Growing tomatoes is both simple and rewarding but, if you plan on planting more than one plant, the question of proper spacing may have crossed your mind.
Luckily, it’s pretty easy to meet the spacing needs of your tomato plant. Read on to find out how far apart you should be planting your particular tomatoes.
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Tomatoes are a great starter for any vegetable garden and are the most popular crop grown by hobbyists. It’s easy to see why, as they’re incredibly versatile and there are so many different varieties.
But this is also why spacing them is so tricky. The amount of space your tomato plants will need is entirely dependent on the variety of plant you have, as well as whether or not they are supported.
Some varieties can tolerate being as close as 18” to one another, while others need at least 4 ft between them in order to thrive.
Best Spacing For Tomato Plants
The proper spacing for tomato plants depends on the type of plant, as well as the type of support you use, if any. Some will be able to tolerate closer planting than others.
Dwarf varieties of determinate tomato plants, which are between 12 and 18” tall, should be spaced 1 to 2 ft apart. However, if you have full-sized varieties, they should be planted 2 ft apart.
With indeterminate tomato plants, the question of whether or not they are supported comes into play. Supported plants should be spaced 18 to 24” apart and they should be pruned regularly to control growth and encourage air circulation. On the other hand, sprawled (or unsupported) plants should be spaced 3 to 4 ft apart.
Rows of tomato plants should spaced be 4 ft apart. This will allow good air flow and provide you with adequate space to work around your plants.
Why Is Spacing So Important?
Tomato plants that are properly spaced are often healthier and produce a larger harvest than overcrowded or widely spaced plants. Practicing proper spacing is beneficial for a number of reasons, the four main ones being disease prevention, lighting, productivity, and competition.
Tomato plants are susceptible to many diseases, including leaf spot and mosaic virus. These could prove devastating to you crop and, once infected, they’re difficult to get id of.
If your plants are spaced too closely together, they won’t get a lot of air circulation. This increases the risk of disease, encourages pests, and allows them to spread more quickly. Like us, when plants are packed together and overcrowded, if one gets sick, soon they’ll all be sick.
Providing Adequate Light
Tomato plants are heat-lovers and they need plenty of sunlight to grow. If the plants are crowded too close together, they will start to cast shade on each other as they grow. As a result, they won’t be able to get adequate sunlight and will no longer be able to grow properly.
When tomatoes are planted too far apart, it leaves room for weeds to grow. As a result, you will lose out on valuable growing space and it will reduce your potential harvest. You want to utilise the space that you have as much as possible, without crowding the plants.
If you plant your tomatoes too close together, you are inadvertently forcing them to compete for water and nutrients in the soil. As a result, they won’t grow as well as they would if they were properly spaced.
Types Of Tomatoes To Consider
Tomato plants can be separated into two groups, determinate and indeterminate, and the proper spacing for them will depend on which type you have.
Determinate Varieties (Bush Tomatoes)
Determinate varieties of tomato plant (also known as “bush tomatoes”) form compact plants that grow to roughly 3 ft tall. The fruits of these plants all ripen at around the same time, making them a good choice if you plan on canning or preserving your tomatoes.
Indeterminate Varieties (Vining Tomatoes)
Indeterminate varieties of tomato plant (also known as “vining tomatoes”) can grow 6 to 8 ft tall. They only stop growing once the frost kills them off at the end of the growing season. They will yield their harvest gradually over a period of time and, due to their size, they are best grown on sturdy supports or using tomato cages.
Learning how to properly space your tomato plants is incredibly important for their health and productivity. But, once you get it right by following the above advice and providing the proper care, you’ll be rewarded. Some of the juiciest tomatoes are the ones that you’ve grown yourself, and they’re perfect for cooking too.