You may undoubtedly learn how to sow the seeds, transplant the saplings, and take care of the tomato plants but what about when it is time to separate them?
Separation is a vital process especially when you have sown the tomato seedling without any pre-planning. It becomes all the more important when the saplings start to crowd each other out and begin to fight for space, water, and sunlight.
In-Brief Separating tomato seedlings can be demonstrated as follows:
- Initially pick away the tomato from the pot/tray or soil.
- Then use both your hands to loosen the soil around the seedlings.
- Carefully take out each tomato plant from the other.
- Now you have to replant each sapling in an individual pot or space.
I’ll show you the whole process with the suitable tools, time, and precautions with step by step guide so that you can do it with ease.
Why Should You Separate Tomato Seedlings?
The questions mainly asked by beginner gardener who starts the process of tomato farming is, “Why is it necessary to separate tomato seedlings?” and “When is the ideal time for transplanting?”.
The answer to the first question is that when you sow lots of seeds in one pot or space, all the saplings try to grow in the same direction in order to get maximum sunlight. As a result, the tomato plants become weak and spindly. Moreover, they are also more susceptible to pests and diseases.
By separating them, they can each get their own space and individualized nutrition, soil management, and aeration. As a result, they will be healthier, and the yield will also be better.
How Many Tomato Seeds Can You Sow Per Pot?
Tomato seeds are a dicot (two cotyledons) and have 265 seeds per gram which means its tiny seeds that can be grown in any size of pot.
You can sow these seeds in a 5-inch or 6-inch pot for each sapling. Remember to make small holes with a pencil on the surface of the potting mix before sowing the seeds.
By sowing your seeds on a tray with 72, 128, or 200 cells, you make later transplanting much easier.
Now, How Do Separate Tomato Seedlings?
If you’re a beginner, it can be complicated to manage tomato seedlings with complex root systems. Because if you damage the root system, then it will face a post-planting shock. But don’t worry. I’ll show you the process step-by-step so that you can understand it better.
Step 1: Pick The Growing Media,
First of all, pick the whole pot or tray in which your tomato plants are growing. This is done because if the growing media is not firm, then the chances of damaging the roots are more.
Step 2: Gently Loosen The Soil
Use both your hands to loosen the soil around the seedlings. If the soil is wet, then you can soak it in the water to quickly detach the roots system or if the soil is loose it will be easier to separate the tomato seedlings.
However, You can also use a small garden trowel ( Not recommended )for this process. Be very careful while loosening the soil as you don’t want to damage any roots.
Step 3: Carefully Take Out Each Individual Tomato Plant
After loosening the soil, it’s time to take out each tomato plant from the other. You can use your fingers for this process or any small gardening tool like a small garden fork or trowel. Gently lift each sapling by its leaves without damaging the stem.
Step 4: Replant Each Sapling In An Individual Pot or Space
Now you have to replant each sapling in an individual pot or space. Fill the pot or space with fresh potting mix and make sure to water it thoroughly. You can also add some slow-release fertilizer to give an extra boost to your tomato plants.
Extra Tips & Precautions:
- Make sure to do this process early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the hot sun. Because if you do it in the middle of the day, then there are more chances of damaging the roots.
- If you’re replanting the saplings in an individual pot, then make sure to use a well-drained potting mix.
- Also, don’t forget to add a small stake or tomato cage for support as the plant grows bigger.
- After transplanting, water the plants thoroughly and keep them in partial shade for a few days.
- After that, you can slowly acclimatize them to the full sun.
What’s The Ideal Density of Tomato Seed?
If you spread the tomato seeds as broadcasting methods, then the density will not be affected because in this method you directly sow the seeds in the ground or pots.
But, if you’re sowing the seeds indoors, then there is an ideal density of tomato seeds. You can sow 2 to 3 seeds per cell for small varieties and 1 to 2 seeds for large varieties. By doing so, you can thin out the weaker ones later and transplant the stronger ones into individual pots.
If you have an abundance of seeds, the best option would be to sow 1 seed per cell in the seed tray.
How to Care for Separated Tomato Seedlings?
Right after separating the seedling and repotting to the individual space, Tomato seedlings need extra care for a few days. Because they need to get used to their new environment and also the roots are disturbed so they need time to recover.
Here are a few things that you need to do:
(Days After Separation ) Day 1-5: After transplanting the separated seedlings, the next day you will see the seedlings will look vigorous and viable. On this day, you just need to water the seedlings.
( Days After Separation) Day 7-10: After the first week (once the seedling develops over the second/third set of leaves), you need to start fertilizing the tomato seedlings with a very diluted solution of liquid fertilizer.
( Days After Separation) Day 14: Observe if the tomato seedlings have developed a strong root system. If they have, then you can transplant them to the final destination or concurrently stay with them.
After the second week, the tomato plants will grow similarly to seedlings with others and you can treat them as normal.
Is Seedling Face Post Symptomatic Tomato Plant Shock After Separation?
After the separation of a tomato plant, the seedlings become less hardy and are more susceptible to plant shocks. Plant shocks are caused by many factors like extreme weather conditions, pests, diseases, and improper care.
The most common symptoms of plant shock are
- Wilting leaves
- Drooping leaves
- Yellowing leaves
- Stunted growth
If you see any of these symptoms in your tomato seedlings, then don’t worry. Just make sure to give them the proper care and attention that they need and they will recover in no time.
Here are a few things that you can do to prevent plant shock:
- Water the plants regularly and deeply.
- Avoid extreme temperatures (both hot and cold).
- Protect the plants from pests and diseases.
- Make sure the plants are getting enough light.
- Provide the plants with the proper nutrients.
By following these tips, you can prevent plant shock and ensure that your tomato seedlings grow into strong and healthy plants.
I have done many tomato plant separations and didn’t affect too much to the yield too much. When you have done this in large numbers of plants some seedlings may be affected or die.
But it’s not the fact that it died of separation, there may be other reasons for dying or not growing. So I suggest doing this process of separation and you will get a good result.
Have you ever done separation for your tomato plants? How was your experience? Let me know in the comments below.
I am a graduate of Bangladesh Agricultural University, where I delved into various agricultural disciplines, equipping me with a profound understanding of agriculture. Beyond academics, I have hands-on experience in gardening and crop cultivation. My passion is to embrace sustainable farming and horticulture. With a BSc in Agriculture, I am dedicated to promoting environmentally conscious and efficient agrarian practices.
Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Agriculture (Hons.)
Master of Science. (Sustainable Agriculture & Food Security ) (MS)
Bangladesh Agricultural University