How Much Space Does A Tomato Plant Need to Grow: A Simple Guide

Disclosure: As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

Please note that while we always strive to provide 100% up to date and accurate information, there is always the small possibility of error. Therefore, we advise conducting further research and due diligence before consuming any plants or exposing pets to anything mentioned on this site. Kindly refer to the full disclaimer for more details here.

Sharing is caring!

Growing tomatoes is a rewarding and popular venture for many gardeners. One of the key factors to a successful tomato harvest is understanding the space requirements of your tomato plants. Ensuring your plants have the proper spacing avoids problems such as reduced airflow, diseases, and limited access to sunlight, all of which can hinder the growth and development of your plants.

The appropriate distance to space tomato plants depends on the variety being cultivated. General recommendations suggest spacing between 18 to 36 inches apart, though the size of the plant and its growth habit are important factors that can impact these guidelines. By researching the specific species of tomatoes you plan to grow, or following the spacing instructions provided on seed packs and plant labels, you can determine the optimal spacing for your plants, and set yourself up for a healthy and bountiful harvest.

Tomato Plant Basics

Types of Tomato Plants

There are two main types of tomato plants: determinate and indeterminate. Determinate plants reach a set size and produce a defined amount of fruit before stopping growth, while indeterminate plants continually grow and produce fruit throughout the growing season. Determinate plants are better suited for small spaces or container gardening, whereas indeterminate plants are ideal for larger gardens with plenty of room for growth.

Growth Patterns

Tomato plants require ample space to grow and develop a healthy root system. The ideal spacing for tomato plants depends on their growth pattern and whether they are staked, caged, or left to sprawl on the ground.

For determinate tomato plants, the recommendation is spacing them between 24 and 36 inches (61-91 cm) apart, and for indeterminate plants grown in wire cages, spacing should be about 2.5-3 feet (0.91-1.22m) apart to allow for horizontal spread.

When it comes to row spacing, it is advised to space rows at least 4 feet apart for effective growth and to provide enough room for plant maintenance. Staked tomatoes, which tend to take up more space, need over 2 feet of space per plant to accommodate their taller growth pattern.

Space Requirements

Spacing Between Plantings

Different types of tomatoes have varied space requirements. As a general rule, determinate tomatoes can be planted 1.5-2 feet (0.48-0.61m) apart, while staked tomato plants need a bit more room, around 2 feet (0.61m) between each plant. Adjust the spacing depending on the variety of tomato being grown.

Row Spacing

It’s essential to provide adequate space between rows of tomato plants for proper air circulation and sunlight exposure. Generally, rows should be spaced at least 4 feet apart. However, for staked or caged plants, the row spacing should be 2 to 3 feet.

Planting from Seeds

If you’re starting tomato plants from seeds, follow these spacing guidelines to ensure a healthy growth:

  • Plant seeds about 1/4 inch deep in the soil.
  • Space seeds about 2 to 3 inches apart.
  • When seedlings are 2 to 3 inches tall, transplant them to their final growing location, maintaining the appropriate spacing between plants and rows according to the variety.

Section 4: Container Gardening

Choosing the Right Container

When growing tomatoes in containers, the key is to select an appropriate pot size that provides ample space for healthy plant growth. The minimum recommended size for a container is 14 inches (36 cm) in diameter with a 5-gallon (19 liters) capacity. You can also use larger containers, such as 2-square-foot pots or even 5-gallon buckets from hardware stores. Avoid using black containers as they might become too hot for the plants. Remember, the bigger the container, the better the chances for a thriving tomato plant.

Arranging Tomato Plants

Tomato plant spacing is important to give each plant enough room to grow without crowding each other. In container gardening, the size of the pot largely determines how much space your tomato plants will have. When using pots with a minimum 14-inch diameter and 5-gallon capacity, you can place the containers almost side-by-side if you are trellising the plants vertically. This arrangement allows for convenient container spacing while maximizing the available space for tomato growth.

Make sure to provide your potted tomato plants with ample sunlight, as they require at least 8 hours of direct sunlight daily for optimal growth and fruiting. Place the containers on the south or west side of a building to ensure they get the most sunlight possible.

When it comes to container gardening, the following tips can help you grow healthy and productive tomato plants:

  • Use pots with drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.
  • Choose the largest container your space and budget allow.
  • Position your tomato plants in a sunny location for at least 8 hours of direct sunlight daily.

Growing Techniques

Pruning and Training

Pruning and training tomato plants can significantly impact their growth and space requirements. Removing unnecessary leaves and branches allows the plant to focus energy on fruit production and reduces overcrowding. Typically, indeterminate tomato varieties require more pruning due to their continuous growth throughout the season. To prune your tomatoes, remove any suckers (small branches growing in the crotch between the main stem and a branch) regularly. This process encourages a strong central stem and helps maintain airflow within the plant’s foliage.

Training your tomato plants to grow on supports can also save space and improve overall health. Common support structures include stakes, cages, and trellises. Staked tomatoes need to be tied to the stake as they grow, while plants grown in cages will naturally lean on the cage for support. Trellis systems work well for larger indeterminate varieties or those with vining growth habits. When using a trellis, secure the plant’s main stem to the structure, gently guiding it upward as it grows.

Vertical Gardening

Vertical gardening is another technique that can greatly influence the space needed for tomato plants to grow. By growing tomatoes vertically, you can maximize your available space and potentially grow more plants in a limited area. Vertical gardens also make it easier to manage pests, harvest fruit, and maintain proper airflow around plants, helping to reduce disease risk.

  • Stakes: Staking tomatoes involves securing a single tall stake next to each plant and tying the main stem to the stake as it grows. Ideal for determinate and some indeterminate varieties, staking requires a minimum of 2 feet of space per plant.
  • Cages: Tomato cages are wire or plastic supports that surround the plant, offering more overall support than a single stake. They work well with indeterminate varieties and require at least 3 feet of space per plant.
  • Trellises: Trellises can be made from wood, metal, or plastic and provide a sturdy structure for tomato plants to climb. Vining indeterminate varieties are particularly well-suited for trellises, but the required spacing varies depending on the specific plant variety and trellis design.

Ultimately, the space needed for your tomato plants will depend on the growing techniques you choose, the plant variety, and the support system employed. By implementing proper pruning, training, and vertical gardening methods, you can effectively manage the space requirements of your tomato plants and foster a healthy, productive garden.


When it comes to tomato plant spacing, it’s essential to consider the variety of tomato you are growing. Generally, tomato plants should be spaced between 24 and 36 inches (61-91 cm) apart, with dwarf or smaller varieties being placed closer together.

For indeterminate plants grown in wire cages, it’s recommended to space them about 2.5 to 3 feet (0.91-1.22m) apart to accommodate their horizontal foliage spread. If they’re allowed to sprawl on the ground, a 3 to 4-foot (0.91-1.22m) spacing would be best.

Keep in mind that proper plant spacing is vital for healthy, productive plants. To assist with access and air circulation, rows should be kept about 4 feet apart.

Following these spacing recommendations will help ensure that your tomato plants have the room they need to grow and produce bountiful harvests. Remember to research specific varieties and follow any guidelines provided on seed packs or plant labels.

Helpful Video on Tomato Spacing

To get an in-depth look at tomato spacing and growing tomatoes properly check out this video below…