When it comes to gardening, it’s never too late to learn and improve upon your skills and techniques. Tomatoes are a staple in so many gardens, we figured we’d take some time to discuss the importance of plant spacing when it comes to planting your tomato seeds.
There’s a few different things that both beginner and long term gardeners should be aware of – so let’s get right to it!
Why is spacing important for your tomatoes?
Sure, we know that we don't want to overcrowd our beds with a cluster of plants, but there’s more to spacing than aesthetics and crowded gardens. Spacing actually provides a number of benefits! When you’re aware of these benefits, you can work towards perfecting the environment your tomatoes have to grow.
Protect against potential disease
We’re probably all familiar with root rot, right? Unfortunately, when tomatoes (or many plants, for that matter) are planted too close together, the transmission of root rot and other potential diseases is made easy due to lack of proper air flow.
The majority of diseases that affect tomatoes are from mold and mildew. Due to this, tomatoes grow better in northern climates where there’s less humidity for them to contend with.
When you space out your plants, not only are they less susceptible to transmittable mold infections, you can quarantine and limit the exposure your other plants may encounter much quicker.
Your plants won’t need to compete for nutrients
Another risk associated with planting your produce too close together is the fact that they will need to compete for nutrients. Too many plants in such a small area will need to compete for water, sunlight, and nutrients from the soil. This, in turn, limits the potential for your plants.
Your plants have a better yield
More space means more yield. When we remove the need to compete for resources, and limit the exposure to diseases, your plant is more likely to produce a higher yield as a result. You can plant your tomatoes closer, but you need to put in the work to keep suckers trimmed and prevent mildew.
Tomato spacing depending on the type of tomato
Now that we’ve established that spacing is important, how do we determine what space is appropriate? Obviously we don't need to be planting our tomatoes 10 feet apart, but how far is just far enough? The truth is: it depends! Let’s walk through the different needs of determinate varieties of tomatoes, and indeterminate varieties of tomatoes.
When mapping out where to plant your newest additions, determine what kind you have. If you have a determinate variety, you will only need about one and a half feet of space between each plant in a row with about three feet between each row.
Determinante varieties of tomatoes are generally much smaller and require less overall space when producing their fruit, but this depends heavily on how your specific type of tomato plant flowers. The fruit of determinate tomatoes are all produced at one time.
It is important to choose whether your crop will be growing along a trellis, or simply extending along the ground. For those using a trellis system, you can plant your tomatoes about two and a half feet apart. For growth within a wire cage (recommended only for determinate varieties), leave at least three feet between each plant, and 5 feet between each row.
Semi Determinate varieties
Semi determinate tomato plants tend to be compact plants with a thick stem. Like indeterminate varieties, they produce fruit throughout the season. When it comes to winter or the occasional cold-front, a trellis allows you to easily use frost cloth to protect your tomato plants.
For indeterminate varieties of tomato plants, you can expect to have multiple flushes of fruit throughout the season. If you’re shooting to grow larger sized tomatoes, you’ll want to limit the number of tomatoes you’re growing per plant. More room on each plant allows the tomatoes to grow to their full potential! Most cherry tomatoes are of indeterminate variety.
Tomato spacing by where you’re planting
In addition to the variation of tomato plants you’re growing, it is also important to consider where you will be planting them. Will they reside in a pot or will you be placing them directly into the ground?
Spacing for tomatoes in containers
For those who are hoping to use a large planter to house their growing produce, it is important to ensure the container is large enough. For best results, try to select a pot that can hold at least 5 gallons, however, there are some determinate varieties that can grow in a 2 gallon pot.
With a 5 gallon pot and great soil, you can plant herbs around the base of your tomato plant to get the most out of your garden! Even though these plants will be individually planted, spacing them at least two feet apart will still remain important for growth. More trellising and more space in between your plants will result in less work for you with a better yield of fruit.
Tomatoes planted in the ground
For tomatoes in the ground, you can follow the guidelines listed above depending on the variety of tomato plant. Be sure to customize your plants needs based on the type of garden you have. Raised beds, traditional gardens, and square foot gardens all need their own special spacing requirements.
For gardening in Florida, Everglades Tomatoes are by far the most suited to the climate. They have a long production period, and are heat tolerant, allowing them to stand up to our hotter temperatures.
Whitwam Organics has multiple tomato varieties for your garden!
With proper time, information, and care, your vegetable garden will flourish and continue to provide produce for the seasons to come. To start your garden with healthy, happy plants, consider Whitwam Organics for all of your tomato and other plant needs!