Growing Tomatoes in Hawaii

Can tomatoes grow in Hawaii?

Hawaii is ideal for growing several different kinds of tomatoes. The Healani, UH-Kewalo, Komohana Grape, and Anahu Bush are all native species that have found great success in Hawaii. These island-grown tomato types are hardy, with an innate resistance to the most prevalent tomato diseases. Some tomato varieties do better than others on the islands and gives fruit more successfully. When choosing tomatoes to grow think smaller and thicker skin varieties that will survive the slew of pests that will devour your fruit. This includes popular varieties like cherries, golden yellow and the Roma or San Marino tomatoes. Even the University of Hawaii seed lab offers seeds that a proven to do well that includes Healani, Kewalo and Anahu varieties. It takes around a week for fresh tomato seeds to germinate, but it might take up to 21 days for older seeds. Put one or two seeds in a hole no more than a quarter of an inch deep, then gently cover them with soil in a starting pot.
Maintain a consistently moist environment until germination occurs. If many seedlings emerge from a single planting, remove the extras by snipping them off at the soil level. The tomato is a remarkably adaptable vegetable and versatile enough to be grown in the pots/containers or ground. Even on a lanai, tomatoes can be grown using a trellis or other vertical support system.

Plants kept upright are simpler to trim and harvest and less likely to attract pests. Because of their sun-loving nature, tomato plants need strategic positioning. Tomatoes thrive in full sun but can also survive in partial shade. Tomatoes need a constant supply of water in large quantities. It’s essential to water your plants first thing in the morning to maintain consistently wet soil.  While sparing watering is acceptable during wetter, regular watering is recommended throughout the warmer summer months, particularly if containers are utilized. When tomatoes are ready to be picked varies with each type.
Growing tomatoes from seedlings typically take around 2 to 3 months after planting. There can be a delay if you are using seeds. Only tomatoes may be picked before they reach full ripeness.

Hawaii definitely has it’s share of bugs and insects along with other things like mold, mildew and other fungal issues that makes growing tomatoes a challenge. But if you are willing to work around your environment, grow hardly tropical friendly varieties and grow in favorable situations like under eaves, green houses or in containers then, you should try growing certain varieties. Check out the CTAHR (College of Tropical Agriculture and Human resources) guide to growing tomatoes in a healthy and productive environment.

Need seeds? Check out the UH Seed Lab | University of Hawaiʻi System News (


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