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Benefits of Planting Tomatoes Deep

Updated on June 30, 2013

How to Plant Tomato Seedlings

Transplanting tomato seedlings is a simple task, but there are some compelling benefits to planting tomato seedlings deep into the soil when it's time to move them out into the garden. Since tomatoes take so long to grow, most gardeners will be planting them as seedlings instead of directly sowing seeds into the garden. The deep planting method will speed up the time that these young seedlings reach maturity.

The entire stem area should be planted below ground level to make new roots appear.
The entire stem area should be planted below ground level to make new roots appear. | Source

Transplanting Tomato Plants

A tomato plant is one of the many plants that can be propagated by cutting stems and allowing those cut stems to root on their own, thereby creating a new plant. In fact, if you simply slice off a new tomato vine shoot from an existing plant and carefully plant it in appropriate garden soil, it will take root and begin to grow as a new plant.

Since tomatoes are so prolific in this way it becomes very smart to plant them deeply when they are transplanted. Just as new roots will form on a cut vine of the tomato plant, new roots will also form along the main vine stem of a tomato plant if it is placed below the surface of the topsoil.

As an example, if you plant a tomato seedling at the same soil level that it was at in the seedling container, the roots are likely to begin just below the soil. After transplanting, the roots will still only exist from that point and below, meaning that the plant will be supporting new growth from the same set of roots. That will work fine, but by planting deep you can speed up the growth process.

By contrast, if you plant a tomato deep, you will be burying a good portion of the main stem underground. The young plant will immediately begin to grow new roots all along this main stem. These will provide the plant with better stability and a greater ability to drink water and grab nutrients from the soil to support plant growth. The end result is that a tomato planted deeply will grow much faster than one planted at the same level that is had been at before.

I like to transplant seedlings once about 2-3 weeks before plants are set outside. When I do that, I plant them as deeply in the planting pots as I can, like this.
I like to transplant seedlings once about 2-3 weeks before plants are set outside. When I do that, I plant them as deeply in the planting pots as I can, like this. | Source

Ways of Planting Tomatoes Deep

There are two ways to plant a tomato deep, and both have their merits. The first is to simply dig a hole deep enough to bury several inches of the main stem. I like this method best for raised beds or gardens with loose and fertile soil, since it is easy enough to dig such a hole. The deeper hole offers more moisture than a shallow hole, so this is also a safer transplanting method in high heat.

The other option is to use a trench to plant the seedling. In this method, a shallow trench can be made near the ground surface, into which the tomato seedling is laid. Simply bury several inches of the main stem that was not previously buried and leave the top of the plant sticking out. Don't worry about the strange angle of the plant top at planting time - it will straighten out very quickly. With this method, roots will still form all along the stem. The trench planting method for tomatoes is great for heavier soil where digging a deep hole is more tricky. The one thing to be aware of is that this shallow planting method means your plant's roots may dry out more quickly in hot sun, so give it the water needed at first. Within a few weeks the roots will have move down enough to nearly eliminate this risk, but a careful watch at first is important.

Once the seedlings have been transplanted, they are just above the soil surface, but two weeks from now they will be bigger and fuller than they ever were and ready to set outside.
Once the seedlings have been transplanted, they are just above the soil surface, but two weeks from now they will be bigger and fuller than they ever were and ready to set outside. | Source

Care for New Tomatoes in the Garden

Now that you have set out your tomato seedlings, follow a few simple tips to get them off to a good start. The most important thing that you can do for transplants like these is to give them the right amount of water. Allow the soil to dry out a bit between watering, but don't let the leaves of the plant wilt before you give it a drink. So much depends on rain in the first few weeks, but a nice drink of water every 2-3 days is usually about right.

Keep the garden soil free of weeds and don't allow it to compact. If you are using a raised bed garden this is really easy, but for a traditional garden with less than perfect soil a combination of rain and sun can turn the top of the soil hard which does not allow water to soak properly. Use a garden rake to agitate the soil now and then to keep it free of weeds and loose. Just be careful not to snag the roots of your new plants.

Once the vines really start to grow it will be obvious, and suddenly they will seem to grow right before your eyes. This normally happens in a few weeks. Once this growth is apparent, you have to worry much less about water, since the tomato roots are now driving downward to reach moist soil at all times. Still, in hot and dry weather, an extra drink for a few more weeks is a very good idea. I find that after about a month I simply don't need to water any more, but if there was a drought on hand I might make the effort.

Plant a Tomato

Now that you have some reasons to try it, plant a tomato nice an deep next time you get the chance. If you haven't done this, it will be a much stronger and faster growing plant that you have ever grown before, and your first harvest will come quicker. Whether you dig a deep hole or use the trench method doesn't matter, just get part of that stem underground to allow new roots to grow and send more water and nutrients to your young plant.

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    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I am so looking forward ripe tomatoes this season I have panted my own little experiments and now have learned more from you. Great photos to explain your experiences.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 

      4 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very informative hub. My father loves planting tomatoes as well. I'll share this hub with him. Thanks for writing. Voted up!

      Prasetio

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      4 years ago from California

      It is getting to be that time of year! This does make really good sense!

    • Mekenzie profile image

      Susan Ream 

      4 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you, this makes perfect sense. Your instructions were easy to understand and writing very clear.

      I hope to have the BEST tomato plants this year! Can't wait!! Sharing and voted up!

      Mekenzie

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      4 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Came back for another review of your hub!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Soon it is time for planting tomatoes and I will consider your idea well-pointed out.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Very informative and helpful. I planted tomatoes and bell peppers this year for the first time. Thanks for sharing.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 

      5 years ago from the short journey

      I'm planning to transplant some small tomato plants this week and this is helpful info. Pinned to my Gardening: Fruits and Veggies board. Thanks!

    • timorous profile image

      Tim Nichol 

      5 years ago from Me to You

      This was my first year growing heirloom tomatoes from seeds, which I collected from a friend's tomatoes last year. I found I had to transplant the tiny seedlings into ever-larger pots, and burying them further into the soil, to keep them from flopping over. They do grow very quickly if you keep the stem as far down as you can. They're doing pretty well in the garden, although I should have started a bit earlier indoors. Hopefully, I'll have some tomatoes before the end of the summer. :)

      Thanks for the informative article.

    • Naomi's Banner profile image

      Naomi's Banner 

      5 years ago from United States

      Great ideas. Well thought out and information. Enjoyed the read. Thanks for sharing.

    • Deborah-Diane profile image

      Deborah-Diane 

      5 years ago from Orange County, California

      Great advice on how to grow tomatoes! Thanks.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      5 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Just planted tomatoes in containers so your suggestions came right on time! Thanks and voted up and sharing.

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 

      5 years ago from Hawaii

      It's funny to me that tomatoes like being transplanted and do better when you plant them deep. They seem kind of the opposite of most plants!

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 

      5 years ago from United States

      Awesome advice. Shared it & pinned it. THANKS!

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