How to Grow Better Boy Tomatoes

Better Boy tomato plant with ripening fruit

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One of the most popular hybrid indeterminate tomato varieties is the Better Boy tomato (Solanum lycopersicum 'Better Boy'). This tomato plant can be grown in most areas of the country. The Better Boy tomato is characteristically juicy, crisp, and exploding with classic tomato taste. They are perfect for any recipe that calls for tomatoes.

The Better Boy variety of tomato yields large, one-pound fruits midseason in about 70 to 75 days after planting. It is resistant to verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, and other diseases. Its dense foliage protects the fruit from too much sun exposure, preventing sunscald. This variety grows quite large, so it is not suitable for container growing and requires staking or caging to keep it upright.

Botanical Name Solanum lycopersicum ‘Better Boy’
Common Name Better Boy tomato
Plant Type Annual vegetable
Mature Size 5-8 ft. tall, 2-3 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full; 6 to 8 or more hours per day
Soil Type Loamy, moist but well-drained
Soil pH 6.5 to 6.8, slightly acidic
Bloom Time Summer, Fall
Flower Color Yellow
Hardiness Zones 3-11, USA
Native Area North America
Toxicity Toxic to pets

Better Boy Tomato Care

This indeterminate hybrid is extremely popular due to its ease of care and delicious, large fruits. To grow these tomatoes, space the plants 36 inches apart. This ensures that each plant has enough room to grow without overcrowding and will help avoid disease from lack of airflow.

At planting, trim off the bottom two sets of leaves, dig a deep planting hole, and bury the plant down to its first set of leaves. Tomatoes are able to produce roots along their stems so planting them deeply creates a strong root system and produces a strong, sturdy plant.

Because this variety grows so large, staking, caging, or some other means of plant support are essential. To help the soil retain its moisture, add a layer of mulch around the base of the plants.

Better Boy tomatoes are disease resistant and often do not struggle with many of the most common tomato-related diseases. Always be on the lookout for pests that might attack the plant.  

Rotating crops each year is a best practice to reduce the chance of building up soil-borne pests and diseases, increasing soil health, and balancing soil nutrients.

Light

Better Boy tomatoes produce abundant fruit when planted in full sun: garden beds that receive at least 6 to 8 or more hours of direct sun each day.  

Soil

Better Boy tomatoes adapt to soil suitable for a wide range of tomato varieties, but slightly acidic, nutrient-rich soil high in organic matter will yield the healthiest plants. Soil pH should be in the range of 6.5 to 6.8.

Water

Keep the soil consistently moist to avoid fruit split or blossom end rot, which can ruin the yield of Better Boy tomato plants.

When watering, aim the steam of water at the base of the plants and avoid wetting the foliage and splashing soil up onto the leaves. This will help prevent problems with fungal or other soil-borne diseases.

Temperature and Humidity

Better Boy tomatoes perform well in warm weather. They prefer moderate humidity, and high humidity can lead to moisture-related diseases.   

Frost can easily kill tomato plants, so be sure to protect your plants from cold temperatures. If temperatures approach a frost or freezing, cover them with a sheet.

Fertilizer

Compost is a natural way to enrich the soil and provide additional nutrients to tomato plants. Mix in compost to the soil before planting and again midseason when the plant starts to produce fruits. Well-balanced fertilizer designed for vegetable plants can also be used.

Pruning Better Boy Tomatoes

Proper pruning is important for healthy, productive tomato plants. Trim lower leaves several inches from the ground to prevent leaves or fruit from touching the soil. This helps prevent rot and allows better airflow.

To direct the plant’s energy into its one or two main stems, remove suckers. Trim off early buds to encourage strong growth and plentiful fruit production. Near the end of summer, trim off the tip of the plant to divert energy into the last remaining fruits. 

Propagating Better Boy Tomatoes

These simple tools and a bit of patience are all that is needed to propagate Better Boy tomato plants.:

  1. Use sharp, clean garden scissors or snips toemove a sucker from the plant. 
  2. Remove the lower leaves from the cutting.
  3. Place the cut end in a jar of water or a small starter container filled with nutrient-rich potting soil. Water the cuttings that have been placed in soil.
  4. Place the cutting in a location with bright but indirect light to allow time for it to root and to adjust to sun exposure.
  5. When the cutting has developed roots and is exposed to increasing amounts of sunlight, transplant it into the ground.

How to Grow Better Boy Tomatoes from Seed

Many gardeners prefer to start their tomato plants from seed.

  1. About 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost is expected, start seeds indoors. Lightly cover with soil and keep the soil moist and warm. 
  2. After seedlings appear, move your seed starting tray or container into a location with plenty of sunlight, ideally in a bright windowsill. If this is not possible, use grow lights. 
  3. After the last frost, you can begin to harden off the plants. This should be done for at least a week before planting them in the garden.
  4. Choose a spot with rich, fertile soil in full sun to plant hardened seedlings.

Overwintering Better Boy Tomato Plants

Though it is possible to grow tomatoes as perennials in warm climates, they are annuals in most areas of the country. If you are determined to overwinter a Better Boy tomato plant, try these options:

  • Grow the plant in a very large bucket and move it indoors when temperatures drop below freezing.
  • Overwinter sucker propagations. To do so, plant suckers in a large container filled with good quality potting soil and keep them in a warm location with sufficient moisture and sunlight.

Keep in mind that the plant might not produce fruit as abundantly in its second year; for the best results, grow these tomatoes as annuals each year.