Tomato Plant Life Span

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Tomatoes are a tropical plant that can grow year-round.
Tomatoes are a tropical plant that can grow year-round. (Image: David Oldfield/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

In its tropical habitat, the tomato plant can live for many years. When it is grown domestically in cooler climates, lack of sunlight and freezing temperatures limit the plant to one growing season. Tomatoes can be grown indoors during winter months, but require a delicate balance of light, water and nutrition to flourish.

In the Greenhouse

Select a variety that is recommended for greenhouse or indoor growing. Applying the proper amount of water and fertilizer for your tomato is key to its success. Without wind and animals to pollinate, you must help your plant distribute pollen to set fruit.

Factors that Hamper Lifespan in the Greenhouse

Lower outdoor temperatures and a decrease in the concentration of light impede growth on a tomato plant, even when it is protected from killing frosts in a greenhouse environment. Gardeners wanting to keep tomatoes year-round must use supplemental heat and light, and keep the greenhouse above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the Garden

In order to lengthen the growing season, most gardeners start tomatoes from seed in the greenhouse or purchase tomato plants. These are transplanted into the garden in spring after the last frost. When temperatures are cool, the plants must be covered to protect the leaves from frost. Roots, however, become permanently damaged with freezing temperatures. This kills the plant and prevents the perennial from returning in the spring.

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