How to correctly plant tomatoes

Rebecca Ilch Rebecca IlchChristel Rupp Christel Rupp

Pre-grown tomato plants can be moved to flower beds in late April/early May. Here’s our step-by-step guide to planting tomato plants.

Planting tomato plants correctly

Tomato plants are planted deeper than other vegetables

As it gets warmer in late April/early May, pre-grown tomato plants can gradually be planted outdoors. If you want to plant young tomato plants in the garden, mild temperatures are your key to success. You should therefore only plant tomatoes out once the soil has warmed up to 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit – lower temperatures stop growth and the plants produce fewer flowers and fruit. To be on the safe side, you can wait until the last frosts (12 to 15 May) have passed before you put the frost-sensitive tomato plants in the flower bed.

Tip: A high tunnel tends to provide better conditions for growing tomatoes than an open space outdoors. This protects the heat-loving tomato plant from wind and rain, making it harder for blight fungus to spread.

Step-by-step: Planting tomato plants correctly

Allow for a sufficient distance between plants (left), before you start digging the holes (right)

Tomato plants need plenty of space, so you should allow for a sufficient distance – around 2 to 2.5 foot – between individual plants. You can then dig the planting holes. They should be around twice as big as the root ball of the tomato plants and enriched with a little compost.

Remove the cotyledons (left) and take the tomato plants out of the pots (right)

Then remove the cotyledons from the tomato plants. The small leaves are susceptible to rot as they are very close to the soil surface and often get wet during watering. They die over time anyway. Carefully take the tomato plant out of the pot so as not to damage the root ball.

Place the tomato plant deep in the hole (left). Fill the hole with soil and press down well (right)

The tomato plant can now be put in the hole. Plant the seedlings a little deeper than they were in the pot. This way, the tomato plants form additional roots on the lower part of the stem, enabling them to absorb more water and nutrients.

Use plant labels for different varieties (left) and water all tomato plants well (right)

With grafted varieties, you should make sure that you can still see the thickened grafting point. If you are planting different varieties of tomato, you can also label these so it is easier to distinguish between them. Water the young plants once they have all been planted. The tomato plants should be watered daily for the first three days after planting.

How to make climbing aids for tomato plants

String is tied to the frame of the high tunnel (left) and the first shoot of the plant (right)

The plants need climbing aids so that the long vines can also grow upwards. Simply tie some string to the frame of the high tunnel. Each tomato plant should have its own string as a climbing aid. Tie the string to the first shoots of the tomato plant. If you do not have a high tunnel, tomato stakes and trellises also work well as climbing aids. To prevent your tomato plants from suffering fungal diseases like blight, you should protect them from rain both in flower beds and on the balcony. If you don’t have a greenhouse, you can build your own tomato house.

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