How To Transplant Tomato Plant Starts (Video)

Potting up your young tomatoes and preventing them from becoming rootbound gives them a great head start. Here's how to transplant tomato plants.

Tomatoes are long-season crops that prefer warm weather. Because of this, most gardeners typically need to start their tomato seeds indoors, under lights, to ensure their plants have enough time to produce a harvest within that growing season.

To keep our young, indoor plants happy and healthy, we’ll need to transplant our tomato plants into larger pots, a process sometimes referred to as “potting up”.

This will need to happen at least once before our tomato plants can finally make their way outdoors into the garden when warmer weather arrives. 


Read more: Try these early-season tomatoes in the garden!


Potting Up Your Plants

When tomato plants have developed two sets of true leaves, they are ready to be up-potted. Waiting too long to transplant our tomato plants into a larger pot may risk the plants becoming rootbound.

This will stunt their growth and possibly even their future fruit production.  

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When you transplant your tomato plants into larger pots, be sure to bury the stem up to the first set of leaves. Roots will develop along the buried stem, producing larger and more vigorous plants.

A narrow, deep pot is perfect for this. Backfill the soil into the pot around the plant and tamp it down firmly. This ensures good root to soil contact.

Water your transplants well and they should be good to go until summer weather arrives. Then, warmer soil temperatures will signal that it’s time to relocate the plants out into the garden.


Read more: Save seeds from your garden tomatoes! This video shows you how.


Tomatoes in the Garden

There are a few more tomato-related chores that we’ll need to consider later in the season, such as trellising and pruning. A well-trellised tomato plant holds the tomatoes are up off the ground. Collecting our fruits without having to lean over is so much easier.

And a regular pruning routine encourages airflow between tomato plants, helping to stave off disease. This means a longer harvest season.  

When you transplant young tomato plants, you prevent them from becoming rootbound—and that gives them a great head start. It ensures healthy, vigorous plants and a bountiful harvest of delicious, homegrown tomatoes. And tomatoes are the ultimate summer fruit!  

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