When to Repot a Tomato

Some tips for repotting your tomato seedlings:

1. Don't wait until your plants are embarrassingly rootbound. If you notice roots growing out of the bottom of your pot, assume it's past time to get a bigger pot.

2. If you waited too long, don't worry. Tomato plants are pretty forgiving. Try to unwind any roots that are circling the bottom, and plant the whole thing deeper in the next pot. New roots will grow from the stem and it should be fine.

3. If you don't want to transplant at all, try growing it in a bigger pot to start with. A plastic container that holds about 600 to 750 mL (three cups) should be big enough to get your seedlings to transplant day.

4. When watering your newly transplanted tomatoes, consider doing it outside or over a sink, instead of over the kitchen table. As water and dirt flow through your drainage holes, you will realize that nobody bright would do that...


  1. Is that a photo of a tomoto you're currently growing? If so, when did you start your tomato seedlings?

    Mine are just getting into the 4 leaf stage and are pretty wimpy.

    Any suggestions when I should transplant them and how I can make them look like the one being held up?

    Thanks Cassandra,


  2. Hi JJ,

    6-8 weeks before you're planning on planting your tomatoes out is usually a good time to start them. My plants are actually a little spindly this year too, I think I grew them in the 4" pots for a little too long.

    Tomato seedlings will stay nice and stocky if you have bright light and it's not too hot. If they are a bit stretched, you can just plant them deeper when you put them outside, and they'll be fine.

    The weather's looking pretty nice this week, so I'm putting my plants out during the day. I'm hoping they'll take off with a little sunshine.

    Hope that helps!

  3. Is there any advantage to transplanting from seedling starter tray to a small pot and then to a large pot (before transplanting outside) versus transplanting from seedling starter tray directly to a large pot (to eliminate a transplanting procedure)? I'm wondering if keeping the plant in a pot not too much bigger could help prevent root rot? Are there other advantages? Or is there no particular advantage except to save space in the short term?

  4. The main advantage with transplanting tomatoes is, in my experience, that you can bury them a little deeper each time if they're a bit stretched, which keeps them from falling over.

    I think starting seeds in flats and transplanting them several times usually makes the most sense for people who are growing in quantity. For more small-scale operations, growing things in a single pot is less work and should work fine, as long as you have good drainage.


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