How Far Apart To Plant Tomatoes For Best Yields?

To grow the healthiest and flavour-rich tomatoes, you must take into consideration the tomato plant spacing at the very beginning. It is very tempting to plant your tomato plants very close to each other but this may lead to serious problems. 

Even though there’s no consensus on how far apart to plant tomatoes (due to the huge number of tomato varieties), the general rule is about 12-24 inches (or about 30-60 cm). However, it’s important to know that this depends on many factors. 

This post would tell you exactly how far apart to plant tomatoes in cm and inches as well.

What factors determine the spacing for tomato plants?

There are a couple of factors that play a crucial role when it comes to tomato spacing. The first one is the tomato variety. There are over 10000 known tomato varieties but they are classified as either determinate or indeterminate. 

The second factor is the placement or the type of garden you’d be utilizing. Since not everyone is growing tomatoes in their garden or greenhouse, the spacing must be adjusted according to the ground type. 

Let’s break down both of these crucial points. 

Spacing based on Tomato Type

As mentioned above, there are 2 main types of tomatoes. Let’s take a look at how each one of those determines what is the best spacing between each tomato plant.

Determinate Tomatoes 

Determinate tomato spacing

The determinate tomatoes are those that have a predetermined size. What this means is that it won’t continue to grow after it reaches its size. They are quite bushy (hence why they’re often referred to as “bushy tomatoes”) and generally produce all of the tomato fruits at one time. The determinate tomatoes don’t require a lot of pruning, but they need support to not fall over.

Determinate Tomatoes Plants Spacing

The required spacing for the determinate tomatoes is about 24 inches (or 60 cm). The row spacing for determinate tomatoes should be about 48 inches (or about 120 cm). 

The reason for the extra spacing is simple – they require adequate access to light and nutrition to grow. Planting them too close might jeopardize the healthy development of the tomato plants. 

Indeterminate Tomatoes 

indeterminate tomato spacing

The indeterminate tomatoes are the opposite of the determinate. Meaning, that they can grow indeterminately sort of like a tree. Assuming they are well-taken care of (light, watering, fertilizing, etc) they can grow for years. 

The indeterminate tomatoes require aggressive pruning. They tend to require more work but the benefit is that they produce a lot of tomatoes until the first frost in the fall.

Indeterminate Tomato Plants Spacing

The stalked indeterminate tomatoes should be placed about 18 and 24 inches apart from each other (or 45 to 60 cm). 

Spacing based on Garden Type 

The other crucial component that determines the tomato spacing is the type of garden you’d use to grow your plants in. 

In containers

Tomato In Container

If you plan to grow tomatoes in a container, you’d need at least 12 inches or 30 cm (wide and deep). In a case like that, you’d need to grow 1 tomato plant per container. Make sure you have planted it well and provide all the required nutrients it needs.  

If you have a bigger container, don’t get tempted to stack the tomato plants close to each other. You don’t want the plants to compete for nutrients, water, air circulation, and sunlight.

Keep the spacing of at least 12-14 inches (30-35cm) all around each tomato plant.

In raised beds

The debt of the raised beds places a crucial part in the planting. Generally, the deeper it is, the more soil there is (more nutrients), the moister it is and the less competitive it is for the tomato plants.

You still want to make sure that you provide enough space for your tomato plants – space the plants at least 18 inches (45 cm) apart.

In the ground 

If you plan to plant your tomatoes in the ground, you can safely space them out a bit more – between 18 and 24 inches (45 – 60 cm). This would allow enough space for growth for each tomato plant, without any competition for light or nutrition. 

Tomatoes in ground

Why is tomato spacing important? 

There are many reasons to make sure that you’ve planted your tomatoes at the right distance from each other. 

Importance of tomato spacing

1. Air circulation and Disease Prevention

Proper air circulation between plants and rows of tomatoes is crucial for the well-being of your crops. If there’s enough spacing between the tomato plans, you’re running into the risk of getting blight and diseases, especially if you live in a humid climate. 

2. Adequate amount of sunlight

Tomatoes love and need at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. If you have planted the tomato plants very close to each other, you’re running into the risk of not providing enough sunlight for the plant. 

3. More nutrients, less competitiveness 

When you tightly stack tomato plants, you’re forcing them to fight for nutrients and water, which might lead to losing some of the plants. 

Ideal spacing for tomato rows

We’ve talked about the different scenarios for tomato spacing between plants, but what about the row? How far apart should be each tomato row? 

The recommendation is for at least 24 inches (or 2 feet / 60cm). This makes each tomato plant more accessible and easy to work on. 

Advanced Tip: Pruning

If you want to grow indeterminate tomatoes, you want to ensure that you prune your plants every other week to keep them neat and healthy. 

Bottom line

As we established, the adequate spacing between each tomato plant is crucial for its development. If you get this step wrong, you’re risking the health of your tomatoes. 

If you want to enjoy the rich harvest, be sure to provide enough space not only between each plant but also between each tomato row.