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Tomato plants start out as tiny seedlings but soon grow into large bushes with an abundance of ripe, red fruit. When you are planning where to plant your vegetables in the spring, one of the most important parts is properly spacing the different types of tomatoes, so they have room to grow.
Here are the tomato plant spacing requirements for different varieties.
Spacing for Tomato Seedlings
If you started tomato seedlings indoors, you can plant them outdoors once the threat of frost passes. Plan to place all the seedlings into the soil since some of them may not survive the transplanting process.
By planting them all, you ensure that at least some will survive. When first placing tiny tomato seedlings into the ground, space them at least 24 inches apart with each row at least 30 to 36 inches apart.
Continue caring for the seedlings until they reach at least six inches high and then increase the spacing between them by selecting the smallest or weakest seedlings and pulling them out of the ground.
Spacing for Larger Plants
If you purchase tomatoes from a garden center, they are typically a little larger, between 6 and 12 inches high. When planting these tomatoes into the ground, spacing depends on how large the mature plant will eventually grow to be. Here are some guidelines on tomato plant spacing based on the variety.
The recommended spacing for standard tomatoes is three feet on all sides if they are the same variety. If you are using a circular wire trellis around the tomato plant instead of a stake, increase the planting distance to four feet.
Roma, Grape, and Cherry Tomatoes
These are smaller tomato varieties and grow in a more vertical pattern. These tomatoes are often grown on stakes, as opposed to a circular cage, and thus can be planted at distances of 12 to 15 inches apart if they are the same variety.
If you are planting different types of tomatoes, you must space them at least eight feet apart. The reason is that if they are spaced closer, they may cross-pollinate and create different fruit than what you expect.
How Far Apart to Plant Bush Varieties versus Cordon Varieties
In addition to the above spacing requirements, you must also take into account whether you have a bush variety or a cordon variety. A bush variety is exactly what it sounds like and produces multiple stems from the ground. Cordon varieties are much taller and thinner with a single central stalk and shorter vertical stems.
For this reason, you should increase the spacing for bush tomato varieties to four feet if they are season-long growers. If you have multiple rows of bush tomatoes planted, space each row at five to six-foot intervals.
No matter what types of tomatoes you are growing, following the proper tomato plant spacing, ensures the plant remains disease free and has adequate access to sunlight, which improves fruit production.
- Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service: https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/tomato/
- Gary Isben’s Tomato Fest: https://www.tomatofest.com/tomato-questions.html
- Gardener’s Network: http://www.gardenersnet.com/vegetable/tomato.htm
You should check your facts regarding the effect on fruit of cross pollination.