When To Transplant Tomato Seedlings?

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This article will provide an answer for ‘when to transplant tomato seedlings?’

I have perfected the art of growing tomatoes over the last ten years and used that experience to answer the question.

Scroll down to know the answer!

When To Transplant Tomato Seedlings?

Transplanting is the process of re-potting the tomato plants from one location to another.

It helps in controlling the growing conditions and maximizing the yield. However, it is a complicated process that requires utmost care.

Keep reading below to know more about when to transplant tomato seedlings.

Starting Seeds

I start growing tomato seeds indoors at least five to six weeks before planting outside. Sometimes, I buy established seedlings from a local garden center.

You may plant seeds 1/4th inch deep in the flats containing germination mix or in moistened peat pellets. Use a heating mat to provide a warm temperature of 75oF-85oF until the seedlings emerge. I have had better germination using a heat mat.

Some gardeners place the planted tomato seeds on top of the refrigerator or any appliance to aid in germination.

The cotyledons or seed leaves may sprout in a week. It may take an additional one or two weeks to germinate if the temperatures are cooler.

The rate of germination depends on the viability of the seeds.

Transplant Seedlings

The next question that will come to your mind is when to transplant tomato seedlings?

The tomato seedlings develop their first true leaves about 10-14 days after germination. The first two leaves that develop on your seedlings are called cotyledon leaves, and the next leaves that develop are called the first set of true leaves.

Do not transplant until true leaves are formed.

You may watch this video on identifying the difference between cotyledon and true leaves:

You may transplant the tomato seedlings when they are two or four inches tall and have their first pair of true leaves. The height of the seedlings is three times the diameter of the pot, and are two inches apart. The nighttime temperature is constantly above 50 degrees.

If there are several seedlings are growing in the same pot, I keep only the strongest seedling. Take care not to disturb the roots during transplanting.

The leggy tomato seedlings indicate that they do not get enough light. You may increase the amount of light. If tomato seedlings turn purple, you may apply fertilizers.

Transplanting Tomatoes To Another Container

The tomato seedlings need to develop strong roots and top growth before transplanting. But do not wait too long in the starting container to transplant. It may lead to yellowing of leaves and growth of roots around the edges of the containers.

Some gardeners prefer to repot the tomato seedlings again or move them to a larger, 3-4 inch diameter pot. You may add extra-potting mix for the larger containers when transplanting.

Keep an eye on your tomato seedlings to make sure they are well-watered and fed until they are ready to be transplanted to the garden.

Check this video on how to replant tiny tomato seedlings into large containers:

Transplanting Tomatoes to Garden

You may later transfer the established seedling into your garden. Water well before transplanting. You may harden the tomato seedlings before exposing them to harsh environment and avoid sunburning.

Make a large hole for the root ball of the transplant using a hand shovel. Firm the soil around the stem of the plants.

You may also dig a trench and lay the plant down in the trench burying the stem up. With proper care, transplanted tomatoes take 65 to 85 days to harvest.


Hopefully, this article has helped you determine the best time to transplant tomato seedlings. You may write to me with queries and suggestions.

Also, you may share your experiences. Do pass on the article to your friends and family!