Growing Tomatoes Indoors During Winter

growing a tomato plant indoors during winter

I am growing a tomato plant indoors during the winter. It’s an experiment, just for fun. If it yields some actual tomatoes before Spring, that will be great! We’ll see.

As you can see in the picture above, it’s doing quite well.

Last October I wrote an article titled “How To Save Tomato Seeds For Next Years Garden”. I literally took three seeds from that particular tomato (a delicious Brandywine heirloom) and planted them for this experiment.

Last years tomatoes were ridiculously good. So I figured, wouldn’t it be pretty neat if I could be eating more of these tomatoes fresh off the vine during the winter?

[ Read: Brandywine Tomatoes, Jalapeno’s, and New Ace Bell Pepper Bumper Crop ]

Of those three seeds, two sprouted. Must’ve been end of October. I started them in a small container (3-inch square). After awhile it became quite evident that one of the two seedlings was vigorous compared to the other. So the other was sacrificed to make room for “survival of the fittest”.

The baby Brandywine would sit in a South facing window during the day. I would move it on top of the (warm) hot water heater at night – where I had rigged up a plant light.

During very cloudy overcast days, it would stay under the grow light.

Eventually it got big enough to transplant into its present and final container. I moved it to a bar stool in front of a South facing window. Here it is today, about 12 weeks after sprout:

Pretty soon I’ll have to figure out how I’m going to support it – assuming it continues to grow as tomato plants do…

At this rate, I might have some tomatoes in February! Time will tell.

Anyway, it’s fun to do experiments like this :)

>> This is the Grow Light I’m using


  1. We have tomatoes growing in our garage under “real” grow lights and a heating pads under the trays. All winter, we have had an abundance of various varieties of lettuce. Amazing what a small indoor garden will produce.

  2. In theory you shouldnt have any problem growing indoors, its all about light and nutrients as well as temperature.
    one thing that we have found is the hydroponic setups with grow lights do best, with commercial green house varieties out performing heirlooms by far, not sure why other than breeding.
    one thing good with the hydro setup is the sterile media they grow in. Less chance of disease.

  3. If nothing else, you’ll have a three month head start when you plant it out!

  4. usually have a tomato plant spring up from my garden in late July to Aug. I transplant it and bring it in before winter and have tomatoes all winter. There is nothing nicer than a BLT while there is snow on the ground!

  5. I grew tomatoes in my green house last winter. They did not mature till early summer. I have just planted this years seeds ( only brandy wine this time).

    1. Cut and paste from an Ag site: Even if day-neutral plants like cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce are grown in climate controlled environments with enough heat to grow and produce, they will halt their growth and remain dormant when day length dips below 10 hours. When the 10-hour day returns, plant growth begins again.

    2. I have grown them in my green house year round before,
      Defiant PMR from Johnnys, we are lat 20+/- though so days arent too short,
      i dont usually because i get lazy and dont want to buy the new grow media.

  6. My pepper plants are still surviving under my care indoors. I had 3 pepper plants in one bucket. I brought them in to extend their season as I had too many peppers still on the plants and didn’t want to lose them. I also use a grow light. I have picked about a dozen peppers and still have another dozen or so maturing on the plants. I think they are actually doing better than when they were outside.

    1. That’s a great question… Every year I pull the tomato plants out by the roots and dispose of them. So having a general idea of the size of clumpage that comes out, I felt okay with what I had lying around for a container.

      This one in the picture above happens to be 8″ square by 11″ tall. I feel that’s big enough for this indoor experiment.

      Sure, a 5-gallon bucket with drilled out drainage would be better to ensure even more root growth (and support). But given the aesthetics of being in our living room (at the moment), we settled for the aforementioned pot. We’ll see how it goes.

      1. Ken, theres a ton of minute roots that expand way out past the root ball, up to 4’ in some cases, depends on several factors, but generally has to do with nutrient availability and moisture

        1. Well, maybe my smallish pot will keep the thing from growing 8′ tall in my living room! (grin)

  7. Your tomato plant looks great Ken. Started lettuce, spinach, & swiss chard seeds early Dec. under grow lights & have been eating salads since new year. 1st year trying this. So nice to have fresh a couple times a week. May start more shortly so we can have more often. Even if power costs more than buying (don’t know this) it is nice to be that independent.

  8. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program Chuck mentioned to Stand my Ground is managed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, part of the USDA. Their High Tunnel Initiative is described here: . . .
    The requirements for participating in EQIP can be read here:

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