How to transplant tomato plants can be done in nine easy-to-follow steps: You need to get your timing right, harden your seedlings, select the most suitable location and then prune your seedlings. Thereafter, you should dig the holes, plant them, add some mulch, begin watering and finally support your tomato plants.Transplant Tomato Plants

If you wish to conduct a tomato transplant and you are lacking the know-how, you should kindly see more in this guide.

How to Transplant Tomato Plants? Important Steps

The important steps on how to transplant tomato plants are to get your timing right, harden the seedlings, decide on the best location and prune them. After that, dig your holes, plant and mulch them and begin watering. Remember to support your tomato plants as a last step.

1. Proper Timing

You should transplant tomato seedlings 14 days after the last frost. You can transplant your tomatoes in spring. Kindly note that, in certain instances, two weeks from the last frost temperatures will be ranging between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. However, they tend to fall a bit to around 50 degrees Fahrenheit and the weather will be coupled with a bit of some heavy winds. This may cause the little tomato plants to stress out and succumb to these harsh conditions.

Warm-season plants like tomatoes are planted following the general rule of thumb where the process should be done two weeks after the last frost date. However, there are some drawbacks that you should look out for. Tomatoes prefer outdoor temperatures ranging between 55 to 60 degrees. During nighttime, the temperatures should not go below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and daytime temperatures should be well above 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Just ensure that you are way past the last frost date to try and minimize the chances of failure. Remember if the young transplant tomatoes timely in the right conditions, they yield more, unlike old and stressed ones. This applies to all tomato seedlings whether they are grown from seed, or purchased from nurseries.

2. Harden Your Tomato Seedlings

It takes around 7 to 14 days for tomato plants to become hardened. Please note that the longer your plants get exposed to the acclimation conditions, the stronger and healthier they can be when moved outdoors. You should begin the process by placing the seedlings in a shady spot for about an hour and moving them back in. Expose them to the same conditions the following day, but give them two hours of exposure this time.Nurturing Tomato Seedlings

On the third day, consider exposing the tomato seedlings to a little bit of morning sunlight. Now, increase the time outside and exposure as the days go on. The main objective here is to help the plant to adjust in bits every day. During the first week of hardening, you should protect the tender plants mainly from harsh wind.

When exposed to excessive direct wind, the seedlings’ leaves will begin to curl. Once the leaves curl, their active surface area for sunlight absorption will be reduced, leading to growth problems. After the first seven days, allow the tomato plants to experience stable or gentle wind in your vegetable garden. However, if the wind becomes harsh, consider moving them to a safer place.

3. Select the Most Suitable Location

Find a spot that offers the tomato plants all the needed care requirements that include soil, light, temperature, humidity, and space to accommodate foliage development. A site that is suitable for tomato production supports the plants’ health, disease resistance, and promotes flowering. Before acquiring seedlings, make sure that you have enough space to give each plant enough room to develop and thrive.

Kindly note that tomatoes thrive in 8 to 10 hours of sunlight daily. Tomato fruit production is directly linked to the amount of sunlight the plants get. This applies to both container and ground-grown tomatoes. You should grow tomatoes in a place that has at least six hours of direct sunlight daily although 8 to 10 hours are best.

Eastern or western sunlight exposure will do just fine but, southern exposure is the best. Southern exposure has gentle morning as well as early afternoon sunlight access which protects the plants from scorch. Also, tomatoes need soil that is rich in organic matter, fertile, and well-draining to thrive. The growing medium also needs to have a pH ranging between 5.5 to 7.5.

4. Prune Your Seedlings

You should trim at least a single set of leaves at the bottom of tomato seedlings such that it will be possible to plant them deeper into the growing media. Use a disinfected pair of scissors to carefully prune the plant. If the seedlings are a bit taller, you should remove one to three sets of leaves. However, you should make sure that two or three sets of leaves remain intact above the soil surface.Pruning Tomato Plants

You should also prune or pinch off all flower formations on tender tomato seedlings. This helps the plant to concentrate its energy on the overall growth and root expansion. The plants will, however, produce new flowers when the time is right. By that time, the plant will have grown strong enough to support massive tomato production.

Pruning seedlings before planting them reduces the effects of tomato transplant shock. Excessive foliage tends to drain for energy as the plant focuses on revitalizing the ailing foliage rather than concentrating on acclimation and development.

5. Dig Holes and Plant the Seedlings

Given that the seedlings are hardened enough, and you have sited the best spot that has access to all the care requirements, it is time to plant tomatoes. If your tomato seedlings are in nursery pots, you should dig holes that are twice the size of the container. Also, consider replanting each tomato seedling into a larger pot if you intend to grow them in pots.

Squeeze the sides of the container to loosen up the soil. You should consider adding some compost into the holes in preparation for replanting. The easiest and safest way to slide out a tomato seedling is by tilting the container sideways and getting hold of it by its base.

If you come across some sort of resistance from the plant, apply some water to the soil and squeeze the pot once more, but you should be even more gentle. If your seedlings are in biodegradable containers like CowPots, you simply have to break off parts of the pot that are protruding above the soil’s surface.

The part below the soil line will soon decompose and add to the humus content of the soil. Since the plant’s bottom part has been pruned, ensure that at least half or two-thirds of the plant is submerged in the soil. Cover the root ball with loosened soil and gently press it down to avoid injuring the seedling. Although the plant may appear smaller after replanting, it is actually strong enough to survive.

6. Fertilize the Tomato Seedlings

Compost that is added into the holes before planting tomato seeds is very essential for the well-being of your tomato plants. Compost gives the tender plants adequate gentle nutrition to aid the early stages of development. However, if you did not include compost in the soil, you can still add fertilizer as an alternative.Fertilizing Tomato Seedlings

A good tomato fertilizer contains a balanced composition of macronutrients that include nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Other elements like zinc, calcium, and magnesium are also included. We recommend that you use a balanced (10-10-10) slow-release fertilizer when transplanting tomato plants. As the plant matures, you should switch to a (5-10-10) fertilizer that is rich in phosphorus and potassium.

7. Add Some Mulch

Mulching is an important part of tomato cultivation as it maintains soil temperature and retains moisture. During hot days, the seedlings will not get stressed out as the mulch discourages excessive evaporation. Also, during irrigation, mulch prevents splashbacks that spread fungal diseases to the leaves and stems of the seedlings.

You can use different organic materials like grass clippings, straws, wood chips, crushed leaves, or eggshells. You can also get quality mulch from any local garden center or nursery. We also recommend coconut coir and mulch blocks that simply need to be soaked in water before using them. A good mulch should be two to three inches thick for maximum efficiency.

The mulch will seem to be too much during the first days of transplanting, due to the small size of the tomato seedlings. However, as the plants mature, the mulch will suit them just fine.

8. Begin Gentle Watering

Young tomato plants need to be watered more frequently in the early stages of development. Their roots are still underdeveloped at this stage and they need constant moisture replenishment to avoid transplant shock. Begin by watering the plants slowly and deeply every day for two weeks. As the plants grow, reduce water application accordingly, making sure that the soil stays moist but not waterlogged.

9. Support the Tomato Plants

Tomato plants can grow happily along the soil’s surface but this is very dangerous as they become more vulnerable to diseases and pests. To avoid this, you should train your plants during the early development stages to grow vertically. This is achieved through the use of stakes and tomato cages but, the choice depends on the variety that you are growing.Growing Tomato Plants 1

Kindly note that some tomato varieties are vining whereas others are bushy. If the tomatoes are vining, make sure that the support is long enough to accommodate the plant’s mature size and massive fruit production. Bushy species will need fairly shorter but strong support systems. After this, you just have to sit back and watch your plants flourish and produce quality tomato fruits.


Growing tomatoes has never been this easier for both pros and beginners. Planting tomatoes at their tender size has been fully expanded in this article and below are the main points covered in this guide.

  • Transplant tomato seedlings should be transplanted at least 14 days after the last frost to avoid disturbing the upkeep of the plants.
  • You should grow your tomatoes in a place that has access to all of their care needs and adequate space that allows them to grow freely.
  • Transplanting tomatoes into holes that are twice the size of their pots encourages root expansion and health.

Growing tomatoes either in pots or directly to the ground should be done following the proper procedure, to help them thrive. Get into action and enjoy the quality produce!

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