Transplanting tomatoes is important because your plants will soon outgrow their nursery pots and need larger pots or plain garden soil.

Transplanting Tomatoes the Right Way

If you do not transplant your precious tomatoes correctly, they may get sick and not survive.

To learn the best and easiest steps to transplant your tomato plants, read this article.

What Are the Steps to Transplant Your Tomatoes

The steps to transplant your tomatoes after waiting until the seedlings are mature and the soil temperature is high enough are watering the seedlings and planting them 2-3 feet apart in holes deep enough to cover two-third of their length.

1. Wait Until the Plant Is Mature

Your tomato seedlings should first reach 3-5 inches in height before you start thinking of transplanting them. When they are 3-5 inches tall, they would have had enough roots to withstand any shock from transplanting. 

Wait Until the Plant Is Mature

Even if you do not remember how old they are, you can tell that they are ready for transplanting when they have at least two pairs of true leaves. This means that you should not plant your tomatoes too early. If you plant them too early, they will become mature before the soil is ready to accept tomato seedlings.

2. Wait Until the Soil Is Warm

Tomatoes as plants prefer a warm atmosphere. They are not just intolerant of frosts; they are also intolerant of the cold. You need to wait until the soil is at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit warm in the spring months before you think of transplanting the seedlings to the soil.

You can tell if the soil is warm enough for your tomatoes or not by using a soil thermometer. However, you can stick to any local planting calendar, as it will tell you the best time to plant and transplant your tomatoes.

3. Hardening the Tomatoes

The process of hardening tomatoes is important for tomatoes that you started indoors. The entire process can last five to seven days depending on how quickly your tomatoes can adapt.

To harden your tomatoes, follow these steps:

  1. At least a week before transplanting the tomatoes, bring them outside and keep them in a shady place for one hour.
  2. On the next day, bring the tomatoes outside and then take them nearer to the source of light for one to two hours.
  3. Continue to increase the duration of time they spend outside as well their exposure to sunlight until you see that they do not look very weak when left outside for a whole day.
  4. When you see that the plants can stay outside for at least two days, it is time to transplant them.

Even though you leave the seedlings outside, please do not fail to monitor them.

4. Select Only Healthy Plants

People planting tomatoes know that tomatoes require a lot of work, especially if you grow weak ones. When hardening your tomatoes, monitor them and take note of the ones that are not doing so well. You should not transplant those plants, as they will likely give you some problems when growing.

Select Only Healthy Plants

You should select a tomato variety that is hardy in your area. The major reason why your tomatoes are weak is that they are not growing in a zone where they are very hardy. This means that the first thing you should do is to select a suitable and hardy variety.

5. Water Your Tomatoes

At least 30 minutes before transplanting the tomatoes, you should water them.

Water Your Tomatoes Again

Watering the tomatoes before transplanting can help them to withstand the shock, as they have enough water to stay firm before their roots get used to the new environment.

6. Make Your Holes

Now that you know which tomatoes to plant and the soil is warm enough to accept tomatoes, it is time to dig your holes. If you are growing indeterminate tomatoes, ensure that the holes are 2-3 feet apart so that the spreading tomatoes do not compete with each other for space. Take the spacing for tomatoes very seriously.

As for the depth of the hole, there is no definite size. However, make sure that the hole is at least 2 inches deeper than the tomato pot. As a general rule, you should bury two-thirds of the tomato stem in the soil. 

7. Transplant Very Early in the Morning or the Evening

When is it too late to transplant tomatoes? You can transplant them at any time of the day. However, the best time of day to transplant tomatoes is early in the morning or late in the evening when the sun is not at its fullest.

If the sun is too bright, the atmosphere and soil will be very warm and it will take your tomatoes a very long time to get used to their new environment. However, if you plant them during the cool periods of the day, they can adapt in some hours before the sun gets very bright. This will help to avoid tomato transplant shock.

8. Bury a Third of the Stem

When transplanting these precious plants, an awesome tip for you is to bury as many parts of the stem as you can. By doing so, you will help the plant to grow more roots, as buried stems in tomato plants do produce roots.

Growing tomatoes will be easier for you when the tomatoes have more roots because they can easily find and collect water and nutrients from their substrate. If some leaves are attached to the bottom parts of the stem, use a sterilized tool to prune them off before you bury the stem in the hole.

9. Plant Leggy Tomatoes Horizontally

Please note that “leggy” does not mean “weak” or “sick” in this context. Leggy tomatoes are tomatoes with very long stems. Some tomatoes become leggy either due to a lack of enough light or they have a speedy growth rate. If you happen to have leggy plants, transplant them by burying them horizontally.

You do not need to prune off the leaves. Simply lay the plants on their hole sideways and then cover them with soil. Make sure that the leaves are exposed so that they can continue with photosynthesis.

10. Tamp the Soil To Make It Firm

After transplanting the seedlings to the new soil, gently pat the soil to make it firm or a little bit compact. Doing so can help with the next step in transplanting the seedlings.


11. Water Your Tomatoes Again

When you have finally transplanted the seedlings into your vegetable garden, water them for the second time. Watering them again will help them get used to their new soil faster. It will also help to prevent any shock. Please use the same water as the one that you used earlier.

12. Stake or Cage the Tomatoes

The transplanting of tomato seedlings is officially completed. After two or three days, place a cage, stake, trellis, or rope near your tomatoes so that they can start climbing. This tip is only essential for indeterminate tomatoes.

If you wait for too long before you provide their support, you may not find it easy to train your tomatoes so that they will climb in the right direction. Congratulations, you have successfully started your tomato garden. 

What Are Some Precautions To Follow When Transplanting Your Tomatoes

Some precautions to follow when transplanting your tomatoes are pushing the plants off their substrate instead of pulling them, making sure that their present substrate is not so different from the new one, and making sure that the soil is pest-free.

– Do Not Pull the Stem

Tomatoes have weak or slim stems, so please do not remove them from the soil by pulling the stem. Instead of pulling the stem, push the roots from below out of the pot.

This means that your nursery pots should have holes through which you can easily push out the plants.

– The Soil Must Be Nutrient-rich

Before transplanting your plants into the new soil, make sure that the soil is humus and nutrient-rich. Nutrient-rich soil is essential for young plants because plants collect a lot of nutrients quickly from the soil when they are young.

The Soil Must Be Nutrient-rich

If there are no nutrients available, the plants will have stunted growth and it will affect their productivity in the future.

– Consider the Difference in Soil Qualities

When you grow tomatoes in a new soil or substrate, please make sure that these qualities are not so different from those in the old soil

  • Temperature
  • pH
  • Nutrients
  • How loose the soil is

If the old and new substrates are too different, your plants will get shocked and this can hinder their performance. The tomatoes will also need a longer time to fully adapt to the new soil.

– Ensure That Soil Is Pest-free

If there is one thing that should concern you when growing tomatoes, it should be the presence of pests in the soil and garden.

Tomatoes may be hardy, but they become less productive when they are exposed to pests. To help your tomatoes, invest in quality pesticides to get rid of all the pests in the garden.

– If Using Organic Nutrients, Amend Soil at Least Two Weeks Before

It is completely fine to use organic nutrients such as animal manure in your tomato garden. However, aside from ensuring that the product is clean or sterilized, you must make sure that it has been in the soil for a long time.

Unlike inorganic nutrients such as salts in fertilizer, organic nutrients need to decompose in the soil before your tomatoes can get nutrients. This means that you may be planting your tomatoes in soil that is rich in organic nutrients but the plants may not collect these nutrients because the nutrients are not yet available for them.


Tomato transplanting is surely easier for you now, right?

Before you start transplanting, remember these tips:

  • Tomatoes are warmth-loving, so make sure that the soil is at least 60 degrees warm before you transplant the seedlings.
  • You should select only healthy plants so that they do not give you problems when growing.
  • If you want to know how deep to transplant tomatoes, divide the height of the plants by three and bury the bottom two parts in the soil.
  • Do not pull the stem of your tomatoes. Push them from the bottom of your pots instead.
  • When planting tomato seedlings in pots, make sure that the pot is deeper than two-thirds of the tomatoes.

Awesome tips, right? Stick to them when transplanting tomato seedlings so that you can achieve your desired results effortlessly.

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