When should I replant Home depot (Bonnie) tomato plants

Brooklyn, NY(Zone 7a)

I've brought few tomato plants from home depot (Bonnie brand) and they are 5 to 8 inches tall and their roots start poking out from the bottom (and sides) of their (3" and 4") containers. (See attached image)

Seems like time to plant them in bigger pots. My question is, should i plant then straight into 20" pots, or should i choose smaller intermediate container? The reason i'm asking, besides for lack of experience (first time gardener here), is that i hear it's very beneficial to "deep plant" tomatoes, where people trim all the leaves besides for the very top to encourage additional root development. If my entire plant is 5" tall, "deep planting" would not work.

Appreciate your help.

Thumbnail by t00sha
Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

My vote is if you have the place to keep the 20 inch pot use that now. Plant deep up to the first set of false leaves.

I pretty much leave my leafs alone unless they are touching the dirt.

I expect someone will come along with a different method but this works well for me

This message was edited May 5, 2013 9:02 PM

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

The minimum size for tomato plants in pots is five gallons, but seven gallons is better.

They look like nice healthy plants. I would leave the lower leaves for photosynthesis.

Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

hbee I suspect a normal 20 inch pot will hold about 5 gallons. In any case your right 5 works 7 is better.

This message was edited May 6, 2013 6:39 PM

Virginia Beach, VA

I did not notice what zone you live.


Brooklyn, NY(Zone 7a)

Thank you for your replies.
Going forward - should I invest in in "self-watering" containers from the beginning?
For a novice as me I guess the value proposition of those is taking the guesswork out of watering.

I *think* I know how to tell if plants need water. But how do people prevent over-watering of tomatoes?
How to insure consistent watering?
Is there some rule of thumb to follow?

Thank you very much.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

I've tried the "stick your finger in the soil and see if it comes out with soil adhering to it" method.

The: "If it rained during the past three days, it doesn't need more water" method.

Last year, I tried the "let Mother Nature take care of it" method.

They all worked! So take your pick!

Plantersville, TX(Zone 9a)

Use well draining soil. Then one can water every day, & not water-log the plants.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> Use well draining soil.

I agree! I'm not very experienced, but "well-draining" prevents me from drowning my roots.

I like small bark chips, but grit, crushed stone and Perlite all work to "open up" a mix that is too fine or too water-retentive. Like mostly-peat mixes.

It seems like 90% of all gardeners can get along fine with commercial mixes that are mostly peat, but not me.

Maybe I always bought cheap ones! The one time I bought "professional" mix from a nursery supplier, instead of Home Depot whatever's-cheapest-brand, it seemed much more resistant to over-watering.

If I water and nothing comes out the bottom, I figure that retained water is drowning the root zone.

This message was edited May 14, 2013 6:27 PM

Plantersville, TX(Zone 9a)

I always put a pan of water under my pots. It doesn't matter how often you water them, they seem to dry out sometimes. This also encourages the roots to grow down towards the water pan. Or set them onto the ground where their roots can grow towards the water in the ground.

Newport, TN(Zone 7a)

I have felt that it is best to water by the 'feel the dirt" method. I cannot remember the source, but I heard leaving a saucer, or whatever with standing water will result in root rot. However, there are many pots sold with a bottom reservoir so i guess it is a question of what works for you.

Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

If leaving a sauce of water rots roots ho then why don't hydroponic units rot the roots

Plantersville, TX(Zone 9a)

As long as the roots are out of the pot, in the standing water, I guess they won't rot, its when the soil is so wet that the roots drown inside the soil. They cannot get to oxygen. The roots outside the pot have excess to oxygen I suppose. It seems to work for me.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

I overwintered pepper plants in 21/2" pots by keeping them in a tray of water. They grew and produced pods. They have been in the pots for a yr, so I guess I over summered them too. Lol. I'm just putting them in larger containers now. Somebody explained it to me but I didn't really understand it.

Newport, TN(Zone 7a)

Aha! behillman, thank you for the explanation. I have always wondered the reason.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Probably, in waterlogged soil, air can't circulate because there are no open channels, and the water is locked in place by capillary attract ion to soil particles.

A saucer of water can exchange CO2 for oxygen over the whole surface, and any slight vibration or temperature variation makes the water circulate and exchange.

Also, soil microbes in waterlogged soil would consume O2 before roots could, then switch to fermentation and pump out acids and alcohols, poisoning root hairs.

In a saucer of water, there would be fewer bacteria and more algae. Algae in sunlight PRODUCE O2!

(I'm just guessing)

(edited for spelling)

This message was edited May 28, 2013 3:57 PM

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)


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