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How Far Apart to Plant Tomatoes? A Helpful Guide for Gardeners

Growing tomatoes is not only a fun hobby, it’s also a great way to enjoy naturally grown produce. However, one of the main keys to growing delicious tomatoes is making sure you plant your seeds far enough apart to ensure optimal growth.

There are many different types of ways to grow tomatoes, and with each method, the spacing of the tomatoes will be a little bit different. Some of the different ways to plant tomatoes include staking, caging and sprawling. So, why is spacing so important?

Tomatoes are a plant that require plenty of sunshine. Because of this, each plant needs to have adequate spacing. By giving each plant the right amount of space, you ill give them maximum exposure to the sunlight, so they’ll grow to their full potential.

In addition to this, when you place plants too close to each other, disease can transfer from one plant to another. As a result, you could potentially lose all your plants. Although there are several products on the market that claim to help prevent this from happening, you should still take precautionary measures.

Another problem that arises from having your tomato plants too close is the inability to remove different pests. One of the most common pests you have to worry about is the caterpillar. These little guys find the tomato foliage to be delicious and can do quite a lot of damage. When your plants are too close, it’s extremely hard to see the caterpillars and efficiently remove them.

Understanding the basics of tomatoes

Although you’re probably pretty interested in learning about how close to plant tomatoes, it’s best if you begin by understanding some basic principles first. There are two kinds of tomatoes. You have your determinate and your indeterminate.

Determinate: Determinate tomato plants grow to an expected height. There are quite a few varieties of determinate plants, but each one has it’s on expected maximum growth potential. Their expected height is anywhere from 2 to 4 feet, and they’re perfect for planting in little containers.

Indeterminate: Indeterminate tomato plants on the other hand will just continue to grow. There is not expected height. Some indeterminate tomato plants have been known to grow 8 feet or even more. These plants need much more room to grow. In addition to this, they also have to be staked.

As you can see, the amount of space you provide your tomato plants will largely influence the success it will have. However, it’s important to know specifically what kind of tomato you in fact will be growing, so how far apart to plant tomatoes.

How close to plant tomatoes when I’m growing tomatoes in cages?

Growing your tomatoes in a rectangular or acylinder wire cage is the common practice for indeterminate tomatoes. These wired cages allow the tomato plant to grow in their most natural environment while also eliminating the need to stake it. Wire cages can be purchased at most home improvement stores. However, you can also build them yourself using wire fencing and bending them to the right shape and position.

The cages you use should provide each plant with at least 6 inches of space around it. This will allow you to reach your hand in a pick your tomatoes. Typically, a good-sized cage for your indeterminate tomato plants will be around 6 feet tall and 18 to 36 inches wide. As far as your other measurements, you’ll also want to give your plants at least 24 to 30 inches of space and at least 30 to 42 inches between each of your rows. This will give your tomato plants more than enough room to grow. Tomato spacing in a garden is an extremely important step to growing quality tomatoes.

How far apart should I plant tomatoes when I am staking them?

In addition to cages, indeterminate tomato plants can also be grown with the use of stakes. Stakes are for plants that tend to grow tall. Gardeners that are planning on using stakes should space out their indeterminate tomato plants by at least 24 and 30 inches and your rows should be about 40 inches apart.

To use stakes, you’ll want to begin by acquiring wood stakes that are sturdy, tough and have no cracks. They have to also be able to withstand the weight of the rising plant and hold the plant intact during a storm or a hard gust of wind.

To add to this, your stakes should also be about 6.6 feet long and about 2 inches wide. Most home improvement stores carry these stakes at a reasonable price. Once you have purchased them, you’ll want to drive the stakes into the ground about 1 foot deep. You also want to make sure that when you put your stakes into the ground, they’re about 4 to 6 inches away from the tomato plant it’s supporting.

After your tomato plant has begun to grow, take twine, rope or string and tie your tomato plant to the stake. You should do this about every 10 to 12 inches. It’s essential that the twine, rope or string you use is strong and can sustain heavy winds.

How far apart do you plant tomatoes when I’m letting them sprawl?

When you let your tomato plant sprawl out as it grows instead of caging or staking it, it’s called sprawling. This type of growing process is usually done with determinate plants and not indeterminate ones. Why? As indeterminate tomato plants begin to sprawl outward, they will begin to snarl and get tangled up. As a result, your tomato plants become very hard to harvest.

The proper way to space your sprawling tomatoes should be planted 3 to 4 feet apart and your rows should be planted approximately 4 to 5 feet apart. This will give them maximum exposure to the sunlight and enough room to sprawl outward.

As your sprawling tomato plant grows overtime, they will begin to lay on the ground in the dirt. As a result, your tomatoes can begin to decay and become rotten. To fight this problem, you’ll want to lay mulch or fabric on the ground to protect them. This will help ensure your tomatoes turn our great.



Monday 8th of May 2017

The article above states that I tie up the tomato every 10-12 feet. Shouldn't that be worded every 10-12 inches?


Monday 8th of May 2017

Thanks Lisa. Great catch. This has been updated. I really appreciate you letting us know.