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How Far Apart To Plant Tomatoes For Better Yield

Properly spaced tomatoes are not only healthier, but they produce a much larger harvest than those that are overcrowded, as well as those that are spread too widely! Spacing your tomato plants correctly is crucial, and it depends on factors such as the types of tomatoes you plant and how you decide to support them. So, if you wondered how far apart to plant tomatoes, keep reading to find out.

The ideal spacing for tomato plants is between 24 and 36 inches, although it could change depending on the variety. If planted too close, there’s a higher disease risk because of poor air circulation. If you love larger vine-producing tomatoes, plant those 36 inches away from each other, with their rows four to five feet apart.

Once you have a few critical pieces of information, figuring out how far to plant your tomatoes should be easy. Let’s look more closely at spacing tomatoes growing in containers, ground, and raised beds and what factors influence their spacing!

ripe tomatoes on the vine.
Image credit: Backyard Garden Lover.

How Far Apart To Plant Tomatoes?

tomato plants growing in a raised bed.
Image credit: Depositphotos.

Why is it important for tomatoes to be properly spaced? Proper spacing is essential for growing healthy tomatoes because it allows each plant to receive enough nutrients, sunlight, and air circulation to grow and produce delicious fruits.

1. Nutrient availability

If tomatoes are overcrowded, they will compete for nutrients, and some plants will be left with less than they need. Proper spacing ensures that each plant has access to sufficient nutrients, promoting strong and healthy growth.

2. Sunlight exposure

Tomatoes are heat-loving plants and require loads of sunlight for healthy growth. If you overcrowd seedlings when planting, they will cast shade on some of their neighbors as they grow taller and fuller. This can slow down growth and reduce fruit production.

3. Air circulation

Then tomato plants are too close together, and air cannot circulate freely around the leaves and stems, creating a humid environment that encourages fungal diseases such as early blight, late blight, powdery mildew, and more. So, leave enough room for air to circulate around each plant to reduce the risk of disease.

4. Easy access to maintain the plants

You need to prune, tie up, and water your plants regularly. If plants are too close together, it can be challenging to access them for maintenance, and your tomatoes might not get the right amount of water, nutrients, and the necessary care.

Learn More About Growing Tomatoes

Spacing Different Types of Tomatoes

Tomato plant spacing could change according to the tomato type. Make sure you research the variety or follow the spacing requirements, usually found on the plant tag or seed packet.

How to space determinate tomato plants

Determinate tomato plants are compact and bushy and only grow to a specific height and then stop. Here are some general guidelines for spacing determinate tomato plants:

If you are planting determinate tomato plants in the ground, the recommended spacing is between 2 and 3 feet in rows 3 to 4 feet apart. This optimal space allows enough room for each plant to grow and receive the necessary nutrients and sunlight.

When growing determinate tomato plants in containers, use a pot at least 12 inches in diameter and 12 inches deep. Space the plants 1 to 2 feet apart, depending on the size of the container.

If you are growing this type of tomato plant in a raised bed, space them 2 to 3 feet apart in rows 3 to 4 feet apart. Raised beds usually provide better drainage and soil quality than in-ground planting, resulting in healthier yields of delicious fresh tomatoes.

Always follow the instructions on the seed packet or the recommendations provided by your local nursery for spacing determinate tomato plants. They may have specific recommendations based on the variety of tomatoes you plant.

How to space indeterminate tomato varieties

Unlike determinate tomato plants, indeterminate varieties can grow anywhere from six to eight feet tall! They will have continuous growth and produce fruit for a longer time: until they are pruned or killed by frost. Indeterminate tomatoes are also known as vining tomatoes.

They yield their harvest over an extended period and are best grown on sturdy supports, such as tall wire cages, trellises, or stakes.

Because these types of tomato plants typically grow more up than out, they are seen as less bushy than determinates, which means they can manage closer spacing, as close as 18 inches apart. Of course, they will benefit from having more space if you have the space.

Cherry tomato plants need lots of space and will produce higher yields if given a firm support system, the right row spacing, and enough hours of sunlight. They can grow up to 7 feet tall (and sometimes even taller), but they also get pretty bushy (and unruly if you miss pruning and tying them up) and can be hard to harvest if planted too close. I suggest giving cherry tomato varieties at least 3 feet between them and if possible, up to 4 feet.

Here’s one of my usual cherry tomatoes harvests from last year: over 750 tiny, delicious, cheery tomatoes, all picked on a sunny Sunday morning!

cherry and pear tomato harvest.
Image credit: Backyard Garden Lover.

Some gardeners do less maintenance and let their indeterminate tomatoes grow wild without pruning them; in this case, they end up with sprawling tomatoes that need much more space. Also, while these tomatoes might produce more fruit, the tomatoes will be smaller.

Tomato Spacing According To Garden Type

How far apart you have to plant your tomato plants will also largely depend on where you’re planting them. This includes containers, raised beds, or directly in the ground.

When you’re growing your tomato plants in raised beds or directly in the ground, it would be best to leave at least four feet between the rows. This will permit sufficient airflow and give you enough space to work around your plants.

Let’s look at how far apart you can plant your tomatoes according to your garden type.

How to space tomatoes grown in containers

red and yellow cherry tomatoes growing in containers.
Image credit: Depositphotos.

If you don’t have much space and need to grow a garden in containers, you should plant one tomato plant per 5-gallon container or two tomato plants per 10-gallon container. Make sure to provide the proper support to help your tomato plants to grow upright and produce a good yield. Use a trellis or stakes to provide support for the plants.

You may be able to purchase compact container tomato plants, which can be grown in containers as small in size as 12 inches deep and wide! However, typical tomato plants should be grown only one per container that is at least 18 to 24 inches deep and wide.

It could become tempting to fill a container with more than one tomato plant, but tomatoes will always benefit more from having their own space.

Learn more about how to grow tomatoes in containers.

Spacing tomatoes grown in raised beds

If planting tomatoes in raised beds, the depth of the bed is important and will make a difference in the spacing needed. If you have the space, it’s best to space them 2 to 3 feet apart: just make sure your raised bed is at least 12 inches deep. The deeper the soil, the more nutrients your tomato plants will have available. If you have a deeper raised bed, you might be able to plant your tomato seedlings a bit closer to each other.

How to space tomatoes planted directly in the ground

If you have a large vegetable garden and plant everything directly in the ground in rows, space tomatoes 3 to 4 feet apart, and stake them well. Instead of tomato cages, I’d use some sturdy wooden stakes for tomatoes planted directly in the ground.

Final Thoughts

You hopefully have a better idea about how far apart to plant tomatoes. The right spacing of tomato plants is an important consideration for anyone growing tomatoes, whether directly in the garden or in containers. Proper spacing ensures adequate air circulation, allows for the plant to receive the right amount of light, and promotes healthy growth and development. The spacing requirements for tomato plants vary depending on the type of tomato plant, the size of the container or garden bed, and the growing conditions. By working with nature, and providing her with what she needs, you’ll get healthy productive plants with a much better yield of delicious fruit.

How far apart to plant tomatoes for better yield.
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Adriana Copaceanu is a passionate nature lover living in the country on her dream property where she grows vegetables, lavender, and wildflowers that she shares with the wildlife they attract. When she's not in the garden, she loves spending time with her chickens and planning her next nature project. Check out her books below:

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