Tomato Plant Winter Care: Can you keep tomatoes alive in winter?

Most people grow tomato plants as annuls, which means they let them die back once they’ve finished fruiting. The following year new tomato plants will need to be grown. However, tomatoes are actually perennials and can be kept overwinter in the right climate. In warmer areas that are USDA zones 9 to 12, you may even be able to leave your tomatoes outside. This article will answer the questions, ‘What to do with tomato plants in the winter’ and ‘can tomato plants survive winter.’

Can you keep tomatoes alive in winter?

Tomatoes Dead in Winter

Tomato plants are perennial plants, although many people grow them as annuals. When the weather gets colder, especially if there’s frost on the ground, your tomato plant will die back. Your tomato plants will die if temperatures fall below 35F.

However, tomatoes are capable of surviving overwintering periods so long as the right conditions are met. What is required to overwinter your tomato plants is protection from the frost, cold, and drying draughts. They will require a shaded area where there is still plenty of light. You also need to keep the soil slightly moist but never wet, or your plant will suffer from root rot.

You’ll want to place your plants in full sunlight when you are bringing them out of dormancy in the spring, gradually introduce them into sunlight once growth resumes.

What to do with tomato plants in winter

What to do with tomatoes in the winter

There are many different strategies for overwintering your tomato plant. You can place them in a heated greenhouse or bring them into your home. Place the plant near a window where it will have the benefit of sunlight but be protected from cold draughts and frost.

You should always bring them inside to a sunny, south-facing windowsill. Keep the soil moist but not sodden, and apply a thick layer of mulch around your tomato plants to help them survive overwintering periods.

A thick layer of mulch around your tomato plant will help protect them from extreme temperatures and wind. If you would like to follow this method, you’ll need to bring them indoors around November, stop watering your tomato plants, and allow them to go dormant. They should remain in a dormant state until early spring, when growth resumes.

Can tomato plants survive winter?

Potted Tomato Indoors

Tomato plants are capable of surviving year-round in warmer climates, but in colder areas, they will require protection from the cold and frost or they will not stay alive in the winter. There are a number of ways to keep them from freezing over the winter, including bringing them inside a greenhouse or a more makeshift set up using a pane of glass and a south-facing windowsill.   If your tomatoes are in pots, you can bring them inside for winter.

For good results, you should be protecting your tomato plants from frost, droughts, and low temperatures. As soon as you notice the first signs of growth restarting, remove the mulch and give your tomato plants some form of support as they can sometimes get top-heavy. You can also fertilize your tomato plant at this time.

Take cuttings from your tomato plant

If you don’t have a greenhouse and you’ve been growing a larger variety of tomato plant, you may not have the space to bring it into your home and keep it alive for winter. Instead, take some cuttings from your tomato plant and grow them indoors during the winter. This will give you a head start on the growing season as, come the spring, you’ll already have a small plant that can be transferred to your vegetable patch.

When taking cuttings from your tomato plant, choose healthy-looking stems that are between 6 and 12 inches long. Use a sharp, sterilized knife to cut the stem off and then remove the bottom leaves. Place the stems into a glass of water and wait until roots start to grow. Keep the jar on a sunny windowsill and change the water regularly. Once roots have begun to grow, you can plant the new tomato plant in a pot.



Tomato plants are perennials meaning they live through overwintering periods in the right conditions. You can protect your tomato plants from frost, draughts, and cold temperatures by bringing them indoors to a sunny windowsill or using a greenhouse. Gradually introduce your plant to sunlight once growth resumes. If you follow these steps, it will help to keep your tomato plants alive throughout winter.

Related Tomato Guide:

The Best Time of Year to Plant Tomatoes
How to Get Thick Stems on Tomatoes