Transplanting Tomatoes

Discover the secrets to transplanting tomatoes into your garden. With my guide you will learn how to cultivate robust and flavorful tomatoes. In this comprehensive guide of how to transplant your tomato seedling into their permanent home you will discover your gardening potential and learn the art of nurturing thriving tomato plants from seed to harvest.

Time to Transplant Your Tomatoes

Time flies during the gardening season. It seems like yesterday that I planted those tiny tomato seeds in the recycled strawberry container/clamshell.

A few weeks later, I moved the baby tomato plants to starter cells out in the greenhouse, and now it is time to get them into their garden home.  They need to stretch their roots out in the garden if I am going to have ripe, juicy, beautiful tomatoes for sandwdiches, sauce, and soups. 

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How to Transplant your Tomatoes Seedlings

transplanted tomato plants
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transplanted tomato plants
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transplanted tomato plants
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transplanted tomato plants
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supports for tomato plants
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  1.  Pick the spot for their permanent home. The new home for transplanting your tomatoes should have full sun for 7-9 hours a day. The soil should be light and loose, with plenty of well-rotted compost mixed in. Don’t plant them in the same place as last year. Planting them in previous years’ homes encourages fungus and molds that linger in the soil. (image 1)
  2. Dig a hole a little deeper than the depth of the container the tomato is currently growing in.   If you have well-rotted manure, mix about a cup into the bottom of the hole. (image 2)
  3. Remove the tomato from its container and place it in the hole.  Firm the soil around the tomato. (Images 3 and 4)
  4. Position a drip line, so each plant has a dripper.  Set the timer for how long and how often you want to water (Image 5). Find detailed instructions on how to set up a drip system here. Tomatoes with soggy feet get blossom end rot, and a tomato won’t set from a rotted blossom. If you aren’t sure when to water,  check the soil’s moisture level by sticking your finger into the ground. It is time to water if your finger comes out with dry soil. During periods of drought, deep water once a week. 
  5. Support the tomato plant with a wire or custom-built support. (image 6)
  6. Protect from cutworms by sprinkling diatomaceous earth around the base of the plant. These little buggers can mow down several plants overnight. A collar placed around the base of the plant will also protect it. Toilet paper tubes cut in half or thirds make great collars.
tomato plants
Three Weeks After Transplanting
Ten weeks after transplanting

What is The Best Way To Support my Tomato Plants?

Three weeks after transplanting, they are about 18 inches tall and it’s time to support them. Supporting tomato plants is an important aspect of successful gardening.

Tomatoes are notorious for their sprawling growth habit, and without proper support, they can become unruly and prone to disease. There are several methods available for supporting tomato plants, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. 

One popular method is the use of cages or stakes. Cages are typically made of wire or plastic and are placed around the tomato plant at the time of planting. Farmer Fred  constructed the cages you see above. They are constructed by creating a wooden frame out of 2 X 4’s and then the tomatoes grow up through the metal cattle panels.   

Stakes, on the other hand, are individual supports that are inserted into the ground next to each tomato plant. The tomatoes are attached to the stakes with strips of cloth or some  other ties that won’t cut into the tomato vines. Both cages and stakes provide vertical support for the tomato plant, keeping it upright and allowing for better air circulation. This helps to prevent diseases such as blight and allows for easier harvesting. 

Another method of support is trellising, which involves training the tomato plant to grow up a series of horizontal wires or strings. Trellising is especially useful for indeterminate varieties of tomatoes, which continue to grow and produce fruit throughout the season. By training the plant upwards, trellising maximizes space in the garden and allows for better sunlight exposure. For additional tomato supports check out my blog on supporting your garden plants.

Regardless of the method chosen, it is important to provide support for tomato plants as soon as they are planted. Waiting until the plants are already sprawling or beginning to droop can be detrimental to their growth and development. By providing proper support from the beginning, gardeners can ensure healthier tomato plants and a more abundant harvest.

The thought of a piece of warm homemade artisan bread, topped with slices of garden-ripe tomato covered in basil, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil, makes my tastebuds swoon.  YUM!


When Are Tomatoes Ready To Harvest:?

It is important to know when your tomatoes are ripe and ready to be picked. One of the first signs of a ripe tomato is its color. Most tomatoes will change from green to a vibrant red, although some varieties may turn yellow or orange when ripe. Additionally, the tomato should have a slightly soft texture when gently squeezed.

However, it is crucial to avoid squeezing too hard as this can damage the fruit. Another indication of ripeness is the smell. Ripe tomatoes will have a strong, sweet aroma that is hard to miss. Lastly, pay attention to the stem. If it easily detaches from the plant with a gentle twist, the tomato is likely ready for picking.

Overall, a combination of color, texture, smell, and stem detachment can help determine when tomatoes are ripe and at their peak flavor.  

Tomatoes are the heart and soul of so many of my recipes; Vegan Marinara Sauce , Stewed Tomatoes, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes. are a few of my recipes where red ripe tomatoes are the star.

FAQ for Transplanting Tomato Plants

When should you transplant tomatoes?

Before you transplant your tomatoes, there are a couple of things you want to consider. Firstly, you need to consider the weather in your region. Tomatoes need warm temperatures to thrive, so you don’t want to put them out until after the last frost date in your area. The US Department of Agriculture puts out last frost dates for the different areas around the country that you may find helpful. Secondly, you should consider the age and size of your tomato seedlings. They should have developed a robust root system and be about 6-8 inches tall before transplanting them into your garden.

Can I dig up my tomato plant and replant it?

Yes, It’s definitely possible to dig up your tomato plant and replant it elsewhere. This lets you to have more control over the plant’s environment and maximize its growth potential. Whether you want to move it to a sunnier spot or simply rearrange your garden, transplanting your tomato plant can help ensure its success. Just be gentle when digging up the plant, taking care not to damage the roots. Replant it in a hole that is deep enough to cover the root ball and provide adequate space for growth. With proper care and attention, your tomato plant will thrive in its new location.

Can tomatoes recover from transplant shock?

Transplanting tomatoes can be a stressful experience for the plants, and they often go through a period of shock where their growth is stunted. However, with proper care and attention, tomatoes can indeed recover from transplant shock. The key is to ensure that they are given the right conditions to thrive. This includes providing them with enough water, sunlight, and nutrients. It is also important to avoid overwatering or underwatering the plants, as this can further stress them. With patience and care, tomatoes can bounce back from transplant shock and continue to grow into healthy and productive plants.

What age can tomatoes be transplanted?

Tomato plants are delicate and need to be nurtured carefully before they can be transplanted. The ideal age for transplanting tomatoes out into the garden is typically around 6 to 8 weeks after germination. At this stage, the plants have developed a strong root system and sturdy stems, making them more resilient to the stress of transplantation. It is important to ensure that the soil is warm enough and there is no risk of frost before moving the tomato plants outdoors. Also don’t forget to harden off your tomatoes if you are moving them from an area with less light. For example if you are using grow lights indoors to get them started.

Should I fertilize my tomatoes when I transplant them?

The answer is yes, you should definitely consider fertilizing your tomatoes when you transplant them. Fertilizer provides essential nutrients that help promote healthy growth and development in your plants. I recommend a couple of commonly available organic fertilizers that are either 8-32-16 or 12-24-12. By providing the right balance of nutrients, you can ensure that your tomatoes

How tall should a tomato plant be before transplanting?

You want to make sure your tomato plant is at the right height before transplanting it into the ground. Ideally, your tomato plant should be around 6 to 8 inches tall before making the big move. This ensures that the plant has developed a strong root system and can handle the stress of being transplanted. If you try to transplant a tomato plant that is too small, it may struggle to establish itself in its new environment. On the other hand, if you wait too long and your tomato plant becomes too tall, it may be more difficult to transplant without causing damage to the roots. So, keep an eye on the height of your tomato plant and aim for that sweet spot before transplanting it into your garden.

Can you replant a broken tomato plant?

Yes, you can replant a broken tomato plant! I am guessing your tomato was broken off above the ground and below the first set of leaves. If it was broken above the first set of leaves and those leaves are healthy, it will regenerate and grow new stems and leaves. If it was broken below the first set of leaves then you will need to replant it below the broken area. It may not survive but quite often it will regenerate and grow a new plant.

Can you transplant tomatoes twice?

Transplanting tomatoes twice is possible, but it’s not recommended unless absolutely necessary. Tomatoes are delicate plants, and transplanting them can cause stress and damage to their roots. Ideally, tomatoes should be transplanted only once, when they have developed a strong root system and are ready to be moved into their permanent location. However, there are instances where a second transplant may be required. This could be due to unforeseen circumstances like extreme weather or the need to relocate the plants. In such cases, it’s important to handle the tomatoes with care and ensure that they are provided with the necessary support and nutrients to recover from the transplant shock.

Thank you for visiting my social media sites, where you’ll find exclusive pictures of what’s new in my gardens and the new recipes I’m creating in my kitchen. When you make this recipe, thank you for leaving a comment in the “Leave a Reply” section at the end of this blog.  

Join the Conversation

  1. Anonymous says:

    I want to grow amazing tomatoes like you !!!

    1. Doctor Jo Author says:


  2. Hey people!!!!!
    Good mood and good luck to everyone!!!!!

  3. This post is amazing

  4. Anonymous says:

    Wow! Love this one. Such a great help in my garden.

  5. This is so helpful

  6. Amazing video

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