Potting up is the process of re-planting or transplanting tomato seedlings that are not ready for the garden into larger pots. When you pot up tomatoes it allows the plants to continue their steady growth until the plants are strong enough and the outdoor growing conditions are right. In this article, I'll show you how to pot up tomato plants for Larger Healthier Plants.
Why Tomato Plants Need to Be Potted Up
When a plant stays in a pot for too long it can become root-bound. A plant that becomes root-bound will not thrive and ultimately will become sickly and die. One of the interesting things about tomato plants is that roots will form up and down the entire portion of the stem that is beneath the soil. Potting up a tomato plant allows for the development of strong roots and a thicker stem.
When to Pot Up Tomato Plants
When to pot up your plants really depends on when you plant the seeds. Tomato seeds are started indoors at least 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost. I like to start ours 12 weeks before the last frost. That gives me a plant that is about 24" tall when planted in the ground. The first potting-up will be after the first set of true leaves form. This is usually from a small six-pack pot up to a 4" pot. If you planted multiple seeds in one pot this is when you will thin them down to one plant per pot. Then again when they are about 6 to 8 inches tall. This will be from a 4-inch container to a quart-size container.
How To Pot Up Tomatoes
- Allow the plant to dry out slightly. This makes slipping it out of the pot easier.
- The new pot should be about 2" wider and 2" deeper than the previous pot the plant was in.
- Place soil mix in the bottom of the new pot.
- Pinch or cut off any leaves along the stem except for the top two sets.
- If the roots are bound up give them a gentle squeeze to loosen them.
- Place the tomato plant in the new pot and fill it with high-quality soil. I usually burry all of the stem minus about 1" from the leaves that I left.
- Now water the plant so that the soil is moist but not soggy. Overly wet soil is never good.
- Keep your tomato plants in a well-lit window or under grow lights in an area that has good airflow.
When Plant Outside
Tomato plants grow best when the soil and air temperatures are 65°F or greater. If planted too soon the cooler temperatures will stunt the plant's growth. It is always best to wait until the nighttime temperatures are above 60-65°F. Don't forget before planting tomatoes in the ground they need to be hardened off.