Can Tomato Plants Survive Frost?

Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables grown in the home garden. While most people will harvest them before the first frost sets in, some may want to keep their tomato plants in the garden. If you do, you may wonder if your tomato plants will survive frost.

Can Tomato Plants Survive Frost?

Tomato plants can survive a light frost, but heavy frosts can damage or kill the plant. The severity of the frost depends on how low temperatures drop and how long they remain at that level.

Light Frost

Tomato plants can survive a light frost, which is defined as any temperature between 32°F (0°C) and 40°F (4°C). Light frosts are common in many parts of the country during late spring and early fall when the weather is transitioning from warm to cold. The length of time that temperatures remain in this range depends on how quickly they drop and climb back up again.

If temperatures drop quickly, such as during a thunderstorm, then it usually only takes an hour or two for them to return to normal. If temperatures drop more slowly over several hours or days, then tomato plants may suffer significant damage.

Heavy Frosts

A heavy frost is defined as any temperature below 32°F (0°C). Heavy frosts typically occur late in fall or early in spring when there is no chance of warmer weather before new growth begins. Tomato plants won’t survive heavy frosts unless you protect them with frost blankets or other methods.

How Tolerant Are Tomato Plants To Cold Weather

If you live in an area that experiences cold weather, you may be concerned about your tomato plants. Fortunately, the good news is that tomatoes can survive a light frost and even temperatures as low as 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

The bad news is that when the temperature drops below freezing, tomato plants lose their leaves and stop growing until spring arrives and they can begin to grow again. When this happens, it’s important to protect the plant from the wind so that it doesn’t get damaged or lose any more leaves before spring arrives.

How To Protect Your Tomato Plants From Frost

Cover the plants with sheets, blankets, or plastic. This method is usually more effective than just covering the plants with fabric, which can trap moisture and make your plants even more susceptible to frost damage. If you do use a cloth, however, make sure that it’s breathable so that excess water can evaporate out of the plant’s leaves and stems.

Use a frost cloth. A good solution for protecting your tomatoes against cold weather is to wrap them with a protective cover called a “frost cloth.” Frost cloths are designed specifically to protect vegetable plants from frost by creating an insulating layer between their stems and the freezing air outside of them. You can buy these at gardening stores or online if you don’t have any lying around at home already—they’re usually relatively inexpensive too!

Place lights over tomato plants when temperatures start dipping below freezing outdoors. You’ll need some kind of light source like grow lights or incandescent bulbs since it’s best not to rely on natural sunlight during this time period—plants will be able to photosynthesize better under artificial lighting conditions than under direct sunlight.

Caring For Tomato Plants During The Winter

There are a number of ways to protect tomato plants from the cold during the winter. It’s important that you protect your tomato plants because they don’t like the cold and can die from it. If possible, try to keep your soil moist throughout the winter months and cover their stems with mulch, such as straw or leaves.

You can also build a support structure such as a cage around your plant so that it doesn’t fall over in bad weather (see picture). This will keep snow off of your plant, giving it extra protection against freezing temperatures.

Another option is to provide windbreaks around each tomato plant; this will help prevent frost damage by blocking strong winds that could cause damage to leaves or stems on unprotected plants without insulation between them!

What Temperatures Will Kill Tomato Plants?

Tomatoes are very sensitive to frost and can die off if temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The chance of frost killing tomato plants depends on factors like the soil temperature, length of time exposed, wind speed and direction, cloud cover, and humidity.

Frost damage may not be noticeable until after harvest when you cut open your tomatoes and see that they’re watery or have black spots inside them.

Can I Overwinter Tomato Plants?

Yes, you can overwinter tomato plants. But if you don’t have a greenhouse and the weather is turning cold, it’s worth considering the following points:

  • Tomato plants that are left outside will be more vulnerable to frost and wind damage than if they were inside.
  • If your tomatoes are already suffering from disease or pests, overwintering them outside could make things worse by giving these problems more time to spread.
  • Plants may not grow as well in springtime if they’ve been subjected to harsh winter weather conditions like freezing temperatures, which can cause injury and even death in some cases.


Tomato plants can survive frost and even cooler temperatures, but it’s important to protect them from freezing. If you live in an area where the temperature drops below 32 degrees F for more than a few hours, then your best option is to bring your tomato plants inside. You can also try covering them with blankets or sheets if there isn’t enough room indoors for all of your plants—and don’t forget about those pots!

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