If you’re new to the tomato planting game, there are likely a lot of questions that come to mind. Not only does it help to know how to plant them, but it also helps to know where and how far apart they should be. So, can tomato plants touch each other?
Tomato plants should not touch each other. For plants to grow best, leaving some breathing room in between is recommended. Planting tomato plants too close together can cause several issues, including spreading disease and stunted growth due to a lack of nutrients.
Below, we’ll detail why you should space out your tomatoes and how far apart they should be. We’ll also look at some dos and don’ts when planting, helping you grow a successful batch of tomatoes every season.
Why You Should Space Out Your Tomatoes
When sowing tomato seeds, it can be difficult to imagine what it will be like when they grow. Tomato plants can grow to be more than 5ft. tall, with vines that spread out and extend all around them. If planting them too close, several things can go wrong, including:
#1. Reduced Airflow
Airflow through plants is important. Air helps keep water from accumulating on leaves, which could lead to fungal infections or rot. It also helps to promote long and healthy limbs, which is precisely what your tomato plant needs to grow strong.
Apart from keeping water from accumulating on leaves, airflow helps water evaporation and transpiration, which help plants get all of the water they need and not more than they need.
#2. Transmission of Disease
All plants are at risk for disease and infection. Sometimes, if one plant gets infected, it won’t transmit the disease to others if growers catch it early enough. Growers can cut down infected tomato plants, and there is a possibility that the condition will not continue to spread.
When planting tomato plants too close together, each plant is at high risk of passing on disease and fungus to those around them, destroying your whole crop. It’s best to stop it at the source, giving your other plants a chance to keep on growing and stay far away from any disease.
#3. Stunted Growth
When tomatoes are planted too close together, some leaves don’t get the same sun exposure, especially those along the bottom. This problem will stunt the growth of your tomato plant and could mean that tomatoes don’t sprout.
To give your tomato plant a shot at blooming and growing to its max height, give tomato plants some space in between. The space will allow all leaves and stems to get sun, giving them what they need to grow their best.
How Far Apart Should Your Plant your Tomatoes?
When deciding how far apart you should plant your tomatoes, it depends on a few things like the variety and the type of garden you’ll be growing them in. Tomatoes that produce vines need more space, and those that form bush-like plants do not. As a rule of thumb, always try to go with at least 18 inches between each plant.
When planting tomatoes in containers, you can get away with 12 inches of space between each plant. When planting in a garden, you should go with something between 18 and 24 inches. You also want to be sure and add about 36 inches between each row if planting more than one, allowing all the roots to spread out and giving each plant the ability to grow strong and fruitful.
Dos and Don’ts of Planting Tomatoes
To ensure that you get the highest yield, there are some things you should and shouldn’t do. Use these as a guide when planting your tomatoes to help them grow their best and most abundant.
Do – Start Indoors
Tomatoes are susceptible to the cold, so you should sow them indoors. This will help you control the temperature, their exposure to light, and the soil. You want to do this until your final freeze, ensuring that there are only warmer temperatures to come.
Don’t – Transfer Outside Too Soon
If there is one mistake that growers make, it’s planting tomato seeds in the ground too soon. Temperatures need to be higher than 50oF at all times, including nighttime temperatures. Even the slightest bit of cold could damage your tomato plants or stunt their growth.
Do – Give Them Full Sun
When planting outside, go for an area where your tomatoes can bask in the sunlight all day. They flourish in full sun, so plan your placement wisely. Don’t forget about the tiny leaves around the bottom, as they like a full day’s worth of sun.
Don’t Overcrowd your Garden
Overcrowding can be dangerous for tomato plants, increasing the chance of fungal and viral infections. On top of that, plants won’t typically grow to their full potential, as roots will compete for nutrients. Give plants at least 12 inches in between, increasing the distance the larger the variety.
Do – Pick Often
Tomatoes will ripen at different times, so you have to check them often. Allow tomatoes enough time to mature, but also make sure that you’re not letting vines get overcrowded and overloaded. Some varieties of tomatoes can get quite large, so be careful when picking.
Don’t – Forget to Fertilize
Tomatoes need a lot of nutrients, which is why they thrive in rich soils. You may need to adjust the amount of phosphorous or nitrogen in your soils, depending on how they are growing. Try and get on a schedule to fertilize every two weeks, keeping soils rich and full of nutrients.
Tomato plants are picky about a few things. However, once you figure out what they love, you can have a bountiful harvest filled with plump, red tomatoes. Among the many things to be careful of when planting tomatoes is space and giving each plant enough room to extend and grow below and aboveground.
Hi there, my name is Allie and welcome to my blog; GareningWithAllie!
Much of what you see written here is just our personal experiences with gardening. Along with the content I write here, there is also a unique collection of gardening topics covered by some of our close friends. I hope you find everything you read here to be helpful, informative, and something that can make your gardening journey the most lovely experience ever! With that said, Happy Gardening!