8 Steps to Transplant Tomato Plants the Right Way (2023)

8 Steps to Transplant Tomato Plants the Right Way (1)

Green side up!

Well, there's a little more to it than that. Fortunately, tomatoes are hardy, tolerant plants that tolerate many growing conditions. With very simple planting techniques you can get large plants and a reasonable harvest.

Here we show you step by step how to transplant your young tomato plants so that they grow strong and healthy. In this way, you can help them produce delicious tomatoes in abundance.

The #1 Mistake Tomato Growers Make: Planting Too Early!

Tomato plants, especially young plants, hate the cold. It is a misconception that tomato plants are frost intolerant, they are actually cold intolerant and will be stressed by temperatures below 60°F.

It's important to wait until the soil reaches a minimum temperature of 60°F before deciding to transplant your tomatoes outside.

The most costly mistake a tomato gardener can make is transplanting outdoors too soon because there's no way your prized plants can recover from a cold snap.

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Your transplants will do best in soil that has warmed to 15°C. You may be able to speed this process up by placing black mulch or black plastic sheeting over the soil, but make sure the soil temperature doesn't drop after you remove it.

8 steps to plant transplanted tomatoes

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1. Harden off your young plants

Make sure your tomato transplants are hardy enough to withstand life outdoors. Plants growing directly in the ground from a sunny window or greenhouse may experience transplant shock.

About two weeks before planting, I prepare them for the outside world. Outdoor tomatoes grow in unpredictable weather, so they need to be hardy. But even in the greenhouse, you want plants that can support many delicious pounds of tomatoes, so hardy tomato plants are never a bad thing.

(Video) When to Transplant Tomato Seedlings

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Begin taking young children outside during the day when the weather is nice. Bring them inside in the evenings. Surprisingly, it will benefit from some light wind. If there is no wind, rub your hands over the plants once or twice a day.

This signals the plants and the root system to straighten up and become stronger. You'll be grateful when those tough, healthy branches cling to big bunches of delicious, juicy tomatoes.

2. Choose the right location

It has been said before, it will be said again. Finding a happy place to grow your tomatoes is important because a lot goes into growing happy, tasty tomatoes.

Tomatoes need:


For tomatoes to set fruit, a sunny location is of the utmost importance. It also helps tomatoes ripen on the vine.

Enough space

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This depends on the style of your garden and your choice of tomato plants.

Some tomato plants are huge, growing from 6 to 12 feet tall and wide. These are often the vine or indeterminate types and can be as close as 2 to 3 feet apart. This is the space I use in my outdoor garden. These need appropriate supports or trellis, otherwise they will fall all over the place by the end of July.

Bush or certain species can grow 2 to 4 feet tall and can stand closer together. They are a great option for cultivation.in containers,hanging baskets, oraised bed gardens.

Now is also a good time to start thinking about what will grow near your tomato plants. There aremany helpful companionsthat can grow next to your tomatoes, but also theresome plants that shouldn't be around.

(Video) How to Transplant Tomatoes The Right Way

Related reading:Tomato Plant Spacing: How Far Apart Should Tomatoes Be Planted?

3. Clean the tomato transplant

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remove the lower leavesand suckerseither by pinching or with clean scissors. It may seem counterintuitive to all rational thought, but removing early blooms will help your tomato plant focus its energy on acclimating to its new home.

4. Dig a hole and change the soil

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You will want to dig a large hole to accommodate your young tomato plant; it should be at least twice the width of the pot you are transplanting from.

Digging large holes can loosen the soil where the roots will grow. Pockets of air in the soil, known as soil porosity, allow roots to breathe and provide excellent drainage.

A large hole also allows you to mix in soil amendments, giving your tomato transplant direct access to additional nutrients. Phosphorus supplements, such as bone meal, are excellent for root development. It is a component of the soil that the roots need to be in direct contact with in order to absorb it, so putting it directly in the hole is excellent.

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Planting time is an opportunity to try different soil amendments depending on the current condition of your soil. Things to experiment with may include bone meal, plaster of paris,sal de Epsom, peat, diatomaceous earth or eggshells (althoughEvidence that eggshells are helpful is scant).

here is a guideThings you should (and shouldn't) put in your tomato planting hole.

5. Dig your tomato plant deep or plant it on its side.

Gently tap your young tomato plant out of the pot it was happily growing in, and place the roots and as much soil as possible in your planting hole.

Bury a significant amount of the stem below the soil line, at least half but up to two-thirds of the stem. You can even remove the lower leaves to further submerge the stem.

(Video) How to Transplant a Tomato Plant | Basic Gardening Tips for Beginners

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This is because tomato plants have adventitious roots. Roots can form along the stems of tomato plants.

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At planting time, your robust plant may be rooted above the soil line, or you may see bumps along the stems. Some plants do this because in their wild environment they would grow in the soil and put down roots wherever they could. Tomatoes are one of those plants.

Take advantage of this customization andBury a significant portion of the stem to help the entire tomato plant grow..

Fill in the soil well around the root ball and trunk. Tamp down the soil gently so that the roots are in contact with the soil and there are no large air pockets around the roots. Take care not to over-compact the soil.

If desired, make a mound and trench around your tomato plant.

This is a great little planting trick to prevent disease. Basically, you mound the soil around the trunk and make a 6- to 8-inch-diameter hole or trench around the base.

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The well or ditch helps to collect water. And remember those random roots? This also gives them a bit more space. When it rains or waters the tomato plant, water shoots off the stem, preventing soil-borne diseases from splashing on the stem and lower leaves.

An alternative approach to deep planting is side planting. It may sound strange, but it takes advantage of the cord roots and allows roots to form along the stem.

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Your plants will eventually start to reach for the sky, but with a much healthier root structure.

(Video) 8 Steps To Homegrown Tomatoes - Part 1

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6. Mulch (or don't mulch!)

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The advantages of padding are:

  • Mulch helps retain soil moisture and maintain soil temperature.
  • You can minimize soil-borne diseases that spread on stems and plant parts.
  • A thick layer of mulch can help reduce weed competition.

The disadvantages of mulching are:

  • Mulch can keep the soil temperature too low.
  • Heavy mulch can keep the soil too wet.
  • A layer of mulch can prevent soil aeration.
  • Mulch can harbor insect pests like snails and snails.

my denomination I do not cover tomatoes.I cover most of the garden but not the tomatoes. In my climate, the soil temperature takes a long time to rise. If I lived in a warmer place where I need to protect the roots of the tomatoes from excessive heat, I would definitely use mulch. Here I need every ounce of heat around the tomatoes, so I keep the soil well cultivated with as much sun as possible.

If mulching is the best option for you, thenHere are five types of organic mulch you might consider and how to use them..

The choice to add mulch can be made at any time. If the soil temperature is still cool, you can wait until later in the season to add mulch.

7. Water, water, water!

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Water is your number one tool to help your grafts achieve strong and healthy growth. At least once a day for the first two weeks. And remember, the rain is often not enough to replant.

here is ourGuide to properly water your tomato plants.

8. Support your tomato plant

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After all the hard work of planting, it is now much easier to place cages or stakes near the new plants. As they get a bit older, it becomes more difficult to put up trellis, cages, or stakes for them, and it is easier to break branches and roots in the process.

take oneCheck our article to see if stakes or cagesthey are the right choice for your tomato plants. And alsoRead our guideon the proper use of a tomato cage and the best and worst uses.

and now we wait

Patience is a virtue; they say, and yours is being tested now. Keep your tomatoes well-watered, weed-free, and tied to their supports as you wait for the days of those first blooms, bright little green balls that blush and turn into luscious, delicious treats.


What do you add to soil when transplanting tomatoes? ›

Compost and composted manure are great additions to the soil for tomatoes and lots of other plants. Compost adds basic nutrients and improves soil structure. Composted manure provides nutrients all season long. Composted manure: This provides a slow release of nutrients over the growing season.

Should I water tomatoes after transplanting? ›

Regular watering is important, but over-watering can increase the change of disease. Water your seedlings heavily immediately after transplanting; then hydrate them only when the soil dries out. The surface of the soil can dry quickly, but that doesn't always mean all moisture is gone.

How big should tomato plants be before transplanting? ›

Most tomato seedlings are ready to move from the seed starting trays and into a larger container when they are three to four inches tall and have three or more sets of leaves. They should be transplanted into a larger container at least four weeks before planting outdoors so the root system has a chance to develop.

Should I fertilize my tomatoes when I transplant them? ›

Tomatoes only need to be fertilized at two stages of growth – soon after planting and just before fruiting. Some gardeners like to apply the first round of fertilizer while transplanting. They either mix it with the soil or leave it at the bottom of the planting hole.

Should I pinch off tomato flowers when transplanting? ›

Pluck off all blossoms and any fruit for at least a month after transplanting, until the plant is at least two feet tall so it's forced to direct its energies toward establishing a strong root system.

Can I water tomatoes every day? ›

Water newly planted tomatoes well to make sure soil is moist and ideal for growing. Early in the growing season, watering plants daily in the morning. As temperatures increase, you might need to water tomato plants twice a day.

What is the best time of day to water tomato plants? ›

The best time to water your tomatoes is early in the morning. This will allow any moisture that makes its way to the leaves an opportunity to dry before the heat of the day, and that can help to prevent diseases and burning of the plants. You need the water you're administering to be efficiently used.

What to do after transplanting tomatoes? ›

Your newly transplanted tomato should have several inches of stem sunk below the surface. Water deeply down to the lowest roots and only water again when the first 2 inches of soil feels dry. With a deep-rooted plant like tomatoes, the key is to water less frequently, but more thoroughly.

How deep do you transplant tomato plants? ›

Each Bonnie tomato label urges you to plant tomatoes deep, so that a full 2/3 of the plant is underground. That means that if you buy a 10-inch tall plant, all but the top 3 to 4 inches is buried. Why? Because the plant will have a better, stronger root system.

How late can you transplant tomatoes? ›

As long as the days to maturity are less than the number of days away from your first frost date you can still plant. For most areas, you should still be able to plant late from late June to late August with no problem.

Do you water tomato plants as soon as you plant them? ›

Immediately after transplanting, you want to deeply “water in” your tomato plants, soaking the soil around the roots to make sure there are no air pockets and to help make sure they get their roots established.

Why put an egg in the hole when planting tomatoes? ›

As tomato gardeners will know, tomatoes love their calcium. Adding eggshells to your planting hole will provide a boost of calcium to the plants over time as the eggshells decompose.

Are coffee grounds good for tomatoes? ›

Coffee grounds contain around 2% nitrogen as well as varying amounts of phosphorus and potassium which are all very important for the growth of tomato plants. By mixing some coffee grounds into the soil below your tomato plants you're introducing these nutrients that the plants need to thrive.

What is the best fertilizer to use when planting tomatoes? ›

Some growers prefer to use a high-phosphorus fertilizer, indicated by a larger middle number. You can also keep things simple with a fertilizer especially formulated for tomatoes – usually with a ratio like 3-4-6 or 4-7-10. Most importantly, don't over-fertilize. Too little fertilizer is always better than too much.

Is Miracle Grow good for tomatoes? ›

This water soluble fertilizer grows bigger, more bountiful vegetables (compared to unfed plants). It feeds instantly, and is great to use on all types of vegetables, including tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers, and carrots. Use watering can or Miracle-Gro Garden Feeder to apply.

What is the best natural fertilizer for tomatoes? ›

Some of the most popular materials used in making homemade fertilizer for tomatoes are:
  • Matured compost (should make at least half of the final product)
  • Alfalfa dry leaves or pellets (rich in nitrogen)
  • Blood meal (a rich source of nitrogen)
  • Pet and human hair (source of keratin and nitrogen)

Is baking soda good for tomato plants? ›

Its alkaline properties are the key. By spritzing a baking soda solution on your tomato plants, the surface becomes more alkaline, creating an unsuitable environment for blight to take hold. You'll prevent any blight from growing or stop any spread dead in its tracks.

What happens if you don't pinch out tomatoes? ›

Pinching out your tomatoes is an essential part of tomato plant care. The reason for this is the tomato plant is a naturally bushy plant, and if you let it grow as it wants to, it will put all of its focus into growing foliage at the expense of fruit.

Should I cut the bottom leaves off my tomato plants? ›

The advantage in removing the lower leaves is that the plants energies go into producing fruit rather than a lot of foliage. Also the lower leaves tend to get powdery mildew so it is good to remove them to stop disease spreading.

Is it OK to cut leaves off tomato plants? ›

Removing leaves is a great way to speed up the growth of new tomatoes. I use this trick often for my plants outside. Removing some of the leaves will help the sun reach the tomatoes, and they will ripen faster. The plant will focus more energy on growing the tomatoes if you remove some of the leaves too.

What are the signs of over watering tomato plants? ›

Overwatered plants may have wilted or yellowed stems and leaves, or the leaves might develop bumps and blisters or fall off entirely if plants continue to get too much water. Another way to tell overwatered plants from underwatered ones, once the case is severe enough, is to check the roots.

Should you water tomatoes every day in hot weather? ›

Avoid Overwatering Tomatoes in Summer Weather

Tomato plants need an inch or two of water a week, and a deep soaking is better than a little water every day. Regular watering helps prevent tomatoes from developing cracks. Too much water will suffocate plants' roots.

What is the best way to water tomatoes? ›

Tomatoes do best when watered slowly and deeply. As water sinks down lower into the soil, the tomato's roots must follow suit and reach down further to absorb it. Deep watering helps tomato plants build strong root systems. Superficial watering allows roots to be lazy.

Is it better to overwater or underwater tomato plants? ›

Tomato plants prefer evenly moist soil with a slight dry-down between waterings.

Should you spray water on tomato plants? ›

The only time when your tomato plants will actually benefit from being misted with a spray bottle is when they are young seedlings. Very young tomato plants dry out very easily and should be monitored carefully and frequently (more often than once a day) to make sure the soil they are growing in stays moist.

Should you water your tomato plants every night? ›

Tomato plants need to be watered daily or every other day unless you have had recent rain. The plants need 1-1.5 inches of water per week, but container-grown tomato plants need to be watered twice per day. The best time to water your plants is early in the morning before the sun gets too hot.

How do you prevent tomato transplant shock? ›

Keep the plants well-watered. Protect them from strong winds. Plant on a cloudy day or in the evening if possible so plants can recover out of strong sun. Provide a little nutrient solution to the roots, especially one that is high in phosphorus.

Why are my tomatoes not doing well after transplant? ›

Recently Transplanted Seedlings

The first reason that might cause tomato wilting is if you recently transplanted your tomato plants, especially if the first day was sunny. Too much sun after transplanting into your garden beds causes sun-stress to plants that aren't sufficiently hardened off before going out.

Can you cut the top off a tomato plant and replant it? ›

Topping tomato plants can provide strength to weak, leggy plants. If you cut them back and allow them the opportunity to regrow, many times they grow back stronger. When the plants regrow, they may also come back sturdier in many cases. This allows them to support bigger tomatoes without concerns of breaking.

Can I replant tomatoes in the same soil? ›

First, never plant tomatoes (or potatoes) in the same soil two years in a row. Their presence attracts root knot nematodes, which are not a problem the first year, but as their population builds in the second year, the plants suffer and often die.

Can you plant tomatoes 12 inches apart? ›

Some determinate tomato varieties are bred to be smaller, and these can be planted more closely together; varieties labeled as compact or dwarf can be planted as closely as 12 inches apart. Indeterminate tomato varieties are vining plants that continue growing until pruned or until they are killed by frost.

Is July too late to transplant tomatoes? ›

If transplanted no later than the third week of July, you should do well growing late season tomatoes. Fruiting will begin in mid-September. With a modest effort at frost protection, late-season tomato plants will provide an abundant crop until the first hard freeze this fall.

What happens if you transplant tomatoes too early? ›

Planting too early in cooler temperatures can cause stunted growth, wilting, surface pitting, foliage necrosis and increased susceptibility to disease. Low soil temperatures can stunt plant growth and prevent root development.

Do tomatoes need watering twice a day? ›

There is no general answer to this question, since the correct watering frequency depends on numerous factors such as temperature, soil conditions and location. So it may well be that you have to water your tomato plants several times a day or just once or twice a week.

Can you overwater a tomato plant? ›

Too Much Water

Watering your tomato plants properly is the key to tomato success. Too much water and the plants drown—too little could cause blossom end rot, when the tomatoes turn black on the bottoms. Inconsistent watering can also cause blossom end rot, split tomatoes, and stressed plants.

What time of year do you transplant tomatoes? ›

Once the threat of frost has passed and the soil temperature is at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit, then you can safely transplant your tomato seedlings into the garden. If the soil temperature is too cold when you plant them, your tomato seedlings will grow slower and be more susceptible to disease.

What month do you transplant tomatoes? ›

In U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 and 9, start seeds as early as mid-January; in USDA zones 3 or 4, wait to start seeds until mid- to late March and early April. Wait two weeks after the last frost date to plant seeds or set transplants outdoors.

When should you transplant a tomato plant? ›

Tomato seedlings are ready to be transplanted when they are at least 3 inches tall, and have their first true leaves, which are the second and subsequent sets of leaves that appear.

Can you transplant tomatoes in the fall? ›

Fall is a good time for developing tomatoes because the cooler temperatures allow for better fruit set and insect problems diminish. Mid-July to the end of August is the ideal time to plant. When choosing your fall tomatoes, make sure you know if you're selecting a Determinate or Indeterminate type.

How deep should I transplant tomatoes? ›

Each Bonnie tomato label urges you to plant tomatoes deep, so that a full 2/3 of the plant is underground. That means that if you buy a 10-inch tall plant, all but the top 3 to 4 inches is buried. Why? Because the plant will have a better, stronger root system.

Is July too late to plant tomatoes? ›

If transplanted no later than the third week of July, you should do well growing late season tomatoes. Fruiting will begin in mid-September. With a modest effort at frost protection, late-season tomato plants will provide an abundant crop until the first hard freeze this fall.

How long does it take for tomatoes to grow after transplant? ›

After transplanting young plants to their final growing spot, it usually takes anywhere from 60 days to more than 100 days before you can harvest your tomatoes. Before growing varieties of tomatoes outside, the first thing to do is make sure you live in a tomato-friendly climate.

How tall should you let tomato plants grow? ›

When the plant reaches the desired height–usually no taller than its support, 4 or 5 feet is good–consistently pinch out all new growing tips. In a week or so time, the plant will quit trying to put out new growth at the topmost part of the plant and concentrate on new growth and fruit below.

What to do when tomato plants get too tall? ›

QUESTION: How do you keep tomatoes from growing too tall? ANSWER: You can prevent your tomatoes from growing too tall by pruning them. Pruning also encourages the plant to grow fruits instead of creating more foliage. Always use clean, sterilized shears when you prune to avoid spreading disease in your garden.

Which leaves to remove on tomato plants? ›

As the plant grows, prune out any crossing, crowded, damaged, or diseased stems and foliage to keep the plant open, airy, and free of pest and disease. Removing tomato plant leaves that grow just beneath the flower sets will send more energy to fruit formation.


1. How to Prune Tomatoes for Maximum Yield and Plant Health
(Epic Gardening)
2. Managing Tomato Transplants: Moving Them to Larger Cups & When Can Tomatoes Go Outside - TRG 2015
(Gary Pilarchik (The Rusted Garden))
3. Put These 8 Things in Your TOMATO Planting Hole For The Best Tomatoes Ever
(Balcony Garden Web)
4. Planting Roma Tomatoes The Right Way
(The Ripe Tomato Farms)
5. How Far Apart to Plant Tomatoes (for the best tomato crop)
(Audrey's Little Farm)
6. 8 Tips on Growing Tomato Seed Starts & My #1 Tip for Transplant Success!: A Seed Starting Series
(Gary Pilarchik (The Rusted Garden))


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