How long do tomatoes take to grow? And how you can speed up the process

The experts have had their say

Tomatoes growing on plant
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’re starting to grow your own produce or you have a hankering for homemade tomato soup, knowing how long tomatoes take to grow can help you plan out your garden - and when to get the soup maker out of the cupboard. 

Knowing how to grow tomatoes should be the main port of call for those looking to add these plants to their vegetable (or should we say fruit?) patch. But when you’ve mastered the step-by-step and have planted your seedlings, you might just twiddle your thumbs and wait impatiently for tomato flowers to bloom.

Sadly, a watched tomato plant takes much longer to fruit, which is why we’ve asked the experts to share their knowledge on how long it takes tomatoes to grow. That way, you can focus on your other garden ideas instead. 

How long do tomatoes take to grow? 

Tomato plant in pot

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whether you’re growing tomatoes from seed, in grow bags, or from plants, ultimately, you’ll be waiting a little while for them to bear fruit. 

Steve Chilton, garden expert at LeisureBench, explains, ‘Depending on the variety and their growing conditions, Tomatoes typically take around 60-100 days to grow ready for picking.’

However, this is not an exact science, and how long it really takes will depend on a variety of environmental factors. 

To help you understand your own tomato plants, you should expect to see red tomatoes around two to three weeks after you see flowers for the first time. That’s because there are typically seven stages of tomato growth. They are:

  • Germination: this stage will last between 6 and 8 days.
  • Early growth (i.e. visible leaves and roots): this stage will last between 25 and 35 days.
  • Vegetative growth (when foliage starts to emerge after transplanting): this stage will last between 20 and 25 days. 
  • Flowering: this stage will last around 20 days. 
  • Pollination: this stage will last around 20 days. 
  • Tomato formation: this stage will last between 20 and 30 days. 
  • Ripening of tomatoes: this will occur around 15 to 20 days later. 

It’s also important to mention that tomatoes will only start to ripen in the middle of summer, regardless of when you plant them. 

Steve says, ‘With proper care, tomatoes planted in springtime can usually be ready to pick and eat anywhere from mid to late summer, around July to September time. Some varieties may take longer to ripen, and some may take shorter, so it's essential to check the specific growing instructions for the type of tomato you choose to grow.’

Headshot of gardening expert Steve Chilton
Steve Chilton

Steve is a passionate and knowledgeable garden expert with several years of experience within the field and has developed strong expertise for all things nature and plants. Steve is a keen educator and loves to share this knowledge with others. He strives to simplify complex garden practices and encourage eco-friendly gardening.

How to make your tomatoes grow faster

Although tomatoes tend to follow their own rules when it comes to their growth, there are some things you can do to make your tomatoes grow faster - and juicier. Here are just a few tomato-growing hacks.

Tomato seedlings in pots

(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. Grow them in the perfect location

Where are you planning on growing your tomatoes? Kate Turner, Gardening Guru at Miracle-Gro, suggests, ‘Provide optimal growing conditions, including full sun exposure (at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day) and well-draining, nutrient-rich soil.’

2. Tap your tomatoes

It may sound strange, but the tomato-tapping hack really does seem to work. That’s because tomatoes are self-pollinating, and by giving them a tap, you can essentially move the process along and pollinate by hand. 

Tomato seedlings in pots

(Image credit: Getty Images)

3. Cover them in mulch

Tomatoes love a bit of TLC, and adding some mulch into the mix can really help to speed up the growing process. Kate explains, ‘Use mulch around the base of the plants to help retain moisture, regulate soil temperature, and suppress weeds.’

4. Plant them in raised beds

Tomato plants are sun worshippers that love warm temperatures, which is why planting tomatoes in raised beds can make such a difference. These beds are normally warmer than in-ground beds, which can ultimately make them grow faster. 

Plants in raised beds

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5. Give them support

Tomato plants can become tall and spindly after a while, and even the smallest of tomato fruits can result in them falling in on themselves. This will shade the fruit from sunlight and warmth, delaying the growing process. To help speed it up, support your tomato plants with wooden stakes or something similar. 

6. Prune them

Being able to prune your plants is something every gardener should have in their back pocket. And Kate suggests, ‘Prune tomato plants selectively to encourage airflow and focus energy on fruit production.’ If you need a few pointers, our guide on how to prune tomato plants has all of the info you need. 

Close up of tomato plant

(Image credit: Getty Images)


Can tomatoes grow in 2 weeks?

Two weeks after planting your seedlings, you should expect your tomato plants to have visible leaves. This is a positive sign of early growth, but you’ll have to wait a bit longer for the plants to start fruiting. 

In general, you should expect tomatoes to grow between 60 and 100 days after you start the growing process. 

How quickly do tomatoes grow?

Tomatoes take between 60 and 100 days to grow, but this depends on various factors. So, it’s important that you take this number with a pinch of salt. 

And while this may seem like a long time, the growing cycle of a tomato is actually fairly quick. Over the course of these 60 to 100 days, the tomato goes through seven different stages. 

So, patience is key when it comes to growing tomatoes.

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.