Transplanting Tomato Seedlings – Tips for Success

Transplanting tomato seedlings can be a tricky process. This is because tomato seedlings require a lot of care, and one of the most important parts of taking care of them is transplanting them properly.

To ensure your tomato seedlings thrive in their new home, check out our tips for transplanting tomato seedlings so that they have the best chance of survival!

Reasons To Transplant Tomato Seedling

Many gardeners or farmers advise starting some vegetables such as tomatoes, pepper, etc. in a nursery either in a seed starting tray in a controlled environment or a small patch in the garden reserved for nursing your seeds.

After nursing your seeds, it becomes necessary to transplant them to their final location where they remain till they bear fruits and are harvested.

Below are reasons why you need to transplant your seedlings after nursing them.

1. To harden off the plants.

Your tomato plants need strong stems to be able to carry the tomato fruits. For this reason, you will need to transplant your tomato seedlings at the right time to harden the stems and subsequently branches.

Hardening off is the process of exposing your young plants to outdoor growing conditions such as wind and sunshine. This will, as earlier mentioned give your plants strong stems and subsequently strong branches.

2. To prevent damping-off.

When seeds are left in small containers, and not transplanted on time, it can lead to damping off. Damping-off is a fungal disease that attacks young plants, causing them to collapse and die.

Transplant your tomato seedlings to allow proper aeration and prevent overcrowding of seedlings and therefore prevent damping-off in your seedlings.

3. To give the plants more room to grow.

Often, seed starting trays or containers are not big enough to contain the full-grown tomato plants. When your tomato seedlings are not transplanted from a small pot to a larger one or the field, it may lead to stunted growth.

It will also reduce fruiting bearing capability, and in some instances death of the plant. You need to transplant your tomato seedlings to offer your plants more room to grow healthily.

4. To improve the quality of the fruit.

When you transplant your tomato seedlings into a bigger pot or ground in your garden, your seedlings are able to have enough room to grow quality fruits. You also have high chance, if your seed are viable seeds to have your tomato plants bearing lots of fruits.

5. To save your leggy seedlings.

If you have leggy tomato seedlings that are old enough to be transplanted, it is good to do so in order to save it. This is because the tomato plant that is leggy might up growing tall getting to the point where the stem bends over and breaks.

How to transplant tomato seedlings

The process of transplanting tomato seedlings is fairly simple but may lead to some issues such as damaged root system, broken stems when the seedlings are not handled well. Following the steps below, you should be ok transplanting your tomato seedlings.

Harden off your tomato seedlings.

You will be exposing your seedlings to new environment. You will need to harden off your seedlings or young tomato plants to enable your seedlings or young plants to handle wind, heat, some cold, and sunlight.

Harden off your seedlings for some days prior to transplanting to prevent transplant shock. Slowly expose your seedlings or young plants each day prior to finally transplanting. You can follow the steps below if you started your tomato seeds indoors.

transplanting tomato seedlings by first hardening off

Find the perfect spots for your seedlings in your garden.

Tomato plants need at least 8 hours in a day to grow healthy and bear big and lots of fruits. Ensure that you find a good spot for your tomato transplants that will ensure they get the required amount of sunlight each day.

Also, the spot that will serve as the final destination of the tomato plant should be big enough to support aeration among your tomato plants and also minimize their competition with other plants.

If you want to have great harvest, don’t deprive your young tomato plants of big enough space and their daily requirements of sunshine.

Prune Young Tomato Plants Before Transplanting

You will need to do some pruning at this stage if necessary. This exercise is to prune off excess branches or foliage to prevent nutrients from being thinly distributed to other parts of your plant.

You can also nib off any early flowers. To learn more on how to prune seedlings before transplanting tomato seedlings watch the video below.

Prepare Your Soil

Tomato plants grow well in well-drained soil. Ensure that the soil in which your seedlings will have as their final growing place should be loose and loamy soil.

Try and prepare the soil in your garden space or soil for the container you are transplanting to if you are engaging in container gardening way in advance. Add compost to your soil during its preparation if necessary.

Dig Holes For The Tomato Transplants

You need to dig holes ready for the tomato transplants. Gently spray some water in the hole to make it a little moist. Your holes for your young tomato plants should be large enough (resulting in soil loosing) to allow the roots of your tomato plants to have enough room to settle well in the soil.

This makes it easy for the roots to travel freely and unhindered in the soil promoting easy location and absorption of nutrients from the soil by the plant roots.

Burying Your Tomato Seedlings 

You have two options burying your tomato seedlings or young plants. You can either bury your young plant or seedling very deep in the ground upright or sideways. It is advised that you should bury two-thirds of your seedlings or young plant.

Burying your young tomato plants in either of the ways mentioned above is to ensure that most part (two-thirds) of your plant’s stem is buried in the ground. Tomato plants can develop new roots along the stems of the plant.

This strategy is to promote the new roots to aid in nutrient absorption from the soil and also it makes your plant firm.

After you’ve buried or transplanted your seedlings or young tomato plants (ensuring that the leaves left are not touching the soil) and covered the buried stems, water the plants with just enough to moisten the soil.

You’ve successfully completed transplanting tomato seedlings or your young tomato plants.

When to transplant tomato seedlings

When to transplant tomato seedlings depends on various factors. These include your climate and growing zone.

If the query is in respect of, the state of or stage of growth of the tomato seedling to requiring it being transplanted, then tomato seedlings can be transplanted when they are 3 to 4 inches tall and have already developed their first true sets of leaves.

Tomato seedlings or young plants can also be transplanted when they have grown leggy because they are not exposed to adequate sunlight or are overcrowded in the starting tray.

You can also transplant your young tomato plants when they’ve outgrown the initial container or pot the seeds were started in.

If the query, when to transplant tomato seedlings, is in respect to time of day, it is advisable that transplanting tomato seedlings should be done very early in the morning before the sun is high up in the sky.

Benefits of transplanting tomato seedlings

Transplanting your tomato seedlings can have a number of benefits. It can help them to grow stronger and healthier, and can also help to protect them from pests and diseases.

Transplanting your seedlings can also save leggy seedlings and also makes room for starting new seeds using the same seed starting trays.

Challenges of transplanting tomato seedlings

There are some challenges associated with transplanting tomato seedlings. These challenges include not knowing at what stage of your plant growth or time (hour of the day) to transplant your seedlings, transplant shock, the possibility of damaging the plant’s root system, and stems of plants breaking during transplant.

Overcoming challenges of transplanting tomato seedlings

It can be difficult to get tomato seedlings to thrive after transplanting them. To overcome the challenges of transplanting tomato seedlings you only need to pay attention to these things.

  1. Handle your seedlings with care to prevent the stems from breaking.
  2. Harden off your seedlings prior to transplanting them to prevent transplant shock.
  3. Carefully dig out or remove your seedlings in order not to damage their roots.
  4. Transplant seedlings very early in the morning.
  5. Prune excess branches or foliage where necessary.

Final Words

Follow the guidelines above and you are sure to successfully transplant tomato seedlings. Along with your transplants, transplanting tomato seedlings also saves time, money, and most of all a great deal of heartbreak! All it takes is a little preparation and forethought and you can decrease your transplanting loss by as much as 80%. So be sure to follow our tips for transplanting tomato seedlings to ensure your seedlings survive and grow healthily to bear fruits you can be proud of.

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