Just like peppers, tomatoes come in a wide variety of sizes and colors, they are relatively easy to grow and they produce delicious fruits throughout the summer and early autumn.
Tomatoes are also among the first choice of the inexperienced gardeners exactly because they only need basic care: tomato seedlings germinate easily indoors, adapt well after transferring outdoors and only need water and sunlight to grow.
But there is one thing you might want to pay attention to if you want to grow healthy plants that produce a lot of fruits: spacing. In fact, the right spacing between the plants is essential if you want to keep pests away and have strong plants with plenty of fruits.
Therefore, let’s find out how far apart to plant tomatoes in our outdoor gardens.
A major recommendation is to plant tomato plants about 18-24 inches apart (45-60cm), but plant spacing actually depends a lot on the type of tomato variety you’re planting. Spacing tomato plants any closer will reduce air circulation around the plants and may result in disease
Reasons To Plant Tomatoes Apart
As I already said, maintaining the correct distance between the tomato plants will help you grow healthy and strong plants with elevated yields. But let’s have a look in detail at what may happen if you don’t respect the spacing requirements.
It is easy to imagine that, being summer vegetables, tomatoes love bathing in the sun as much as possible. This means that you should ensure that your tomatoes get about eight hours of direct sunlight each day.
Tomato plants that are spaced too closely suffer from not getting enough sunlight, as the leaves of the neighbor plants will make shade. This will cause your tomato plants to grow tall, as each plant will try to get as much light as possible.
If you don’t really care about the ugly aspect these plants will have, you should care about the fact that the incorrect way of growing will decrease the fruit production. Translated, this means you will only harvest a few tomatoes, and you shouldn’t blame it on the plants.
In fact, because the plants develop in length struggling to reach the sunlight, the leaves will remain small. For this reason, they will not be able to provide enough nutrients for the plant to flourish, and as a consequence, your tomato plants will produce only a few blooms.
At their turn, the blooms will struggle to get the nutrients, and only some of them will eventually produce fruits.
Not only the leaves will not be able to provide sufficient nutrients and energy to the flowers, but, if planted too close to each other, all tomato plants from the bunch will compete to get the right amount of water and nutrients from the soil.
This will prevent your tomato plants to grow strong and, in fact, they will develop small leaves. Together with the above-mentioned negative aspects, this will further diminish your tomato yield.
Don’t be fooled by thinking that you can simply apply some adequate fertilizer to solve the nutrient problem. Even if the fertilizer might slightly help the plants, it will still not be enough to make your tomatoes grow strong.
Lastly, one of the main issues is that will make the tomato plants more susceptible to parasites and diseases. This will happen both because there will be an improper airflow between the plants and because you will have difficulties in spotting pests in time.
Some of the pests of the tomato plants are the green caterpillars, bugs that love the tomato foliage, and some fungi. In the first case, considering that you most likely want to grow organic tomatoes, you will have to eliminate the caterpillars by hand.
It is useless to say that you will have a hard time in spotting them if the plants are too close together.
In the second case, we all know that fungi love shaded and humid spots. The leaves of your tomato plants will create the perfect environment for those fungi both because of the improper airflow and because they will maintain humidity for a longer time, especially after a rain.
Tomato plants attacked by fungi usually develop spots on the leaves while the fruits are usually unhealthy and will rot earlier.
I believe that all the reasons listed above convinced you how important tomato spacing is. For this reason, let’s see how far apart to plant tomatoes depending on how you want to grow them.
How Far Apart To Plant Staked Tomatoes
Tomato plants usually grow tall, and many gardeners offer support to the plants with the help of stakes or cages. If you want to use stakes, you should plant the tomatoes at distances between 24 and 30 inches on all sides. If you plant them in rows, then the distance between the rows should be about 40 inches.
How Far Apart To Plant Caged Tomatoes
Many gardeners choose to plant their tomatoes in cages, as this will spare them from tying the plants to the stakes. On the market, there are many tomato cages you can choose from but keep in mind that most varieties of tomatoes will need cages between 18 and 36 inches wide.
For this reason, you should plant the tomatoes at distances of about 30 inches. Leave at least 42 inches between the rows.
How Far Apart To Plant Sprawl Tomatoes
If you just want to leave your tomatoes to develop on the ground rather than tying them to stakes or caging them, you should consider that they will need a lot of space. You should leave at least 3 feet between the plants and 5 feet between the rows.
Although you might think that leaving the tomatoes to sprawl is easier, I strongly discourage this practice. The plants will be subject to pests and decay, therefore you should really consider staking or caging them.
How do you grow your tomatoes? How much space do you leave between the plants and the rows? Leave a comment below and share with us your tips or concerns.
And don’t forget, leaving the right distance between the tomatoes will help the plants to develop and you will be able to enjoy an increased production of fruits!