tomato seedlings

When to Plant Tomatoes in Mississippi

Growing tomatoes in Mississippi is a great experience, the state’s abundant sunlight and moisture are exactly what tomato plants want. Growing tomatoes there can also be challenging for the same reasons. With proper care and attention to temperature stress and irrigation, it is still possible to grow healthy and productive tomato plants in the state.

Tomatoes in Mississippi’s Climate

Mississippi has a humid subtropical climate characterized by hot and humid summers and mild winters. The state receives abundant rainfall throughout the year, with the highest amounts in the winter and spring months. The climate in Mississippi can vary widely depending on the region, but in general, it is conducive to the growth of a variety of crops, including tomatoes.

The warm and humid climate in Mississippi can be both a blessing and a challenge for tomato growers. The heat and moisture provide ideal conditions for tomato plants to grow and produce fruit. However, these same conditions can also lead to disease, temperature stress, and pest problems.

In particular, fungal diseases such as early blight and late blight can be common in humid conditions. To combat these issues, tomato growers in Mississippi should consider planting disease-resistant varieties and implementing a regular fungicide spray program.

Proper watering techniques and good ventilation can help to prevent the development of fungal diseases. Companion planting can help with both of these issues while providing the necessary shade to stop tomato plants from over heating.

When to Start Tomatoes Indoors in Mississippi

If you want to get an early start on cultivating tomatoes, begin growing the seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before the final spring frost in your area, regardless of the tomato variety you’re growing. In Mississippi, start sowing your tomato seeds indoors from January 17th to February 20th, depending on where you live.

You may want to get them going even earlier than that and plant them in a large pot ahead of producing them outdoors, just to give them even more of a head start. To start tomato seeds indoors:

  1. Select a planting container. Choose a container at least 6-8 inches deep, with holes in the bottom for drainage.
  2. Fill with a seed starter potting soil.
  3. Plant 2-3 tomato seeds ⅛ inch deep in the soil and cover.
  4. Water the soil until it is moist but not soggy.
  5. Place the container in a warm, sunny spot indoors and keep the soil moist.
  6. When the seedlings reach 2-3 inches tall, thin them out so there is only one seedling per container.

Tomato Varieties That do Well in Mississippi

Growing early-harvest tomatoes can be very handy in Mississippi, due to the diversity of its climate. Some varieties of tomatoes are ready to harvest in 60 to 100 days, which makes them perfect for the different zones in Mississippi. Sow your seeds indoors to maximize your growing season’s yield. I recommend one of the following varieties: 

  1. ‘Aunt Gertie’s Gold’ Tomato – 75-80 Days to Harvest
  2. ‘Heidi’ Tomato – 90 Days to Harvest
  3. ‘Opalka’ Tomato – 90 Days to Harvest
  4. ‘Martino’s Roma’ Tomato – 70-80 Days to Harvest
  5. ‘Fourth of July’ Tomato – 49 Days to Harvest
  6. ‘Sweet Million’ Tomato – 45 Days to Harvest
  7. ‘Oregon Spring’ Tomato – 50 Days to Harvest
  8. ‘Celebrity’ Tomato – 70 Days to Harvest
  9. ‘Yellow Pear’ Tomato – 60 Days to Harvest
  10. ‘Gardener’s Delight Tomato – 52 Days to Harvests

Hardening Off Your Tomatoes

Hardening off tomatoes that you’ve started indoors before planting outdoors is essential to ensure they can thrive in the outdoor environment. When tomatoes are started indoors, they become accustomed to the warm and more stable environment. When planted outdoors, they are exposed to more extreme temperatures, wind, and sun. Hardening off tomatoes helps them slowly adjust to their new environment by exposing them to these elements for an extended period.

The process of hardening off tomatoes begins by slowly introducing them to the outdoors. Start by placing them in a sheltered spot, such as a porch or a partially shaded area, for a few hours each day. Over a week, gradually increase the amount of time they are kept outdoors and the amount of sun they are exposed to. After a week of hardening off, the tomatoes should be ready to move to their final outdoor planting location.

When to Plant Tomatoes in Mississippi

It’s generally safe to plant tomatoes outdoors when there is no risk of frost or freezing temperatures. In most climates, this means waiting until at least late spring or early summer. In Mississippi, your final freeze date is expected around February 28th to April 3rd, depending on where you live. Still, be mindful of your weather forecast. If it seems like you’re in for a late freeze, wait to plant your tomatoes! 

When to Harvest Tomatoes in Mississippi

When tomatoes have turned a deep red (or the ripe color of their particular variety) and have no green spots visible, they are ripe and ready to be picked. If there are still green patches on the tomato, it has not yet ripened and should remain on the vine. The ideal way to pick ripe tomatoes is to cup the tomato in your hand and give it a gentle twist- it should come off the vine with ease. When in doubt, you can leave it on the vine an extra couple of days, or harvest the entire branch of tomatoes and allow it to ripen on the vine on your window sill.

Jeff Grayson
Garden Hobbyist
Hello! I'm Jeff, an avid gardening enthusiast. I'm based out of Colorado, where I raise as many indoor and outdoor plants as I can!