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 around is the Better Boy tomato (Solanum lycopersicum 'Better Boy'). These plants are extremely versatile and can be grown in most growing zones. The fruit of Better Boy tomato plants 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. It is resistant to verticillium, fusarium wilt, and other diseases. Its dense foliage protects the fruit from too much sun exposure, preventing sunscald. This variety grows to be very large, so it is not fit for container growing.

Botanical Name Solanum lycopersicum ‘Better Boy’
Common Name Better Boy tomato
Plant Type Annual, Perennial
Mature Size 5-8 ft. tall, 2-3 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full
Soil Type Loamy, moist but well-drained
Soil pH 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 around 36 inches apart. This ensures that each plant has enough room to grow without overcrowding and will help avoid disease from lack of airflow. Trim the bottom two sets of leaves off and bury the plant deep in the garden, covering these nodes. This will encourage root growth and create a strong, sturdy plant. Because this variety is so large, stakes or a trellis are essential. 

Better Boys are disease resistant and often do not struggle with many common tomato-related diseases. However, it is best to rotate your tomato crops every year to ensure healthy growth. Be on the lookout for pests that may damage the plant.  

Light

Better Boy tomatoes produce abundant fruit in full sun exposure. They do best in locations with at least 6 to 8 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 will yield the healthiest plants. Soil full of organic material is ideal.

Water

Keep the soil consistently moist to avoid fruit split or end rot, which can ruin the yield of Better Boy tomato plants. To help the soil retain its moisture, add a layer of mulch around the plant.

When watering, keep the water near the ground to avoid splashing the leaves. This will help prevent problems with fungus or other moisture-related diseases.

Temperature and Humidity

Better Boy tomatoes perform well in warm weather. They prefer moderate humidity, as 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 freezing when the plants are in the ground, cover them with a sheet.

Fertilizer

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

Are Better Boy Tomatoes Toxic?

Despite its mouthwatering fruits, the tomato plant itself is not edible and can even become toxic if ingested in large quantities. When it comes to pets, the same holds true, according to the ASCPA; the plant itself is toxic to pets, while the fruit is not.    

Symptoms of Poisoning

Symptoms of toxicity from ingesting the Better Boy tomato plant includes salivation, loss of appetite, severe gastrointestinal upset, weakness, depression, slow heart rate, and dilated pupils. 

Pruning Better Boy Tomatoes

Proper pruning is essential for healthy, productive tomato plants. Trim lower leaves several inches from the ground to prevent any 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 in the summer. Near the end of the summer, trim off the tip of the plant to divert energy into the last remaining fruits. 

Propagating Better Boy Tomatoes

Simple tools and a bit of patience are all that is needed to propagate Better Boy tomato plants. Follow these steps:

  1. Remove a sucker from the plant using sharp, clean scissors or snips. 
  2. Take off the lower leaves of the cutting.
  3. Place the cut end in a jar of water or a small starter container filled with nutrient-rich potting soil. Water cuttings 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 into the ground.

How to Grow Better Boy Tomatoes from Seed

Many gardeners prefer to start their tomato plants from seed. Follow these steps to start Better Boy 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 light, 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 often used as annuals. If you are determined to overwinter a Better Boy tomato plant, you have several options. You can grow the plant in a very large bucket and move it indoors when temperatures drop below freezing. Another option is to overwinter sucker propagations. To do so, place the cuttings into a pot and keep them in a warm location with sufficient moisture and light. Or, try overwintering sucker propagations by placing them in a pot and keeping them warm.

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