Cherry tomatoes are plants that are a good choice for beginners wanting to grow their own fruit and vegetables. However, finding a sunny spot to plant in some areas and living situations can be challenging. Do cherry tomatoes need to have full sun?
Cherry tomatoes do not need full sun to grow properly. They can be grown in partial sunlight or even complete shade if necessary. However, they tend to grow faster and more plentiful with exposure to direct sunlight.
The rest of this article will explain why cherry tomatoes grow best in full sun before explaining why they can still be grown in the shade. It will also provide some general tips for planting cherry tomatoes so they can grow the best.
Cherry Tomatoes Grow Better in Full Sun
No matter what type of food is being planted, it will have specific requirements for the amount of water and sunshine it needs. Getting enough water and sunlight are crucial to growing a bountiful harvest, but how much is needed will depend on the plant.
There are many types of tomato plants, but for the most part, they all have the exact basic needs when it comes to sunlight. As they are growing, tomato plants convert the sunlight they receive into energy to help them blossom further. The more sunshine they are exposed to, the more fruit they produce.
Cherry tomatoes, in particular, actually need fewer days to grow than other types of tomatoes. The plant will produce more fruit when the ripest pieces are picked off every day or two.
Choosing to grow cherry tomatoes can be especially beneficial for those who live in colder or hotter climates since they take less time to mature. There will not be enough time for the extreme temperatures to affect the crop as they could affect other fruits or vegetables.
How Much Sunlight Do Cherry Tomatoes Need?
While cherry tomatoes can be grown in partial or no sunlight if necessary, they will yield the most significant, ripest harvest if exposed to it regularly.
Cherry tomatoes should get at least six hours of uninterrupted sun daily. This is the minimum amount of time they should be in direct sunlight since six hours a day is typically how long it takes for the plants to produce any fruit.
It is ideal for cherry tomatoes to be exposed to the sun for eight hours or more every day. In this case, they will see the highest amount of growth and the best quality of tomatoes.
Cherry Tomatoes Can Be Grown in the Shade
Growing cherry tomatoes is an easy choice for people who have a vast, open space wholly exposed to direct sunlight. But what about those who would like to grow cherry tomatoes but do not have much of a yard–or any yard at all, such as in an apartment complex? How about those who do not have a space that sees six to eight hours of sun a day?
Luckily, cherry tomatoes are one of a few types of food that will still grow in a shaded area. They can also be produced out of a planter or pot, making them a more accessible option.
Because cherry tomatoes can be planted in the shade and blossom so quickly, they are also an excellent choice for planting early or late in the growing season. They are quite a versatile plant.
The only downside to planting cherry tomatoes in the shade is that they will produce a smaller yield than if they were exposed to regular sunshine while they grew. However, if this does not matter to the gardener, they have more flexibility with when and where they can grow cherry tomatoes.
How To Grow the Best Cherry Tomatoes
Whether six to eight hours of direct sunlight is possible, some general techniques can be followed to ensure the ripest, juiciest cherry tomatoes are grown.
Planting the Tomatoes
The first step that needs to be taken is planting the cherry tomato seedlings. Below are various factors that you need to consider:
Soil pH and Drainage
When choosing a soil to plant the tomatoes in, ensure the pH balance of the earth is between 6.2 and 6.5. The soil should also be of a variety that drains well since cherry tomatoes need to be heavily watered. It will help prevent health issues like fungal infections leading to root rot.
You can read my other article on how to improve soil for tomatoes here: How to Improve Soil for Tomatoes (DIY Guide)
The weather must be of a reasonable temperature when the tomato plants are being put into the ground. If it is too cold outside when planting, cherry tomato seedlings will die underground before they can ever grow to reach the surface. Ideally, plant your seedlings when temperatures are well above 55 °F (12.8 °C).
It is also highly recommended to leave a few feet between each cherry tomato plant. This is particularly necessary if they are being planted in an area that will receive direct sun. The plants spread a lot as they grow, and if they are exposed to six to eight hours of sunshine, they will blossom to be quite massive.
When putting the cherry tomato plants into the ground for the first time, bury most of the bare plant stalk deep into the soil. Doing this will allow the roots to expand and grow offshoots, which will also help the plant become large.
Watering the Plants
Along with receiving the desired amount of sunshine, watering the cherry tomato plants the correct amount will help reap the best results. Cherry tomatoes grow better when they receive a heavy soaking every two to three days instead of a light sprinkling here and there.
The water provided to the plants should be enough that the soil stays consistently moist but not soggy. This means that if the tomatoes have been planted in an area with a hotter, drier climate, they may need heavy watering every day.
Tending to the Plants
One of the biggest tasks that can be done to ensure the plants are growing to their best ability is pinching off the first flowers and picking off the suckers that grow alongside the fruit. While these little things are not harmful to the plant’s growth, they can be a nuisance.
Taking time to remove the suckers will be a smart decision in the long run. When the plants spend time growing them, they waste some of the energy that could be used to develop the tomatoes.
If the cherry tomato bushes start to outgrow the area that they are planted in, putting stakes into the ground surrounding them can be a big help. Doing this will keep the plants growing upright and prevent the fruit from laying on the ground as it blossoms.
Harvesting the Plants
On average, cherry tomato plants will start to grow some small flowers after approximately a month. The flowers will eventually turn into little green fruits that, given the proper care, will become fully grown, ripe, red cherry tomatoes after a couple of weeks.
If a cherry tomato is perfectly ripe, it will easily come off the vine. It will not take more than a bit of rolling between the fingers and a slight tug to pull the fruit from the plant and keep it intact.
If the weather is not cooperating and begins to turn cool early in the season, the tomato harvest could potentially end prematurely. This is one situation where the fact that cherry tomatoes can still grow in the shade is beneficial.
An old piece of fabric can be placed over the plant and tucked in around the sides, keeping the cold out a bit longer. As long as the plant continues to be watered consistently, it should still be able to grow fruit for a while despite the chilly temperatures and lack of direct sunlight.
If you wonder whether tomatoes regrow after picking them, I recommend my other article. I’ll specifically discuss why cherry tomato plants can continue yielding a harvest after being picked throughout the growing season, as well as some of the potential reasons why a cherry tomato might stop producing fruit regularly: Do Cherry Tomatoes Regrow After Picking Them
Cherry tomatoes are one of a few plants that are resilient enough to grow whether they get the total amount of sun required or not. While they certainly benefit from six to eight hours of consistent, direct sunlight, there is no reason they cannot be grown in a shaded area.
They also increase no matter what conditions they are planted in and, even if in a cold place, are strong enough to fight the temperatures and blossom anyway. This makes them one of only a few plants that can be harvested just about anywhere and enjoyed by just about anyone.