Cherry Tomato Seedlings

Sliema, Malta

I planted 5 small pots with 2 tomato seeds in each, thinking I wouldn't have great success with germination, but most of them germinated and now I have pots with 2 healthy looking seedlings. (At least they look healthy to me!). I'm not much good at separating roots, so I think I'm going to have to snip off one of them so that eventually I'll be left with one seedling per pot, for transplanting to a larger pot.

Do I need to wait a bit longer for transplanting? I know that when transplanting, I should add compost until it reaches the first 2 leaves, but should I add more compost to the existing pot, to strengthen the plant?


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Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

You are ready to transplant. You have great seedlings. Congratulazioni !
When you will transplant you could remove the first "not true" leaves and push down the stem in the soil.
Tomatoes develop roots along their stem. More roots underground, more water and nutrients will reach the plant. Good luck.
Growing up in Italy , I had a "pen-pal" from Malta and I always wanted to visit your beautiful island ... now i am so far away ...

Sliema, Malta

Thanks for your reply. If I'm not mistaken, I should transplant into a slightly bigger pot, and eventually work my way up to it's final large pot. Am I right? I'm really hoping to eat my own tomatoes this summer, so I don't want to make any stupid avoidable mistakes!

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

I think you have the right size pot right now.
I normally start all my tomatoes on a 4" pot and keep it like that until I transplant outside.
If you plan to grow them in container you can upgrade the pot later.

Sliema, Malta

The pot is 7cm (a bit less than 3 inches). I plan to keep them in containers. So for now, I'll just remove the extra seedlings to bring them to one plant per pot, add compost up the stem, and keep them there a little bit longer. Thanks.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

MonkeyFlower - I agree with drthor. You're tomato seedlings are ready to be transplanted into the garden NOW!

Sliema, Malta

Thanks Honeybee, but I don't have a garden, just a very sunny balcony. I've been growing the seedlings in a plastic mini greenhouse (with the flap slightly open for air!) Should I leave them in 7cm pot for a bit longer, or transplant to a larger pot? If so, do I keep transplanting from pot to pot, gradually enlarging the size? Help!!!!!

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

They're ready to go into their final growing vessel, NOW...

Since you're into containers, check out the Self-Contained Box Gardens forum and look for the eBuckets thread...Tomatoes do great in the self-watering eBuckets with the built-in water reservoirs...


This message was edited Feb 21, 2013 12:22 PM

Sliema, Malta

Sorry to keep asking questions, but how big should the final pot be? :)

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

your 7cm pot is just fine for now. Maybe some other members got confused and thought about 7 inches.
When they are so small you don't want to put them in a larger pot ... since you are a beginner a smaller pot it is so much easier to control.
You can transplant on your final size pot when you will see roots coming out from the bottom of your 7cm pot.
Good luck.

Sliema, Malta

Thanks!!! :)

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

how is the weather now in Malta?

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Monkey-as im sure you can tell there are many correct ways to grow tomatoes.

I don't think anybody thought you meant 7" pots. I don't know many people who pot up to that big a container. The plants are usually in their final garden spot or pot by then.

I have known Bee puts her plants in the garden when they have 2 sets of true leaves or 4 leaves total.

I grow and sell/ship plants in 2.5' containers and they are ready to go into the ground. My largest containers are 3.25". In many of our garden centers tomatoes are sold in 6 packs and are basically plugs but they can go straight into the ground once they have been acclimated.

As a general rule your plants should be 6-8 weeks old by the time they are planted out. It depends on your weather and how much time you have to mess with them. Because tomatoes grow roots on their stems you don't have to be too careful when separating them. I carefully pull mine apart and have very few casualties.

I think the main thing to remember is there are many ways to grow your plants but make sure you acclimate them to the outside world slowly, don't just stick them outside in the direct sun.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

MonkeyFlower - I apologize, I did not realize you were planning to keep your (adult) tomatoes in pots on your balcony.

I've never had good success growing tomatoes in pots. :( I've tried 5 gallon, 7 gallon, 10 gallon and even 25 gallong sizes! The plants always seem to get either not enough or too much water.

I do know that you should not transplant tiny seedlings into large pots, but pot them on through various sizes until they reach a size large enough for the final pot you have chosen to grow them in.

You can always carefully slip a small tomato plant out of it's pot and take a look at it's roots. Once the roots have hit the side of the pot, it's time to pot them into the next largest sized pot. In my experience, it's not a good idea to let any plant get "root bound".

You should see me when I purchase potted flowers for my garden - I slip them from their pots, and if they are badly root bound they don't come home with me!

Please keep asking questions...

Sliema, Malta

Thanks to everyone so very very much for your advice!!! :)

Durhamville, NY(Zone 5b)

What has worked very well in separating plants were the roots are tightly mixed together is water. I soak the soil in the pot so that it wants to fall apart on it's own. If I only have two plants I grab a leaf on each one and gentle pull them apart, but here is the key, I'd be shaking them as I pulled them apart. It shakes the dirt off and it also helps the roots to untangle themselves. I should borrow a video camera and make a video of how I do it.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

MonkeyFlower - Doug had some great advice regarding separating plants where the roots have grown together.

To his advice, I will add: Never handle seedlings/plants, by their stems. Even a gentle squeeze can prevent them from surviving.

Sliema, Malta

Since I had 5 pots with 3 of them having 2 strong seedlings, I decided to take the easy way out. I chopped off the extra seedling. I felt bad doing it, but thought it would be safer that way! Next time I'll just plant one seed per pot. I've managed to find the best place in the house for germination - very happy about that!

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

MonkeyFlower - I know how you felt when you had to chop-off one of the seedlings.

You seem to have a great start to your growing success.

When you sow one seed per pot... If some seeds don't sprout, you can always reseed that pot. I always sow about 20% extra seeds to cover those that don't sprout.

Sliema, Malta

Just found my first tomato on the plant! :)

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