How Far Apart to Plant Tomatoes | Tomato Plant Spacing Tips

For better yield and bigger fruits, it’s essential to know How Far Apart to Plant Tomatoes. Look at these tomato plant spacing tips to do this correctly.

How Far Apart to Plant Tomatoes

When it comes to caring for tomato plants, focus mostly goes on soil, water, and sunlight, forgetting an essential aspect of tomato care–Spacing! For a bountiful harvest, you need to save up as much space as possible without overcrowding the plants. But exactly How Far Apart to Plant Tomatoes? Do all the varieties require equal spacing? Is spacing depends on the type of planting method? Let’s discuss it in detail.

Check out our article on best secrets to grow great tomatoes here


Do all Tomato Varieties Require Equal Spacing?

The simple answer is “No.” Broadly speaking, tomatoes have two categories–Determinate and indeterminate. The spacing depends on the variety you choose to plant.

Determinate Tomatoes

These tomato plants remain compact in size and reach only 1-4 feet height (depends on the cultivar), and once they attain the maximum growth, they stop growing.

The ideal spacing between successive plants ranges from 12-24 inches. For large varieties, 18-24 inches of space between plants is recommended.

Indeterminate Tomatoes

Indeterminate tomatoes are tall and spindly and need the support of a trellis. They won’t stop growing on their own unless the growth ends with either these varieties succumbing to death due to weather change, frost, or when you prune them back heavily.

Space them 24 inches apart from each other, if they’re pruned well and trellised. For large varieties, 24-36 inches of spacing between plants is recommended.

Note: As they grow, the plants occupy more space, just to be on a safer side provide a bit more space than necessary.


How To Space Tomatoes According To Garden Type

How Far Apart to Plant Tomatoes 2

Apart from the varieties, the tomato plant spacing also depends on where you are planting them–Containers, ground, or raised beds.

Spacing in Containers

When you grow tomatoes in containers, there just isn’t enough space for two tomato plants to grow together. On average, a single tomato plant requires a pot of around 14-18 inches for bush type tomatoes and 18-24 inches for climbing tomatoes in both depth and width. 
Now instead of buying a very large container to plant more than one tomato plant, the practical solution is to get another pot. If you do manage to get that wide container to grow multiple plants, space them 8-12 inches apart.

Note: Tomatoes planted that closely grow well when their basal leaves are removed.

Some compact and dwarf, hybrid cultivars can grow easily in a pot that is 10-12 inches wide and deep. So, if you’re a limited space gardener, it’s important that you select the right varieties when growing tomatoes in containers.

Check out the best tomato varieties for containers here


Spacing in Ground

Spacing tomatoes in the ground is a pretty straightforward task as you need to provide 18-24 inches gap between each plant of determinate varieties and 24-36 inches for tall indeterminate varieties. If your tomato bushes are not staked and sprawling on the ground, maintain 36-48 inches of spacing.

The gap between rows depends on the space in which you’ll be able to maneuver without trampling over plants. Generally, 32-36 inches of space between rows is considered best, but you can make it a bit narrow or wide, depending on your needs.


Spacing in Raised Beds

In raised beds, keep your tomato plants at least 18 inches apart, this much of spacing is fine for most varieties. Large indeterminate cultivars can be 24 inches away. If the raised beds are deeper than 12 inches or more, you can plant tomatoes a bit closer. This is because the roots will have more space to grow with the added advantage of better nutrient availability.


Tomato Spacing Experiment

A series of 8 experiments were performed in Yolo County, California, between 1946-1949 to determine the ideal tomato plant spacing using the “Pearson” variety of heirloom tomatoes. They spaced tomatoes 12, 18, 24, 30, 36, 48, 60, and 72 inches apart.  The observations were interesting:

  • Close spacing of 12, 18, 24 inches increased production heavily.
  • But the 12 inches gap didn’t provide the maximum yield.
  • The 12 inches spacing was also related to the risk of fungal diseases, difficulty in picking tomatoes.
  • In every test, closed spacing produced more tomatoes in early yields.
  • The increased spacing of 48, 60, 72 inches produced larger tomatoes but low yield.
  • Wide spacing also caused sunburn in tomato plants and less temperature control.
  • 18, 24, and 36 inches of tomato plant spacing was found perfect.
  • 18 inches distance produced more yield but smaller fruits, whereas, 36 inches produced bigger fruits but lower yield. Therefore, the 24 inches spacing was ideal!

You can read about this experiment in detail here.

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