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tomato plant spacing

Tomato Plant Spacing Considerations: What You Need To Know

This tomato growing season, make sure you have the most beautiful tomatoes in your neighborhood. Did you know that how closely you space tomato plants can affect their growth and production? It’s true. Proper tomato plant spacing is the key to cultivating a fruitful and beautiful home garden.

Other factors can influence the growth of your tomatoes, as well. The type of tomatoes, whether they’re an indeterminate or determinate variety, and whether you plant them in the ground or in a container can all affect how well your tomatoes grow this season.

Keep reading below for more information about proper spacing and care for your tomatoes. Or find out why A Garden Patch’s reliable self-watering tomato planter takes the headache out of growing tomatoes and makes it easy for gardeners of any skill level to enjoy thriving tomato plants.

Why Tomato Plant Spacing Is Important

Tomatoes require specific nutrients, watering volume, and room to grow based on plant size, variety, and fruit size. Spacing plants far enough apart for their root systems to spread and bushes to grow is crucial for the brightest and juiciest tomatoes.

Proper spacing allows for healthy plants to thrive and contributes to:

  • Adequate airflow around plants to prevent moisture buildup on leaves that can lead to pest infestation or mold growth
  • Light penetration through the leaves of each plant to feed the plants through photosynthesis
  • Room for stakes, trellises, or cages to support the plants as they grow
  • Proper distribution of nutrients and water without plants overcrowding and competing for resources
  • Easy harvesting of full-grown tomatoes without disturbing other plants or branches

Tomatoes planted too close to each other can easily spread diseases or pests amongst themselves or smother each other as they compete for resources.

Determining the correct tomato plant spacing for your home garden requires some information. What types of tomatoes are you planting? How big will they grow? What size tomatoes will they produce?

Indeterminate and Determinate Tomatoes

A determinate tomato variety typically produces a small, dense bush and a single crop of tomatoes. Common determinate varieties include Roma and plum tomatoes. You should plant determinate varieties 18 to 24 inches apart.

Indeterminate tomatoes continue growing until the plant’s life cycle ends naturally, producing tomatoes throughout their lifetimes. Also called “vining tomatoes,” many varieties are indeterminate, including heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and large beefsteak slicing tomatoes.

Because indeterminate tomatoes grow upwards, you can plant them as close as 18 inches apart. However, you may want to plant them farther apart if planting in a row garden, so you have space to walk between the plants and add stakes or cages over time.

If you have larger tomato varieties like classic slicing or heirloom tomatoes, plant them anywhere between 18 and 36 inches apart. You can plant smaller fruit varieties closer together, even as close as 12 inches. Larger varieties typically grow on larger vines and need more space to flourish.

tomato plant spacing

Home Garden Type

You may need to space tomato plants differently depending on how you intend to plant them. Are you planting them in a traditional row garden, raised bed, or container garden?

  • Row Garden. When planting in rows, plant each row 12 to 48 inches apart, depending on the variety and expected size of the tomato plant. Between each row, leave 36 to 48 inches of space so you can walk between rows to do work in your home garden.
  • Square Foot Garden. Plant one tomato plant per square foot in a raised garden bed, usually four feet across so you can reach the middle from either side. Mix compost and soil to feed your tomatoes throughout the season.
  • Raised Garden Beds. Plant tomatoes with proper spacing of 18 to 24 inches apart in a raised garden bed, possibly closer if your raised beds offer more than 12 inches of soil depth. 
  • Container Garden. Plan for one plant per five-gallon container. You can put two plants in a large container that holds 10 gallons and scale up to allow five gallons per plant.

Signs Your Tomatoes Are Too Close Together

Tomatoes planted too close to each other often show certain signs. You should thin your tomato plants if you notice any of these indicators:

  • Low production. Tomatoes require a lot of water and nutrients to produce high-quality fruits. If your tomato plants have to compete for hydration and nutrients, they may not produce many good tomatoes.
  • Small plants. Your tomato vines or bushes also require water and nutrients to flourish. Your plants may not grow very big if they have to compete for resources.
  • Leaf diseases or pest infestations. Diseases thrive on damp leaves. If your tomato plant spacing is too close, air and sunlight may not be able to dry the leaves, allowing diseases to spread. Proper spacing can also keep pests like aphids or caterpillars from infesting additional bushes nearby.

How Does A Garden Patch’s GrowBox™ Help?

A Garden Patch’s reliable self-watering tomato planter takes the hassle out of calculating tomato plant spacing. Get beautiful tomatoes without weeding, digging, fertilizing, or stooping over a garden in the hot sun.

Using the GrowBox™ is simple enough that even a novice gardener can set one up. Simply fill the GrowBox™ with potting soil, lay the Nutrient Patch™ on top, plant your seeds according to the number guide, and water occasionally. The four-gallon well keeps your plants watered with fewer refills than other planter boxes.

The portable GrowBox™ allows gardeners to grow tomatoes outdoors, inside their patios, and even indoors. The standard color offerings include terra cotta or green, and you can get the GrowBox™ in fashionable premium colors, including cauliflower, eggplant, celery, or lime.

The GrowBox™ isn’t just the best option to properly space tomato plants. Easily grow squash, zucchini, cucumber, eggplant, cabbage, salad greens, peas, and more!

Get the Right Tomato Plant Spacing for Your Garden

Get some additional tips for caring for tomato plants during the summer on our blog, or choose the easy-to-use A Garden Patch™ GrowBox™ for proper tomato plant spacing and beautiful tomatoes all season long. Order online now, or call to order by phone at 800-519-1955.

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