When To Transplant Tomato Seedlings | Explain Everything

Disclaimer: We are a participant in the Amazon Associates Program. This means that qualifying purchases made through our Amazon.com links may result in a commission for us. This no extra cost to you.

Time to Read 5 Minutes.

Transplant tomato seedlings must be done at the right time to develop a healthy plant and fruits. Repotting tomato seedlings provides enough space and nutrients to thrive.

Nursery pots, in general, do not contain nutrient-dense potting soil, and they are prone to becoming root-bound quickly. If a plant’s development is slowed during its early stages, it will have an impact on the plant’s entire lifespan.

In this article, I’ll discuss How big should my tomato seedlings be before transplanting? And How to transplant in larger pots.

Transplant Tomato Seedling
Tomato seedlings that are ready to transplant.

When to transplant tomato seedlings?

The best time to transplant tomato seedlings in a bigger container is when the plant grows roughly 3 to 4 inches taller and develops its two or three true leaves. After germination, a tomato plant typically produces its actual leaves in 3 to 4 weeks. You can repot tomato plants into larger containers once you’ve identified this physical aspect.

You must also take into account the temperature of the soil in your garden beds when planting tomatoes. Since tomatoes are a tropical climate plant, and cold soil prevents them from absorbing nutrients, they cannot be grown. Furthermore, the root development of the tomato plant is slowed. The overall harvest is affected by this small root system. For healthy roots, it is essential to absorb phosphorus and potassium from the soil.

If you grow tomatoes in pots, you don’t have to worry about the garden soil temperature as much. The containers potting mix warms up faster than garden soil since containers are kept at room temperature.


How to transplant tomato seedlings in bigger pots?

You can either transplant tomato seedlings in larger containers, garden beds, or even raised beds. However, all these methods have to follow the exact procedure. The first thing you should do is select the right size pot for a tomato plant. You can refer to my Growing Tomatoes In Pots for this. Once you select the container follow these steps.

  • Make sure your nursery pots are well-watered. Moisturising will help to prevent the roots from damaging.
  • Gently squeeze the container to lose the potting soil with the root bowl.
  • In a new container dig a few more inches down. Planting tomatoes deeper in the ground encourages the growth of new roots.
See also  Growing Tomatoes In Pots | How Big Of A Pot For Tomatoes?

transplant tomato seedlings in pots

  • Afterward, carefully flip the pot over so as not to harm the plant. Make sure to gently pull out the potting mix with the root bowl from the seed tray. Pulling the plant’s stems will cause the roots to be damaged, so avoid doing so.
  • Place the root bowl in new potting soil and cover the root bowl.
  • Then, to keep the soil moist all the time, cover it with a thick layer of mulch. You can use leaf mulch or crushed eggshells for this.
  • Finally, water thoroughly. Tomato plants prefer deep watering.
  • If possible, move the plant to partial shade or cover it with a shade cloth for a couple of days in order to allow it to become acclimated to its new environment.


What time of day is best to transplant seedlings?

The best time to transplant tomato seedlings in containers without stressing the plant is evening. Then the plant has enough time to acclimate to a new environment. Do not repot tomato seedlings in mid-day because the temperature is high, and plants can suffer transplant shock, which will slow down plant development.

When replanting tomato seedlings in garden beds or raised beds, wait for the soil to cool if the temperature remains high throughout the day.


What preparation must be done before transplanting the seedlings?

  • Introduce full sun.

Before transplanting, you have to harden off tomato seedlings to the bright sun. One or two weeks before transplanting, gradually introduce full sun to tomato seedlings, and this will help plants acclimate to the bright sun when planted on garden beds and raised beds.

See also  Are Banana Peels Good For Tomato Plants?
Tomato Seedlings on windowsill
@Enso via Twenty20


  • Watering. 

Before transplanting tomato seedlings, water well. While moving to a new container, moistening the potting soil will reduce the root bowl damages. It is essential to minimize the root system damage because damaged roots will slow down plant development.


  • Transplant day temperature.

After that, place the plant in a cool, shaded area temperature around 70°F for a few hours. Exposure to the full sun may stress the plant. That is why I recommend replanting in the evening.


  • Transplanting. 

Next, you gently squeeze the nursery pot to gently pull out the root bowl and plant it tomato potting soil.


What month do you plant tomatoes?

Tomatoes are warm-season crops that prefer warm soil. The best month to transplant tomato seedlings is late spring (April to May), where night temperatures are 50 – 55°F and soil temperatures above 60°F. To find the correct date using soil temperatures, you can use a soil thermometer. In early summer (June), can replant short-season fast-growing tomato varieties.

When the soil temperature is cold (below 60°F), tomato plants struggle to absorb nutrients from the soil. This is because, in freezing temperatures, roots do not develop well. The plant can experience nutrient deficiency, and this will not produce a lot of tomatoes. Sometimes it can lead to blossom end rot.


Best weather to transplant tomato seedlings.

Weather conditions that are optimal for repotting tomato seedlings are cloudy days with only a light drizzle. There is a low risk of tomato transplant shock in such cool weather conditions, and on hot sunny days, plants can experience transplant shock.

See also  How To Harden Off Tomato Plants | Best Way In 7 Days

However, we cannot expect such an excellent day every month. Therefore it is better to transplant in the evening and provide partial shade for a couple of days.


How do I move seedlings from the tray?

Many seedlings are in the bulk tray. Since the root bowl and potting mix cannot be turned over, you can’t simply remove them from the tray by turning them over. Seedlings can be easily removed by gently pushing up on a squeezing area under the bulk cell tray. Once the bottom is pushed out, remove the seedling and repot it in a larger container, garden bed, or raised bed.

when to transplant tomato seedlings from seed tray
You can see the small pushable bottom with a drain hole.

What happens if you transplant seedlings too early?

Tomatoes are tropical vegetables that prefer warm climates to thrive. If you transplant tomato seedlings too early in garden beds, there is a high risk of dying or stunting the plant. This is because in freezing cold, root systems do not develop well, and the plant struggles to absorb nutrients from the soil.

Generally, tomatoes need 60°F soil temperatures and above 50-55°F night temperatures to thrive. However, this does not affect growing tomatoes in containers. Because of containers and raised beds, potting soil warms up more quickly than garden soil.

If they are transplanted too early, seedlings are at a much greater risk of dying from a late spring cold snap. Even hardy stars will likely die if the temperature goes below freezing for any length of time.

Get more stuff like this

Get interesting stuff and updates to your inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Leave a Comment!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: Content is protected !!

Get more stuff like this
in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.