a variety of tomato diseases, including early and late blight, so it’s important to choose a variety that is resistant to common tomato diseases in the region. Some resistant varieties available in Arkansas include the Mountain Fresh, Bella Rosa, and BHN 444.

When selecting tomato varieties for your Arkansas garden, it’s important to consider the intended use of the tomatoes, growth habits, and disease resistance. With the right variety, you’re sure to enjoy a bountiful harvest of delicious, home-grown tomatoes.

The Best Time to Plant Tomatoes in Arkansas

Timing is crucial when it comes to planting tomatoes in Arkansas. The ideal time to start seeds indoors is 6-8 weeks before the last frost date, which typically falls in mid-April. This will give you a head start on the growing season and ensure that your tomato plants are strong and healthy before being transplanted outdoors.

It is important to note that Arkansas has a relatively short growing season, so it is best to transplant seedlings outdoors by early May at the latest. This will allow the plants to establish themselves before the hot summer temperatures arrive.

For those who prefer to plant directly outdoors, wait until the soil temperature reaches at least 60°F before planting. This typically occurs in late April or early May, depending on your location in the state.

When planting, be sure to space tomato plants at least 2-3 feet apart to allow for proper airflow and prevent the spread of diseases. Water the plants deeply and regularly, ensuring that the soil remains consistently moist but not waterlogged.

By following these guidelines for planting tomatoes in Arkansas, you can give your plants the best possible chance of success and enjoy a bountiful harvest of fresh, juicy tomatoes.

Essential Tomato Planting Tips for Arkansas

Growing tomatoes in Arkansas can be a rewarding experience, but it requires a bit of planning and attention to detail. Here are some essential tips to help you get the most out of your tomato plants:

1. Soil Preparation

Tomatoes require well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Before planting, loosen the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches and mix in plenty of compost or aged manure. This will help improve soil structure and provide nutrients that will support healthy growth.

2. Proper Spacing

Tomato plants need plenty of room to grow, so be sure to space them at least 2-3 feet apart in rows that are 4-5 feet apart. This will give the plants plenty of room to develop strong root systems and will help prevent overcrowding.

3. Watering

Tomatoes need consistent moisture to thrive, so be sure to water them regularly. Aim to give them 1-2 inches of water per week, either through rainfall or irrigation. It’s also important to avoid getting water on the leaves, as this can promote disease.

4. Mulching

Mulching is a great way to help retain moisture in the soil and suppress weeds. Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or shredded leaves, around the base of each plant, being careful not to cover the stems. This will help keep the soil moist and cool, which tomatoes love.

5. Choosing the Right Fertilizer

Tomatoes are heavy feeders and will benefit from regular applications of fertilizer. Choose a balanced fertilizer that is high in phosphorus, which will help promote strong root growth and flower development. Avoid using too much nitrogen, which can lead to lush foliage but few fruits.

6. Sun and Heat Exposure

Tomatoes need plenty of sunlight to produce fruit, so be sure to plant them in a spot that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. They also need warm temperatures to thrive, so avoid planting them too early in the season when temperatures are still cool.

By following these essential tips, you can help ensure a successful tomato harvest in Arkansas. Happy gardening!

Caring for Tomatoes in Arkansas: Maintenance and Support

Once your tomato plants are in the ground, they require ongoing care and maintenance to ensure a fruitful and healthy harvest. Here are some tips on how to care for your Arkansas tomato plants:


Tomatoes require regular fertilization to boost growth and yield. Apply a balanced fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium every 3-4 weeks during the growing season. Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can lead to excessive foliage growth instead of fruit production.


Pruning helps to keep your tomato plants under control and ensures they direct their energy towards producing fruit. Remove any suckers that grow in the crotch between the main stem and the side branches. Pinch off the top of the main stem once it reaches your desired height to encourage lateral growth.

Staking or Cage Support

Tomatoes can grow tall, heavy, and leggy, which can cause them to break or become susceptible to disease. Staking or cage support is essential for keeping your plants upright and healthy. Use wooden stakes or metal cages to provide support, and tie your plants to the structure with soft twine or fabric strips.

Pest Control

Tomatoes are vulnerable to a variety of pests, including aphids, whiteflies, and tomato hornworms. Consider using natural insect repellents, such as neem oil or garlic spray, to deter pests. Inspect your plants regularly and remove any diseased or damaged leaves or fruit to prevent the spread of disease.

By following these tips for ongoing care and maintenance, you can help your Arkansas tomato plants thrive and produce a bountiful harvest.

Common Tomato Diseases in Arkansas and How to Prevent Them

While growing tomatoes in Arkansas can be a rewarding experience, they are susceptible to several common diseases. Early blight, late blight, and blossom end rot are a few of the most prevalent diseases that gardeners face. Here are some tips on how to prevent and manage these diseases.

Early Blight

Early blight is a fungal disease that affects the leaves of the tomato plant. It starts as small dark spots on the lower leaves and gradually spreads upward, causing the leaves to turn yellow and wilt. Here are some tips on how to prevent and manage early blight:

  • Plant disease-resistant tomato varieties.
  • Avoid planting tomatoes in the same spot every year.
  • Water at the base of the plant and avoid getting water on the leaves.
  • Remove infected leaves and destroy them.
  • Apply a copper fungicide according to the instructions on the label.

Late Blight

Late blight is another fungal disease that affects the leaves and fruit of the tomato plant. It starts as water-soaked spots on the leaves and can quickly spread, causing the fruit to rot. Here are some tips on how to prevent and manage late blight:

  • Avoid planting tomatoes in areas where late blight has occurred in the past.
  • Water at the base of the plant and avoid getting water on the leaves.
  • Remove infected leaves and destroy them.
  • Apply a copper fungicide according to the instructions on the label.

Blossom End Rot

Blossom end rot is a physiological disorder that affects the fruit of the tomato plant. It appears as a brown, water-soaked spot at the bottom of the fruit and can cause the fruit to become misshapen or unusable. Here are some tips on how to prevent and manage blossom end rot:

  • Ensure that the soil has adequate calcium levels by adding lime or gypsum if necessary.
  • Water regularly and evenly to avoid fluctuations in soil moisture levels.
  • Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers which can interfere with calcium uptake.

By following these tips, you can help prevent and manage common tomato diseases in Arkansas and enjoy a bountiful tomato harvest.

Organic Tomato Gardening in Arkansas: Tips for Natural Cultivation

Organic tomato gardening is an excellent way to promote sustainability and reduce the impact of chemical gardening practices on the environment. If you’re looking to grow tomatoes in Arkansas, there are several organic gardening techniques you can use to improve soil health, encourage natural pest control, and optimize crop growth.

Use Organic Fertilizers

Organic fertilizers, such as compost, fish emulsion, and bone meal, are excellent alternatives to chemical fertilizers. They help promote healthy soil by adding valuable nutrients, improving soil structure, and encouraging the growth of beneficial microorganisms. When using organic fertilizers, be sure to follow instructions carefully and avoid over-fertilizing, which can damage plants and deplete soil health.

Practice Natural Pest Control

There are several natural methods you can use to control pests in your garden. Companion planting is a technique that involves planting certain crops together to deter pests. For example, planting marigolds alongside tomatoes can help repel nematodes. You can also use natural pest control products, such as neem oil or insecticidal soap, to control pests without the use of harmful chemicals.

Promote Soil Health

Healthy soil is the foundation for a successful organic garden. To promote soil health, consider adding organic matter, such as compost or leaf mold, to your soil. This helps improve soil structure, water retention, and soil fertility. You can also use cover crops, such as clover or rye, to add nitrogen to your soil and prevent erosion.


Organic tomato gardening offers a natural and sustainable way to grow crops in Arkansas. By using organic fertilizers, natural pest control methods, and promoting soil health, you can enjoy a bountiful, healthy harvest of delicious organic tomatoes.

Arkansas Tomato Gardening Guide: Step-by-Step Instructions

Now that you have all the necessary knowledge about growing tomatoes in Arkansas, it’s time to put it into practice. Follow these step-by-step instructions to grow healthy and delicious tomatoes in your garden!

Step 1: Choose the Right Tomato Varieties

Choose a tomato variety that is suitable for the Arkansas climate and soil conditions. Preferred varieties include Celebrity, Homestead, and Early Girl.

Step 2: Prepare the Soil

Prepare the planting area by removing weeds and adding organic matter to the soil. Till the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches and mix in compost and aged manure.

Step 3: Plant the Tomatoes

Plant the tomato seedlings in the prepared soil, leaving 2-3 feet between each plant. Water them immediately.

Step 4: Provide Support

Provide support for the tomato plants by staking or caging them. Use tomato cages or wooden stakes at least 5-6 feet tall to support the plants as they grow.

Step 5: Water Regularly

Water the plants regularly, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged. Water deeply once a week, or more frequently in hot, dry weather.

Step 6: Fertilize

Fertilize the plants with a balanced fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during the growing season. Water the plants immediately after fertilizing to prevent root burn.

Step 7: Mulch

Mulch around the base of the plants with organic material such as straw or shredded leaves. This helps to conserve moisture and prevent weeds.

Step 8: Monitor for Pests and Diseases

Regularly monitor the plants for pests and diseases, such as aphids, hornworms, and blight. If you notice any signs of trouble, take action immediately to prevent the issue from spreading.

Step 9: Harvest the Tomatoes

Harvest the tomatoes when they are fully ripe and have reached their full size. You can tell when a tomato is fully ripe by its color, which should be uniformly red. Enjoy your delicious Arkansas-grown tomatoes!

Understanding the Tomato Growing Season in Arkansas

If you’re planning to grow tomatoes in Arkansas, it’s essential to understand the state’s tomato growing season. Arkansas has a humid subtropical climate with long, hot summers and mild winters. This makes it an ideal place for growing tomatoes, but the timing is crucial to ensure a bountiful harvest.

Length of the Growing Season

The tomato growing season in Arkansas typically starts in early March and ends in late October. However, the actual length of the season can vary depending on several factors, including the location, weather conditions, and the tomato variety.

The length of the growing season is particularly important when determining the optimal planting time for tomatoes. By starting seeds indoors or transplanting seedlings at the right time, you can ensure that your plants have enough time to mature and produce fruit before the end of the growing season.

Frost Dates

One of the most critical factors to consider when planning your tomato growing season in Arkansas is the frost dates. The state’s average first frost date ranges from mid-October in the northern part of the state to early December in the southern part of the state.

To ensure that your tomato plants have enough time to mature and produce fruits before the first frost, it’s best to plant them at least two to four weeks before the average frost date in your area. You can also consider using frost protection measures, such as row covers or plastic tunnels, to extend the growing season and protect your plants from frost damage.

Timing for Successful Harvest

To achieve a successful tomato harvest in Arkansas, timing is everything. It’s crucial to start your seeds or transplant your seedlings at the right time, provide the necessary care and maintenance, and harvest your tomatoes when they are ripe.

When planting tomatoes, make sure to follow the recommended planting dates for your area and choose varieties that are suitable for Arkansas’s climate and soil conditions. Provide your plants with adequate water, fertilizer, and sunlight, and protect them from pests and diseases.

Harvest your tomatoes when they are fully ripe but still firm to the touch. If you’re unsure about the optimal harvesting time, it’s best to pick them when they start to show color but are not yet fully ripe, then allow them to ripen off the vine indoors.

Understanding the tomato growing season in Arkansas is crucial for a successful tomato harvest. By planning ahead, choosing the right tomato varieties, and providing the necessary care and maintenance, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of delicious tomatoes all season long.


Q: How important is tomato cultivation in Arkansas?

A: Tomato cultivation is highly important in Arkansas, with tomatoes being a popular crop for both personal and commercial use. The state’s climate and soil conditions make it an ideal location for growing tomatoes.

Q: What are the best tomato varieties for Arkansas?

A: Some of the best tomato varieties for Arkansas include Arkansas Traveler, Celebrity, Cherokee Purple, and Better Boy. These varieties are known to thrive in the state’s climate and produce delicious tomatoes.

Q: When is the best time to plant tomatoes in Arkansas?

A: The optimal time to plant tomatoes in Arkansas is typically in late April or early May. However, it is recommended to start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date and transplant seedlings outdoors after the danger of frost has passed.

Q: What are some essential tomato planting tips for Arkansas?

A: To ensure successful tomato planting in Arkansas, it is important to prepare the soil by adding organic matter and ensuring good drainage. Proper spacing between plants, regular watering, and mulching are also crucial for healthy tomato growth.

Q: What care and maintenance do tomatoes require in Arkansas?

A: Tomato plants in Arkansas require regular fertilization, pruning, staking for support, and pest control measures. It is important to monitor their growth and address any issues promptly to ensure a bountiful harvest.

Q: What are the most common tomato diseases in Arkansas and how can they be prevented?

A: Some common tomato diseases in Arkansas include early blight, late blight, and blossom end rot. To prevent these diseases, it is important to practice crop rotation, provide adequate air circulation, and maintain proper soil moisture levels.

Q: What are some organic tomato gardening tips for Arkansas?

A: Organic tomato gardening in Arkansas can be achieved by using organic fertilizers, practicing natural pest control methods such as companion planting and biological controls, and promoting soil health through composting and cover cropping.

Q: Can you provide a step-by-step guide to growing tomatoes in Arkansas?

A: Absolutely! Our Arkansas Tomato Gardening Guide provides detailed instructions on seed starting, transplanting, caring for tomato plants, and harvesting. It is tailored specifically to the unique climate and conditions of Arkansas.

Q: What is the tomato growing season like in Arkansas?

A: The tomato growing season in Arkansas typically lasts from late spring to early fall. It is important to consider frost dates and take precautions to extend the growing season, such as using mulch and providing protection during colder weather.