Do Cherry Tomatoes Come Back Every Year: What You Should Know

Do Cherry Tomatoes Come Back Every Year

Many gardeners wonder about cherry tomatoes’ lifecycle and whether these delightful fruits return year after year. Understanding the perennial nature of cherry tomato plants can guide gardeners in their cultivation and expectations. In this exploration of the perennial mystery, we’ll be uncovering the secrets behind their growth patterns and shedding light on the factors that determine their return.

Do Cherry Tomatoes Come Back Every Year?

Cherry tomatoes, being annual plants don’t typically grow back on their own each year. However, they exhibit a fascinating ability to self-sow under favorable conditions, which might give the impression of perennial growth.

Self-Sowing Characteristics

  1. Natural Dispersal: Cherry tomato plants scatter seeds as the fruit ripens and falls to the ground or splits open, allowing seeds to disperse naturally.
  2. Survival and Reseeding: Given the right environment—warmth, moisture, and suitable soil—seeds from fallen tomatoes can germinate and grow in subsequent seasons without human intervention.

Factors Affecting Self-Sowing

  • Climate: Regions with mild winters might see self-sown cherry tomato plants sprout again in the following season.
  • Soil Conditions: Well-draining, fertile soil encourages the successful growth of self-sown seeds.
  • Plant Care: Leaving some tomatoes on the vine to overripen and naturally drop seeds can enhance the chances of self-sowing.

Cherry Tomato Lifecycle: Annual or Perennial?

  • Biological Classification: Cherry tomatoes, while technically perennials in their native tropical regions, are often cultivated as annuals in temperate climates.
  • Growing Zones: In warmer regions, cherry tomatoes can behave as short-lived perennials, returning each year if conditions remain favorable.
  • Cultivation Practices: Gardeners in cooler climates often treat cherry tomatoes as annuals, replanting them yearly due to the risk of frost damage.

Do You Have To Replant Cherry Tomatoes Every Year?

No, you don’t necessarily have to replant cherry tomatoes every year, although they are considered annual plants. Cherry tomato plants have the ability to self-sow under favorable conditions. This means that if conditions are suitable (such as mild winters, proper soil, and care), they can drop seeds that may germinate and grow in the following seasons without needing human intervention. However, to ensure a consistent and controlled supply, many gardeners choose to intentionally replant cherry tomatoes each year from saved seeds or purchased seed packets.

Managing Cherry Tomato Plants for Continual Growth

Though cherry tomatoes are typically grown as annuals, you can take steps to support their potential return:

Seed Collection and Storage

Harvesting Seeds

When collecting seeds from ripe tomatoes, choose fruits that are fully mature, preferably overripe. Follow these steps:

  1. Select Ripe Tomatoes: Pick tomatoes that are fully ripe or slightly overripe. These tomatoes tend to have fully developed seeds.
  2. Extract Seeds: Cut the tomato and scoop out the seeds along with the surrounding gel-like substance they are embedded in.
  3. Separation: Place the seeds and gel in a container. Allow the mixture to ferment for a few days. Fermentation helps break down the gel and separates it from the seeds.
  4. Rinse and Dry: After fermentation, rinse the seeds thoroughly in a fine-mesh strainer to remove any remaining gel. Spread the seeds out on a paper towel or a screen to dry completely. Ensure they are completely dry to prevent mold formation during storage.

Proper Storage

Storing seeds correctly is crucial for maintaining their viability for the next planting season. Follow these guidelines:

  1. Cool, Dry Place: Store the dried seeds in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and moisture. Excess humidity can reduce seed viability.
  2. Labeled Containers: Use small envelopes, glass jars, or sealed plastic bags to store the seeds. Label each container with the tomato variety and the date of collection to keep track of the seeds’ age.
  3. Temperature Consideration: Aim for a consistent temperature between 50°F and 70°F (10°C to 21°C) for optimal seed preservation.
  4. Avoid Freezing: While keeping seeds cool is important, freezing temperatures can damage the seeds, so avoid freezing them.

Container Cultivation

Potted Plants

Growing cherry tomatoes in containers offers several advantages, especially when it comes to extending their lifespan and protecting them during colder seasons:

  1. Mobility: Containers allow for easy movement of cherry tomato plants. When temperatures drop, you can relocate the pots indoors, providing a more controlled environment and protection from frost.
  2. Extended Growing Season: By bringing potted cherry tomato plants indoors during colder months, you can prolong their growing season. Indoor conditions can mimic warmer climates, allowing the plants to continue producing fruit even when it’s cold outside.
  3. Space Efficiency: Containers are ideal for those with limited outdoor space or no garden area. They can be placed on balconies, patios, or even windowsills, maximizing the use of available space.


Overwintering refers to the practice of protecting plants during the winter months to ensure their survival and potential return in the following seasons. Here’s how it can be done for cherry tomato plants:

  1. Covering and Mulching: Before the onset of winter, cover the base of the plants with a thick layer of mulch to insulate the roots and protect them from freezing temperatures.
  2. Sheltered Locations: If planting cherry tomatoes in the ground, consider placing them in a sheltered spot, such as against a wall or near a building. This can provide some natural protection from harsh winds and cold.
  3. Temporary Structures: In regions with particularly harsh winters, consider erecting temporary structures like cold frames or hoop houses over the plants. These structures act as mini-greenhouses, trapping heat and protecting the plants from extreme cold.
  4. Row Covers or Blankets: Utilize row covers or blankets to cover the plants overnight during freezing conditions. This provides an extra layer of insulation, preventing frost damage.
  5. Pruning and Maintenance: Before winter sets in, prune the cherry tomato plants, removing dead or diseased branches. This helps the plant conserve energy and focus on healthy growth when temperatures rise again.

Maximizing Cherry Tomato Yield Year after Year

While cherry tomatoes might not perennially return on their own, intentional planting can ensure a yearly supply:

Starting from Seeds

  1. Seasonal Planting: Begin new cherry tomato plants each year from saved seeds or purchased seed packets.
  2. Indoor Start: Initiate seedlings indoors before transplanting them outdoors when the weather warms.

Garden Management Practices

  1. Soil Enrichment: Rotate planting locations and amend soil with organic matter to maintain fertility.
  2. Pruning and Maintenance: Regularly prune and support the plants to optimize growth and fruit production.


The appeal of cherry tomatoes lies not only in their taste but also in their potential for continual growth. While they don’t naturally come back every year, their innate ability to self-sow and some strategic gardening practices can offer the pleasure of fresh cherry tomatoes season after season. By understanding their lifecycle, nurturing self-sowing tendencies, and actively managing their cultivation, you can enjoy a consistent supply of these delightful fruits in your garden year after year.

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