How Far to Plant Tomato Plants Apart

How Far to Plant Tomato Plants Apart

The internet has spoken, and the search is out! It's official. People are wondering how far to plant tomato plants apart.

Today, at Earth to Daisy, we'll look at a few variables when determining how far apart to space our tomatoes.  'Tis the season.


Ask yourself:

4 Questions to determine How Far apart to Plant Tomatoes

  • Which method are we using to grow tomatoes?
  • Which type of tomato are we growing?
  • What space do we have to work with?
  • What's our purpose for growing tomatoes this year?



TLDR: One plant per pot. One hole every 3 ft. One trench every 5-6 ft.


Which method are we using to grow tomatoes? 

Tomatoes can be grown in many ways. You can grow them in the ground in a garden with lots of sun all day. Or you can hang them upside down, with their roots in the air. You can plant a tomato on its side, in a trench, with some buddies. You can grow tomatoes hydroponically or aquaponically by feeding the fish.


More Resources on how far apart to plant tomato plants below.


What type of tomatoes are we growing?

Determinate or indeterminate? Bushy or on the vine?


There are two types of tomatoes, each including many varieties. 

Some varieties put out all their flowers at once.  Bush varieties are called determinate tomatoes. We know when they're going to stop producing fruit.

They attract pollinators to all their flowers at once. Then they switch into fruit mode and grow everything at once. Bush varieties grow to be about 2-3 feet tall and can be grown in containers.  


Indeterminate tomatoes will produce both flowers and fruit at the same time.

Harvesting tomatoes has a similar effect to deadheading marigolds. Removing the tomatoes will help the plant have energy to flower or produce the next fruit. The gift that keeps on giving.

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36" is a good rule for

how far to plant tomato plants apart.

If you keep an indeterminate tomato loose, you'll need about 4 feet of space.

You can stake it up with a tomato cage and do 3 feet.


2 feet is probably good enough for a determinate bush variety of tomatoes.

Once a determinate tomato done, it's done.

You can pull an early variety determinate tomato plant out when it's done.

Throw it in the compost to make room. T he next bushiest plant, like a squash or pumpkin can take over the space.

How far to plant tomato plants apart depends on how much space we have available.


Ask yourself the questions from above.


What space do we have to grow in?

If you're planting in pots— just one tomato plant per pot.  

Taller varieties will need staking.


If you have a large garden with lots of sun—

you can plant your tomatoes 30" apart in separate holes all in a row.


Trenches work best in a big traditional garden in the ground with 5 or 6 feet between rows and a 3 feet between root balls.


You can grow tomatoes indoors either on racks or hanging with lights.


Tomatoes will find success in many growing scenarios.



black cherry tomato in a girls hand


What's our purpose for growing tomatoes?

If you're a seasoned gardener, I say go for the garden if you have space. You'll have critters after your tomatoes so you'll need some deterrents.

If this is your first or second season growing your own food of any sort, proximity is queen. I say get the plants as close as possible to where you'll eat it.

Are you growing tomatoes to find cool new varieties or to teach your child where a tomato comes from?

Put the farm right next to the table to get the most undeniable evidence.

You want to create successful feelings around eating food you grew.

If you're going to production for your whole family or a surplus, you'll want to go garden or raised bed planting.

If you're trying to show your kids where food comes from, start with one cherry tomato plant on the porch. Make it easy and fun.  You can build up to Full-on Farm Girl.


young girl in overalls snapping a tomato off a hanging tomato plant



Who is eating our tomatoes? 

If people are not eating tomatoes, critters will want to.

No need to plant so many that you feel overwhelmed.

Are we canning tomatoes for later or trying to get our child to eat one vegetable this simmer?


fresh homemade tomato sauce in a dish and fresh whole tomatoes



Growing Methods for Tomatoes to help choose how far to plant tomato plants apart.


Determining how far to plant tomato plants apart will depend on our method for growing tomatoes.

Container Gardening

Pots and planters are a great way to handle a small space garden. Limited light that moves throughout the summer is hard to work with. Some containers can be maneuvered a bit.

In Ground Gardening

Traditional garden planting requires lots of sunlight, space, and work in the ground.

Raised Bed Gardening

Building an open-bottom raised bed for gardening minimizes material costs. It also cuts down on labor demands and maximizes drainage.





Upside Down Tomatoes

Tomatoes grown upside down allows for better access to sunlight in some scenarios. It is also convenient to have the watering duties up top.


If you're into the upside-down Tomato Hanging Basket thing this season, check out Tomato Bible's 8 Best Varieties & How to Grow Them.


Your upside-down tomato plant is going to be one plant per pot. It will need full length, likely to the floor from wherever it hangs. You'll want to hang your tomato plants 3- 5 feet apart. 5 feet will be much easier to walk about and harvest.


Sideways Planting

My favorite tomato method is sideways planting. The hairs on a tomato base have the ability to turn into roots under the soil. Sideway planting of strong straight seedlings gives your tomato plant a strong base.

Trench Method


Sideways with more than one plant in the same trench. You'll want to leave 3 ft between roots in the trench when planting your tomatoes.



Aquaponics is a combination of farming fish and hydroponics.


Hydroponics involves growing tomatoes in a soilless medium or water. Nutrients are carefully delivered to the plant via watering.


Women in hydroponic tomato farm with lots of tomatoes spaced out


What happens if you plant tomatoes too close together?

Didn't read "how far apart to plant tomato plants apart"?


You will likely plant them too close. Each little tomato will be crowded out by others on its way to the sun.  But it's okay.  Tomatoes aren't the end of the world. Just eat some when they get ripe!  Plant them farther apart next time.

Stake them up. :)


tomatoes growing in pots with a bamboo plant stand trellis 


Another Source for How Far to Plant Tomato Plants Apart


Tomato Bible On Tomato Plant Spacing.



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Heirloom Tomato Seed Collection

from: Botanical Interests